12 string vs. 6 string

Discussion in 'Bad Dog Cafe' started by teledubya, Jul 29, 2008.

  1. teledubya

    teledubya TDPRI Member

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    I'm not quite sure if this should be here or in Acoustic Heaven since I'm primarily talking about acoustics here, but o well. Anyway, I plan on buying ONE nice guitar. I've been fighting with myself for awhile whether to get a 12 string or a 6 string. I already have a 6 string but its just a cheap one, and besides, I'm lookin to get an acoustic-electric. I sometimes get mad at myself with not being able to make a decision when I find good deals on both 6 and 12 strings on ebay lately. So lets hear your opinion of 6 string or 12 string, and most importantly, your reason!
     
  2. jefrs

    jefrs Doctor of Teleocity

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    Can you play a 12-string? The technique is often quite different. A 12-string has its moments but a decent 6-string is far more versatile. Whatever you choose, you really do need to play it before you buy it.
     
  3. tiktok

    tiktok Poster Extraordinaire

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    I own three 12-strings, but a six-string acoustic is w-a-y more usable. Much easier to play, and not so covered in frosting sprinkles all the time. A 12-string is a great addition to a tune, but can get old real quick.

    Plus, much harder to play.
     
  4. Tim Armstrong

    Tim Armstrong Super Moderator Ad Free Member

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    I've always thought of 12-string guitars (and I love them!) as a great additional guitar, after first getting a great 6-string...

    Cheers, Tim
     
  5. chemikiller

    chemikiller TDPRI Member

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    I only own a 12-string acoustic.
    I haven't actually owned a 6-string acoustic in more than 20 years.

    But you must be VERY comfortable with a 12 before you buy one.
    Play as many as you can within your budget in the store. Sometimes the one you love and absolutely must have is $50 or $100 more than the one you were pretty sure of.

    Much like electrics (maybe even more) they all have their own unique feel, tone and personality.

    Good luck, happy pickin.
     
  6. Del Pickup

    Del Pickup Poster Extraordinaire

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    I agree with the others here..Having had a 12 string for several years I found that it was a useful extra to have but I traded it for a better 6 string and never looked back. There were only ever a handful of songs where the 12 string was really good.

    And it's virtually impossible to fingerpick on a 12 string - unless you're Leo Kottke!
     
  7. teledubya

    teledubya TDPRI Member

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    Well thanks for your input everyone. While I'm not opposed to learning the technique of playing the 12 string, I kind of had a feeling about what everyone has said, that its a nice addition but would get old if used all the time. Hopefully I'll eventually have enough money and most importantly enough talent to own and play both!
    Thanks!
     
  8. boris bubbanov

    boris bubbanov Tele Axpert Ad Free Member

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    I gave a really nice 12 string to a family that was very nice to me down here, after Katrina, as a thank you.

    Unfortunately, even though man, wife and daughter all play, they aren't getting around to the 12 string. I may find something else to give them, and swap it out if they still can't get into it.

    I always figured if I can play a 12, anyone can. Lots of folks don't cotton 'em, I have come to believe.
     
  9. Frank_Kimball

    Frank_Kimball Tele-Holic

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    I have often contemplated selling off enough (read: all) of my gear to buy two guitars - a Nocaster and a Taylor T5 12 string. I seriously believe these two guitars are all I'd need to get all the sounds I want to make for a very long time. The T5 is an amazing hybrid, it's the easiest playing 12-string I've encountered, and of course, it's more than versatile. They can be had used around $2,000 - $2,250.
     
  10. pengipete

    pengipete Friend of Leo's

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    If you're talking about buying one good quality guitar then I'd go for a good 6 string with a great neck. Even more than with an electric I'd want to play a few side by side before parting with my cash.

    If you are thinking about an acoustic as an occasional instrument for the odd song during a gig then a 12 string may be just what you need but I would only recommend it as a strummer - it's too much like hardwork to really "play" the thing and you'd need to devote some time to learning a new way of playing to get anywhere with it.

    Having said that, a 12 string can sound amazing and can add a huge amount to a song even when played behind a full-on rock line-up. Just be warned - they can be louder than you may be used to and you'll also need to try a whole load of picks before you get the feel of it.

    Oh yes - the strings also cost more.
     
  11. johnporter

    johnporter Tele-Meister

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    6-string would be more versatile,easier to play, easier to tune & cheaper to re-string.
    Since you mentioned getting an acoustic/electric,you could always add a chorus pedal to mimic the 12-string sound when needed.
     
  12. Telarkaster

    Telarkaster Friend of Leo's

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    I started on classical, then electric, then a bass.

    Since I already had a nylon 6 string acoustic, I then went and got a 12 string acoustic.

    Why? Because when playing at parties or with others, I ended up strumming chords most of the time instead of playing lead and the 12 string gave me a different sound than the acoustics of the other guitarists I was jamming with around the campfire. The 12 string was also much louder than my classical guitar.
     
  13. teleman65

    teleman65 Tele-Holic

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    A 12 string is a nice extra. It's an extra guitar once you have got a good 6 string. It's a nice texture once you've laid down a good 6 string foundation. It's a nice extra to pull out at a gig to do something different But IMO you need a good 6 string first. I haven't played my 12 string in ages but I pick up a 6 string almost every day.
     
  14. Rumble

    Rumble Tele-Afflicted

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    On the plus side: A 12-string sounds like angels singing when you're playing open chords and can let the notes ring out. It's a unique texture that no other guitar can match. Drones sound great because instead of two strings going, it's now four.

    On the minus side: They're a pain in the arse to tune, especially if you're going by ear. Bar chords are extremely difficult because it's unlikely you'll consistently be able to fret all 12 strings cleanly. Likewise, leads are also very difficult because it's hard to bend the doubled strings and ensure they stay at the exact same pitch without one of them wiggling out ever so slightly but audibly.

    Verdict: If you're a folksy, open chord player, a 12-string is awesome. If you play a variety of stuff, it's better as a second guitar to layer textures.
     
  15. FirstBassman

    FirstBassman Friend of Leo's

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    Please see Thread here:

    http://www.tdpri.com/forum/acoustic-heaven/114294-12-string-6-string-question.html


    The way I look at it is - that it's not a question of a six versus a twelve. To me, a 12-string is like another instrument all together. Like saying should I buy a guitar or a piano? They're different instruments. You can (and might) need both.

    Remember, a 12-string is one of nature's gifts to humans.
     
  16. teledubya

    teledubya TDPRI Member

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    firstbassman, the link you posted was to a thread that i started, lol. Even though that one wasn't the brightest question ever!
    Thanks everyone, your opinions are very much appreciated.
     
  17. Dan German

    Dan German Poster Extraordinaire

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    +1

    When I get together with my folksy friends, I always take my Takamine 12 string for playing rhythm. None of them has a 12, so it's a nice addition. Also, if someone needs to be drowned out, it's as loud as a piano when necessary. I truly love that guitar, and will eventually get an electric counterpart.

    BUT I would not want it to be my only guitar. Much as I love it, it supplements my 6 strings but does not replace them.
     
  18. eggman

    eggman Friend of Leo's

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    Howdy,

    Generally speaking, I prefer listening to 12s to actually playing them.

    Eggman
     
  19. hekawi

    hekawi Poster Extraordinaire

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    +1 on what the other posters have said.

    i do play my 6 strings much more, but when the situation calls for it, ain't nothing like a 12!

    and i'll add this: it took a LOT longer to find a 12 string that was right for me.

    i had wanted one for years, but only seriously shopped for one earlier this year. i must have tried 40-50 before i found THE ONE in a second hand shop. a beat-up cedar top Simon & Patrick (Canadian) that had the afore mentioned "choir of angels" sound, along with perfect action and a great feeling neck. here she is on the far right in this "family photo":

    [​IMG]
     
  20. FirstBassman

    FirstBassman Friend of Leo's

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    Sweet looking guitar. And I'm sure it sounds great too.

    And the others aren't too bad either. ;)

    "Angels singing." I like that.
     
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