Skip to content
Position of strings...
Clear all

Position of strings on a 12 string...

2 Posts
2 Users
Noble Member
Joined: 18 years ago
Posts: 2261
Topic starter  

I've just been noodling around sans pick on my 12-string, and I find I'm missing the higher string of the pair quite often on the thumb-picked bass notes.

I can see why - on each pair, the higher of the two is the string closest to the bass side of the guitar, and also it's bottom of the two strings that are an equal distance from the fretboard. Consequently, sometimes I'm not quite dipping my thumb down low enough to hit the first string of the course, but it's still low enough to catch the second, the top of which is higher because of the arrangement.

It's just occured to me years, after getting the guitar (I'm a bright spark, me!), that there are more ways of arranging the strings than this, and that this might be an alternative or even an unusual way to arrange them, and Big G is (suprisingly) not much help.

The strings could be arranged so that the centres or the tops, not the bottoms, of the strings were an equal height from the fretboard so that you're more likely to hit both (when you hit any at all). But, then you might have action issues on one string of the pair and not the other, which I could see being a bit of a nightmare if it happened.

The high and low strings could also be the other way around, bass on the bass side and octave on the treble side. I can't think that would make much difference if the tops of the strings were aligned. If it were still the bottoms that were supposed to be level, then I guess that doing that would shield the higher string from the thumb on thumb-picked notes and lead to the same problem as I'm having now, and probably more often. If it were the centres, which behaviour would be more likely?

Maybe it'd be easier on the fretting hand that way, as you wouldn't have to keep your fingers as close to perpendicular as you do when the high string is on the bass side (the slant of the tops of the strings would be towards the treble side, which is closer to facing the direction your fingers come from when all you sloppy guitarist don't straighten them up enough*).

* I say 'all you sloppy guitarists', but I think we all know who I mean ;)

So, can anyone give me the skinny on what's what in the world of 12er string position?

And, if another way ends up suiting me better - Guitar Chord/Scale Finder/Viewer

Illustrious Member
Joined: 22 years ago
Posts: 5108

The Rickenbacher 12-string electric is built so that the bass string is first then the higher string -- the opposite of the typical 12-string arrangement.

Well we all shine on--like the moon and the stars and the sun.
-- John Lennon