Friday 8 December 2023

Last Song on the 12-String

    This afternoon I give up my 12-String guitar, to the woman who bought it from me.  Before I put it in the case I sat down and played the Byrd version of “Mr. Tamborine Man” one last time. 

    I first really got into music in 1963, during what has been called the “Folk Revival.”   There was a TV show on every Saturday night called “Hootenanny”, which I watched religiously.  It featured Folk Musicians performing at universities.  It was then that I first started to recognize the unique sound of the 12-string guitar with its 4 octave-tuned strings, amidst the sounds of the 6-strings, banjos, and fiddles that were being played.  I was eager to play folk songs, and bought myself a banjo from the Sears catalogue.

    I played the banjo with a folk singing group we formed in high school.  After playing banjo for a while I realized that banjos really weren’t much of a solo instrument, and started thinking about getting a guitar which are much more versatile.  I always wanted to play something a little bit out of the ordinary since it seemed like everyone played a 6-string, so I bought myself a 12-string.  

    Once The Byrds appeared on the scene with their Folk Rock sound, heavy with the electric 12-string guitar, I was smitten.  I bought myself a pickup to electrify my acoustic 12-string, joined a rock and roll band that played mostly Byrd, Beatle, and Buffalo Springfield songs, then later bought myself an electric 12-string guitar.  After the group broke up, I sold the electric 12-string, and mostly playing on my own, ended up just playing 6-strings, both acoustic and electric.

    About 10 years ago, I started missing the 12-string sound and bought myself the 12-string I am playing in the photo, but I still mostly played 6-string electric and acoustic.  A couple of years ago, when I lost the ring finger of my left hand, I had to relearn how to play chords on a guitar.  I then, quite often chording the 6-string, had to “barre” (hold down more than one string) with my pinkie, because I no longer had the ring finger.  That has been difficult, but it became really difficult trying to hold down twice as many strings playing the 12-string, so I ended up not playing it much.

    The other day I made the decision to sell it, I hated seeing it just sit around unused.  I was surprise at how great the response was to my ad, 6 people in our tiny community were very interested in it.  It sold and in a few hours I will deliver it to the woman who sent the first email (at 6:30 AM).  My 12-string will have to get used to being played again.

    I am a little saddened, not so much that I am losing the instrument, but that I just can’t really play it very well anymore.

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