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Twelve-String Tunes

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Finn McCool 09 May 01 - 02:35 PM
GUEST,Albamist 09 May 01 - 02:44 PM
Mark Clark 09 May 01 - 02:51 PM
Mike Byers 09 May 01 - 04:17 PM
Mountain Dog 09 May 01 - 04:37 PM
M.Ted 09 May 01 - 05:06 PM
Cap't Bob 09 May 01 - 05:12 PM
Mooh 09 May 01 - 06:38 PM
rangeroger 09 May 01 - 10:01 PM
Uncle Jaque 09 May 01 - 10:33 PM
GUEST,nick 10 May 01 - 06:30 AM
LR Mole 10 May 01 - 08:16 AM
M.Ted 10 May 01 - 08:52 AM
Fortunato 10 May 01 - 01:49 PM
Jim the Bart 10 May 01 - 01:58 PM
Finn McCool 10 May 01 - 04:40 PM
Dave the Gnome 10 May 01 - 06:34 PM
Cap't Bob 10 May 01 - 09:41 PM
mkebenn 11 May 01 - 08:05 AM
M.Ted 11 May 01 - 09:06 AM
Cap't Bob 11 May 01 - 08:21 PM
GUEST,Finn McCool 11 May 01 - 09:53 PM
Duane D. 12 May 01 - 03:02 PM
MMario 17 May 01 - 09:02 AM
GUEST,Claymore 17 May 01 - 04:03 PM
Lonesome EJ 17 May 01 - 04:45 PM
Marc St 26 Oct 08 - 04:32 AM
Richard Bridge 26 Oct 08 - 07:18 AM
bubblyrat 26 Oct 08 - 07:37 AM
Lowden Jameswright 26 Oct 08 - 09:25 AM
GUEST,Terry 26 Oct 08 - 09:51 AM
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Subject: Twelve-String Tunes
From: Finn McCool
Date: 09 May 01 - 02:35 PM

Hi, 'Catters!

I was wondering what tunes all you 12-string players out there prefer to play on the 12- rather than the 6-string guitar. I find that certain flatpicked bluegrass type tunes sound much better on 12-string because of the cascade of ringing notes that you get, so that you don't really need an accompanying instrument for it to sound sufficiently full.

Also many *simple* fingerpicked tunes work fine for me on the 12-string, but the intricate Travis style stuff sounds muddy. That may just be due to my lack of dexterity in hitting the strings cleanly and not to any intrinsic property of 12-string guitars, though.

I also like playing some Irish tunes on the 12-string because the change in timbre that you get when shifting between upper and lower registers on the 12-string, between the unison and octave-separated string courses, mimics the changes in timbre that you hear when traditional Irish pipes shift registers.

I would stay away from attempting blues riffs on 12-string, unless you are really adept at making slides sound like bends, or have exceptional finger strength and coordination to bend 2 strings at once and make it sound good. Also, most alternate tuning stuff is *really* a hassle with that many strings.

Any thoughts?

--Finn


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Subject: RE: Twelve-String Tunes
From: GUEST,Albamist
Date: 09 May 01 - 02:44 PM

Although I could not play a note to save myself I love a piece played by Leo Kotke titled "6 and 12 string guitar" give it a listen and enjoy.


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Subject: RE: Twelve-String Tunes
From: Mark Clark
Date: 09 May 01 - 02:51 PM

Finn, I see this is your first Mudcat post. Welcome!

I haven't owned a 12 string guitar for many years but when I did own one I used it trying to imitate Lead Belly. I used to spend hours on end trying to work out his way of playing.

There are quite a few 12 string players around here. I don't think you'll have any trouble finding someone to talk 12 string technique.

      - Mark


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Subject: RE: Twelve-String Tunes
From: Mike Byers
Date: 09 May 01 - 04:17 PM

I like using a 12-string when playing backup for jigs and slip jigs like "Swallowtail Jig" and "The Butterfly". It also works well for me on a 4/4 tune called "Prince William", which is more-or-less a march.


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Subject: RE: Twelve-String Tunes
From: Mountain Dog
Date: 09 May 01 - 04:37 PM

One of my favorite tunes to play on a 12-string is "All Through the Night". Leo's version on "Ice Water" was the inspiration - and still miles beyond my grasp, but it pays to aim high!


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Subject: RE: Twelve-String Tunes
From: M.Ted
Date: 09 May 01 - 05:06 PM

I play the 12-string a lot, and have found ways to fit it into a lot of different types of music--It is a natural for playing rhythm for Tex-Mex Polka music, with those boomy Bass runs leading into the off-beat chords--and, as mentioned above, it is very handy for playing single note melody lines--

I have a few old Gabby Pahinui records--he played amazing slack-key stuff on the 12-string--it seems so natural a sound that I am amazed that it is not the standard instrument for slack-key, and I have a nice arrangement of Aloha Oi that I worked up (not his version, because I could never manage to figure out his secret tuning) in D-down--

Inspired by that, I have a couple standards that I worked up, using the same approach--Over the Rainbow, and Moon River.. I have also worked up some Scandinavian dance melodies and a few other similar things--

I have been meaning to buy a good instrument(to me, the Taylor is the best 12 ever), but never have been able to keep enough money together long enough to find one--


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Subject: RE: Twelve-String Tunes
From: Cap't Bob
Date: 09 May 01 - 05:12 PM

The "Bells of Rhymney" really sounds great on a 12 string. Check out P. Seegers recording.

Cap't Bob


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Subject: RE: Twelve-String Tunes
From: Mooh
Date: 09 May 01 - 06:38 PM

I hate retuning the 12 string but it does sound glorious in DADGAD, so I've been using it lately for accompanying slow airs and songs in that tuning, and using the 6's for standard and other tunings. For this I generally use medium guage strings since the average string tension is much lower than standard, and the strings don't flop around too much. It somewhat satisfies my lust for a bouzouki, since I can't afford one right now, and gives a certain un-guitarlike timbre to things I play. Sounds great with the fiddle too.

Peace. Mooh.


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Subject: RE: Twelve-String Tunes
From: rangeroger
Date: 09 May 01 - 10:01 PM

I love open tunings on my 12, it really sings out.I just have to be prepared to do them by going through a medley of songs that use increasing numbers of dropped strings.Then,when finished,I will set itdown and play on my 6 for a while,eventually taking a break and retuning the 12.

There are a lot of songs that I do on the 12 with it dropped a full step that fit my vocal range better than capoing my 6 string.

The biggest problems I have had relate to carpal tunnel syndrome as my left hand goes numb when chording the 12.

rr


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Subject: RE: Twelve-String Tunes
From: Uncle Jaque
Date: 09 May 01 - 10:33 PM

My YAMAHA twelver currently has only 6 stings rigged on it, which suits my primitive fingerpicking style just fine as they are spaced more like a classical.
When I did have it fully wired, I liked to run it a step low like rangeroger, and capo it up in the unlikely event that any normal picker would want to make music with me. Another rationalle for doing this is about 100 pounds less tension on the neck; 12-stringers are notorious for warping necks over time, and since it took me the better part of a day to tune her up (they are not nearly as forgiving of itty bitty tuning imperfections as are 6's) I was not inclined to de-tune whenever I was not going to be playing it for more than a day. The YAMAHA is built like a Frigate of the line, but I don't want to push our luck.
One of my favorite tunes on the 12'er is "The Wreck Of The Edmund Fitzgerald" by Gordon Lightfoot; it is in a minor key, as are many nautical tunes, and those wild harmonics can make your hair stand on end and virtually feel "The Witch of November"'s icy carress.
My version (Warner Bros. Pub.) uses Asus2, A11, Dsus4, D, Em and the occasional G. BRRrrrrrrr!!!


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Subject: RE: Twelve-String Tunes
From: GUEST,nick
Date: 10 May 01 - 06:30 AM

The reference to a "bouzouki-like" sound reminds me that on the (sadly, only) two occasions I've seen David Lindley perform, the ONLY fretted guitar he used was a 12-string - a Guild acoustic in a show with Wally Lindley, and some strange electric with Ry Cooder... One of the Pahinui Brothers (Gabby's sons) plays 12-string slack key almost exclusively, I believe. Harvey Reid also does a lot of traditional material on it. I love it as a rhythm guitar for country music (a regular rhythm guitar plus a high-strung Nashville tuning all in one!) Nick


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Subject: RE: Twelve-String Tunes
From: LR Mole
Date: 10 May 01 - 08:16 AM

I agree on al points, Finn, except tuning it down, which confuses me hopelessly (yeah, I know it makes a D be a C, or is that an E, it's all too much too think about on the way to the next chord anyhow...) but they certainly are unforgiving, tuning-wise.I keep hoping to get better at finding the ONE string that's throwing all the others off, but it's an even bet I'll tune everything else TO that one. And boy, do they hate to be choked.One bend and they'll sulk for hours. Lovely sound, though.


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Subject: RE: Twelve-String Tunes
From: M.Ted
Date: 10 May 01 - 08:52 AM

The two biggest reasons you don't see more people playing 12's have to be tuning and playability. I tune the six strings first, then the others, which makes it a bit easier for me--(I use a tuning fork, not an electronic tuner, which, apparently, is a personal quirk). My guitar, what ever else it lacks, is playable in tune, in closed position all the way up the neck--From listening to old Tex-Mex recordings, it is clear that playing a 12 in tune is a new idea--

I had an old Harmony 12, and that was a much better sounding and more playable instrument than and of the Gibsons or Guilds that used to be so popular, or in fact, anything that passed for a 12 save one of the Martins or the newer Taylors--unfortuately it had an accident, and I haven't found one that anyone wanted to part with since--

Most 12's, even from fairly reputable makers, seem to be just sixes with extra strings, which means that there is a lot of extra tension--


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Subject: RE: Twelve-String Tunes
From: Fortunato
Date: 10 May 01 - 01:49 PM

Doc Watson's version of Beaumont Rag.

fortunato


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Subject: RE: Twelve-String Tunes
From: Jim the Bart
Date: 10 May 01 - 01:58 PM

Tim Buckley did wonderful stuff on the twelve string, particularly early in his career. "Buzzing Fly" and "Morning Glory" are two of my favorites.

I also love to play "My Dog Blue" on the twelve. I saw Roger McGuinn do it with the Byrds years ago and just love the sound of that riff on that guitar, whether electric or acoustic. For that matter any Byrds tune and many Beatles songs ("If I needed Someone", "Ticket to Ride", "Yes, It Is").

Gee, I wish I owned a twelve right now. . .


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Subject: RE: Twelve-String Tunes
From: Finn McCool
Date: 10 May 01 - 04:40 PM

Bartholomew and Cap't Bob,

Bells of Rhymney and Old Blue happen to be two of the 12-string pieces I'm working on right now.

Old Blue is turning out rather well -- easy arrangement and dramatic effect if you hold off using that bottom D note in Drop(ped) D tuning until poor Blue passes on.

Bells of Rhymney is progressing more slowly. I'm working off Pete Seeger's tablature, but it sure doesn't sound like him!

Hi, Mark!

Thanks for the welcome. This site is a real treasure!!

--Finn


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Subject: RE: Twelve-String Tunes
From: Dave the Gnome
Date: 10 May 01 - 06:34 PM

Hi Finn,

None-stringer myself (bad concertina player) but welcome from the north of England anyway.

Just watch you don't take too long tuning. As one who knows what it takes to tune but not a regular player I must say that a few 12 stringers I have seen take twice as long to tune. No matter how good the chat people do notice!

Good luck anyway

Cheers

Dave the Gnome


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Subject: RE: Twelve-String Tunes
From: Cap't Bob
Date: 10 May 01 - 09:41 PM

Finn ~ My first encounter with a 12 string guitar involved the "Bells of Rhymney". This was years and years ago when a friend and I were on a smelt dipping excursion on evening on Lake Huron. We stopped to visit a fellow who had just purchased a 12 string and the song he was working on was the "Bells of Rhymney" he had an lp of Pete Seeger and had just worked out the first few bars. That evening was the first time I had a 12 string in my hands. I fell in love with the guitar and the song and within a couple of months scraped together enough money to buy a Yamaha 12. I had that guitar for years until Big Mick let me try his Guild about two years ago. I now have a Jumbo Guild (what sound). That song is still my favorite instrumental piece for the 12 string. My problem is that I just do not have enough range in my voice to ever able to sing along with the playing.

Good luck and stick with it ~ I've never been able to use tabs to learn songs on a guitar.

Cap't Bob


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Subject: RE: Twelve-String Tunes
From: mkebenn
Date: 11 May 01 - 08:05 AM

Lightfoot's Canadian Railroad Trilogy makes me wish my Martin had more strings! Mike


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Subject: RE: Twelve-String Tunes
From: M.Ted
Date: 11 May 01 - 09:06 AM

Capt'n Bob,

What part of the song do you get stuck on? And what key are you in? I was just playing through it D, and noticed that the range is from the open D to the F# on the high e string--if you have trouble with the part that goes there though ("Why so worried sister, why?") you can drop down an octave lower--which is to say sing it matching the pitch on the open A string instead of the one on the G string, second fret--

Incidentally, if you are a singer, you should get into the habit of working out the melody on your guitar one note at a time(doesn't have to be to the beat, and it doesn't have to be performance quality) just so you know where the melody really is, and you have something to correct mistakes in singing--


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Subject: RE: Twelve-String Tunes
From: Cap't Bob
Date: 11 May 01 - 08:21 PM

M.Ted

I don't know what happened when they were putting together my voice box but it certainly has problems. I run out of notes when I get to the part "is there hope for the future" a meager "d" and "e". It seems that most songs are written about a half octave high for my voice. I just finished playing the "Bells of Rhymney" in my voice range and found the most comfortable key to be "G" or possibly "A". The problem with this song is that it just does not sound good when the melody is played in anything other than "D". The advantage of the key of "D" seems to be the use all of those open stings when playing the high melody notes way up the neck.

Cap't Bob


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Subject: RE: Twelve-String Tunes
From: GUEST,Finn McCool
Date: 11 May 01 - 09:53 PM

Dave and Cap't Bob,

Thanks for the welcome and the anecdotes.

Bob, as others have suggested here, have you tried tuning your twelve-string a full step or more below concert pitch? That might bring those "hope for the future" bars within reach vocally. BTW, is it the Guild twelve-string that has a double reinforced neck to prevent bowing? This has started to become a problem with my old Fender, and I have tuned it down a half step to reduce the tension on the neck.

Dave, Speaking of the north of England, I have been listening to some taped lessons by Richard Thompson recently, covering Irish and Scottish pipe and fiddle tunes transcribed for guitar. Richard also plays a Morris dance from the sixteenth century on that series. Wild stuff, but I absolutely can't play any of it on a twelve-string guitar. Need my six-string to get those double hammer-ons and bends. Richard rules!

--Finn


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Subject: RE: Twelve-String Tunes
From: Duane D.
Date: 12 May 01 - 03:02 PM

My Guild F-112 spends most of its time in open G or dropped D tunings, which easily lend themselves to many songs and tunes.


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Subject: RE: Twelve-String Tunes
From: MMario
Date: 17 May 01 - 09:02 AM

refresh


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Subject: RE: Twelve-String Tunes
From: GUEST,Claymore
Date: 17 May 01 - 04:03 PM

A finger-picked 12 is an excellent companion to a hammered dulcimer. Try "Music for a New Found Harmonium", any of the old cakewalk tunes like "Colored Aristocracy", or waltzes like "Two Rivers" or "Far Away". Remember that when playing with a hammered dulcimer, you can give him the chord he needs to build on, but you can also drown him out, so do it sparingly, but with projection.


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Subject: RE: Twelve-String Tunes
From: Lonesome EJ
Date: 17 May 01 - 04:45 PM

I like my 12 string Alvarez for bluegrass and country-tinged stuff, where it has some of the flavor of mandolin and dulcimer mixed in. I also like it in any song that has a "baroque" or "medieval" tone, ie John Riley, Wild Mountain Thyme and even the old Stones tune Lady Jane. I'm playing on and off with Mason Williams' Classical Gas and I love the ringing harmonic the 12 gives the minor chords in it. Any Byrds, Beatles, mid-60s folk rock is great for it (McGuinn rules!), and any retro-folk like REM or Live.


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Subject: Blues on a twelve string?
From: Marc St
Date: 26 Oct 08 - 04:32 AM

It's normally not recommended, but this guy can do it:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=W5kO7UIJZLw&feature=related


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Subject: RE: Twelve-String Tunes
From: Richard Bridge
Date: 26 Oct 08 - 07:18 AM

I'm playing the 12 more and more, and so long as I am very careful with the tuning, the stuff I do with the partal capo, mainly playing teh D chord like a DADGAD D (except that with the capo in it's E) with one finger and using the other fingers to pick out a tune or countermelody rings out much better on the 12.

I'd like to use it on the rare occasions when I am talked into playing "Step it out Mary" (I mostly don't play Irish, since I'm not Irish) but I do it in Cminor with the capo at the 7th Fret and that is too much for the tuning of a 12 (the fat strings go sharp relative to the thin ones, even with a grooved capo, unless you have string-to-string saddle compensation which is a really fiddly job even for the best guitar techs)

I'm currently working on an arrangement for "Avram Bailey" in which half of the chords are up the neck (with the partial capo on) - the D (ie E) is a one-finger chord with an E note played on the G string at the 9th fret, the G (ie A) is a two-finger with an E on the A string at the 7th fret and another E on the B string at the 5th fret, and the A (ie B) is a bit trickier with the thumb over the top of the neck for the bottom B, index finger on the top E string for the top B, and the other B on the octave in between on the E string with the ring finger


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Subject: RE: Twelve-String Tunes
From: bubblyrat
Date: 26 Oct 08 - 07:37 AM

I use a "Samick" 12,surprisingly good for a "cheapo" . I have used it to good effect playing for an Appalachian side,and in Irish sessions ( get a few rude remarks / stares, though !!). It is very good I find for tunes like "The Blue-eyed Stranger" and some O'Carolan ( or Carolan, if you must) tunes .


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Subject: RE: Twelve-String Tunes
From: Lowden Jameswright
Date: 26 Oct 08 - 09:25 AM

The classic 12 string sound is "Walk Right In" - and any of Leadbelly's songs of course!


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Subject: RE: Twelve-String Tunes
From: GUEST,Terry
Date: 26 Oct 08 - 09:51 AM

Open D little red rooster
Casey jones
san francisco bay blues (slow -more majestic)
open d vestapol
Gotta go!


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