"Explore it vasts potential, not by playing it like a
6-string but how it wants to be played...
And it's easier that way!"
Crédit photo : Franck LANTOINE
The 12-string is the ancestor of the 6-string guitar. (Yup!)
Of course you know there are only 10 different open string notes, don’t you? And that the 12 string has its own methodology?
Let’s take a closer look at that…
Join me in the video below and see this surprising instrument in action.
So what's it all about?
If you lay your 12-string flat across your lap, this is what you
see : There are the six open strings of the usual guitar,
written as capital letters. Each string is paired by another,
which make 6 « courses ».
The two high strings : B and E, are paired by an identical string
tuned to the same pitch, giving the same sound as its twin,
naturally. However, the lower pitched strings E, A, D, G are
doubled by one pitched just one octave higher. So there are
4 octave strings : e, a, d, g. It happens thus that the highest open
string on a 12-string guitar is the g octave string right in the middle
of them all! It’s a tone and a half above the high E strings and
broadens the range of the instrument when compared to a
6 string guitar.
The octave strings fill out the overall sound, but played
separately, they can also intervene in their own right in
enriching harmony : So, we’re not talking about 6 but rather
10 strings that we can mix. Available combinations of notes
thus increase in spectacular fashion, and the instrument
takes on a whole other dimension. Using the thumb and
fingers of the right hand separately, we find that for each of
the 4 lower register courses, there exist two possibilities.
Using the thumb and fingers of the right hand separately, we find that for each of the 4 lower register courses, there exist two possibilities :
Of course we may still hear the octave string which rings a little (we can call this « sympathetic vibration »), or indeed because we plucked it in error, though there’s no reason to worry about this - the precision increases with practice.
The fingers of the left hand always press on both strings of a course at the same time.
This way of playing implies the use of new techniques for both left and right hands. It leads to the development of a quite specific logic which does not replace the usual approach to 6-string playing but is rather superimposed on it.
Going from 6 to 12-string playing does not involve any particular technical difficulty, but it does require a firm understanding of a new playing logic: with so many strings available, the left hand is less needed for barring strings and the right hand takes on a more important role in the melody.
1- A light downward thumb stroke plays only the octave string.
2- A light upward stroke the index, middle or annular fingers plays only the lower-pitched string of the pair.
12-string by Maurice Dupont
Saddle and bridge
Karen model by Yves Ghirotto
After years of solo concerts on this instrument, in 2012
In 2012, after many years of giving solo concerts, I published the first 12-string guitar method based on a logical approach born of my experience, a manner of playing that is eminently accessible, as you can see from the examples given below, and which opens the way to a universe of possibilities, some of which I have explored, and much of which remains for you to discover.