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12 String ideas...


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May I first apologise - I don't belong in any other guitar forums, and would like to canvas opinion on a 12 string acoustic, but realise the answer to my questions may not be "Gibson", nor Gibson enough to warrant a thread on the Gibson Forum - please let me know if it is inappropriate, and I'll remove it to elsewhere.


To set the scene: As you may or may not know, I am at best of beginner/intermediate standard (my J45 is far better than I deserve in honesty), and primarily a strummer. I have been mulling over adding a 12 string to the armoury (as well as the J185, the AJ500R!!) circa UK £500 ($750 USD)-I don't imagine this to be my "go to" guitar, but I think I would like one as there are times I'm playing and wish I could try it out on a 12. I have been looking at Takamine/Guild esque models, but have played a nice Mation too, with QSD Walnut b/s. Any other suggestions for me to go hunt out to try...?


Incidentally, would it be fair of me to say that Gibson/Epiphone 12 strings appear limited in choice - are the only one's available as custom?


Thanks in advance folks!

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I own and play regularly an old Harmony Stella 12 string that I bought on eBay for under 100.00. It has slotted tuners, a tailpiece, and floating bridge. I love it! You can see them in action on youtube.

This one is exactly like mine:

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My two cents -- or pence as the case may be -- as follows:


I would not want to say to a player who doesn't play 12-string too often "Don't bother getting one, because it's a one-trick pony...". That is a standard reply to folks who are thinking about a 12-string. It is true however that, despite the wonderful piano-like chimey lush fullness that a 12-string brings, it DOES have that bigger neck, it DOES require more finger and hand strength to play cleanly, and it is even MORE important that the guitar be designed and constructed well in order to be a playable instrument, and for it to last without folding itself up due to its higher string tension. (So don't buy a cheap one, e.g.)


Having said all that, I would suggest that even if you presently don't envision yourself playing a 12-string too much, you may just as easily find that the thing draws you in so that you DO play it more than you had thought, thereby expanding your musical horizons somewhat and challenging you into a new way of playing "that" song, etc.


My 12-string quest has led me through about 6 or 7 12-string guitars, starting with a crappy old '80s Fender, and leading through a Gibson J-200Jr-12, two Rickenbacker 12s (still have one of those), a J-185-12 and a Heiden small jumbo 12-string (which I also still have). My challenge has been to find the sound as well as the playability, and for the later I really need a narrower neck than the typical 1 and 7/8" nut dimension and baseball bat neck girth usually associated with an acoustic 12-string.


I would certainly recommend the J-185-12 to you, having had that, I found it to be the best sounding one in terms of lively sound, good bass response, and balanced tone. I merely found that -- for me -- the neck was too big for me to play comfortably, so I sold the guitar. My Heiden 12 has a 1.75" neck-at-nut width and a lowish profile, more comfortable than the Gibson. (But it weren't cheap!)


Okay, maybe that was 4 cents' worth.



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I have a custom shop Hummingbird 12 string from Fullers. The nice thing about Gibson 12's is that the 24 3/4" scale makes them somewhat easier on the hand. Mine's set up with really low action, and is not that much of a stretch to play. I thought it would be kind of a one trick pony too, but spent several weeks really playing nothing but that guitar. A suprising range of songs sound good on 12 strings, even if they weren't really recorded with that in mind. The Hummingbird is a beautiful guitar--so nice that I started looking around for a "stage" 12 string (couldn't bring myself to bring the Gibson to some of the bars and gigs we play). I ended up with a Rainsong WS-3000. Man, if you ever get a chance to try one of those, I think you'd be really impressed. It's a little brighter than the Gibson, a lot louder too, and roughly equal in playability, with maybe an ever so slight nod to the Rainsong. I don't think the Hummingbird has what most would consider a traditional 12 string sound (seems most 12 stringers lean away from dreadnoughts and toward smaller jumbos) but it is quite a beautiful sound. If I had to have only one 12 string, I think I'd go with the Rainsong. The problem with the Rainsongs is that they are expensive (on par with the Custom Shop Gibby) and not very common, but I think the Gibsons are few and far between as well. If you can find a used Rainsong on ebay, for a reasonable price, that would have my nod. You never have to worry about humidity, temperature changes (within reason), or top distortion from the pressure of 12 strings at concert pitch, so, from that standpoint they are kind of a neat instrument. Carbon fiber's not everyone's cup of tea. I have one of their 6 string jumbos (JM-1000) and I like the tone of the twelve string a whole lot better-seems to sound more traditional. I've played Taylors and Guilds, and both the Rainsong and the Gibson were easier on the hand. I agree with Shrimer, you never know how much the 12 string may grab you and you may end up spending more time on it than you would have thought. It does make sense to seek out quality in this regard.

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The best acoustic 12 strings IMO are made by Taylor and Guild (the old Guild).


If you're not into the price tag of those, try a Yamah FG720-12. Solid spruce top. Excellent sounding 12 string acoustic for around $300.

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+ 1 with drathburn on the Yammies but be really really careful those model numbers can confuse and you end up with a chinese MDF with laminated top.


AJ's very happy with his Tak , he was in a similar quandry to you.


Seagull is another good budget 12 string, I have had a couple of the cedar ones and despite my efforts to dig through the table with both pick and fingers they have always performed very well.


Good luck with your quest

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I spent alot of time a shoe leather last year looking for an upgrade for my Adam Black 12 string. I'm still looking for a Gibson, Taylor or Guild 12 string in the UK. You'll be very lucky if you find one anywhere near that price and if you do, it will almost certainly be too good to be true. Don't waste you time hankering over a Gibson/Taylor/Guild at this price range - you'll just beat yourself up.


I've played a few high end 12ers and my favourite so far is a j185-12 of Robbie's.


Top of my list to consider at this sort of price would be Yamaha. If you are looking to gig regularly the CPX 12 string has a good acoustic sound and good electrics. The FG 720 12 that John mentions is also a good starting point.


Crafter do a few and I've played a couple in shops and they're OK but Yamaha would be a safer bet.


I stumbled across my Tak having gone to play an SWD12 and knew I'd found a good one after the first open G chord. I was lucky. I paid £450 with OHSC and it was 2 years old


I've owned a Takamine EG523SC which is a fine jumbo sized acoustic but sold it after I bought the SWD. Really good guitar and the 12ers I've played have been impressive. Try one of these as well.


One I've not seen or played but very interesting is the Epi J200-12.


There's a good choice in your price range but don't expect what you find to be in the same league as you J45. It depends what you want. I like the zinging/ chorusy tone of 12 strings and electric are important for me.


And don't fall into the one trick pony camp. That's for people with no imagination. I play alot on both. Also try using a capo on the 12 string. It will really open up many possibilities.


Hope this helps.

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