electric 12-string gauge question for the sage.

Andi

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On my Choirboy-12, I've been having some gauge issues with the G + D(octave) and B paired strings. I've been playing on some Ernie Ball nickel wound acoustic/electric set of "lights", which tonally are decent in and of themselves. The problem is that they're obviously too thin, as they're prone to go sharp everytime I give them a squeeze, even on(or especially on...) the lower frets. It's hard to find any sets of electric 12s over here, but am wondering what the "Rickers" here on tdpri use to jangle their jingle, so that I could order a more friendly set of strings one of these days. I'm a little to lazy to mix-n-match a set of individuals, but I guess I could give it a try too. The Choirboy-12 neck is a really nice maple deal that holds quite well, so I'm thinking I should just "go mediums", but am nonetheless a little hesitant about such a load on a cheapo....


Any suggestions?
 

staxman

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I'm in Seattle area and the highest guage strings I can find in the stores for a 12 string electric are 10s. I buy online at www.juststrings.com (10s are all they have for electrics there too)

There seem to be many makers of highers gauges for 12 string acoustics though.
 

John Harrison

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Pyramid flatwound strings are, supposedly, the be all and end all of 12-string sets. Ric players, especially, seem fairly rabid about their tone and longevity qualities. Many recommend going up one guage from your normal preference.
 

Deaf Eddie

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Check the nut...

If the guitar's intonation is set correctly, but your pitch is going sharp when you fret a string - especially on the lower frets - my guess is that you need to have action worked on, MOST ESPECIALLY your nut. I bet the grooves are not deep as they should be, and when you fret a string that is in tune "open," the pressure required to fret it is making it go sharp, just as if you done a string bend on it. It's a common problem on all axes, where you can hear a note or two out of a chord "go sharp," but it is really obvious on a 12 string as the paired strings will "go sharp" different amounts when fretted, making even a single note sound bad.

BTW & FWIW, I have one of the RIC 360v63-12 "George Harrison But-No-Signature" models (1997, I believe), and I redid the nut to address this very same issue - you'd think on a $2K instrument the setup would be dead on, but obviously not.

http://www.deaf-eddie.net/guitars/360-v12.jpg

As for strings, the buzz is all about Pyramids, but I've never played a set. This is my third RIC 12 string (since 1969), I've had a few other electric 12's as well, and I always used Ernie Ball's on them, typically the set that goes from .010's to about an .048, as I recall, in roundwounds. I think that's just their regular light gauge set, they used to package it for electric 12 strings, back in the day. It's probably just a choice of habit as much as anything else... when you get old, what looks like the groove to you often seems like a rut to everyone else. Right now, this RIC still has the ORIGINAL "RIC-label" factory strings on it - roundwounds, and, like, maybe six or seven years old - and I guess they are holding up so well because the poor axe doesn't really get much play. Shame on me...

The big issue for me has always been whether or not to go with the WOUND (low) G string - they make a roundwound as light as .018, and you can get a plain as heavy as .022. I THINK for me, the wounds tuned better, but the plains sounded better on the ol' RIC's. If you continue to have G-string tuning issues, try a wound G instead of a plain. My two scents...
 

Tele295

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I think I'm the only Ric 12 stringer that DOESN'T like Pyramid strings. Of course, I'm not trying to sound like the Beatles or the Byrds, either. I have an entirely different direction in mind. Although I have Pyramids on my 360/12 right now, I'll be going back to the Ric-branded GHS strings whenever I can build up the courage to tackle a string change again.

In addition to checking your nut slots, you may want to put a drop of Teflon gun oil for lubrication. Those strings are binding up somewhere if they are drifting sharp as you play. I don't think it's a function of string guage.

You may also want to consider (if you haven't already done so) changing to the 12-piece bridge so each string can be intonated individually.
 

Andi

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Thanks for the words, everybody.

Checking things out again, I have a feeling that it is a nut/action issue. Most noticably(sorry, I take back some of what I wrote earlier), I can tell that the E(1st) and B are the biggest troublemakers. The overall action on this thing is really quite nice, and it did come with a decent bridge that not only can have each string intonated, but string height can be adjusted in pairs with two tiny allen screws, like the tele brass barrels. HOWEVER, the E and B strings do have quite a flight over the frets nonetheless, and sure enough they sit well on the frets with a good amount of space to go before my fingers fully contact the fretboard, which would explain the stretch. I'll see what my techie friend has to say, and put off something like vengeful pair of 0.12s and say, I dunno....0.16s for the time being. Flatwounds(over here they call them something like "snakewire") might be an interesting set to try out later when the cash is flowing, but we'll see...I didn't like the strangely "dead sounding" D'addario 0.11s I tried on my friend's Gretsch a few years back. Must've been a thing of taste. At any rate...

thanks again, folks!
 

Teleologist

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I also prefer the Ric strings on my modern 360/12(not going for a Brit Invasion sound either). They're gauged 10-42 in order to intonate better with the old-style 6 saddle bridges, but I agree nut setup is critical on a 12 and even then, like a Tele it will never be ideal. I either use a stretch tuning or tune to the key of the song.

For a simple stretch tuning, try tuning the normal strings to a tuner, then tune the octaves to a normal string at the 2nd or 3rd fret(open G octave to 1st string pair at 3rd fret, open D octave to 2nd string pair at 3rd fret, open A octave to 3rd pair normal string at 2nd fret, etc.). Finally, tune the low E string a few cents flat.

I have Pyramid flats on my semi-retired '66 360/12, but I keep it tuned down and use a capo, both because the Pyramids are stiffer than the Ric strings and because that particular guitar is starting to have some structural problems.

Also keep in mind that Rics have a 24.5" scale length and double truss rods so they can be setup for really low action with standard tuning.
 

tdp46

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Pyramids by choice......

Tried both the Ric round wound and Pyramid flat wounds and feel that the the Pyramids give perhaps a greater contrast between the high octave chime and a sort of bass thump that the flat wound bring. But then I'm looking for an early Byrds-type sound.
 

Silverface

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I'm another one that prefers the Pyramids. Oddly, they feel looser to me - not stiffer. The tone is stellar and the darned things seem to last forever.

I've tried just about everything, and Pyramids work best for me.
 




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