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I play a lot of country music and use the pattern that alternates between the root and the fifth on the bass strings quite a lot.  This works as intended when playing a 6-string guitar, but when I play the 12-string guitar, it seems as though I am sounding too much on the higher octave strings (of the 6th and 5th strings), thus not getting the round bass tone that I want.

My question is this:  Is it feasible to swap positions of the two 6th strings and 5th strings, so that the bass note precedes the octave note when playing a downstroke?  Does it seem to you that this will provide what I'm looking for?  Do you predict major intonation problems by rearranging the four individual strings?

Any comments on this topic will be appreciated.


Thanks in advance,



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Replies to This Discussion

I have also thought about this but have decided not to do it until I can have nut reversed to fit the string widths correctly.

Short answer:  Yes, it is feasible...

Longer answer:  Try it - you may (and probably will) find that you may have to file some of the nut slots, or get a new nut, but other than that, I don't think there would be much hassle.  Some 12-strings (I've read) even come that way - Rickenbacker 12s, maybe?

I have the reverse problem on the "G" string - while fingerpicking, my index finger hitting the "G" in an upward stroke didn't give me the octave G sound reliably, so I moved my whole pattern down, so that my thumb is striking the lowest four string pairs in a downward fashion, and my index and second finger are responsible for the "B" and high "E" pairs - cool... :-)

Of course it's possible - others have discussed the setup issues (change the nut; adjust the saddle(?)).  Rickebacker 12 string guitars come that way - you might want to find a store that carries them and give it a try.  Granted, those are electrics, but you might get a feel for it.

Yes, Rickenbacker made the 700 series 12 string acoustics with reverse strings position, now discontinued.

I once asked about the difference in terms of sound, and I was answered that it was almost the same.

Maybe just a construction choice. But I've never heard one... so, don't take this as pure gold!

Obviously, if you want to do it on your 12, you must have a new nut and a different compensated saddle.

Doyle Dykes does something that might work for you.  He reverses the strings only on the A and low E pairs.  I guess that the theory being that he is playing mostly down-strokes on the lowest two pairs.  For the D and G pairs, he can emphasize the lower string by playing upstrokes and the octave string by playing downstrokes with the thumb.

Check it out here.

That's what James wants to do... :-)

Wow!  That's quite an endorsement for the idea.  I think I'll go ahead and have those strings reversed and get a new nut and bridgepiece, too, to keep intonation right.  Thanks to all who have commented.  I'll let you know how it all turns out.



Mmm..this sounds interesting, John, anyway, the problem with the nut and saddle still remains.


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