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12 fret steel string search


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I've decided to go to a 12 fret steel string and divest myself of the 14 fret I have. Playing mostly classical these days, I've become accustomed to the comfort of the shorter neck. I need 1-3/4 and 2-1/4 spacing nut/bridge, respectively,  a low oval neck shape with Sitka for the top. I don't mind wider spacing and would actually prefer it but I know that's pretty rare on a steel string. I saw Recording King had a 12 fret but the neck was skinny. Martin's 000-15SM mahogany is a near miss, plus I'm pretty much done shelling out over $500.00 for any guitar.

Any suggestions would be appreciated.

Thanks,

Edited by Idunno
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Recording King ROS-16. I had one. The neck is not thin, rather a V shape. They're out of production, but if you can find one 2nd hand, I'd check it out. I used it the last time I played live, but I couldn't really get used to the V. Sometimes, I wish I hadn't sold it. When I did, someone grabbed it within a week. The bass was impressive, and it's a beautiful guitar.

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8 hours ago, Idunno said:

I've decided to go to a 12 fret steel string and divest myself of the 14 fret I have. Playing mostly classical these days, I've become accustomed to the comfort of the shorter neck. I need 1-3/4 and 2-1/4 spacing nut/bridge, respectively,  a low oval neck shape with Sitka for the top. I don't mind wider spacing and would actually prefer it but I know that's pretty rare on a steel string. I saw Recording King had a 12 fret but the neck was skinny. Martin's 000-15SM mahogany is a near miss, plus I'm pretty much done shelling out over $500.00 for any guitar.

Any suggestions would be appreciated.

Thanks,

Joe.

Recording King did a couple of 12 fret 000 parlours which are now discontinued. The models were the ROS-06 and the ROS-16. Both guitars have a 48 mm neck width at the nut and are solid Sitka over mahogany back and sides. The two models are very similar - the only real difference is in the neck profile: the ROS-06 has a standard "C" profile whilst the ROS-16 has a fatter, "vintage V" profile.

I bought a used ROS-16 about 5 years ago. I was a little uncertain about the V neck but I quickly became used to it and within a couple of weeks it became my go-to steel string. I've also subsequently played the ROS-06 with it's shallower (back to front) neck - that was fine too.

Like you, I play mostly classical guitar these days and I found the RK parlour perfect for my needs. Look out for a used RK ROS-06, I don't think you'd be disappointed.

https://www.guitarfella.com/recording-king-ros-06-classic-series-review/

Good luck

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The Gretsch Jim Dandy has a 24" scale length, a C-shaped neck with a 1.6875" (1 11/16ths) width, and it's a 12 fret neck. They're very inexpensive (under $200 new) but they're not the highest quality instruments in terms of tone and woods. Mine was a gift, and it's high-strung. It works great for that IMHO. 

 

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5 hours ago, Glenn F said:

that looks decent!

Yes, it does. More expensive than the Recording King parlours for similar specs but a good option if there are no used RKs available. 

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QC. I was so impressed with the ros, that I tried a couple more RKs, and there were issues with each one, including, most importantly, sounding and playing like crap. If I had kept my ros, I don't know how often I'd play it. I had mine set up well, but it was the V that turned me off. I would expect that Guild above to be a better guitar, so that would likely be the one I'd zero in on as a leading choice to try.

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23 hours ago, DeepEnd said:

The Guild Westerly Memoir P-240 might be worth a look. Just shy of $500: https://www.sweetwater.com/store/detail/GP240M--guild-p-240-memoir-natural

This is the guitar. Great find, Deep. It very closely matches the Larrivee OO-05 I let go and shouldn't have years ago. Gonna see if I can find one locally to play.

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1 minute ago, Idunno said:

This is the guitar. Great find, Deep. It very closely matches the Larrivee OO-05 I let go and shouldn't have years ago. Gonna see if I can find one locally to play.

Much obliged. Always a good idea to play one first if at all possible. Let us know how it goes.

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Well, I played a Guild P-240 and have to say it really plays well but sounds very small. Don't think it fits the bill in the tonal department. Gonna have to bump up the specs to include larger body sizes with 12 fret necks.

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On 1/22/2020 at 8:45 PM, Glenn F said:

QC. I was so impressed with the ros, that I tried a couple more RKs, and there were issues with each one, including, most importantly, sounding and playing like crap. If I had kept my ros, I don't know how often I'd play it. I had mine set up well, but it was the V that turned me off. I would expect that Guild above to be a better guitar, so that would likely be the one I'd zero in on as a leading choice to try.

Strange - seems there must be some QC variation - I've played a few too and all have been fine. Perhaps I'm not as discerning as you :idk:

And I was happy with the V neck within a very short time. Perhaps because I play my classical guitars a lot so am used to a chunky neck. And I gave up expecting one guitar to be better than another because of the name on the headstock a long time ago.

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2 hours ago, Idunno said:

Well, I played a Guild P-240 and have to say it really plays well but sounds very small. Don't think it fits the bill in the tonal department. Gonna have to bump up the specs to include larger body sizes with 12 fret necks.

There are a several different makers who offer 12 fret guitars  (Alvarez, Washburn, Cort, Martin, Taylor, etc) but most, if not all, tend to have parlour size bodies. There a couple of small Grand Concert bodies around which may be louder.

My Recording King 12 fret is larger than the Guild - top and bottom bouts are each 1" wider and the overall length is 1.5" longer but the body widths are similar. I think the RK performs above what you'd expect for its size which may be because of the large lower bout - it is a 000.

There is bound to be a variation in volume between different makes / models so it might be a case of doing some travelling around and experimenting, I'm afraid. 

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6 hours ago, Idunno said:

Well, I played a Guild P-240 and have to say it really plays well but sounds very small. Don't think it fits the bill in the tonal department. Gonna have to bump up the specs to include larger body sizes with 12 fret necks.

Well, crud. Unfortunately, while I know of larger 12 fret guitars I don't know of any under $500. :(

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Deep, that's about right. Today I went to check out an Alvarez @ Music & Arts and though it was tonally nice it had a 14 fret neck. Small body, though. I forget the model. The manager @ M&A suggested the Baby Taylor. Will look at specs. Gonna check out the 00 sizes as well.

Howard - I see lot's of small-bodied guitars (parlors) that are 12 frets but they're also sporting 43mm necks. That might not be a deal breaker because the Yamaha I bought for my son had a similar width but the board width supported a 45mm nut, which I changed. I'd have to actually look at the necks to see if bumping any of them out is possible.

Meanwhile, it's the classical or the steel string a full step down and capo'd 2.

 

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11 hours ago, Grant Harding said:

Why is where the neck joins the body so important? Is that a tone thing?

Think in terms of the extended left arm to the first position. Fourteen frets clear is about 2.75 inches (7cm) further out from the body than 12 frets clear. It's a matter of moving the bridge further aft on the lower bout to accommodate a shorter (12 fret) neck, which is the standard construction of a classical guitar. I spend the lion's share of my time on a classical and have developed a most comfortable posture for that guitar. A steel string guitar of similar dimensions accommodates that posture nicely.

As it is now I have a 14 fret (clear) guitar that I capo 2 frets and tune down a full step to create on it the dimensions of the classical I play. I can continue this practice without a problem but I'd rather sell the 14 fretter while it still commands a respectable aftermarket value (Goodall RCJC) and weather the rest of my time playing with a purpose-built 12 fret guitar that I do not need to capo. I have become accustomed to bumping into that capo as a normal part of playing and can continue but wouldn't have to with a 12 fret guitar.

Now, there are smaller bodied guitars that have 12 frets clear but the neck is still the same length as a 14 fret clear guitar. The construction of that guitar extends the upper bout 2 frets, a rather goofy looking disproportionate aesthetic, IMO, supposedly to maintain the bridge in the center of the lower bout where it generates sound best as well as increase the upper bout's headroom. I'm not looking at this construction. I'm looking for the construction that moves the bridge further aft, as I mentioned above.

Moving the bridge back sacrifices some of the tonal qualities, especially the lower end, and gives us that smaller, boxier sounding body. I think a good search might fetch a guitar with an acceptable compromise.

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19 hours ago, Idunno said:

Howard - I see lot's of small-bodied guitars (parlors) that are 12 frets but they're also sporting 43mm necks. That might not be a deal breaker because the Yamaha I bought for my son had a similar width but the board width supported a 45mm nut, which I changed. I'd have to actually look at the necks to see if bumping any of them out is possible.

Yes, that's the problem. It was one of the reasons I snapped up the Recording King: 48 mm neck - perfect.

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18 hours ago, Grant Harding said:

Why is where the neck joins the body so important? Is that a tone thing?

Partially. When the neck is shortened the bridge is moved to a different part of the soundboard so there's a difference in sound. As Idunno pointed out it also shifts the position of the fretting hand. Third, 12 fret guitars tend to have wider necks, which is important to some folks. Finally, 12 fret guitars often have slotted headstocks and some of us thing they're cool. My first halfway decent guitar was an Alvarez 5020 like this one. I still miss it sometimes:

5020b.jpg.59fac1cf01616d2a2f235429e0452c11.jpg

6 hours ago, Idunno said:

Probably fill the bill but zero availability.

Well, shucks. That blows. Good luck in your search.

Edited by DeepEnd
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Today I put on my best 'tude and took a trip to Orlando to the GC and Sam Ash. I had the 12-fret guitar in mind but ended up playing all sorts of stuff. Gonna have to don my Kevlar for saying it but this guitar pleasantly surprised me. I remember Phil visiting it onto the forum a while back to a generally cool reception, my own being in that mix, but I'm gonna hold off on the knee-jerk reactions going forward. The one I played is the same color as the one in the link.

I played the same instrumental (Suzanne - Leonard Cohen) on each of the guitars I tried, sticking to the sub $500.00 range, and the Fender actually fared near the top. I picked up a Breedlove Concertina thinking it would be an apex example of what I was looking for but it wasn't as tonally pleasant as the Fender. On the more humorous side, a used Ovation Celebrity in mint condition sounded pretty good unplugged but I could not keep that sucker from sliding off my leg. I'd tuck it up into my ribs and it would immediately slip. I bought a Glenn Campbell model in 73, new, and it had a very thin rubber patch, like an elbow patch on a style of sport jacket, bonded to the waist that worked like a charm.

I didn't bother trying anything over the $500.00 price range so all other makes/models above that remained hanging. The GC was pretty crowded but I was the only one at Sam Ask (in the entire store) and that's where I spent some quality time checking stuff out.

As far as the 12-fret search went, neither store had one. I had searched their inventory online before I went. It didn't show any so no surprises.

 

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2 hours ago, Idunno said:

Gonna have to don my Kevlar for saying it but this guitar pleasantly surprised me. I remember Phil visiting it onto the forum a while back to a generally cool reception, my own being in that mix, but I'm gonna hold off on the knee-jerk reactions going forward. The one I played is the same color as the one in the link.

I played the same instrumental (Suzanne - Leonard Cohen) on each of the guitars I tried, sticking to the sub $500.00 range, and the Fender actually fared near the top.

 

Oh so weird. I well remember Phil posting the review months ago because about a week later I came across one (a blue one!!) and it played and sounded great. 

 

 

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