Question for 12-String Gurus about 12-String Guitar Tuning

Joined
Feb 8, 2006
Messages
105
Reaction score
18
Location
Mesa, AZ
Old 12- string jokes:

When tuning a 12 string guitar, determine which string is out of tune and then tune the other 11 to match it...

and..

Those who play 12-string guitar spend half their lives tuning it, and the other half playing out of tune.

And back to the topic: I'm a wimp. My '71 F-412 has been through many wars and shows the scars, including a neck reset before I bought her. With respect to that, she is kept tuned 1/2 step down.

My '72 F-112 was kept a 1/2 step down, and it still ended up needing a neck re-set. So...go figure.
 

Brucebubs

Senior Member
Joined
Aug 28, 2018
Messages
1,995
Reaction score
877
Location
Eden, Australia
Old 12- string jokes:

When tuning a 12 string guitar, determine which string is out of tune and then tune the other 11 to match it...

and..

Those who play 12-string guitar spend half their lives tuning it, and the other half playing out of tune.

And back to the topic: I'm a wimp. My '71 F-412 has been through many wars and shows the scars, including a neck reset before I bought her. With respect to that, she is kept tuned 1/2 step down.

My '72 F-112 was kept a 1/2 step down, and it still ended up needing a neck re-set. So...go figure.
Apart from double truss rods and good quality tuners the greatest innovation for 12-string guitars in my lifetime is the clip-on battery powered tuner.
 

Nuuska

Senior Member
Joined
Jan 18, 2016
Messages
5,449
Reaction score
2,534
Location
Finland
Guild Total
9
I'd say that tuning one 12-string goes faster than tuning two 6-strings to unison.
 

algionfriddo

Junior Member
Joined
Jan 22, 2016
Messages
16
Reaction score
15
I play my 1979 Guild F212XL NT at concert pitch. Fills the room with chime. If I store it away for more than a day or two I tune it a full step down. Incredible tone when played at concert pitch. I need my KORG tuner to get it perfect.
 

Horse

Junior Member
Joined
Sep 5, 2010
Messages
61
Reaction score
8
My old gal is back in the shop ('72 F212). It has not had (nor had to have) a new setup in maybe 3.5 years. I just like this guy's work, and wanted to get it checked over. The last time, I'd asked him to set it a half-step down, which he did. I had the notion it would ease the tension on the neck. Really unnecessary I've come to realize. Definitely, only your personal preference should be the decider. These things are tanks in terms of strength & build. I am going back to pitch this time, and can't wait to go pick it up.
 

rmoretti49

Junior Member
Joined
Mar 28, 2022
Messages
14
Reaction score
12
Location
Chicago, Illinois
Guild Total
2
I started out tuning my D212 a full step down, because I was into Bob Gibson and that is what he did. As others noted, there's no problem because you can always capo at 2nd fret to bring it up to concert pitch. But I did get used to the increased playability of being tuned down. So today I continue to do so. It really isn't necessary, especially if you are playing first position open chords. But if playing lots of barre chords, I find it very helpful to be tuned down, even with 10-47 strings. And I do tend to like the deeper tone.
 

ezstrummer

Member
Joined
Jan 22, 2018
Messages
246
Reaction score
78
Location
US
I was keeping my 12 string at standard pitch untill my brother in law with the same model told me his bridge was lifting and top was starting to bow. They are both only a couple years old. So now I tune my 12 down a hole step and capo 2nd fret.
 

Westerly Wood

Venerated Member
Joined
Mar 21, 2007
Messages
10,289
Reaction score
2,651
Guild Total
2
I think this one is down to a C# or even just C. Kottke, just a marvel at 12 string dropped tunings.

I think it's my fave 12 string song every penned or performed:

 

Nuuska

Senior Member
Joined
Jan 18, 2016
Messages
5,449
Reaction score
2,534
Location
Finland
Guild Total
9
I think this one is down to a C# or even just C. Kottke, just a marvel at 12 string dropped tunings.

I think it's my fave 12 string song every penned or performed:



Here is a picture of the sleeve of that album - LEO did those blue writings before I left MN

IMG_5345.jpg
 

wileypickett

Senior Member
Joined
Jun 18, 2009
Messages
3,787
Reaction score
2,227
Location
Cambridge, MA
I love many of Kottke's open tuned pieces. But at some point in his career he stopped using open tunings, even going so far as to disparage his pieces that employed them -- i.e.: pretty much the entire "Armadillo Album" and several of the albums that followed.

It seems as close he gets to an open tunings these days is dropped D.

There's always a couple good pieces on any of his albums, but to my ears the further he got from using open tunings the less interesting his music became.
 

Westerly Wood

Venerated Member
Joined
Mar 21, 2007
Messages
10,289
Reaction score
2,651
Guild Total
2
I love many of Kottke's open tuned pieces. But at some point in his career he stopped using open tunings, even going so far as to disparage his pieces that employed them -- i.e.: pretty much the entire "Armadillo Album" and several of the albums that followed.

It seems as close he gets to an open tunings these days is dropped D.

There's always a couple good pieces on any of his albums, but to my ears the further he got from using open tunings the less interesting his music became.
that and he started to sing more. lol

Armadillo is the best and what an achievement. Fahey produced it too. But I know you know all that Glenn as you sort of wrote the book on Fahey :).

And the more I listed to Kottke, the more I like Fahey. He was simpler in his attack and yet his songs just take off to places unknown or anawares for some incredible inventive material. and I like that he didnt care about always being perfectly in tune. often, when i hear the old recordings, the intonation is off etc. but he still makes it sound great.

I think I have posted this before, but this is one of my favorites of his and performances too. It looks like a Martin D-28 but I cannot fully tell. It can't really be a D-28 as the neck binding is white, which is more D-35...

 

chazmo

Super Moderator
Gold Supporting
Joined
Nov 7, 2007
Messages
18,679
Reaction score
1,823
Location
Central Massachusetts
I love many of Kottke's open tuned pieces. But at some point in his career he stopped using open tunings, even going so far as to disparage his pieces that employed them -- i.e.: pretty much the entire "Armadillo Album" and several of the albums that followed.

It seems as close he gets to an open tunings these days is dropped D.

There's always a couple good pieces on any of his albums, but to my ears the further he got from using open tunings the less interesting his music became.
Interesting take on it, Glenn! I should listen to more Kottke!
 
Top