Other Guitars

What do you look for in an acoustic 12-string?

1

Hi all. I'm always on the lookout for a good acoustic 12-string. I used to have an Alvarez single-cutaway that was okay, but I found it quite "trebly" and a little brittle sounding. It was a natural finish jumbo and I believe it had maple back and sides.

What do you like in a 12-string acoustic? Body size? I like the idea of a jumbo 12-string, but I've played some dreadnoughts (Gibsons, Guilds, Fenders, Larivees) that were fine as well.

Woods? I'm assuming rosewood backs and sides would give a warmer tone?

What hits your 12-string sweet spot?

2

i have an Alvarez jumbo 12 that i got from one of the big online retailers remaindered for less than $350 which i like a lot. it's a jumbo with maple back/sides, which i prefer for a 12 because it makes the high octave strings project more...for me rosewood/mahogany back/sides make the bass notes stick out a little too much. i'm a big advocate of maple necks for 12s because they seem to be less prone to warping...i keep my 12 at standard pitch and it's been totally stable for almost 10 years.

3

One of the best accoustic 12's I ever played (almost bought), was a 000 sized Larrivee, with mahogany back and sides. It has great string separation and ballance; and even with the small body, it had warmth and projection. This was a number of years ago, so I can't remember the exact model , but it was similar to this . . . Link

4

The Rosewood body makes for a deep and full harpsichord like sound, perfect for a Voice better than mine to sing over with ease...fills a room nicely.

5

I'll be selling off a collection of guitars in the upcoming weeks that was obtained/collected by a close friend that died 9 years ago. He's got 35 - 40 instruments ranging from Taylor Liberty Tree acoustics to frankenstrats and everything in between, but I just got into the project and haven't cleaned anything up, taken any pics, or done any serial # / model # research yet to determine market value. One of the 1st pieces I opened up was this Guild F212XL ('76 or '77 I think). Looks in nice shape, neck is good, tone good (strings are 9 years old). More to come on this one (and 35+ more) in a week or 3.

6

A WIDE AS HELL neck. 1960s Gibson B 45 and B 25 @ 2" wide rule. But most just pulled apart over the decades.

7

Not a fan of dreadnaught 12-strings. The tonal balance is all wrong. Jumbos sound really nice, but like a Falcon, they're just way too big to be comfortable. 000/OM/Concert size is nicely balanced too.

I also like 25.5" scale. Doesn't sound right with a shorter scale.

8

Back in the mid-80's, my Aria jumbo 12 was done. The top was lifting and 20 years of hard toil had worn everything down to the point where emotional attachment just wasn't enough anymore.

I thought I wanted a Guild, but my dealer insisted I try this new line of electro-acoustics, with built-in active EQ and a very nice Piezo under the bridge. So I bought my first Takamine back when their mid line was an $800 investment.

Being a flatpicker, I liked it because of the consistent, low action and gentle curve to the fretboard, which served to fit into my hand like nothing else at the time. In the Celtic band, I played a lot of fills which mimicked a mandolin sound - up the neck on the top two pairs of strings. The Takamine sounded clearly through the mix onstage without being ear-piercing. I liked it.

Bought and sold two more since then, but still have the #1. It was a rock-steady, reliable workhorse for nearly 20 years.

Needs a re-fret now, maybe, but I am happy to endorse the brand (and the line) to anyone who asks...

9

My free dreadnaught larrivee 12-string is quite nice It was the first guitar I launched of he buffing wheel when I worked there. Asked the Jean if I could have it, glued up the cracked side and got the assembly room to put hardware and a pickup on it. The assembly room guy said it was the best sounding 12-string that had come through yet.

The lesson was, to make your new 12-string sound really good, launch it off a 3hp buffing wheel onto a cement floor.

10

Look for the Guild logo on the headstock.

11

I'm quite happy with my Dean Performer SE-12. It's a "mini-jumbo" --- fits in a Dreadnaught case, but has proportions like a jumbo. It records beautifully, either with the onboard pickup or mic'ed (or both). It's not as loud acoustically as a larger bodied guitar, but I rarely play it live and unmic'ed, so that's not really an issue.

12

My free dreadnaught larrivee 12-string is quite nice It was the first guitar I launched of he buffing wheel when I worked there. Asked the Jean if I could have it, glued up the cracked side and got the assembly room to put hardware and a pickup on it. The assembly room guy said it was the best sounding 12-string that had come through yet.

The lesson was, to make your new 12-string sound really good, launch it off a 3hp buffing wheel onto a cement floor.

– Toxophilite

Which Larrivee shop did you work at? I had a nice Mossman 12 but something about the neck just didn't seem comfortable to me. I sold it and bought an LV-03-12 and have never looked back. Plays and sounds wonderful. I also think that the LV body shape is one of the most esthetically pleasing body shapes around (for a guitar).

I read a long time ago that Leo Kottke preferred a mahogany 12 string. He preferred the warmth and the forgiving nature of the wood as opposed to maple or rosewood.

13

Which Larrivee shop did you work at? I had a nice Mossman 12 but something about the neck just didn't seem comfortable to me. I sold it and bought an LV-03-12 and have never looked back. Plays and sounds wonderful. I also think that the LV body shape is one of the most esthetically pleasing body shapes around (for a guitar).

I read a long time ago that Leo Kottke preferred a mahogany 12 string. He preferred the warmth and the forgiving nature of the wood as opposed to maple or rosewood.

– Don Birchett

The shop on Hawks street in Vancouver BC. My twelve string is mahogany back and sides.

14

I think that's the one I toured 4-5 years ago, just before they closed down.

16

Look for the Guild logo on the headstock.

– wabash slim

What wabash said . . .

Guild jumbo-sized twelve strings include the F-412 (spruce top, maple back/sides) and F-512 (spruce top, rosewood back/sides). I have an F-412 and its tone is remarkable. Beautifully chimey & jangly.

Those jumbos look like a real armful, but the narrow waist makes them easier to hold than you might assume at first glance.

I strongly suggest you try at least one of these (F-412 or F-512). IMO they are the benchmarks for twelve-string acoustic guitars.

If you prefer a dread-shaped guitar, a Guild D25-12 is an excellent option, with a spruce top & mahogany back/sides. I have one with the lower octave string positions reversed, similar to a Ric. Very nice tone, though not as piano-like as a jumbo.

17

I have 2 Klira 12 string square shouldered dreadnaughts from the early 1970's from Germany. One is rosewood and the other is mahogany. Both modeled after Martin D-28 12 strings. Both are sweet. I also have 6 Hofner slope shouldered 12 strings dreadnaughts all from 1966 and 1967, and modeled after a Gibson J-160. They are very wide at the zero fret at 2 inches and are very boomy because of their 4 1/2 inch thickness. One reason I bought the Kliras and Hofners is that there is little demand for them and, consequently, they are not outrageously priced on Ebay and Ebay Germany (ebay.de). ... If I didn't own these, I'd be jumping for a Guild. I've played them and they are the best American made 12 string guitars, along with Taylors.

18

Exhibit A, re: why I think you should consider a Guild F-412:

19

i have an Alvarez jumbo 12 that i got from one of the big online retailers remaindered for less than $350 which i like a lot. it's a jumbo with maple back/sides, which i prefer for a 12 because it makes the high octave strings project more...for me rosewood/mahogany back/sides make the bass notes stick out a little too much. i'm a big advocate of maple necks for 12s because they seem to be less prone to warping...i keep my 12 at standard pitch and it's been totally stable for almost 10 years.

– macphisto

That sounds like it may have been the same model I had. I paid about $400 for it on the web.

20

Thanks for the comments, guys. I forgot to mention Taylors and Takemines. I had tried a nice Taylor in a store a while back - one of their budget line, I believe. Very nice playing neck, and not too expensive. Maybe $900 range, iirc.

Cheers

22

I go with that, Billy. Listen to everything they have. Better yet, have a friend play them while you stand back and listen.

23

Not to derail the thread,but I'd like opinions and/or experiences of changing an acoustic 12 to Rickenbacker style stringing. I have a Yamaha that needs a setup and I was thinking of doing the ric thing while I had it done.

24

I asked basically the same question a year ago and purchased an Alvarez Jumbo 12 string. I'm pleased. Minimal "belly", stable neck and a really nice tone.

25

I want playability and rich bass and mids to offset the jangle. I never owned a rosewood 12-string but I'd bet that would get me there.

For awhile I owned Leo Kottke signature model by Taylor. A great-sounding and playing jumbo 12 string that had mahogany body and (I think) Sitka spruce top. Nicely balanced instrument with a ton of punch.

The best 12 string I ever played was my guitar teacher's — he had a Bozo Bell Western12-string that played, sounded (and looked) like something from a dream.


Register Sign in to join the conversation