12-String Bass Strings:
The Standard String Arrangement

Standard String Arrangement

The standard string arrangement is found on over 99% of all 12-string basses. This is the same arrangement that is used for 12-string guitars, but of course the guitars have only one high-octave string for each of the six fundamentals. Since most 12-string players use a pick and primarily play down strokes, this arrangement tends to accentuate the high-octave strings since they are struck first and with the most energy.

It is frequently stated as gospel that the Standard arrangement is designed for players who use a pick when they play, and the Inverted arrangement is designed for fingerstyle players. This statement makes a big assumption: It presumes that you want to sound the high-octave strings first, thus accentuating the high end. There are plenty of playing situations where more low end is preferable, so for many players this assumption is not valid.

Late 1960's Hagstrom 8-String Bass

In the 1970's Tom Petersson had been using a Hagstrom 8-string bass similar to the one pictured above which is strung Standard. The original Quad Bass and all of Tom's other 12-string basses have always been configured this way. According to Jol Dantzig of Hamer, this was because Tom plays using a pick. It was thought that striking the fundamental string first would tend to make the pick bounce over the higher octave strings, resulting in reduced high end. For more of Jol's thoughts about the Quad bass be sure to check out his Interview.


Standard Tuner Arrangement

Inverted Tuner Arrangement

The Standard configuration gives the instrument the typical 12-string 'sound' as demonstrated by such players as Tom Petersson or Doug Pinnick. Also, based upon the vast majority of 8-string basses being similarly strung it is apparent that the Standard format is the preferred method for almost every manufacturer. However, the Standard configuration is not necessarily the "best" way to string a 12-string bass. The Inverted arrangement offers some unorthodox ways to play chords. See the Inverted page for details.