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12 string

Discussion in 'THE Gretsch Discussion Forum' started by Bertotti, Nov 2, 2017.

  1. Bertotti

    Bertotti Country Gent

    Jul 20, 2017
    South Dakota
    I have never played a 12 string so O am curious what it is like. Is it hard on fingers or hard to fret and do bar chords with? Are the Gretsch 12 strings pretty good? Not shopping for one just curious. Thanks
    Andrew Griffin likes this.
  2. wabash slim

    wabash slim Friend of Fred

    Feb 10, 2010
    lafayette in
    Yes, Yes, Yes. I've never used a Gretsch 12 string.

    Of course 12's are harder to play. Wider fingerboard as well as nearly twice the fretting pressure.Harder to tune as well, and finicky to capo. They can be heavier, with more chance of neck dive, BUT, it's all worth the extra effort. They're not suitable for everything, but chording/rhythm work is where they excel, and even some players like McGuin can do leads. The best way to describe the sound is rich, complex, or even, fat. Both, acoustic and electric, add that extra something. Do yourself a favor, and try out both types the next time you hit the music store. I'd expect a Gretsch 12 would be just as good in quality as any other Gretsch.

    I've played mostly acoustic 12s, and a couple of electrics. The one I'd like to try is the Vox Octave 12.
  3. Henry

    Henry Gretschified

    Apr 9, 2014
    I've been watching Kenny Vaughan play a 12 Dano in the Lucinda Williams Austin DVD and I want one bad.
  4. Aymara

    Aymara Friend of Fred

    Jul 6, 2013
    12-string can be fantastic or a nightmare ... let me tell you a little story:

    I have a Yamaha 12-string acoustic, which caused me some trouble until I found the perfect strings: Thomastik Plectrum in .10

    I once met a guitarist, who told me that he gave up 12-string, because his fingers always hurt. I told him to try my Yamaha and he said: "Wow, I should try it again". His problem was the wrong string choice as it seems.

    Regarding Gretsch 12-strings ... I once tested the old gen G5422-12 in a huge shop acoustically and found it pretty nice, both from the playability and the sound. Strangely I suddenly felt like being on stage because everybody was looking at me :D

    It seems everybody in the shop liked the sound ;)
  5. NickGretsch

    NickGretsch Synchromatic

    Aug 30, 2011
    Cornwall, England
    Hi Berlotti -
    I've played 12 strings since I was 16. That first one was an Egmond, cheap and a nightmare but being young and determined I struggled on with that for a few years.

    Spinning on...regularly gig with my Fender Strat XII. It really does add something special to our band's sound and
    being a well built find tuning is very good. I've retired my Ricky 660-12 from live work, now just home use and recording.

    Not tried a Gretsch 12 string, would love to give one a go but sadly the opportunity hasn't arisen so can't comment on them.

    They aren't the horrid things that some people make them out to be, a good one won't have a super wide or thick neck and think you'd be surprised how quickly you'll adapt. I had a Harley Benton 12 string for a short time just to try out, great little guitar and very easy to play.

    Take the leap, it's worth it :D
    russmack likes this.
  6. Aymara

    Aymara Friend of Fred

    Jul 6, 2013

    Pretty nice, but I guess with TVJ Classics it would be even better.
    Bertotti and thunder58 like this.
  7. thunder58

    thunder58 Gretschified

    Dec 23, 2010
    tappan ny
    I had a Gretsch 5422G-12 and sold it because I never used it ( I'm more of an acoustic player anyway ) Sold my '79 Guild 12 string to fund the Gretsch .
    Now I'm selling my 5120 to fund a new 12 string acoustic ...... oh the madness never ends with me . I really miss having a 12 string .
    Go to your local store or a Guitar Center and just pick one up and play ... you'll love it , I promise
    NickGretsch likes this.
  8. englishman

    englishman Gretschified

    Apr 5, 2014
    12 strings tend to be something you want rather than need.

    Every time I've bought one they end up gathering dust.

    Band work is different though, some tunes require them although you can 'get by' without them normally.
  9. audept

    audept I Bleed Orange

    Dec 1, 2010
    Sydney, Australia
    True story: I always wanted a Rickenbacker 12-string. I was particularly attracted to the 660-12, a solid-body guitar with a wider neck and the famous "toaster" pickups. I searched for quite a while and eventually found one in Texas. At stupid expense I bought it and had it shipped to Australia (the whole 9 yards: ridiculous shipping charges, rapacious customs duties, sales tax and a list of extra charges that didn't make sense but were non-negotiable) Eventually it was delivered into my eager hands. I pulled it out of the case and found it was the most uncomfortable neck and action I have ever encountered. I kept it for about 6 months, trying desperately to fall in love with it to no avail. Finally I sold it for a serious loss just to get the monkey off my back. Overall the experience was similar to when I ate a poisonous mushroom. Years later I still can't look at mushrooms or 12-strings! :eek:

    Here is the guitar in question:

    Rickenbacker 660-12 007.jpg
    emitex, ZackyDog, Wozob and 1 other person like this.
  10. Aymara

    Aymara Friend of Fred

    Jul 6, 2013
    ... and often a 12-string acoustic is preferable like in this example:

  11. Wozob

    Wozob Country Gent

    Jul 6, 2014
    The Netherlands
    At least it looks great.
    audept likes this.
  12. nervous

    nervous Electromatic

    Sep 27, 2017
    Beautiful Cantral NY
    My G5422-12 plays very much like an electric. I have had a couple acoustic 12's over the years and never found a love foe them. This one has a fighting chance though. The thing with the 12 I find is not in any greater pain, or playing discomfort, especially with the Gretsch. Higher action acoustics with larger gauge strings can do that, as has been mentioned. But they require a slightly different mindset and playing approach. Almost underplaying them a bit if you're used to playing with certain playing trickies, pull off technique, etc. They demand a certain discipline to be well heard. My challenge is cleanly chording where I can get away with a little more sloppiness on a six. The extra string is always there but it's not such a leap from a six. But, when played well. there's always been a certain "Voice of God" quality of the 12 that just gets me.
  13. nervous

    nervous Electromatic

    Sep 27, 2017
    Beautiful Cantral NY
    Ahh, you're story is interesting. I have had an interest in one of these the past couple months. None locally to try so I may tread lightly in any expensive rash decisions...
    audept likes this.
  14. LivingMyDream

    LivingMyDream Country Gent

    I have a cheap Alex Chase electric 12-string that could be better with a pickup change, but it plays easily, and a Takamine 12-string that has a nice sound, but a neck that is a little fatter than I prefer. I am considering getting some Thomastik-Infeld strings for the Takamine, to try those out. The best 12-string guitar that I have ever played was a Taylor 356ce. The neck fits my hand well, and it sounds heavenly to my ears. Unfortunately, I just can't justify the price tag when it would only get occasional use.

    All that said, there really is something unique about the 12-string sound. Listen to some music by the band America, and you'll often hear a 12-string in the mix.
  15. Andy Fortune

    Andy Fortune Gretschie

    May 24, 2016
    Corning, NY
    I have had several. The most comfortable to play acoustics were Ovation and Guild. For electrics, Danelectro makes very good 12s but the combination of neck shape, particularly fretboard edge, was not perfect for me, but still impressively good. I had. Rickenbacker 620/12 for a long time, and the sound was fantastic, but ultimately I got tired of fighting the discomfort playing it. I also had a CIJ ‘80s Stratocaster XII, that was very nice, but not quite the sound for me. I now have an FMIC Gretsch 6122-12 (1963 version) and it is perfect for me. It can jangle AND rock and the neck shape, width and contour are all very comfortable.
    If there is one takeaway, it is this: a 12 string needs to be very comfortable to play, or you won’t play it, and there’s not much point in that. The guy I sold the Ric to says it’s the most comfortable 12 he’s ever’s very individual.
    Last edited: Nov 3, 2017
    thunder58 likes this.
  16. Bertotti

    Bertotti Country Gent

    Jul 20, 2017
    South Dakota
    I have never seen one locally but I have a nephew who is an incredible player, he might have one I could try. Sadly I don’t get back to where we grew up more then once or twice a year. Interest to hear everyone’s comments. I’m sure some day I’ll chase one down but I don’t currently have the desire to do so. I seem to remember a pedal that simulated a 12 esque sound, anyone remember what it was. Time for some more internet surfing.
  17. Bertotti

    Bertotti Country Gent

    Jul 20, 2017
    South Dakota
    Wow that neck in wide. I never understood the allure of Rics, never cared for the look.
  18. wildeman

    wildeman Friend of Fred

    May 10, 2015
    I only have my Harmony acoustic12 right now but i really want an electric. My 12 is in open C and i play gospel/ bluesy slide on it, it sounds awesome for this. It ain't easy to play this beast but the beautiful sound makes it worth it. 20171027_162252.jpg
    Hammerhead and thunder58 like this.
  19. Aymara

    Aymara Friend of Fred

    Jul 6, 2013
    Do it ... even if you should find out, that 12-string is not your cup of tea or that this guitar is the wrong one for you. You once in your life should have tried it, to know the feel.

    I guess a pitch shifter or a harmonizer?
    Bertotti likes this.
  20. Bertotti

    Bertotti Country Gent

    Jul 20, 2017
    South Dakota
    Pitch shifter or Harmonizer might be it. I believe that zoom multi pedal I have had one, might have to give it a shot just for the heck of it.