12 string problems solved

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Joined: 29 Jul 2010
Groups: None
12 string problems solved

ever had a 12 string guitar that was hard to fret because the action was high or the neck was starting to warp? I like to have a 12 string around for certain tunes but I can't afford to invest a ton of money for an instrument I keep at concert pitch and play only once in a while.
I seem to have solved this problem by modifying a cheap Breedlove to use high tension nylon strings. I had to widen the string slots at the nut and I made a new bridge saddle. With the 12 string ,I had to slot the saddle for the 6 courses because they were just slack enough that they would get too close to each other and buzz.
I ended up with a very mellow 12 string sound with plenty of "jangle". The volume is not what it was with steel strings but is very close and I can play it with my fingernails rather that picks.
After I slotted the bridge saddle, I adjusted the truss rod to get the best string height.
The Fishman pickup still works fine and I plug it in at gigs.
The tension on the neck is about half of what it was made to withstand and I think it will last a long time. The intonation, while not "dead on", is good.
I used 3 GHS2380 string sets and 1 GHS Doyle Dokes set...using 2 high E, 2 B, 2 G...(the easy part).
for the D, I used a wound D and a nylon B(3 sets of stings so far),for the A, I used a wound A and a wound G from a GHS Doyle Dokes set stretched up to A(4 sets of strings)and for the bass E I used a wound E and a nylon E.
I have a lot of single strings left over. I first tried some Hannabach high tension strings on this guitat but I find the GHS strings to be comparable and cheaper

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Joined: 14 Oct 2008
Groups: Jersey Jam
Not trying to be a downer

Not trying to be a downer but, as a long-time 12-stringer, there ARE (or were) other options...

If you were going to file the nut slots, adjust the truss rod, and settle for lower volume anyway, why not just do that with the original steel strings? As in, adjust the guitar to what it's intended to be.

If the action were still too tough, there are lighter strings. Ernie Ball used to make a Super-Slinky 12-string set, something like .008 thru .040, or maybe .038. Probably intended for electric, but they came new on my '72 Epiphone accoustic. Quieter yes, but super-easy to play.

Or eliminate some (or many!) of the octave strings to ease the playing, as on Martin's Roger McGuinn 7-string (only the G has an octave added, but still gives lots of "jangle") or Taylor's recent 9-string, based on what many Nashville players do to their 12-strings: the D & G have octaves, plus a unison on the B only. That leaves the A and both E's as singles for ease of playing plus clarity.

And there are lower-effort "silk & steel" strings, currently on my '68 Martin 12. Slighty quieter, but I'll probably go back to a full steel set. (I tend to keep strings on for WAY too long!)

Anyway, converting to nylon just struck me as pretty risky. Glad it worked out for ya!

- Ed

Joined: 14 Oct 2008
Groups: Jersey Jam
John - Just read your August

John -
Just read your August 14 post on converting to nylon. Gotta say, that's an impressive bunch of work. Well done, man!
- Ed

Joined: 29 Jul 2010
Groups: None
Hi, Ed, not trying to change

Hi, Ed,
not trying to change everyone to nylon strings...It's just that I am comfortable playing them but I do not like the 2" wide nut or a flat fret board and bridge saddle of a classical guitar. I have a Martin with a 1 7/8th wide nut and I wanted the soft easy action on my old cheap 12 string. That's why I did it. I have never gotten comfortable holding a flat pick in my right hand so I play with my fingernails...this too, works better for me with the nylon.
The Breedlove 12 string would not have lasted with steel strings at concert pitch much longer without a neck reset which would probably cost more than the guitar is worth.
thanks for your comments. john

Joined: 29 Jul 2010
Groups: None
I sold the Breedlove and

I sold the Breedlove and bought an even cheaper Cort earth200 12 string. I set it up with GHS super high tension nylon strings and it is a huge improvement over the Breedlove. It is loud! It is of lighter construction with noticably thinner woods...very easy to play.
The Cort came with a plastic nut and saddle (just like the Breedlove) and I made new pieces. I removed the very cheap pick guard and added a Greven Tortise. I think I will keep this one for a while

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