Quit shimmering, and play something we can all sing
July 15, 2008 5:03 AM   Subscribe

Beyond loud, pleasing (and above all) shimmering folk chord strumming, what can I do with a 12-string acoustic guitar?

Just got a nice 12-string guitar. While the strumming sounds enormously pleasant, I'm finding that the country/folk basic flatpicking that I enjoy on the 6-string doesn't really work so well.

I've just got Pete Seeger's 12-String Guitar as Played by Lead Belly, but it might be a little beyond me for now. The less said about attempting Kottke, the better

So, what works for you on 12-string?
posted by scruss to Sports, Hobbies, & Recreation (13 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Nashville Tuning.
posted by bunnytricks at 5:28 AM on July 15, 2008 [1 favorite]

Ooh, check out Leo Kottke
posted by Alabaster at 5:28 AM on July 15, 2008

Best answer: Here's a 12-string instructional video from a good teacher. Once you master the techniques in that one, you could move on to Roger McGuinn
posted by tdismukes at 5:32 AM on July 15, 2008

Stevie Ray Vaughan played a twelve string during an MTV unplugged performance. That little twelve bar blues thing at the beginning isn't hard to learn, and it sounds pretty cool when paired with just about anything. I've also discovered that when you tell racist jokes while playing that, everybody finds them funny.
posted by borkingchikapa at 6:00 AM on July 15, 2008

Actually, I should elaborate - twelve strings, by virtue of having a fuller sound, make the blues a lot more interesting when you've got an audience who isn't willing to let you pick out quiet, melancholy songs.
posted by borkingchikapa at 6:03 AM on July 15, 2008

For finger picked pieces, or jazz rhythm parts (particularly sambas and bossa nova), 12 string is a great reason to experiment with chord inversions. Re-thinking chord sequences you play on standard 6 string parts, for the possibilities of passing tones and runs in inversions on the richer palette of the 12 string, has proven fertile ground for many new 12 string players.
posted by paulsc at 6:49 AM on July 15, 2008

Not really what you're looking for, but my favorite acoustic that I've ever owned was a twelve-string strung with only six strings.
posted by electric_counterpoint at 7:30 AM on July 15, 2008

Check out Blind Willie Mctell,
a true blues man, who used a slide on a 12 string guitar.
posted by JamesMCS at 8:15 AM on July 15, 2008

Lots of good classic rock songs that feature a prominent riff picked on a 12 string.

Off the top of my head:
Bon Jovi - Dead or Alive
Boston - More than a Feeling
Eagles - Hotel California
posted by jpdoane at 9:06 AM on July 15, 2008

Hendrix Hear My Train a'comin
posted by canoehead at 11:32 AM on July 15, 2008

Practically anything by The Byrds and quite a lot of Tom Petty make use of it.
posted by wheat at 12:21 PM on July 15, 2008

James Blackshaw should give you some ideas. Pick up his album The Cloud of Unknowing.
posted by pilibeen at 1:29 PM on July 15, 2008

Best answer: If you're feeling experimental, try some unusual tunings. Rather than the traditional 12-string:

E-E(o) A-A(o) D-D(o) G-G B-B E-E

...try the slide-friendly:

D-D(o) G-G(o) D-D(o) G-G B-B D-D

With this tuning, of course, a straight bar across all strings produces a full major chord -- very easy for beginners to play songs with this tuning.

Or get whacky and mix up the strings, something like:

D-G(o) G-B(o) D-G(o) G-D B-G D-B

It's still a full major chord with a straight bar, but with some unusual string groupings -- and you can play root-5th power chords (and root-3rd, 3rd-5th "chords") with just one "duo" (close pair) of strings.

Or, if you're feeling emo, do the above, but substitute "B-flat" for "B" and you'll get an easy slide-able minor chord.

Get an acoustic pickup, run it to a distortion amp, and rock out. Your friends will look at you like Nipper, the RCA dog. And isn't that the whole point? No. No, it isn't.
posted by LordSludge at 1:57 PM on July 15, 2008

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