Tag Archives: Extended


9 String

Name: 9 String Guitar.
Type: Chordophones > Lutes > Guitars > Extended > Range.
Hornbostel Sachs No#: 321.322.5
Country: Many, USA.
Region: Many, USA.

Description: A nine string guitar is any guitar having 9 strings instead of the commonly used 6 string guitar. The first type of 9-String Guitar, is often employed with three pairs of coursed strings similar to a twelve-string guitar. Often the three wound strings are single and the three thin strings are doubled to six strings.  Some examples of this type of nine-string guitar are the Vox Mark IX and the Vox Phantom IX.

The second style of 9 String guitar expands on the seven and eight-string guitar concept by adding either an additional lower or higher-tuned strings. When a lower string is added, the standard tuning becomes C# / F# / B / E / A / D / G / B / E. The scale is often lengthened, e.g., on the Ibanez RG9 [712 mm / 28″ instead of the common 25.5″]. Tuning the highest string to an A4 or higher can be accomplished with a shorter scale length and/or a thinner string such as a .008 or .007

Citations: Bibliography: Websites:

11 String Guitar

Name: 11 String Guitar.
Type: Chordophones > Lute > Guitars > Extended > Range.
Hornbostel-Sachs No#: 321.322.5
Tunings: Bb / C / D / Eb / F / G / C / F / Bb / D / G
Inventor: Georg Bolin 1960s [Sweden].
Country: Many, Europe, USA.
Region: Many, Europe, USA.

Description: The eleven-string alto guitar [also known as altgitarr, archguitar or Bolin guitar] is an extended-range classical guitar developed by Swedish luthier Georg Bolin in the 1960s. Original Bolin instruments are now rare and valuable. The Bolin alto guitar most often has eleven strings, but Bolin also made a thirteen-string version.

In the United States, luthier Walter Stanul makes performance instruments ranging from 11 to 13 strings called the Archguitar. The design and the body shape of this guitar is similar to the vihuela, and thus it is fundamentally different from the Bolin design.

History: Georg Bolin first constructed 11-string alto guitar with collaboration with Swedish guitarist Per-Olof Johnson in 1960s. Johnson is the teacher of a well-known guitarist Göran Söllscher who made this instrument famous through his extensive usage of Bolin’s 11 String alto guitar.

Johnson was fond of lute music, but the difference in playing techniques between guitar and lute is significant, and he was looking for a way to play lute music using guitar playing technique. Thus, the design goal was specifically to be able to play renaissance lute music directly from original tabs using guitar playing technique.

Features: The 11-string alto guitar is a multi-string classical guitar, which generally refers to classical guitars with more than six strings. Classical guitars with extra strings can have from seven to 13 or more strings. The first six strings are tuned in the same intervals as the normal classic guitar. Therefore, a musician can play with conventional fingering on those strings.

Citations: Bibliography: Websites:

12 String Guitar

Name: 12-String Guitar.
Type: Chordophones > Lutes > Guitar.
Hornbostel-Sachs No#: 321.322.5
Tuning: Ee / Aa / Dd / Gg / bb / ee
Country: Many, USA.
Region: Many, North America.

Description: The origin of the modern 12-string guitar is not certain, but the most likely ancestors using courses of doubled strings are some Mexican instruments such as the guitarra séptima, the guitarra quinta huapanguera and the bajo sexto. At the end of the 19th century, the archtop mandolin was one of the first instruments with courses of doubled strings designed in the United States.

Usage: In the 19th and early 20th centuries, 12-strings were regarded as “novelty” instruments. Throughout the 1920s and 1930s the 12-string guitar arose in popularity due to its bright “bell like” sound, making it suitable for accompaniment for vocalists. This type of guitar was popular among blues musicians notably Lead Belly and Blind Willie McTell. Lead Belly’s protegé, Fred Gerlach, introduced the instrument into the folk-music world.

Initially, it was primarily used for accompaniment, owing to the greater difficulty of picking or executing string “bends” on its double-strung courses. During the 1960s folk-revival and later the 1970s this guitar was introduced into many different genres from blues, folk, rock, jazz and popular music. In the later 20th century, however, a number of players devoted themselves to producing solo performances on the 12-string guitar.

Tuning: Typically the 12-string guitar is tuned to E / A / D / G / B / E or Ee / Ae / Dd / Gg / bb / ee, the same as the 6-string acoustic and classical guitars. The courses are arranged in pairs of two strings.

Nashville Tuning: This concept refers to a means of simulating a 12-string guitar sound, using two six-string guitars playing in unison. This is achieved by replacing the lower four courses on one six-string with the higher octave strings for those four courses from a 12-string set. and tuning these four strings an octave higher than normal tuning for those courses on a six-string. Double-tracking this guitar with the standard-tuned six-string is commonly used in recording studios to achieve a “cleaner” 12-string effect.


Narciso Yepes 10-String Guitar

Name: Narciso Yepes 10-string guitar.
Type: Chordophones > Lutes > Guitars > Extended > Range.
Hornbostel Sachs No#: 321.322.5
Tuning: F# / G# / A# / C / E / A / d / g / b / e’
Inventors: Narciso Yepes & José Ramírez.
Luthiers: José Ramírez.
Country: Spain.
Region: Iberian Peninsula & Western Europe.

Description: The Narciso Yepes 10-string guitar is a variety of the extended range family of guitars. It was conceived by conceived in collaboration by Narciso Yepes and constructed by José Ramírez in 1963. This instrument is called the “modern” 10-string guitar. In order to differentiate this guitar from other extended-range guitars including the 10-stringed guitars of the 19th century.

Narciso Yepes 10-string guitar / Tunings
Names Tunings
F# / G# / A# / C / E / A / d / g / b / e’
F# / G# / A# / B’ / E / A / d / g / b / e’
F# / G# / A# / A’ / E / A / d / g / b / e’
F / G# / A# / C / E / A / d / g / b / e’
F / G# / A# / A’ / E / A / d / g / b / e’
Malagueña by Izaac Albénez F# / G / A# / C / E / A / d / g / b / e’

Constructions: In Ser Instrumento; Yepes mentions the reasons that led him to carry out the “design” [diseño] of his instrument were physical or acoustic [“físicas] and musical [“musicales”]. After some “initial protest” that the 10-string guitar envisioned by Yepes was “impossible”to construct. Ramírez agreed to the commission and completed the first of these instruments in March 1964.

Yepes hastens to point out that he invented nothing [inventado nada] by adding four strings to the guitar. Nothing the constantly changing number of strings on the guitar during its history. Including the 10-stringed guitars of the 18th and 19th centuries. Like earlier 10-stringed guitars, his instrument has an augmented tessitura.

However, unlike the earlier 6 or 10 stringed extended range guitars, the normal tuning of the strings Yepes added “also incorporates all the natural resonance that the instrument lacked in eight of twelve notes of the equal tempered scale”. As Yepes explains, the tuning of the Romantic ten-stringed guitars is “not exactly the same, because the tuning that I use is also for the resonance”.

Today, ten-string instruments to Ramírez’ original design remain available from the Ramírez Company and similar instruments in a variety of designs are available both from the Ramírez Company and other luthiers, notably from Paulino Bernabe Senior. Their scale lengths range from 650mm [25.6″] and 664mm [26.1″].

Citations: Bibliography: Fred Kazandjian, 1992 The Concept and Development of the Yepes Ten-String Guitar: a Preliminary Investigation [M. M. thesis] University of Cape Town ; Fred Kazandjian, 1995 “An Interview with Narciso Yepes in Cabo-Roig, Alicante – Spain on 7 July 1987”. Musicus. 23 [2]: 11–18 ; Kozinn, Allan [22 November 1981]. “Narciso Yepes and his 10-string guitar”. New York Times ; J. Ramírez 1994 “Andrés Segovia, the guitar and I”. Things About the Guitar. Bold Strummer. ISBN 978-84-87969-40-9 ; J. Ramírez 1994 “The ten-string guitar” Things About the Guitar. Bold Strummer. pp. 137–140. ISBN 978-84-87969-40-9 ; Websites: