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Advice on best value strings/best gauge for acoustic 12-string

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Advice on best value strings/best gauge for acoustic 12-string

Postby Les » Wed Jan 11, 2012 12:42 pm

Hi folks. Long time no post from me.

I've just bought a Tanglewood 12-string acoustic - not a top-end one by any means - one of those discontinued TW1200 models. I'm used to buying strings for and stringing 6-string acoustics and usually choose a standard or a light gauge, but i'm not really sure of the best gauge to choose for a 12-string - or the best makes either. Obviously I dont want to spend an absolute fortune on strings for a bottom-end guitar though I appreciate better strings will always (or usually) bring out the best in any instrument. I'm ok with tuning too, but would also aprpeciate some tips on avoiding breakages (i'm told the "A" string is especially prone to this?) when stringing and tuning.

All help gratefully received

Cheers all

Les
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Re: Advice on best value strings/best gauge for acoustic 12-string

Postby zenguitar » Wed Jan 11, 2012 1:01 pm

I don't play as much as I should, so on my 6 string acoustic I've dropped to 11's when I used to use 12's or 13's. With that in mind, on my 12-string acoustic I tune down a full step (dD, gG, cC, fF, AA, DD) and currently have D'Addario 80/20 Bronze 10's (EJ36). In the past I was happy to use 11's tuned down a full step.

Others, of course, will have their preferences.

Dropping 12-strings by a step (or more) is typical. You can tune to concert pitch, but watch out for any potential damage. For many years I kept my 12-strng acoustic at concert pitch strung with 9's or 10's. I bought it around 1981 in Germany as a second, the headstock had broken off in transit and had been repaired. Within 6 months of playing at standard pitch the basic repair broke apart. So I got it repaired properly and it has survived ever since.

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Re: Advice on best value strings/best gauge for acoustic 12-string

Postby Hewesy » Wed Jan 11, 2012 3:36 pm

Pretty sure mine has the D'Addario EJ36 set, as I love the D'Addario Phospher Bronze set/sound.

Tuned to normal concert tuning, no problems on my Wasburn D10S12.

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Re: Advice on best value strings/best gauge for acoustic 12-string

Postby Les » Fri Jan 13, 2012 3:34 pm

Thanks guys - a stark warning there! Thanks for the strings/gauge recommendations too. So I suppose if tuning down a full step its just a matter of transposing parts back up a step either by barring (which presumably isnt always possible for all parts - unless youre a virtuoso - im not!) or using a capo - especially where there are open strings involved in a part. Still, I will proceed with caution and consider gauges etc carefully Cheers
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Re: Advice on best value strings/best gauge for acoustic 12-string

Postby caveman82 » Sat Jan 14, 2012 1:49 pm

The advice to keep a 12 string down by 2 semi tones is good advice not just to reduce the tension on the neck etc but also on the fingers.

If you use the 12 string as a vocal accompaniment, and don't want to downtune (ie don't want to use a capo etc etc) there are other ways to reduce the tension on the neck and fingers, by using lower tension strings eg Silk and Steel (Martin and D'addario make them as do other companies) varieties or Newtone Heritage Strings

http://www.stringsdirect.co.uk/products/5811-newtone_heritage_12_string_acoustic_guitar_strings_low_tension_12_51

My recommendation for strings is if you want a chunky sound then Phosphor Bronze (PB) strings are a good choice, if however a sound that 'sparkles' then 80/20 strings a good choice. I'd recommend that variety of strings for 'duller' sounding instruments, and PB for 'brighter' sounding instruments too.

I don't know how often you change your strings or play the 12 string guitar, but if you don't play it that often and change your strings that often I'd advocate getting some coated strings, which are more expensive than normal strings but will last a very long time, maybe 3-4 times longer than normal strings. Elixirs are a popular choice as are D'addario EXP's for coated strings, that come in 80/20 and PB variety.
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Re: Advice on best value strings/best gauge for acoustic 12-string

Postby Les » Sat Jan 14, 2012 4:29 pm

Thanks for that. More to consider. I think a more "sparkly" sound might suit my intentions actually, and the advice on coated strings is a great idea, although I DO tend to play as much as I can - time permitting. Having said that I wont be gigging (unless things change) so itll mainly be about self-gratification (as the Bishop said to the actress. Ahem). Checked out the price of some of the strings mentioned previously and they seem unexpectedly reasonable so may even (which is unusual for me) get one (or more) spare sets as well.

Thanks again
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Re: Advice on best value strings/best gauge for acoustic 12-string

Postby Hewesy » Sat Jan 14, 2012 7:07 pm

Just on the detuning point, when I got my Washburn I emailed them to see if I should detune.

Their advice was to stick at standard as the instrument could take it.

Might be worth emailing to check.

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Re: Advice on best value strings/best gauge for acoustic 12-string

Postby Les » Tue Jan 17, 2012 12:11 am

A wee update since you folks were kind enough to offer advice - the "beast" arrived earlier today - and lo-and-behold it came already strung with D'Addario strings (tuned at concert pitch incidentally, and still reasonably in tune considering it had been in transit - already pretty well set up too, though it'll obviously need a bit of - careful - tweaking!) - no details of which particular type, and the gauge wasnt indicated but they appear to be quite bright in tone which is exactly what i'd hoped for )

Many thanks for the tips chaps!

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