Occasionally, I like to use a twelve string guitar. I think it’s one more great tool to add to my worship leader/guitar player tool box. I don’t know very many people that have one, so it also makes it a little more unique. If you play a 12-string guitar, or you are thinking about picking one up, I wanted to pass along a few tips that I have learned over the years that may be helpful for you. Now, keep in mind, these aren’t hard rules, and they can all be broken and you will be just fine. But for me, in a worship leading setting, I usually stick to these principles:
It’s useful when there are other guitarists. I like to provide opportunities for people to use their gifts as much as possible. By having a 12-string, this helps provide space for other guitarists to play and to compliment each other.
Tune down half a step or use light gauge strings. For my 6-strings, I prefer medium gauge because I have a heavier strum, and I like the sound of a thicker string. Because of the extra six strings, there is more tension on the neck. So, it wouldn’t be good for my guitar if I used medium gauge strings and tuned it to standard tuning. So, I either need to tune the guitar down, or switch to lighter string.
No effects. Many people do not like using effects on acoustic guitars at all. I am not one of them. I like to use a little (but not much) effects on mine. But when it comes to 12-strings, my philosophy is that the guitar in itself is like an effect. I don’t need to add more to the sound.
I use it exclusively for strumming. Again, this is not a hard rule. But, if a song calls for finger-picking, arpeggio, or palm-muting, I would rather just use a six string because I think it sounds better. So, FOR ME, I use it exclusively for a strumming instrument.
Don’t use a capo too high up the neck. If you do, the strings will begin to sound clangy. I try not to use a capo past the 2nd or 3rd fret.
The best keys are G and D. I don’ t know why, but the chords for these keys seem to be made for a 12-string.
I hope these tips have helped. Again, these are only tips and not hard rules. What are some that you’ve learned/developed through playing a 12-string?