Wanted: a small twelve-string guitar
My friend Bill came by recently with an interesting request. Bill is a guitar guy with very eclectic taste. He likes odd, interesting stringed instruments, so I wasn’t surprised that what he was looking for was a small twelve-string guitar.
As our discussion continued, I brought up the Tiple. The Tiple is a small-bodied guitar with coursed strings, usually ten or more in sets of three. This instrument is played all over Central and South America in different configurations. Most well-known is the Columbian Tiple with twelve strings in sets of three. I am most familiar with the version that the C.F. Martin Company started producing in 1919 for one of their customers. Other companies followed suit with their own versions, and you will occasionally find examples labeled Regal or other brand names.
The Martin version was based on 10 metal strings with ukulele “my dog has fleas” tuning or A, D, F#, B in arrangements of 2, 3, 3, 2. The body of this instrument was based on a tenor ukulele with much deeper sides. The neck had a slotted headstock for the ten tuners.
What does this have to do with Bill? Well, he got excited about the prospect of his twelve-string being a similar size. What we settled on was the dimensions of a baritone ukulele with deep sides. We decided to stay with the 20 1/8 scale length and the slotted headstock, and because Bill likes the look of those old cheap guitars from the 20’s and 30’s, it has to have a herringbone rosette and binding.
Taking on a project such as this requires a bit of guess-timation, so follow along as I work through the various problems in this design-as-you-go project.
To Be Continued!