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12 string tuning question


Kramer Ferrington III.

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I was looking through one of the Tony Bacon books and in the bit about Stratosphere guitars, it said that they invented both the twin neck and the electric twelve back in the 1950s. Bacon then describes their search for a suggested 12 string tuning. They opted for a tuning suggested by a lap-steel guy and suggested the guitar be tuned in major and minor thirds. The chapter finishes by describing the rise of Rickenbacker 12s and their octave and unison tuning.

 

This really blew me out.

 

I know there were 12 strings before the 1950s. Leadbelly, for one, comes to mind. How the heck did he tune HIS guitar, then? I haven't listened to him in decades and I don't feel like buying a CD just to work out his tunings. Did people tune openly, once upon a time? When did 12s start getting tuned down a step? ARE they normally tuned to D?

 

And yes, I know that sensible, enterprising forumites would somehow find Tony Bacon's e-mail address and ask him personally, but I'm feeling lazy today.

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Although some folks tune down a full step and capo to reduce tension on the neck from 12 strings. When I had my 12, I kept it either in standard or in open D and capo'd to get open E and went from there.

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Im don't know what the current recommendation from manufacturers might be, but when I started playing in the 1960s, EVERY manufacturer (who's products I was expose to...) recommended tuning down a full step. I worked in a music store in 1966. All the manufacturers that we carried made the same redcommendation, as did all the teachers.

 

Bill

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Originally posted by bpark@prorec.com:

when I started playing in the 1960s, EVERY manufacturer (who's products I was expose to...) recommended tuning down a full step.

 

Bill

Yeah, I was also told the same thing.

 

Unfortunately, I was only told AFTER the headstock came off my Eko 12 string back in the late 1970s. :D

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Jimmy Bryant did some cool fake-harmony leads on some records in the '50s by tuning the courses on an electric-twelve in 3rds.

 

In general, I believe that most folks tuned their twelves down a whole-step and used a capo back in the day; but it really depends on the guitar, and the gauges of strings used, whether or not you want to do that, or tune to standard/A-440, or what have you.

Ask yourself- What Would Ren and Stimpy Do?

 

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