Last week when we were in Prince George for Joan to get her hip replaced, I found myself with time to kill. I made the mistake of thinking, “Well, I could just go into a music store and play around on the instruments for an hour.”
First I tried out some mandolins. I didn’t really need a mandolin since I have one that is perfectly fine. The ones I tried, although more expensive, didn’t sound any better than the old cheap one I had so I started looking around at the other instruments, and saw a 12 string guitar. For those that don’t know, a 12 string has double strings, eight of them are the same strings as on a 6, but 4 of them are tuned an octave higher.
In my youth when I got interested in playing music, I started with a banjo, but my first guitar was a 12 string. It was way back in the Folk Music era. Everyone had a regular 6 string guitar, and I always liked to be a bit different, and I was taken by the fuller, jingle-jangle sound that a 12 string made, so when I had saved up enough money, I that is what I bought.
From Folk Music, my tastes went to Folk Rock, and particularly the music of The Byrds, whose sound was built around the Roger McGuinn’s electric 12 string. I decided I too would to go electric and bought a pick-up for my acoustic 12 string, and joined a band that did Byrds, Beatles, and Buffalo Springfield songs, I eventually saved up enough money and bought myself an electric 12 string guitar.
After the band broke up and time passed, I sold off my electric and acoustic 12 string guitars and settled down and bought myself a classical type guitar with 6 nylon strings. I wasn’t playing classical guitar music, still the same folk and rock songs, but it was easy to chord the nylon strings.
During the 2 years I worked at a Goodwill Store in Indianapolis as a Conscientious Objector, I was lucky one day to discover an old Gretch acoustic 6 string (Burl Ives model) that had been donated. I bought it, fixed it up, and it has been my guitar for 40 years.
It now has an acoustic partner because I ended up buying myself a 12 string at the music store last week. It was moderately priced, easy to play, and really rings. Its so nice to re-try to all those 12 string tricks I learned so long ago and play those old Byrd and folk songs again with all 12 strings chiming away.