Sometimes you go to buy strings and you accidentally buy the wrong ones.
It happens, it’s not the best thing in the world but you might be asking yourself, can I use 12 string guitar strings on a 6 string guitar?
The answer is yes, you can absolutely use strings made for a 12 string guitar, on your 6 string guitar.
However, no, you won’t be able to use all 12 strings at once, basically you have two sets of 6 strings.
Putting 12 string guitar strings on a 6 string guitar
When you get a pack of 12 string guitar strings, the pack comes with two sets of each 6 strings you would expect to find on a 6 string guitar.
One set is similar to standard gauge strings, and the second set will be a much lighter gauge, to make it to the octave above standard tuning.
This means that a 12 string guitar isn’t as different as you might think.
All the strings are the same, there’s just two sets, and one set is an octave above standard tuning.
If you take the standard gauge string set, and string it up on your 6 string guitar, you’ll likely not find much difference from a normal pack of strings.
There’s no difference in set up or tuning, just ensure you’re careful when separating the sets, as it might be tricky to see which string belongs to which set.
The light gauge is going to be MUCH lighter than even typical light gauge guitar strings.
This set of strings will still set up and tune the same as the first set, and standard strings, but the sound is going to be much different, due to the gauge.
Using the light gauge set from a 12 string guitar pack is actually so common, that there’s a name for it:
Nashville Tuning: light gauge 12 string set on a 6 string guitar
Nashville Tuning has been around for a long time, and came about to fill a void that recording artists needed.
If you’re wondering, can I use 12 string guitar strings on a 6 string guitar, yes and Nashville Tuning makes very good use of them!
Recording artists in Nashville were looking to get a brighter sound out of their acoustic guitars.
Acoustic guitars are more typically known for their warm, brassy tones.
Stringing up a 6 string acoustic guitar with the light set from a 12 string pack allowed a standard 6 string guitar to get those bright flashy tones.
There’s no real problems or considerations you need to consider, if you want to go with Nashville Tuning.
Contrary to the name, Nashville Tuning is still tuned to standard tuning (EADGBe), and the only difference is a lighter string gauge.
Perhaps Nashville Tuning is a little confusing at first, but just know you string it up and tune it as normal.
Here’s a great video to check out if you’re interested in learning more about Nashville Tuning.
Tips for playing a 6 string guitar using strings from a 12 string pack
- Do not under any circumstances attempt to put all 12 strings from the pack on your 6 string guitar! You can do some serious damage to your guitar by doing this, and it is unlikely to work.
- You may find you enjoy playing in Nashville Tuning initially but might be missing the more familiar feel of standard gauges. If you’re planning on using strings for a 12 string on your 6 string, it may be best to have an extra pack of stand 6 strings to replace them, in case you don’t end up liking the feel.
- String gauge can play an important role in the overall sound, play and longevity of a guitar. While it’s fine to try out different gauges once and a while, it’s best to stick around the normal gauge for your guitar.
You can use 12 string guitar strings on a 6 string guitar very easily, and with no more effort than a normal string change.
While it might not be the exact sound you’re looking for, it is a popular method of tuning that many enjoy.
So if you think you’re “stuck” with a 12 string pack of strings, just know you can use them on your 6 string guitar, no problem!