How to Play a 12-String Guitar

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Twelve-string guitars may look difficult, but they can still be played. Get the playing basics down with help from an experienced recording artist in this free video.

Part of the Video Series: Acoustic Guitar
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Video Transcript

Hi. My name is Gerald Emerick. I'm a recording artist. I want to talk today about the acoustic 12 string. The difference between this and the acoustic six string is that there are doubles of the strings that are on a six string guitar. So, for example, the top three strings, i's E, B, and G. The E is double. So, you're hearing two E strings that are in unison. And they have a slight... they slightly vary in tone as they play, so that it gives it a fuller sound. That's the whole idea of the twelve string. So, you have an E which is doubled. And the next string is B, and that's also doubled. And then it starts these... the bottom four strings have octaves. So, that when we play the G, the D, the A, and the E string, they each have a low and then a high octave. So, that gives it a more of a range of sound, fuller sound. So, like i said, the two high strings, the E and the B are doubled. And then the lower four strings have a wound string and then a wire string so that it's a.. a low and then a high octave. So, we've got the low G, and then the high G. So, it has this sound that goes... So, that while you're playing your guitar, you're actually playing two strings in one. Every time you put your finger down on one note, you're actually playing two notes. So, this is the exact same way that I would play a D chord on a six string guitar, except I'm now playing 12 strings. And it has a slightly more brighter sound. It has a fuller sound. And it's a certain kind of effect. A lot of people strictly play 12 string, and that's great. Sometime people will add a twelve string on top of a six string if they're recording, and then pan it so that it has a duller, richer sound. So, let me just show you how this goes. For example, this is a G chord.. It's played exactly like you would play it on a six string acoustic. Here's a D.. exactly the same way as you would play it on a six string. So, when you play a twelve string, you might want to pick it a little bit more, just take advantage of all those strings. For example... It has a slightly more bell ringing kind of sound to it. And that's an acoustic 12 string.


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