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12-String Guitar

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Discussion Forum

Your FIRST 12 string guitar hero or heroine ... what's your story? 16 Replies

Started by Alan Sturgess. Last reply by Jim Yates Mar 20.

Any try or use Elixir Nanoweb Phosphor Bronze .010-.047 yet? If so, opinions? 3 Replies

Started by Martin van Dooremalen. Last reply by Dave Fengler Sep 1, 2015.

Hummingbird 12 string and Gibson Restoration 3 Replies

Started by TheValleyGirl. Last reply by Jim Yates Jul 6, 2015.

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Comment by Antonio Cotichini on September 15, 2009 at 10:49am
In my experience, splitting to heavier strings, the buzzing problem decreases.
Obviously, a nut slots re-dimension is needed, but just in the width, not the depth, because the under-side of the string lies in the same place of the preceding lighter one. Also a truss-rod adjustment is required. All the other parameters are the same. If a guitar is well built it doesn't need to be tuned so low; one step is enough. The more you low the tuning, the more it will buzz.
I reached very low action on 12 strings. Lower than in 6 strings.
I'm using mediums since ten years ago. Never felt the need to go back to lights. Much more power, volume and general tone.
Comment by John Bjorkman on September 15, 2009 at 8:36am
The good thing about heavier gauge strings is that they're better at both tone and volume production. If your instrument can take the extra strain, it's just your hands that will have to adjust. I've spoken with guys from Martin, Taylor, Guild and a couple of custom shops, and they all say that, on a 12-string, a heavier gauge string demands a lower tuning of at least three half-steps (E down to a C#). Not just for the neck, but also the bridge glue, and even the top itself. They all had confidence in *their* instruments, but were leery about giving generic advice.

In addition to the nut slot depth and bridge height, another thing to note is that the extra tension of a heavier gauge string will modify the action. Most likely, it will raise the action a bit. This will eliminate some buzzing, but you may have to tweak the truss rods to get everything just right.

As Robert points out, a heavier gauge string is capable of buzzing more. But this can be offset with a lighter touch, since the heavier gauge strings naturally produce more volume.

You might try this experiment: measure your current action and carefully inspect the bow of the top, and the top-contact of the bridge. Then, leave everything adjusted as is and put on a set of mediums. Tune them down, say, to a B. Measure the action and reinspect. (keep written notes) If all looks and sounds good, give it an hour or so to "settle in" and remeasure. (you can play it during this time) Then, tune up to a C and repeat. If all is going well, continue to C#. As the action increases, note the feel and buzzing (if any). Make sure the bridge isn't lifting.

You should find a comfortable feel and sound along the way, with tweaks to the truss rod, saddle and string slots being all that you might need to be concerned with.
Comment by Robert Hancox on September 15, 2009 at 7:13am
It's not the width of the nut slots it's the depth. It the nut slots were cut specifically for lights, they'd be too deep for a larger gauge. Though I'm no expert, that just sounds logical to me. Do you know where the buzzing is originating from?
Comment by Edward Sparks on September 15, 2009 at 7:06am
Assuming the nut slots are wide enough (something I hadn't considered) wouldn't the medium's extra tension stop the buzzing? Since this is a 1980 Martin, there is no truss rod, so that's out...thanks for you support! Edward
Comment by Robert Hancox on September 15, 2009 at 7:00am
It would seem that if lights already buzz, mediums would be worse. Not only would a truss rod tweak be in order, but the nut may also be slotted too deeply. If you stay with lights, a truss rod adjustment should be all that's needed.
Comment by Edward Sparks on September 15, 2009 at 4:59am
Thanks Joe,
I have a 1980 Guild JF212XL that I used extra lights on but it is tuned to pitch (gotta love those Guilds with the double truss rods) but I have never used mediums. I have another Guild 6 string that I tune down a whole step and I actually experimented for months to find just the right gauge, happy ending though...I put together a set from that is perfect!
Comment by Joe Carpenter on September 14, 2009 at 10:57pm
Edward.....imho, shoot for mediums & try a wound octave A (versus steel). You may have tweak the the relief, but well worth it.

Comment by Edward Sparks on September 14, 2009 at 7:04pm
Hey, I have a '80 D28-12 string and I want to tune it down a whole step...any suggestion for string gauge? The action is really good and "lights" buzz...Edward
Comment by Jon M. Allred on August 2, 2009 at 3:59pm
Charley, I have tried almost every kind of string manufacturer. About ten years ago I started putting Elixers on the guitars I build and I've never used a better string. The Gore coating makes them last longer and makes them a little slippery, so you don't get that string squeek. I've heard differing opinions, but I stand by Elixers. None of my customers have complained, either. Happy strumming! Jon
Comment by Robert on July 31, 2009 at 10:10am
Michael --
Yes, I LOVE my D12-35. But I had never seen or heard of the J12-40E discussed below. Still available too!

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