12 String Blues

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12 String Blues

Postby Lo-Fi » Thu Apr 25, 2013 1:52 pm

Guess I am just in chatty mood this morning. For me 12 strings have been a bumpy ride. I have putzed around with them for over 50 years but never really was able to settle down with one. Seems like I would get on a binge with them but then not even give the guitar a second glance for months on end. But when the fever hits nothing else can put out such a joyous noise. I pretty much play the same stuff on a 12 string as on a 6 string. But there also tunes like "Gallis Pole" which to me only really work with a 12 string guitar.

So do 12 strings get your juices flowing or are they something you can live without. If you got one let me see it. I play a Gibson B45-12. One of the early ones with the light bracing which is why not a whole lot have survived - the tops either imploded or the guitars simply pulled themselves apart.

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Re: 12 String Blues

Postby Jakeblues » Thu Apr 25, 2013 9:40 pm

I never played 12 much until recently. An instructor I had as a kid had a gorgeous D35-12 that sounded lovely. That was really the only decent one I've played. I never owned one until recently, and it's a love/hate thing. My finger-picking is still pretty rough, and 12's aren't very forgiving. Love the sound though.
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Re: 12 String Blues

Postby guitarslim101 » Fri Apr 26, 2013 2:47 pm

I do enjoy a good 12 string. I've got a late 60s B-25 12, which I love dearly. Like all of my guitars, it's been modified a bit, and I had to do some bridge work to get it to intonate (and to get rid of the adjustable saddle, which I don't care for). I don't play it as much as my 6 strings, but I have never been able to put it up for sale. Came close a few times, but this one has such a great sound. Stays in tune better than just about any other 12 string, too.

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Re: 12 String Blues

Postby Freeman » Fri Apr 26, 2013 4:12 pm

I currently have three twelves - an old Martin dread that I rarely play (and it definitely is NOT a blues box), an OM sized 12 that I primarily finger pick Kottke style stuff on, and my Stella clone.

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The OM is short scale, sitka over rosewood and is usually tuned two semitones down. I think the smaller body and gives it much better balance across the courses and up the neck. The Stella clone is ladder braced, an 000 body with very long (26.5") scale and is tuned at least 4 semi tones down, then often to the equivalent of open G or D or C. With heavy strings the thing is a monster and absolutely roars! Here are a couple more shots of it and the OM

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and the insides

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Re: 12 String Blues

Postby Jakeblues » Fri Apr 26, 2013 6:26 pm

Great pix, particularly of the build. (Way past my skill set and attention span!)
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Re: 12 String Blues

Postby Freeman » Sat Apr 27, 2013 1:51 am

Thanks Jake. Back when I first built it I did post a little build thread

viewtopic.php?f=4&t=10985
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Re: 12 String Blues

Postby Lo-Fi » Sat Apr 27, 2013 1:40 pm

Freeman, I gotta ask, Why did you not add popsickle braces around the soundhole? I know Schmidt didn't and it is one of the reasons it is not uncommon to run into Schmidt-made guitars which have buckled around the soundhole.

I have owned two Schmidt 12 strings. Got them back in the late 1960s when it seemed only a small group of folks knew what they were. Most figured if it said Stella on the headtsock it was made by Harmony. Seeing what the originals bring these days trading them off over the years has become one of my more memorable bonehead plays.
Last edited by Lo-Fi on Mon Apr 29, 2013 1:21 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: 12 String Blues

Postby Lo-Fi » Sat Apr 27, 2013 1:56 pm

guitarslim101 wrote:I do enjoy a good 12 string. I've got a late 60s B-25 12, which I love dearly.]


If you think about it the only 12 strings even available in the later 1940s and 1950s were the Harmony Stellas.

While Guild pretty much set the standard for 12 strings in the later 1960s for me it never got any better than the Gibsons. Mine was built in very early 1963 as it retained the trapeze tailpiece which was replaced by a fixed bridge that year. Like you I can go a good lenngth of time without playing a 12 stringer. But then that bug bites and it seems that nothing else will quite ease the itch.
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Re: 12 String Blues

Postby Freeman » Sat Apr 27, 2013 4:08 pm

Lo-Fi wrote:Freeman, I gotta ask, Why did you not add popsickle braces around the soundhole? I know Schmidt didn't and it is one of the reasons it is not uncommon to run into Shmidt-made guitars which have buckled around the soundhole.


Three reasons - (1) neither my plans taken off Stefan Grossman's 1930 Stella had them nor did any of the pictures I could find. Modern builders like Howe and Fraulini don't seem to use them. (2) the top plate is adi and is a hair thicker than I would normally use (0.125). (3) there is very little rotational torque on the bridge of a tailpiece instrument - most of the string tension component is vertically into the top (and is relatively small). That is one of the main reasons that ladder bracing works so well for tailpiece guitars (not only the old blues boxes we love but also SelMac's, archtops and even resonators).

The braces are pretty beefy but even with my heave strings tuned to C# the tension is all anchored to the tail block of the guitar. I would never consider this for a modern X braced guitar but it seems to be working fine for this one.
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