12 String Acoustic Guitar

By: Ronnie Slade

The 12 string acoustic guitar is a great instrument. In technique, it is basically exactly the same as a normal 6 string guitar, yet there is more depth to it. Because it has double strings, it has an added poignancy that is hard to characterise. The sustain is longer, the notes are deeper, and the tone is richer. Even an entry-level 12 string acoustic guitar will have a power and vibrancy that can capture a whole room. Still, they aren't for everyone.!br>
The biggest difficulty with 12 string guitars is keeping them in tune. With a six string acoustic or electric guitar, you also need to keep your strings in tune, but it isn't as sensitive to going out of tune. If one of your pitches drifts slightly, it will barely be audible. With 12 string acoustic guitars, however, it's a whole different story. There are six pairs of strings, so if one of those strings drifts from its partner, you will get a warbling tone that sounds off. Even a slight divergence can completely change the character of your tone, potentially ruining it.
The solution, of course, is to put in the money for a decent 12 string acoustic guitar and good strings. You want to have high quality tuning knobs that will not go out of tune easily, and you want to take your time tuning the guitar just right. At first it will be frustrating and difficult, but the rewards are well worth it. Having a 12 string acoustic guitar perfectly in tune is like no other musical experience there is.
The other problem is that 12 string acoustics aren't suitable for all sorts of playing. If you have a heavy blues style with a lot of pull offs and hammer down, it probably isn't a guitar for you. It is great for finger picking, however, and for very intricate acoustic or classical type music. It is a little bit harder to play than a normal six string guitar because you have to hit both strings at the same time to get it to sound cleanly, but if you can play guitar, it isn't hard to make the jump to 12 strings. I Have seen many people do it successfully.
The only way to really know if a 12 string acoustic guitar is for you is to try one out. Go to the music store and plan on spending a little bit of time there. Make sure you have it tuned up perfectly before you even strum the first note. Then, spend 20 minutes or so checking out different twelve string acoustic guitars. You will know if they call to to you or if they don't. There's a lot you can do with a normal six string electric or acoustic guitar, so don't get a 12 string unless you really feel the passion. You will be able to tell.

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