12 String Guitars Are Cool – Here’s How To Tune Them

What’s really cool about a twelve string guitar? The difference is obvious – you have twice the strings. Twice the strings means twice as good right? It’s pretty close.

Takamine 12 string guitar

A Takamine 12 String Guitar

Of course this is dependent upon your ability to play the guitar in general; but it doesn’t take as much as you think to be able to sound like a master musician for your peers, and more importantly, your girlfriend.

The real difference you get playing a 12 string guitar is the sense of body and tone.

Take for instance the bottom E string: You have your usual E string, but just in front you’ll find another thinner string, [hopefully] tuned to exactly one octave above it.

This is consistent throughout the whole guitar, aside from the top few strings which have another replicating string tuned to exactly the same note. The effect you’ll experience is exactly why it was invented in the first place.

Tuning A 12 String Guitar

Tuning a 12 string guitar isn’t quite as difficult as it seems. Simply said (from the top lowest to the bottom highest):
eE aA dD gG BB EE; lower case letters represent one octave pitch above it’s paired string.

First, recognize and start with your 6 main strings; tune the bottom E string with a tuner [or by ear], then tune it’s paired string – this is easy because it’s the same note, just one octave (12 frets) higher.

From this point on you can either tune the paired strings during or after tuning your 6 main strings. The 5th fret on the 6th (bottom, lowest) string will match the 5th string perfectly when in tune.

This is consistent for all of the strings on your guitar except for the 3rd and 2nd string, where the 4th fret on the 3rd string will match the open 2nd string.

Quick Tip: The 3rd (G) string’s pair is the most common string to break; use .009 gauge or thinner to increase string life.

Here’s An Excellent Video By Dave Doll On How To Restring And Tune Your 12 String

Songs to learn for 12 string guitars: Any song sounds cooler on a twelve string guitar. The difference is that finger picking versus picking (with well, a pick) sounds much smoother, and even though you sacrifice volume your tone will ultimately sound better.

If you’re a classical guitarist, your classical guitar playing style is much similar, except your fingers need to be less plucking and more sweeping in motion to make sure you’re hitting both paired strings evenly for each note.

Check Out Some 12 String Guitar Songs in the Videos Below

Amazing 12 string guitar piece written by Mark Shobbrook called Blue House

And maybe some day, you’ll be as cool as this guy:

stevie ray vaughan – rude mood – 12 string guitar


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