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Mine was a Penco, with Maple back and sides and white binding. To this day, that is my least favorite combination. I remember it also had a zero-fret and too much inlay.

But it was the only one in the store and dad was buying. Beggars can't be choosers.

I learned a lot on that old guitar. I wonder where it is now.

Tags: 12-string, penco

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This might be of interest to anyone who has an elderly 12 string that is suffering from the ravages of time.
My old Seagull has been strung with heavy strings and tuned open G 2 frets low for most of its life but recently I've noticed a lot of movement over a short period, so I thought I'd try out a bridge doctor kit on it. It arrived but I didn't have the time to do it promptly. When my lad made some derogatory remark about the the old box and its inability to get in tune, (it transpired he'd been trying to get it into concert!! ) I thought I better adminster some TLC. A couple of days after fitting the device the guitar has improved immensly in fact it has never sounded this good ever. If you've ever thought about doing this mod try just go ahead. It might seem a lot of cash for a few bits of wood ,that could be said about guitars in general, but its not much to pay for the improvement
My first 4 12's and my current (5th) 12!

I bought my first 12 in 1980. It was a used Conn, but I don't remember the model number. I was excited since it was my first "real" guitar. "Real" meaning that I bought it at a music store, not at the convenience store where my dad bought me my "first" guitar. Being a trumpet player and owning a Conn trumpet, I had at least heard of the brand! I learned to play on that guitar and owned it up untill a year ago. By that time it was in pretty rough shape, but it still sounded ok. I was holding onto it for sentimental reasons only and sold it for $50 to appease my wife's complaints about taking up too much space.

My second 12 was an Alvarez, sorry, no model number on that one either. I didn't keep it very long at all. It didn't really sound all that much better than my trusty old Conn so I sold it.

My third 12 was a major upgrade for me at the time. It was a Martin, you guessed it, can't remember the model number. It was not a solid wood Martin. It was made with laminates, but I simply loved the sound and playability of it. I unfortunately lost it due to financial difficulties. By the time I could get the money together to retrieve it from the pawn shop it was sold.

My fourth 12 was a Yamaha. Nope! No model number available, sorry guys. It was a decent guitar that I bought dirt cheap and served me well for several years.

My fifth 12 (and current) is a Takamine EG535SC G Series. I love this guitar but it is currently in transit back to Takamine for repair or replacement. I have written about it in another thread, but after owning it almost exactly one year the bridge started tilting forward pulling the belly up. Hopefully I'll have some good news to report on it soon!
I've just learned how to send pics (smart, eh!) and it's been adventurous! So, now I'm gonna recover a bit and next I'll tell the story. Nice thought, Rick, every guitar's story should be a song in itself!
See you all later.
From the picture, and since it's so big I can see easily, that you have done extensive work to the bridge and saddle for intonation. I wish I knew how to do that kind of work! I can see you intonated the saddle...but did you also move the saddle slot? I remember my first twelve string was a Yamaha and it played in tune, even strung with extra light strings and tuned to concert pitch! The only thing I was not fond of about the guitar was the slotted head...loved the way it looked but hated to re-string it! The only sloted head instrument I have now is a 1936 wood body, roundneck dobro, but it's worth the effort! I truely believe that guitars have songs in them, it just takes the right owner to pull them out!!! That's one of the reasons I have so many! Edward

P.S. Thanks for leaving the kind message in my Guestbook!
That's not my first 12. It's my second and actual. My first one was a Yamaha 420 with laminate top that I bought used.
Ten years ago I trade it with a... car! O.K. I have a friend who is a taxi driver in Milan. He is also an accomplished guitarist who toured and recorded. He's had dozens of guitars but he liked the way my 12 sounded. He had to change his taxi car so he gave to me the old one (a yellow OPEL Astra) and I gave him that 12. I sold the car for a few bucks and bought this new Yamaha solid top. The thin low E was always out of intonation at the 12th fret. I saw a Pete Seeger 12 string Taylor (another Taylor, not Bob) that had that low E string backward small saddle. I did the opposite, shifting the saddle contact point of the thin low E frontward, as you can see. I did a little larger saddle to have room for intonation. Frank Ford said to me it's normal on 12 string because of the different diameter of the bass strings. The action is very comfortable without buzzing, 2/32 in. I use it mostly in open tunings or low 1 step with capo. Medium D'Addario Phosphor Bronze (0.12). I also changed the original tuners with Grover mini gold.
Now I'm looking for another 12 and I'll post my idea in a few days.
My first 12-string was bought in the mid-80's and was a Vantage VN2212. You can find a picture of the guitar at this site. This is not my guitar but is definitely the same. The site lists it as a jumbo steel string guitar. I guess you could classify it as that. I am going to agree with the reviews on that site. Everything except for "Utilization" (whatever that means) has 4.5 stars or 5 stars. The guitar is a great sounding guitar and I have always gotten compliments on its sound. It's playability is good. Definitely not something for a beginner. Then again, what 12-string guitar is! The action could be lower but I've managed with it all these years which is at least 20 years.

I did have an issue with the bridge pulling away from the body a few years ago. The repair was done through Guitar Center and the guy told me it should only be tuned to D or Eb at most to be safe. Since then I've found a luthier who I am thoroughly pleased with and will never go back to Guitar Center for anything.

That's the story on my first 12-string. My second 12-string took me a while to find but when I did find it I knew it was the one I had to purchase. The sound was gorgeous and the action low. It's an Ovation Standard Balladeer 6751. I've had it for a couple years now and really enjoy playing it - as I am now.

John G.
Great story about your first 12 John. I've wanted a 12 since I was playing back in the great folkmusic scare of the 60's but just couldn't afford one. Nearly 25 years later I can afford one so I bought a Taylor and I don't regreat the price or the decision to go for it.
I learned to play guitar on a Kingston 12-string. My parents bought it for me when I was 16 years old. I remember looking at the 6-string ( $79.99) and the 12-string ($89.99) and thinking 'Hey! For only 10 bucks more I get twice as many strings!' What a deep thinker I was! Now I couldn't be without a 12-string. Some songs just demand it. I've built several 12-strings now but I still keep that Kingston in a corner of the basement for old times sake
I became interested in the 12 string after hearing "Walk Right In" on the radio in the early sixties. I actually saw my first 12 string live at a coffee house in the mid 60' was a Gibson. Shortly after that some one brought in a Martin D12 to the same coffee house. Not being able to afford either of these....I ordered a Stella 12...I believe it cost me $40.00. Upon arrival it did not measure up to my coffee house experience. I believe I sold it within a year or two.
Since then I have owned a Fender Villager 12, an Epiphone FT385 12, and currently a Martin D12-20. My son still has the Epiphone. My interest in playing the 12 was rekindled after reading the AG magazine article on Seeger's "Turn Turn" in dropped D. I figured out he used dropped D on "Living in the Country" also. These are two excellent 12 string pieces.
Hi John,

Good topic...a pleasant stroll down memory lane. My first 12-string was a 1970's era Takamine, back when they used to just make copies of Martins and other guitars. Mine looked like a D-18, except it had one of those metal bridge things so you could raise or lower the saddle. My dad was in the Coast Guard and one of the guys on his ship was looking to sell a 12-string and he asked me if I was interested. I bought it with money from my after school job for $90. I think the case was probably worth that much, so it was a really good deal. When I tuned it up and strummed the first chord, I was hooked! I knew that the 12-string would become my primary instrument from that day forward.

Hey Guys, my first 12 was an Applause by Ovation. The guitar is still in the family, although I passed it along over a decade ago, when I bought a new 1999 Taylor 855. I still think Taylors are the only ones who got 12 strings right. Unfortunately, I got to a place a few years ago where I almost stopped playing 12 string and was persuing fingerstyle work. So, the guitar sat in it's case alot. I also wanted a motorcycle and sold it along with 4 other beauties to pay cash for a nice ride. Now, that history is all ok, except for the fact that the only guitar I really miss is the 855! Even though I still don't play them alot, it's a real bummer when I want to and it's not there in the closet. So, recently I started shopping and researching and found a couple cheapy 1970's Ibanez and Takamine guitars in the $250 - $300 range that are supposed to be pretty fair 12 strings. I bought one already - a '77 Flame Maple and Spruce "Starfield" made by Ibanez with Maple neck and even a maple fretboard! This thing is LOUD!!!!!!!, I'm talkin LOOUUUUUDDDD............ and is really a joy to listen to and feel the vibes comin out of it - endless sustain. One downside to this one is a very narrow neck, I think it is 1 3/4". String spacing becomes a bit of an issue, and if you have fat fingers, forget it! Still, the price is right and it is quite playable for strumming. I have another one, a Takamine Rosewood and Laminate Spruce top coming tomorrow. This one is a Martin lawsuit knockoff and has a much wider neck. But, I jumped on it for $250. Now, the other plan is to buy a used Taylor 355 for under a grand. So, if I don't like the cheapy's as much as the Taylor, (which I expect to be the case), I can always sell them, or pass them around in the family. Anyway, I'm 58 and have played most of my life. Money is an issue now, and I still haven't spent that much comparitively, and it's a fun little experiment.

Hey Mike! I am wondering what you can tell me about the Starlight 670-12? I own one and can find very little information about the model online. You are actually the only person I can find online who owns one so anything you could tell me about it would be very much appreciated!


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