Question:
I have an old 12 string I bought back in the late 60s.  My tuning instructions show that the number 12 string is the LOW E and number 11 is an octave above.  Likewise the 9th is an octave higher, etc.  I see this on some sites on the web, but then I see sites like yours with the 4 lower sets reversed.
 
What gives?
 
Ray Burbank
 
Answer:
At the right, you'll see a picture of a common 12 string guitar neck.  The top string is numbered 12, then 11, etc. on down.  You'll also see the top string 12 is thinner than the next one 11.  Because the string is thinner, it is tuned higher.  The same is true with the next 3 pairs of strings.

Rickenbacker is the only company I know of that places the strings on 12 string guitars as you describe above, (thick on top).  If for some reason a guitarist wants to reverse the order on his or her 12 string guitar from the way it was designed originally,  it may be okay but the grooves in the nut are usually made wider for the thicker strings and narrower for the thinner strings.  Stringing it in reverse may cause problems.  Also the intonation at the saddle might be off if it was accurately set up in the first place. 

The picture at the right, most 12 string guitars, and all new 12 string packages I've ever bought, all have it numbered as shown in this picture.

 Bob, Gman ( o )==#

HOME                         BACK TO TUNING TIPS