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Axelorox

J185-12 string gauge

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What is the proper string gauge for a J185-12? I will soon be the new owner of one. It will be my first every 12 string guitar.

Congrats on your new 12-string! I have .010-.047 on my dread and jumbo 12-strings, tuned to concert pitch.

 

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At one time both Harmony (which was the only U.S. builder even offering a stock 12 string in the 1950s) and Gibson came with a warning to tune the guitar down. But that was because Harmony did not use neck reinforcement and Gibson braced their 12 strings no differently than their 6 strings. Gibson originally set their 12 strings up for a double G string. I always wondered if this was because if you are going to break any string on a 12 string it is going to be the G octave.

 

As noted though, new 12 strings are built to withstand the tension so 10s will work well. The other possibility would be to use something like Newtone 11s which are wound on a round core. There are also Newtone Heritage 11s which are not only low tension but equal balance strings. I prefer Newtone 11s on my 1961 B45-12. But I do keep it tuned down. John Peace also makes a set of heavier gauge strings for tuning down to C#. These are just what the doctor ordered if you want to pull some of that Leadbelly thunder out of your 12 string.

I do know guys who apparently wanting to take no chances or prefer heavier gauge strings who immediately have a Bridge Doctor installed on their new 12 strings.

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start with whatever Gibson shipped it with and THEN experiment is my thought...

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I’d go with lights and also tune a half step down.

 

JC

 

From what I’m learning from my genius luthier, tuning a 12 string down a 1/2 step throws the tension off enough to impair intonation, even when you capo back up to standard.

Edited by drathbun

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Correct me if I'm wrong but all of my acoustic (and electrics too) have truss rods and aren't they there to counteract the tension of the strings pulling on the neck?

 

Of course they do, but backing off the truss rod, although it will restore the action, will not change the amount of tension. It will just compensate a little less due to the reduction in tension tuning down will cause. To get closer to the original string tension of light strings in standard tuning, I'd suggest tuning down a full step and putting on medium strings (and of course, adjusting the truss rod to compensate). Hey, that sounds familiar... tune low, play hard. Who said that? ;)

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