How To Play A 12 String Guitar
It looks like fun, it's got an amazing sound and you've always wanted to branch out...now it's time to learn how to play a 12-string guitar! This article will give you the help you need.
- Get the guitar and yourself ready. If your 12-string is electric, plug it into your amplifier. Otherwise, put on the strap and either find a comfortable stance or a good sitting position. A 12-string guitar requires a fairly strong pick; you'll want to use a medium to heavy.
- Tune your 12-String Guitar. The important thing to know is that the tuning for the 12-string is not significantly different from the 6-string. The strings are tuned in pairs. The lower strings are set in octaves, the higher in unison pairs. There will be two E, two A, two D, two G, two B, and two high E. Often, in order to compensate for the increased neck tension and finger power needed to play a 12-string, the tuning is dropped to D or even C: that is to say, all strings are lowered one whole step or two whole steps. This works best for a solo performer, but songs can be transposed into the lower keys. As guitar teacher Mickey Cochran writes, "Remember, a 12-string is usually tougher to play than a 6-string due to the extra 6 strings."
- Play your 12-String Guitar. As mentioned above, the strings are tuned in pairs. To play a 12-string guitar, form chords using each finger to fret a pair of strings instead of a single string. For open strings, two strings will be open instead of one. Single-string lead runs often sound nice on the string pairs of a 12-string, especially on the D and G pairs. The 12-string guitar will give you a rich, ringing sound and add fullness to a band's sound.
If your fingertips feel sore at first, don't worry. Your calluses will increase with practicing your 12-string regularly.