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12-string tuning/tension/capo issues

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Richard Bridge 08 Apr 05 - 07:23 PM
s&r 08 Apr 05 - 07:28 PM
s&r 08 Apr 05 - 07:41 PM
Richard Bridge 08 Apr 05 - 10:02 PM
Marc St 24 Oct 08 - 03:28 PM
GUEST 24 Oct 08 - 07:32 PM
Marc St 25 Oct 08 - 11:56 AM
GUEST,zig 25 Oct 08 - 12:01 PM
Tim Leaning 25 Oct 08 - 12:25 PM
Richard Bridge 25 Oct 08 - 03:39 PM
Tim Leaning 25 Oct 08 - 04:07 PM
Bru 25 Oct 08 - 06:04 PM
Tangledwood 25 Oct 08 - 06:42 PM
Bru 25 Oct 08 - 07:07 PM
Murray MacLeod 25 Oct 08 - 07:35 PM
Richard Bridge 26 Oct 08 - 03:33 AM
Tangledwood 26 Oct 08 - 04:01 AM
Marc St 26 Oct 08 - 04:25 AM
Tim Leaning 26 Oct 08 - 06:49 AM
Marc St 26 Oct 08 - 01:35 PM
mauvepink 21 Feb 11 - 02:41 PM
harmonic miner 22 Feb 11 - 11:28 AM
harmonic miner 22 Feb 11 - 11:54 AM
Bernard 22 Feb 11 - 01:47 PM
GUEST,david o 29 Dec 15 - 08:17 PM
banjoman 30 Dec 15 - 06:35 AM
GUEST,# 30 Dec 15 - 08:24 AM
Sean Belt 30 Dec 15 - 11:06 AM
GUEST,trews 30 Dec 15 - 01:56 PM
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Subject: 12-string tuning/tension/capo issues
From: Richard Bridge
Date: 08 Apr 05 - 07:23 PM

There have been a shedload of threads about the above - I just read most of them. Two of the issues I discuss below seem not to have been dealt with, and one has been answered definitively (by Rick Fielding) but it bears repeating.

Capos (Rick Fielding is God!).
1. Capo as close to the fret as possible, never more than 1 mm away. That way with luck you pull the string ONLY to the fret and do not clamp it to the fingerboard and so pull it sharp.
2. Groove the rubber on the capo where the "fat" strings are. Rick recommended bottom E and A, but I think it may be worth trying D and maybe the G as well unless you play a unison G pair
3. Never put the capo tighter than is needed to get the strings down to the fret.

Saddle Compensation - and maybe a different answer.
1. I assume we all understand the concept of the B compensated saddle. Because the B string is thicker than the top E, there is stiffness in it as it passes the saddle (Buzz Felten applies a similar principe at the nut) so the vibration in the string behaves as if the node in the string (the non-vibrating point, in this case the non-vibrating endpoint) were slightly further up the string. IE the string behaves as if it is shorter than it really is. So it goes sharp as fretted and can be observably out at the octave. So the saddle is shaved back or angled to make the string a bit longer than the simple maths would say it ought to be, in order to compensate for this "end-effect". Similarly, as the saddle is angled, it compensates for the bottom E being thicker than the A which is thicker than the D which is thicker than a wound G.
2. Now think about a 12 string. Apart from the B and top E, every pair of strings is one thin one and one thick one. So, as you fret the strings, as you move up the fretboard, the thicker one gets slowly more sharp. Hence special 12 string compensated saddles with tiny compensated bits for each string - and a problem if there need to be grooves in the saddle to line the string up. So there's the problem. Is there another way to reduce it? I have just put a set of so-called "piano-end" strings on my 12. They are Rotosound Country Golds. The winding does not come all the way to the bridge, so the wound strings are thinner as they go over the saddle, and, I guess, the end effect is less. Moreover, a string not wound all the way to the end would go out of tune anyway as you fretted it, because the mass/length ratio of the unfretted part would change. So I'm guessing there may be a heavy bit of the winding, near the end where the winding stops - which in turn would make the string vibrate more at the heavy point and so reduce the end effect. I'm still at the "It's got new strings on and will it ever get back to stable tuning?" stage so I can't say I'm really conducting an experiment yet, but does anyone else have a view on the theory?

String Tension/tuning.
Plenty of people tune down to reduce stress on the guitar. I was playing 11s on my 12, but in E flat (ie one step or semitone down). I have put 10s on and brought it up to concert. I'm sure I've seen charts somewhere that show you what the tension is of a string of a given diameter at a given pitch at a given scale length, but now that I want one, can I find it? Does anyone either know where I can find a chart like that, or know for sure whether a 10 in E is tighter than an 11 in E flat. I reckon I could probably work out the engineering math of it, because the mass per unit length will go up as the square of the diameter, and I must have an old engineering textbook here somewhere about spring vibrations (probably the chapter after pendulums) but a ready made answer would be easier and less open to doubt...


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Subject: RE: 12-string tuning/tension/capo issues
From: s&r
Date: 08 Apr 05 - 07:28 PM

Doesn't the twelve string rely on some mistuning between the pair to give the tremelo tuning which is part of the charm of a twelve string?

Stu


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Subject: RE: 12-string tuning/tension/capo issues
From: s&r
Date: 08 Apr 05 - 07:41 PM

This might help, Richard. Hope this works

Stu


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Subject: RE: 12-string tuning/tension/capo issues
From: Richard Bridge
Date: 08 Apr 05 - 10:02 PM

I try to get each course into perfect tune - ie wholly dry - if I can.

I coldn't make that applet work, it kept telling me "no guage data" but I found another, and I can now say that a 10 in E is slightly slacker than an 11 in Eb, but not quite as slack as an 11 in D.


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Subject: RE: 12-string tuning/tension/capo issues
From: Marc St
Date: 24 Oct 08 - 03:28 PM

I figured out the "ideal" string gauge for my Tele and six string acoustic, but I'm really puzzled about my twelve string.
I use 13-56's on my six string acoustic, I don't mind a little resistance from the strings, as long as it sounds good. I wonder how heavy one can go on a 12 string, tuned one step down.


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Subject: RE: 12-string tuning/tension/capo issues
From: GUEST
Date: 24 Oct 08 - 07:32 PM

13-56 should work fine on a 12-string tuned to D. The little warranty/advice booklet from Guild, in the 70s, recommended tuning to E only with light gauge strings (by which they meant, I'm sure, the ones now sold as XL, ie, 12-47) and tuning down a whole note with anything heavier than "light."

Personally, I wouldn't tune 12-47 lower than D in any case; the only set I ever used were 'way too slack at C#.

13-56, which most mfrs call "Medium" but mine (Darco) brands as "Light," does fine at C#, the highest I've ever had my cheapo 12-string tuned. It should be OK at D, but I can't say from my own knowledge. A friend had an Ovation 12 back in the 70s and tuned it to E with 13-56. I haven't seen him in years and don't know how it held up, but it seemed pretty stable at the time. However, I'm from the McTell school and prefer a much lower tuning.

13-56 is good for C#, not bad for C, and tolerable at B (which is where I keep my 12) when the strings are fresh. As they get older and stretchier, I find myself tightening it up a little, first to C, then to C#. When the strings feel slack at C# I know it's time to change.


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Subject: RE: 12-string tuning/tension/capo issues
From: Marc St
Date: 25 Oct 08 - 11:56 AM

Thanks for your valuable advice. I'm used to 10's on my twelve string, and next time I restring I will try 12's tuned one step down.
Found this on Internet: http://www.guitarmusic.org/kottke/ggpn87.html
Marc


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Subject: RE: 12-string tuning/tension/capo issues
From: GUEST,zig
Date: 25 Oct 08 - 12:01 PM

I've used 10's on a Tak 12 in E for 28 years with no prob. I find Elixirs excellent for this as I do lots of ceilidh playing.
I use 12's on my Harmony 12 in D.


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Subject: RE: 12-string tuning/tension/capo issues
From: Tim Leaning
Date: 25 Oct 08 - 12:25 PM

While you experts are talking twelve string.
Is there any particular order you use when you restring a 12?
I always start with the heaviest string on me 6.
Just wondered if any way was more or less awkward to do the job.


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Subject: RE: 12-string tuning/tension/capo issues
From: Richard Bridge
Date: 25 Oct 08 - 03:39 PM

It partly depends on whether it is slotted head or peghead.


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Subject: RE: 12-string tuning/tension/capo issues
From: Tim Leaning
Date: 25 Oct 08 - 04:07 PM

Its got pegs.
I know its a bit daft but I have been putting off fitting the new strings I bought when I got the guitar.
another thing Iwas wondering about was do the thick strings have to be ahead of the thicker ones on the downstroke?
Probably beacause I have not played it much I find I cant pick a decent bass with me thumb.
Just incompetence but if the thick string were the lowest....


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Subject: RE: 12-string tuning/tension/capo issues
From: Bru
Date: 25 Oct 08 - 06:04 PM

Now this is a subject (finally) I know something about; I've got eight of them + plus an old LG12 in bits. On the lower strings (E A D & G) the higher octave string should be the first one you hit on the downstroke. Most nuts will give this away, as they're usually slotted to take the strings, andyway.

On slotheads, I start at the nut. The only reason is convenience; the end couple of strings don't get in the way when they're already on. I've had twelve stringers for 40 years, and I still find slots a pain up the arse to restring.

Pegs - I also start at the nut end. Same reason; if you start at the other end of the machine head, strings already on get in the way as you work your way back to the nut.


From long habit, I tend to take all the old strings off, give the whole box a good clean (Pledge) with a soft cloth, and then replace the strings in pairs starting with bottom E's.

If you haven't got a good tuner - leave the old top E's on as a tuning reference until the other sets are in tune.

Regarding thumb picking, I can't help much because I'm a flat picker - but I have seen 12 stringers with the E & A higher octave strings removed to help with thumb picking.


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Subject: RE: 12-string tuning/tension/capo issues
From: Tangledwood
Date: 25 Oct 08 - 06:42 PM

" From long habit, I tend to take all the old strings off, give the whole box a good clean (Pledge) with a soft cloth, and then replace the strings in pairs starting with bottom E's. "


That's something I'd like to do. I heard or read ages ago that removing all strings would invite warping when the tension is released. I take it that you haven't found that to be a problem?


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Subject: RE: 12-string tuning/tension/capo issues
From: Bru
Date: 25 Oct 08 - 07:07 PM

Not yet, I haven't. My two oldest guitars have both had work done; they're identical model '69/70 Epiphones - one I've had from new - and both have suffered the usual bolt-on neck problems of that model - the neck block shifting, and strut coming unglued. Both necks are fine, though - considering how slim and narrow the necks are compared with my more recent 12 stringers. The intonation is still good on both guitars.


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Subject: RE: 12-string tuning/tension/capo issues
From: Murray MacLeod
Date: 25 Oct 08 - 07:35 PM

I heard or read ages ago that removing all strings would invite warping when the tension is released

depends what you mean by "warping".

obviously, when the strings are removed and the tension is released, the neck will develop a back-bow, this is quite normal, and will correct itself when the instrument is restrung.


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Subject: RE: 12-string tuning/tension/capo issues
From: Richard Bridge
Date: 26 Oct 08 - 03:33 AM

NEVER use furniture polish. It leaves a wax or waxy residue - IE your instrument becomes a sort of candle with the wood inside the wax. Now find a candle and see how well it resonates when struck or plucked.

Also NEVER use any polish with silicones in - if you have to have any refinishing done it will make it the devil's own job to get the new bit of finish to apply without pinholing.

Guaranteed silicone-free guitar polish is best. A damp cloth (you can use just a smidgeon of soap on the cloth so long as you religiously take it off again with a damper cloth afterwards is OK. Then polish with dry cloth. Bogroll is better than polyroll if you want to use paper, and snotties better still (think how abrasive they can be on your skin).

If you have stubborn greasy marks, real white spirit is usually safe and likely to remove them. Most modern finishes are safe with meths, too - but try it somewhere hidden first, some old finishes are dissolved by meths.

Use metal polish on frets and metal work first, then use guitar polish on the body, back of neck and headstock. Do not use polish on the fingerboard. Use lemon oil (for guitars, not from a lemon) and VERY careful use of a nylon scourer will get the stubborn grease out from round the frets.


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Subject: RE: 12-string tuning/tension/capo issues
From: Tangledwood
Date: 26 Oct 08 - 04:01 AM

Sounds good, thank you.


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Subject: RE: 12-string tuning/tension/capo issues
From: Marc St
Date: 26 Oct 08 - 04:25 AM

I remove and replace the strings one by one, so the neck always stays under tension. Makes sense to me. And I seldom clean my guitars, except around the frets.


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Subject: RE: 12-string tuning/tension/capo issues
From: Tim Leaning
Date: 26 Oct 08 - 06:49 AM

Thanks guys will pluck up courage and have a go later today.
I think I will put all the strings baack on and see if I can get the hang of it that way for a week or two.
Then see about ttying with the thin lower e removed.
Mine is a secondhand Simon and Patrick.
It seemed to have a less"Harsh" sound than the new ones our local shop was selling.


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Subject: RE: 12-string tuning/tension/capo issues
From: Marc St
Date: 26 Oct 08 - 01:35 PM

You should tune it down to D, even if there are 10's on it, sounds and plays much better.
Since I can't find heavier strings than 10's here (Belgium)in the local guitar shops, I had to special order them. In the meantime I tuned the guitar down to C. Plays like butter, and sounds good.
I have a middle priced Garrison: http://img223.imageshack.us/my.php?image=garrison12st6.jpg


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Subject: RE: 12-string tuning/tension/capo issues
From: mauvepink
Date: 21 Feb 11 - 02:41 PM

I have two 12's. A 1968 EKO Ranger and a two year old Takamine. I Shubb's 12-string capo and have no problem as you describe. I used to get a great deal of sticking, detuning, twanging and vibration of various amounts and combinations (especially on the first fret) but the Shubb 'cured it'

The gentleman who re-set my EKO and reconditioned it told me never to de-tune my guitar. I know many do and I have heard their results. Good! He says there is no need to do it though, especially on newer guitars in concert pitch as the necks have been made to withstand anything these days. I have taken him at his word and the action on both guitars (the EKO the lowered) has remained constand with no 'bending up' of the neck. Sorry for non technical words but I do not know the full terms in some case.

I really was worried about the EKO not being detuned but, to date, he has been shown to be right. It could come down to preference I suppose.

As for Shubb 12 string capo... they play just as well on my six strings but never let me down on the 12's. I have 4 of them, often borrowed by other singers/band members on a night. No-one has ever complained.

This is based on my owm experience though so go with what you think is best. Lots of good advice on here :-)

mp


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Subject: RE: 12-string tuning/tension/capo issues
From: harmonic miner
Date: 22 Feb 11 - 11:28 AM

Try an Ovation 12-string. Whatever people say about them, mine stays in tune, concert pitch no 'tuning down'. Minimal intonation problems (I use standard Shubb capo, not the '12-string' one.)


Also regarding Tim Leaning's post "...do the thick strings have to be ahead of the thicker ones on the downstroke?..."

I find this as well, woth finger/thumb or with a plectrum. You can get a nut cut the other way around. Apparently Rickenbacker electric 12-strings do this. I mean to try that some day. Alternatively just use a single E and A (10-string)


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Subject: RE: 12-string tuning/tension/capo issues
From: harmonic miner
Date: 22 Feb 11 - 11:54 AM

"Doesn't the twelve string rely on some mistuning between the pair to give the tremelo tuning which is part of the charm of a twelve string?"

Well... sort of. But even if both strings of a pair are tuned exactly the same there is a slight time delay (milliseconds) between their vibrations which gives the 12-string effect.

Free reed instruments such as tremolo harmonicas and some accordions can be tuned 'wet' by having pairs of reeds tuned slightly diffently. But each reed only produces one note and the instrument must be precisely tuned by the maker or an expert repairer. On a guitar, you have the open string plus the(20 or more) fretted notes. The difference might be right for the open strings but would be wrong for each of the fretted notes. Also, small changes in tuning would make a huge difference. Free reed instruments are tuned at manufacture and the tuning can be re-adjusted from time to time, whereas you (should) tune your guitar practically between every song.

.. at least I think so!


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Subject: RE: 12-string tuning/tension/capo issues
From: Bernard
Date: 22 Feb 11 - 01:47 PM

'But even if both strings of a pair are tuned exactly the same there is a slight time delay (milliseconds) between their vibrations which gives the 12-string effect.'

Quite so! Technically they are 'slightly out of phase'... that's why it's so easy to spot the difference in sound between a pipe organ and an electronic organ even on a recording. The electronic organ's notes are all perfectly in phase, and sound wrong, somehow!

My old Yamaha FG260 has always been tuned in 'Concert' from new, and I have never had tuning issues with it, capo or not. I use the old Jim Dunlop with the nylon webbing...!

I'm known to change the strings when I arrive at a gig, and can see people smirking because they expect me to have trouble with it. It's my turn to smirk when I start playing, because it's rock solid!


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Subject: RE: 12-string tuning/tension/capo issues
From: GUEST,david o
Date: 29 Dec 15 - 08:17 PM

I love my 12 string Ovation but it is old. I purchased it in the late 70's. I have never really learned how to play well but recently started getting back into that. I have a concern in regards to the bridge. I can't tell if the small cracks around the bridge below the string saddle at the body. It plays great and stays in tune but the strings are really old 10-15 yrs at least. I have a set of Martin XL Phosphorus Bronze .010-.047. Dave H @ gtrcntr recommended these strings. Any suggestions? After reading this thread & the knowledge spoken by all just makes me feel like I really know nothing. Suggestions of any kind would be greatly appreciated. I have never been on a forum like this or any forum really so I don't know the protocol. I hope this is ok. Thanks, david


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Subject: RE: 12-string tuning/tension/capo issues
From: banjoman
Date: 30 Dec 15 - 06:35 AM

I have played 12 stringers for many years, and started with an old Stella (Leadbelly ?) and currently play a Washburn which keeps tune and has an action lower than most of my six stringers.. I also have an Ovation twin neck which includes a 12 string set up. only problem is that arthritis and age are making it increasingly difficult to play barre chords. I agree with Richard about polishing and only use designated guitar polish. Goes for the banjos as well.
Happy New Year and keep plucking/strumming/flat picking etc.
Pete


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Subject: RE: 12-string tuning/tension/capo issues
From: GUEST,#
Date: 30 Dec 15 - 08:24 AM

David o: It might be worth your time to take the guitar to a luthier and have it checked out. The strings (.010-.047) are pretty light. If your guitar has been sitting in the case for a decade it may have dried enough to cause damage that is hard to see. Internet forums are nice and all but somone who knows what s/he's about will let you know the shape your 12 is in. To do that, the luthier needs to examine the machine.

Hello btw.


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Subject: RE: 12-string tuning/tension/capo issues
From: Sean Belt
Date: 30 Dec 15 - 11:06 AM

David o: Welcome to the forum. I'll second Guest,#'s suggestion that you take the guitar to a luthier to have it checked out. It may be that the only thing holding it together are those ancient strings! Good luck with it.


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Subject: RE: 12-string tuning/tension/capo issues
From: GUEST,trews
Date: 30 Dec 15 - 01:56 PM

While we're on the subject, I've found Paige 12 string capos to be by far the best. No filing grooves or any other crap like that. 5 minutes or so to set up then they are great.


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