The Mudcat Café TM
Thread #132518   Message #2998840
Posted By: Don Firth
03-Oct-10 - 02:13 PM
Thread Name: 12 String Guitars - why?
Subject: RE: 12 String Guitars - why?
Historically, many hand-plucked stringed instruments have been double strung. The lute in its many permutations (including the mandolin, which is actually a small lute that people still play, not knowing that it is, historically, a small lute), the Spanish vihuela, the early guitars.

The granddaddy of most of these instruments was the Moorish oud, which was introduced into Spain in the seventh century (I believe, but I wasn't actually there). The word oud (actually "al oud") morphed linguistically into "lute." The doubled strings were called "courses." The fairly standard, basic lute (CLICKY) had five courses, and a top single string called a "chanterelle."

Then, there is the direct ancestor of the modern guitar and the 12-string guitar:   the baroque guitar (
CLICKY), which had five courses (five doubled strings).

Here is a sample of a local Seattle girl (Elizabeth CD Brown, who teaches guitar and lute locally) playing a baroque guitar:   (TWANG!!)

So the 12-string guitar is sort of a modern version of the vihuela.

I've heard a twelve string guitar played like a classic guitar, and it sounds like a harpsichord with an excess of testosterone.

Don Firth

P. S. Why a 12-string guitar? Might as well ask, "Why a big grand piano?" when there are much smaller spinets that take up less space.