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12-String Guitar

A meeting place to discuss playing styles, favorite players, set-ups, and anything else about this wonderful instrument.

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Latest Activity: 7 hours ago

Discussion Forum

Concert pitch or lower? 9 Replies

Started by Stephen Leigh. Last reply by Jim Yates yesterday.

Any try or use Elixir Nanoweb Phosphor Bronze .010-.047 yet? If so, opinions? 4 Replies

Started by Martin van Dooremalen. Last reply by FloridaGull on Thursday.

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.

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Comment by Edward Sparks on November 7, 2011 at 1:39pm

Now, this is interesting!  From the "Let's Talk Guild" site...although you may have to me a member, here is the link:


Some of us have had some discussions about what might be the "Holy Grail" of 12 string guitars. The general agreement is that the Guild F-612 would be it, but for some it might be the pre-Harmony Stella as played by Lead Belly and Willie McTell. For me, the 12 string Holy Grail has always been the Pete Seeger model 12 string.

This signed drawing was given to me by one of the best friends I ever had in this life, the late Dr Anthony A. Verstraete of Penn State. When we met as students in the '60s we soon discovered that we both had caught the 12 string bug at Pete Seeger concerts at a time when 12 strings were not being manufactured or widely distributed in the US. Tony actually wrote to Seeger for advice on finding a 12 string and Pete sent back contact info for G. Stanley Francis, the luthier in the UK who built Pete's guitar. Tony wrote to Francis and got back the drawing and a letter explaining options and pricing. So a few years later when I was scarfing up every recording, newspaper or magazine article, catalog, and photo relating to 12 string guitar, Tony gave me the drawing. He always said he would give me the letter as soon as he found it, but he never did.


A very distinctive guitar indeed. I have always loved the triangular sound hole. The original had six oversize bridgepins, each one holding a pair of strings. More recent versions have 12 pins and a pyramid bridge. These things have a 28" fret scale and are rarely played without a capo somewhere on the neck, just like the Pete Seeger long neck banjo. I suspect the zero fret reduces some of the tuning problems that come with capoing a 12er. Recent Seeger 12ers have been made by Bruce Taylor of Weston CT, less than 10 miles from where I grew up. They have been featured on the cover of "Acoustic Guitar" and the "Pete Seeger at 89" CD. Pete and his grandson can be seen playing a matched pair in the "Power of Song" DVD. Extremely cool!

Maybe for a "Holy Grail" I should have someone make me an 18" monster version of this guitar.

' Strang

Comment by Jud Hair on November 7, 2011 at 11:18am
Edward ... My Martin DCPA4 came with a Fishman.  Although it is built in and has knobs on the side of the bout, they are flat and very unobtrusive. 
Comment by Edward Sparks on November 7, 2011 at 10:17am

Hey Adriaan,

I have a 1980 Martin D-28-12 string that is getting a neck reset as I type this!

I can't wait to get it back and am planning to have my current favorite pickup/preamp system installed in it, the Fishman Matrix Infinity. I have this system in my two Gibson acoustic 6 string guitars and I just love it!  What makes it different? It has a tiny volume and tone control that sticks to the underside of the top inside the soundhole, so they are handy all the time without a knob sticking out of your guitar side...but what is really cool is that the tone control doesn't just raise or lower bass or treble, like very other tone control in history, it actually boosts or cuts the midrange!  The midrange is the range of frequencies that make an acoustic sound electric and muddies things up! I t also has a red light on the preamp (located at the tailblock inside the guitar) that lights up when the battery is low and needs to be replaced! I will use a light gauge 12 string set and keep this Martin 12 tuned a whole step low to relieve pressure on the top, which is what the previous owner did not do and the reason it is in getting a neck reset! I like, and need, the lower tuning for some songs I love to do but are pitched too high for my vocal range!  My main 12 string is a 1980 Guild F212XL with extra light gauge strings that I keep tuned to concert pitch (it has two truss rods in the neck which allow the tuning to be concert pitch with extra light strings). It has an older Fishman system.  I love it's sound too, but the newer Matrix Infinity is much better. Here is a link to the Fishman site, the Matrix Infinity page:

The unit is about $150 street price and I take it to a shop that charged me only $50 to install it!  

Whatever you decide in the end, please let us know what you did and how it works! Thanks, Edward 

My 12's:


Comment by Antonio Cotichini on November 7, 2011 at 8:36am

Hi Adriaan, I think you're in the right place. A lot of people here will give you skilleed advices about the amplification of your 12 string.

My two cents: After having tryed out a few undersaddle piezos, I splitted on under the soundboard K&K Sound System Pure Western. A little bit more prone to feedbak (Larsen effect) but much more natural woody sound.

Good luck

Comment by Adriaan N Roggeveen on November 6, 2011 at 8:09pm
Still looking into groups. I have a Martin D12-20 that I purchased in or around 1970/1 when I came back from SE Asia, again. At the moment she is having her neck reset and some other restoration done after teh long road we have traveled. I do have a quick question and I hope that it won't raise too many eyebrows. Will anyone or does anyone have an "accoustic pickup installed" in your 12-string and what are your comments? I have always used a mic...or not...mostly not for lots of reasons over the years. I ahve been unable to play much over the last few years due to physical challenges which I hope are now resolved; hence the restoration probably due to inactivity...Yes, I did reduce the tension when I put her into storage and paid attention to the humidity etc. Like my hands it was just something I put off too long and now have to try and retrieve what I can. My 6-strings and banjos are back, so now it is time for another step. I picked up the 12-string back in the 1960's and had a Harmony for a long time until I traded it in for the Martin.Anyway, here I am and I would really like to hear some of you play as there is no one around here, I believe, who has even ever heard one. Thanks.
Comment by Edward Sparks on November 5, 2011 at 7:12am

Hey, the wife and I are going to the Great American Philly Vintage Guitar show on November 13th...if any of you are going to be there, let me know and we will try to run into each other!  Edward

Here is the link and info...

Great American Guitar Show (Fall Philly)

Greater Philadelphia Expo Center


Saturday, November 12, 2011. Sunday, November 13, 2011.TIME Saturday: 10:00am to 6:00pm. Sunday: 10:00am to 4:00pm.

The line can grow very long when doors first open. Don't worry, the line moves fast!


Saturday Pass: $12.00Sunday Pass: $10.00, 2-Day Pass: $15.00Children 12 and under free with an adult!


Greater Philadelphia Expo Center Rt. 422, Exit at Oaks 100 Station Ave., Oaks, PA 19456

Comment by FloridaGull on October 23, 2011 at 10:28am

Ok - back from Wolfe (where they repaired my Performer bridge-lift very nicely, thank you very much...) -

I asked Graham to evaluate my Craviola - he found that the 3rd fret was ever-so-slightly low, but otherwise the neck seemed fine.  The saddle is as low as it can be and still have the guitar play, and the action is a bit high at the 12th fret, but in the area in which I typically play (more like 1-7 at most - at least currently), the action is ok for me.  He told me there seemed to be a bit of truss-rod adjustment available, and suggested that, since I've only had it a month, I should let it go through our time of temperature and humidity change here in south FL, give it a few months, see how the woods react to the conditions, and bring it back then.  Seemed like a good plan to me.   BTW, he's not the luthier (she's not normally in on weekends, I don't think), but I think he knows what he's talking about, and he took out all sorts of metal tools to check things out... :-)

Comment by Edward Sparks on October 21, 2011 at 2:08pm
Hey FG, I will be interested in what they did and what they say about the 12...thanks, Edward
Comment by FloridaGull on October 21, 2011 at 9:12am
Since I'm picking up my Seagull Performer 6-string from its bridge-lift repair tomorrow, I figured that just because I think my Giannini Craviola 12-string plays well doesn't mean it is set up correctly and doesn't mean there's nothing wrong with it.  So I'm bringing it with me to Wolfe Guitars to have Graham or Jay look it over.  I'll let you all know what they say, particularly about the somewhat low saddle.  It does have a 3 year warranty so, if anything is amiss, hopefully I can get it fixed under warranty... :-)
Comment by Edward Sparks on October 8, 2011 at 7:31am
In wine the truth...eventually!  The more vino the more truth!

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