12 string guitars

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Mikeod
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12 string guitars

Postby Mikeod » Thu May 21, 2020 6:57 am

Hello Gordon hope you are keeping safe and well during this difficult period
I am a newbie interested in purchasing a vintage V200 GG electro 12 string .I read a series of articles by a .an named Brad who had purchased one of these models. Now I would like to know, why it is recommended to tune down a full tone a d place a capo on the first fret, wouldn't' that suggest s flaw in the design. Likewise, would this not create a problem for some one who doesn't want to ose a capo but would prefer to transpose any piece of music onto alternative keys. I would be extremely grateful for your advice on this matter . Likewise I would.like to know if the a k and sides of this model is constructed from solid wood or laminates.
Yours sincerely
Mike :? :?

BRC
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Re: 12 string guitars

Postby BRC » Thu May 21, 2020 9:35 am

MIkeod,

Apologies for jumping in ahead of Gordon - I am an early riser so get reading very early on in the day. I am sure Gordon will respond at some time when able.

The recommendation to tune down a full tone is simply because of the pressure exerted on the belly of the guitar by doubling the number of strings from a standard 6 string to 12. I don’t know the exact figures and others may be able to enlighten us on that, though I believe it is around 200 pounds which is about double that of a six string. The thickness of the wood would need to be greater to sustain that pressure and then would compromise the resonance/tone of the guitar. That is a simple as I can make that bit. Tuning down relieves some of that pressure. The pressure also affects the neck of the guitar

Over the years I have had several 12 string guitars - an EKO Rio Grande XII, an Ovation, a VE2000GG 12, and a bout 6 months ago picked up a new Tanglewood Roadster 12 as a back up (at a very good price). The first two I had at standard tuning which eventually showed with the belly bowing out. The EKO - built like a tank - handled it well but showed signs of stress with cracks in the very thick varnish glaze, though no damage to the wood. The Ovation suffered stress at the neck as well which required repair. Having made my comments it would be up to you if you tune to standard, though it will inevitably shorten the life of the instrument.

As you have read my review of the VE2000GG 12, take note of the accident that happened to my first one, which was repaired at reasonable cost and passed to one of my sons ... and still going strong. I have no regret in the purchase of the instrument and still recommend it as a suitable 12 string for amateur or professional. It is hard for me to tell if the tone has altered over the years, though have to say it has an excellent tone and sustain.

I hope that helps you on that issue.

Your other question is much simpler - back and sides are laminated woods, the top is cedar. That is not unusual in these days of finding sustainable tone woods and used by virtually all the big name guitar manufacturers.

Welcome to the forum and I am sure all members will look forward to your comments and contributions.

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GORDON
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Re: 12 string guitars

Postby GORDON » Thu May 21, 2020 2:36 pm

Hello Mike.

Thanks for your enquiry about the GG 12 string.

In all my years of playing 12 string guitars it has always been a play off between ease of comfort when playing 12 strings in standard tuning or dropping the pitch down a tone or even a tone and a half. By their very nature they can be beasts to play because of the tension with 12 strings which can really strain the hand, and finding a set with that high octave for the G string can be a pain at times and I always cringe when tuning the third up hoping it won't snap!!

With any 12 string one can tune up to concert pitch providing you use a light gauge set starting with 10 gauge for the first pair and the graduating down to low E string. This way it wouldn't put too much tension on the neck. The GG model as you know is a 14 fret to the body model. In my opinion 12 frets to the body help to ease a lot of the tension on the neck. Creating a 12 string version of the GG was an afterthought by the company and in terms of sound it worked a treat.

Obviously me being an instrumentalist it doesn't matter that I tune down a tone and a half. I remember my first decent 12 string was a Harmony and it was a 12 fret to the body model and it sounded fantastic. I think 12.strings sound better tuned down but of course for someone who doesn't want to use a capo and play in concert pitch a compromise has to be made in terms of a lighter set.

There is a company called Newtone who make a cracking set of low tension strings that would do the job admirably.

Getting back to the GG model there is a clip of me playing Ive's Horizon on it and it sounds lovely but again it is pitched low. As much as I would love you to purchase that model I think I would steer you in the direction of the Paul Brett model which is a great guitar, in fact I used one towards the end of my 12 string phase ( I gave up playing one because I expected far too much from the instrument and I wanted perfect intonation and tuning right up the dusty end and really it's not possible unless you want to invest in a fan fret model which does go some way toward addressing that problem) and it was a joy. Again it was a 12 fret to the body construction.

To answer your question about the wood that is used. The back and sides are laminate and the top is solid cedar.

I sincerely hope my ramblings have been of some help and use to you, and I wish you well on your 12 string journey whatever make or model you purchase. The is nothing so glorious as the sound of a good 12 string!!!

Be well and safe sir.

G.

Nickswitz
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Re: 12 string guitars

Postby Nickswitz » Thu May 21, 2020 4:45 pm

Hi all,
Been reading this with interest. I have an Ovation 6 and a
Fender Strat, and since lockdown, I have been looking for
the 12 string I saw Gordon play in Dartford in 83-84, that
I thought I could never afford.. Or something similar.

Gonna show my ignorance here with a naive question!!

Due to my profession, I am fully aware of stress and counter
stress in constructions, but is this really still that much of a
problem r.e. necks and bodies v string tension?

Just seems that with manufacturing technologies/new
materials etc, that this should not even be as issue today?

Or am I missing the point with the values of cedar wood and other
traditional materials?

I am looking at with interest, either a second hand Ibanez AEF 18/12
or a new Fender Villager 12 V3

Anyone tried either/both?

Thanks and stay safe,
N.

Mikeod
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Re: 12 string guitars

Postby Mikeod » Thu May 21, 2020 8:37 pm

Thanks for your comments. I have the same issue considering the advancement in manufacturing. Well I wonder why does the possibility of stress on fretboard and back and top of 12 strings still exist
Why the eed to tune down why make them in the first place
Mike

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Roger
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Location: Southsea

Re: 12 string guitars

Postby Roger » Fri May 22, 2020 8:17 pm

Nickswitz & Mike,

I think the point here is that some of the guitars mentioned in this thread were DESIGNED to be 6 string instruments. When a 12 string version comes out there are always going to have to be compromises, whether that is short instrument life and frequent repairs, using lighter gauge strings or tuning down (and using a capo if you want to get back up to concert pitch). What are the alternatives? Well buying a guitar that was designed as a 12 string, or getting a reputable luthier to make you one, although obviously this would be expensive. I guess the only other option would be to use an effects pedal to try to give that 12 string sound if the guitar were used mainly for chords.

Can I suggest a look at the following links:

https://www.quora.com/Can-you-string-a- ... ic-strings

viewtopic.php?t=994

The second link is a cracking thread with so much insight and knowledge about 12 strings!

On the subject of 12 strings, I just love what Rob Armstrong said to me once. It was along the lines that 12 strings (6 strings are enough!), banjos and ukes were annoying instruments and that one song with any of them was enough!
Last edited by Roger on Mon May 25, 2020 1:43 am, edited 2 times in total.
We all have fears and can feel fragile - that's what makes us human

BRC
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Re: 12 string guitars

Postby BRC » Sat May 23, 2020 9:09 am

Roger,

Thank you for that contribution which, I think, brings this back to the originating post.

I saw the two previous responses and felt rather perplexed as to the subject going off into a different area of challenging the need for 12 string guitars rather than the explanation given by me, from a simplistic viewpoint, and Gordon very much from the viewpoint of player and how it fitted in with him.

I like the links you gave and would urge the two other contributors to check them out as useful information.

I would like to add that whether or not you wish to have and play a 12 string guitar, no matter what configuration of strings, tuning or capo usage, that is it will depend on your objectives. I like the sound of a 12 string guitar where necessary to give that fuller backing sound rather than lead, but only occasionally. Having said that I can think of quite a few songs by The Beatles, Byrds, Eagles, Hollies etc where a 12 string has been used as lead very effectively.

The issue of how good or not so good a particular instrument is going to be suited to an individuals requirements is, as you have indicated, going to be guided by how much they want to pay and prepared to pay a good luthier to produce an instrument to meet the specifications and aspirations. I am limited by financial constraints to off the shelf instruments and more than happy with the VE2000GG 12 to meet my requirements - and accept the structural constraints. Should I be lucky enough to have a substantial win on a lottery maybe, just maybe, I would consider having a bespoke 12 string made for me and discuss the virtue of particular tone woods with the luthier. There are many more priorities in this world than that though.

Again, thank you for your contribution for resolving my concerns.

Kind regards to all
Brad

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Roger
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Re: 12 string guitars

Postby Roger » Sun May 24, 2020 6:09 pm

Thanks for your kind comments Brad.

Apologies for taking the thread away from 12 strings, but below are a couple of links which illustrate the value of the forum when it comes to getting advice from Gordon. The background was that I had a shoulder problem and so needed a smaller acoustic guitar.

https://www.giltrap.co.uk/discussion/vi ... itar#p4532

https://www.giltrap.co.uk/discussion/vi ... elecasters

In the first thread I have contacted Gordon for his thoughts, while in the second he gives me advice about how high I might tune the guitar. He also gives some advice about strings and tuning for his 12 string so not totally off topic!

Roger
Last edited by Roger on Sun May 24, 2020 8:52 pm, edited 1 time in total.
We all have fears and can feel fragile - that's what makes us human

sultan4swing
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Re: 12 string guitars

Postby sultan4swing » Sun May 24, 2020 7:29 pm

Just picked up on this interesting topic. When I started playing acoustic guitar in the late 1960's, I first had an Eros 12S and then after it was stolen from my then not secure old mini , a 2nd hand circa 1965 EKO-12S (both Italian built like tanks and made by two brothers as I remember). The EKO12 was my main solo instrument for some 20 years, supplemented by my (see previous posts), lovely Yamaha CJ838S circa 1978…. ..... the latter is gorgeous after some 40 years of playing, sadly its owner isn't.. !¬!!! Anyway, back to the EKO12 and also relates to discussion, my more recent Ovation Celebrity 12S........ I always used relatively heavy 011/012 top E gauge strings.. As discussed many guitarists use a lighter gauge, around 090/010 and tuned down 1 tone or maybe more... I always used the standard tuning but the upshot was over many years , the EKO12 became unplayable - the bridge began to pull away, so I stuck it down with car body filler … !!!!! Subsequently the top of the guitar buckled and depressed... so now it really IS unplayable... So yes, with hindsight, a salutary lesson - tune one tone down, use a cappo like I did routinely, and go for a lighter gauge string.... I have to say the playing action of the EKO12 was very low and really comfortable. That of the Ovation Celebrity 12S has always been too high and even with professional action lowering, is still more uncomfortable to play, particularly at 71, one cant always put the necessary string pressure ... arthritis kicks in especially after some heavy gardening... !!!!! But the Celebrity 12S does amplify very well with an acoustic amp.... it also is a bit of a tank...!!!! Best wishes to all and stay well.....

BRC
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Re: 12 string guitars

Postby BRC » Mon May 25, 2020 2:12 pm

I had to do a double take on the name posting as it matched guitars I have had initially in the EKO and Ovation 12 strings. Luckily those guitars owned by me didn't suffered from similar problems - maybe I was lucky, or you were unlucky, though both were kept most of the time at concert pitch.

The Ovation did suffer neck damage - I presume from the stress, though I did repair it successfully. The EKO, as I have already indicated, had cracked glazing - I have never seen any other guitars with such thick varnish finish - and had started to bow without any structural damage to the wood. I was never quite sure what that wood was - any offers/suggestions (other than spare tank parts)?

As I read on the similarities of detail - age, arthritis etc - rang alarm bells, so I quickly checked my Driving Licence and Passport to make sure I am who I think I am (no, not an invite in to the world of existentialism).

One thing I meant to add in earlier posts on this topic is that about 5 years ago I bought an Epiphone DR212 for a friend's 60th birthday, but did give it a good work out and set-up before gifting it. Action was good and good finish. Although simply an acoustic dreadnought, it seemed exceptionally well made at the price of £129 new I paid then. They are still about (dearer, of course) and I don't suppose would be too expensive to fit pick-up and pre amp, with the tuning down caveat covered here.

Good to see a contribution from a fellow sufferer - guitars and other 'ailments' - and similar life paths … musically, I hasten to add.

Kind regards
Brad

Mikeod
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Re: 12 string guitars

Postby Mikeod » Mon May 25, 2020 9:26 pm

Great to have such a response to my 12 string query
While I can understand that 12 strings would place more stress on a guitar neck. Nevertheless I agree with N, with modern advancements in technological designy along d with laminate production, one would imagine that the stress factor would be solved
I am just wondering does the problem arise because basically 12 string necks are placed on guitar bodies that were in reality designed to take only six strings
Take care all
Mike


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