TheMoMI.org -- Museum of Musical Instruments
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   A few twelve-string acoustic guitars were built in the early 1900s, and one made by the Stella Company was made famous by the legendary blues singer Lead Belly. Major companies like Martin and Gibson first offered acoustic twelve-strings in the 1960s, but the Rickenbacker 360-12 was the first truly successful electric model. In 1964 one of the prototypes for this instrument was presented to George Harrison of the Beatles, who can be seen and heard playing it in the film A Hard Days Night. Soon afterward, Roger McGuinn of the Byrds bought a 360-12 and made its jangling, chiming tone part of his band's signature sound in tunes like "Mr. Tambourine Man." Unlike twelve-string guitars of other types, the Rickenbacker reverses the order of the octave strings on the lowest four courses, placing the low or fundamental note first when strumming downward. To make tuning easier and alleviate crowding on the headstock, the twelve tuning pegs are ingeniously staggered at right angles.



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