Are you ready to take your acoustic guitar playing to the next level? The beautiful full-bodied sound of a 12-stringed acoustic guitar can add depth and complexity to any music.
In this guide, you’ll learn about the features and sounds of a 12-string acoustic, as well as our top picks for purchasing one. Get ready to discover the beauty of the 12-string guitar!
The 12-string acoustic guitar is a unique instrument that can produce stunning and complex sounds. This complete guide will help budding guitarists learn all they need to know about this captivating instrument, such as its features, sound, history, and popular models. If you are new to the world of 12-string guitars and want to learn more about these beautiful instruments and their intricacies then look no further!
This guide will start by exploring the history of the 12-string acoustic in order to better understand its design details. From there it will introduce important characteristics such as tone woods and various string types that play an integral role in the sound production of twelve-strings. Finally, this guide will provide readers with expert picks for top 12-string acoustic guitars for different budgets. Players of any level should now have all the information they need go make an informed decision when purchasing their next instrument.
Features of 12-String Acoustic Guitars
12-string acoustic guitars offer a unique tonality and playing experience which can significantly enhance the sound of any piece. Before one can explore the sonic potential of such an instrument, it is crucial to look at some of its most important features.
The most evident feature of a 12-string guitar is that it has twice as many strings as a traditional 6-string acoustic guitar. These additional strings are arranged in pairs (Unison Strings) – each pair consists of one standard string with a higher pitched octave string above it. Other than this doubling up effect, they mimic the same tuning as their 6-string counterparts: EADGBE from low to high strings respectively.
Physically, 12-strings also tend to be larger than traditional acoustic guitars due to their added strings and wider neck radius which accommodates for the wider fret spacing that comes with having two strings per fret. Additionally, 12-strings usually feature reinforced bracing to support not only the added tension but also the fullness and resonance generated at higher tones and loud volumes – allowing for greater sustain.
Alongside stability comes increased playability; although playing isn’t necessarily easier due to more mass over different areas of the neck, having two separate points in which pressure can be applied can make some chords easier three or four fingerable – something which is not possible on 6-strings due its single point nature. Another key point worth mentioning is that 12-strings require special gauge strings due to high tension generated when coupled with their heavier body shape – typically its best to stick with factory allotted brands if provided by your instruments manufacturer during purchase or replacement.
Body shape and size
The shape and size of a 12-string acoustic guitar can impact its sound and playability. These two factors are important to keep in mind when selecting your instrument. Body shapes vary in width, depth, and design, such as dreadnought or parlor. Size also affects sound production and usually it’s correlated with body shape; the larger models having greater depth for better low-end sound projection and the smaller models providing greater maneuverability.
The traditional body shape of 12-strinng guitars is the dreadnought which is created to produce strong mids and bass while being comfortable to hold and play. They are popular among country players, primarily due to their built-in strength of spirit when playing loud accompaniment lines. Small bodied 12-string guitars boast a reduced bass response but can possess increased clarity due to their compactness. Their size provide singers with comfort while they strum out harmonies during live shows or in the studio while recording. Furthermore, parlor shaped bodies on 12-strings provide a vintage sound that’s full of great punchy character without sacrificing anywhere near the amount tone which a dreadnought traditionally produces.
Therefore choosing which body shape is fitting for your needs is vital when searching for an ideal 12-string acoustic guitar since size does matter!
Neck and fingerboard
The neck of a 12-string acoustic guitar is usually made from maple or mahogany and features a rosewood or ebony fingerboard. The neck typically has two strings per fret, which provides more stability and allows for greater strength and accuracy when playing. Additionally, additional frets at the 19th and 21st frets make it more accessible to reach higher notes. Be sure to check the width of the neck when purchasing a 12-string guitar, as some models can be slightly wider than their 6-string counterparts.
The fretboard of a 12-string acoustic guitar varies depending on the brand and model. Typically they are constructed with either rosewood, ebony or walnut while providing greater sustain because of the steel strings that deliver a brighter sound than their 6-string counterparts. You also have more control over intonation with twelve strings as opposed to six.
Bridge and saddle
The bridge of a 12-string guitar is usually made of metal, as it needs to be strong enough to handle the pressure from the 12 strings. The bridge houses each string’s saddle, which helps determine the action (distance between strings and fretboard) and intonation (the accuracy of string tuning). Additionally, the saddles can control how much pressure the string has on the fretboard when it is played — more pressure generally results in more sustain. Most guitars have adjustable bridge saddles so that action and intonation can be adjusted as needed.
The saddle is a small piece of material within the bridge that rests under each string and connects it to the instrument’s body. The saddle is typically made of bone, TUSQ (synthetic ivory), or graphite composite — all materials provide a good transfer of sound from string to body. Certain high-end 12-string guitars have compensated saddles, which have different curvature heights for each string; this ensures accurate intonation across all strings.
Tuning machines are one of the most important components on any stringed instrument. They provide reliable tuning stability and make it easy to adjust string tension. On a 12-string guitar, the tuning machines consist of two sets of six tuners, with each pair operating independently. This allows you to make micro-adjustments in order to tune the string sets separately and helps ensure good intonation when playing chords or single notes.
Most tuning machines are built for durability and long life, so you can be confident about their ability to stay in tune over time. Quality tuning machines also make it easier to change strings quickly and accurately without affecting your overall sound or intonation too drastically.
Materials used in construction
Acoustic guitars, particularly those with 12 strings, involve the careful selection of woods and materials in order to achieve a desirable tone. The back and sides of the guitar are constructed from mahogany or rosewood, with maple as an acceptable alternative for some models. Top wood is typically spruce or red/brown cedar. Over time, these pieces give your guitar its distinctive sound.
The neck also contributes to a 12-string’s construction. Standard neck woods such as maple or mahogany are the most common for acoustic guitars. It’s important for stringed instruments to use dense wood since its density makes it resistant to harsh climate and environmental changes that could cause a throaty intonation known as “wolfing”.
The fretboard is where your fingers make contact with each string when playing chords and notes on your guitar, also known as fingerboard workmanship. Selecting the right fretboard material is an integral part of creating top-notch sound quality; some popular choices include rosewood, ebony, and lightly shaded afrormosia (FRA). Additionally, truss rods can be installed in the neck – this allows you to adjust tension on both sides of frets in order to maintain precise intonation over time; both nylon and steel strings are suited for use with truss rods included necks (depending on type used).
Maintenance and Care of 12-String Acoustic Guitars
Owning a 12-string acoustic guitar is not just about enjoying the sound of its six extra strings and the resulting chiming chorus; it’s also about making sure that you take proper care of your instrument. Taking good care of the 12-string guitar will help keep it sounding and looking great for years to come, so consider these tips for maintenance and care to help maximize your pleasure:
- Strings – Check and replace your strings regularly. The sound of a 12-string guitar is dynamic in nature, so replacing strings frequently helps keep its sound vibrant. Choose high-quality strings from a reliable manufacturer when replacing them, as this will help ensure a high level of performance from your 12-string guitar.
- Nut & Saddle – Inspect the nut, saddle, and bridge regularly for signs of wear or damage. Loose nuts or saddles may lead to string buzzing when playing, so make sure they are securely fastened onto the guitar neck. Replacement becomes necessary when these parts can no longer be tightened any further or have sustained irreparable damage due to wear.
- Fretboard & Headstock – Frequent playing may cause dead spots on parts that come in contact with strings during play such as frets and headstock. Cleaning these areas with a soft cloth moistened with rubbing alcohol helps remove dirt buildup and prevents damage such as rotting caused by negligent cleaning practices like wiping down wood with cloth soaked in water or harsh chemicals that could strip away natural oils necessary for good fret preservation
For players looking to add an interesting sonic component to their music without complicating things, an acoustic 12-string guitar is definitely worth considering! With proper maintenance and care habits firmly in place — inspecting strings, nuts/bridges/saddles frequently, taking time to clean fretboards regularly — you can ensure that your 12-string acoustic guitar looks great while sounding amazing performance after performance!
Cleaning and polishing
To prolong the aesthetic and sonic beauty of your 12-string acoustic guitar, proper maintenance is necessary; regular cleaning, as well as timely restrings, will keep your instrument in optimal playing condition. The first step to caring for and prolonging the life of your 12-string guitar is to make sure that it is properly cleaned and polished. Below you’ll find some simple tips on how to take care of it:
- Clean the body and neck: Using a slightly damp cloth, wipe down both the body and neck of the guitar gently. If necessary, use a mixture of water and mild detergent free soap to remove any dirt or dust buildup. Do not scrub or use rough force as this can damage the finish. Wipe away all moisture from the body afterward with a clean dry cloth.
- Clean strings & bridge: Use either a toothbrush or q-tip swab with a small amount of mild cleaning solution to carefully and gently wipe away any dirt build up along the strings & bridge. Use caution not to scrub too hard which can damage both parts’ potential sound quality & performance over time depending on type/squeeze force used etc
- Polish: Depending on type/brand, apply some guitar polish in strategic areas such as tuning pegs & fingerboard – while polishing make sure NOT to get solution on/in string slots (could cause corrosion). For body polishing, we recommend specifically designed polish such as Johnson Liquid Guitar Polish or similar products according to guitar’s finish specifications (don’t forget to record those) Finally – be sure all excess residue has been completely wiped off along with other areas when finished.
Humidity and temperature control
Proper temperature and humidity control is essential for 12-string acoustic guitars in order to maintain their sound quality. Temperature and humidity can both affect the tone of acoustic guitars, as well as the longevity of the instrument. When stored in temperatures that are too low, the hardwood that makes up an acoustic guitar can become brittle and cause cracks. If the temperature is too high, parts of the guitar may expand causing structural damage over time. Similarly, if humidity is too low it can cause fret warpage or fretboard swelling leading to string buzz or difficulty with intonation. Too much moisture in an acoustic guitar’s environment can lead to mold growth — a problem that not only affects a guitar’s finish but also its sound quality.
To ensure optimal sound quality and longevity of your 12-string acoustic guitar, it’s important to maintain proper temperature and humidity levels within its environment. Depending on where you store your instrument (e.g., at home or on stage) there are various products available on the market that help regulate temperature and/or humidity levels in a given area. Products such as hygrometers and dehumidifiers are good investments if you are looking to protect against long-term climate-based damage to your musical instruments including 12-string acoustic guitars.
String and fretboard maintenance
Caring for the strings and fretboard of a 12-string acoustic guitar is essential for preserving its sound and keeping it in top playing condition. It’s important to regularly inspect the fretboard, strings, and bridge for any signs of wear or damage. Depending upon how often the guitar is played, it’s recommended that strings be replaced every 3-6 months. Additionally, the fretboard should be cleaned with a slightly damp cloth to remove dirt, dust, fingerprints or sweat before every playing session. Apply lemon oil every few months to help keep the fretboard moisturized and free of dirt build-up.
It’s important to note that 12-strings put a greater amount of tension on both the body of the guitar and the strings, leading to increased wear and tear over time. This means they require more special care than your typical 6-string acoustic instrument. If possible have an expert refret or restring your guitar when needed instead of trying to do it yourself in order to ensure time is spent on each step with great attention given for any mistakes made along the way so your guitar can remain in optimum condition for as long as possible!
Storage and transportation
Once you have found the perfect 12-string acoustic guitar, storage and transportation will become a major consideration. Storing your 12-string in a hard case is the best way to protect it from damage and ensure its longevity. Hard cases provide an excellent insulation against temperature changes and prevent scratching or other damage from accidental falls.
If your guitar will be traveling with you, an airline-grade hard case is strongly recommended.
For those transporting their instrument around town or to the occasional gig, look for a quality gig bag designed specifically for 12-string acoustic guitars. A good quality gig bag provides padding for structural protection as well as pockets for storing strings, picks and other accessories. While not as rugged as hard cases, these bags provide an affordable option to get your guitar safely around town.
When choosing either type of storage solution, take into account the size of your instrument – many cases are not large enough on their own to fit longer scales such as jumbos or baritones. It can be helpful in some cases to buy a case “liner” that adds additional cushioning and helps protect against temperature fluctuations and jostling when traveling by car or airplane.
In conclusion, 12-string acoustic guitars are a fantastic instrument that provide an exciting range of features and sound quality. The increased string tension allows for a slight boost in volume, allowing for plenty of projection that can be heard over raised voices or background noise. It also allows for greater expression and playing techniques to be explored. Unlike some other types of guitars, the body styles and materials used vary widely, allowing everyone from beginners to professional players to find a 12-string guitar that suits their needs perfectly.
We’ve put together an overview of the most popular 12-string acoustic guitars on the market today and what makes them stand out. If you’re looking to add some variety and complexity to your sound, then a 12-string guitar may be just what you need. With the right care and maintenance, your 12-sng will give you years of great performance.
What is special about a 12 string acoustic guitar?
A 12-string acoustic guitar has twice the number of strings as a standard 6-string guitar, which produces a richer and fuller sound. The strings are arranged in pairs, with one string in each pair tuned an octave higher than the other.
What is the best pick for 12-string guitar?
The best pick for a 12-string guitar is a thin, flexible pick that allows for greater precision and control when picking individual strings. A pick made of materials such as nylon or celluloid is ideal for producing a clear and bright sound.
What are the characteristics of a 12-string guitar?
The main characteristic of a 12-string guitar is the doubled strings, which produce a ringing, chorus-like effect when played. The extra strings also create a fuller, richer sound that is ideal for strumming and fingerpicking.
What are the main features of the acoustic guitar?
The main features of an acoustic guitar include a hollow body, a soundhole, and steel strings. Acoustic guitars can come in a variety of sizes and shapes, each with their own unique sound and tone.
What are the benefits of a 12-string guitar?
The benefits of a 12-string guitar include a richer and fuller sound, greater versatility in terms of playing styles, and the ability to produce a unique and distinctive sound that is difficult to replicate with other instruments.
Does a 12-string sound better?
Whether a 12-string guitar sounds better than a 6-string guitar is subjective and depends on personal taste. However, a 12-string guitar does produce a fuller and richer sound due to the doubled strings.
Do all 12-string guitars sound the same?
No, not all 12-string guitars sound the same. Factors such as the size and shape of the body, the type of wood used, and the construction of the guitar can all affect the sound and tone of a 12-string guitar.
Who plays a 12 string acoustic guitar?
Many famous musicians have played the 12-string guitar, including Bob Dylan, Pete Seeger, and Lead Belly. The instrument is popular in folk, rock, and blues music.
Is it good to start with a 12-string guitar?
Starting with a 12-string guitar may be more challenging for beginners due to the extra strings and the need for greater finger strength and dexterity. It is generally recommended that beginners start with a standard 6-string guitar before moving on to a 12-string guitar.
What music uses 12-string guitar?
The 12-string guitar is commonly used in folk, rock, and blues music, as well as in some forms of country and world music. It is often used for accompaniment and for playing melodies, as well as for creating a rich and full sound when strumming chords.
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