The plucking of strings looks all mighty but one thing laymen don’t understand is that every guitar is different. If you consider yourself the same person, we are talking about the Cozart guitar in this article. This is a 12-string guitar with electric commodities. Throughout the article, we will pass you through its effects, history, uses, and much more. So, let’s get started!
All About Cozart Guitars
A Cozart guitar is a 12-string guitar integrated with steel strings. Designed with six courses with 12 strings each, these guitars are designed to create rich yet thicker ringing tones (You will see that while comparing it to the simple six-string guitar!) On average, the lower four courses have tuned in octaves in terms of strings. However, the dual-string course is narrow but they become a single commodity.
The strings of each course are plucked and fretted into one unit with a wide neck. The wide neck plays a role as the space offering extra strings. If you have seen the classical guitar neck, you would know what we are talking about. As compared to the standard six-string instrument, these guitars have harmonically resonant properties topped with fuller sounds.
If you compare the Cozart guitar with standard six-string guitar, they have the following differences;
- The body of the guitar is reinforced to make a strong and sturdier structure to ensure there is resistance against the higher tension value
- The headstock has over 12 tuning machines which are possible by integrated the elongated configuration
- The fretting board is small to reduce the string tension and ramp up the playing experience
- There is a strong reinforcement of the neck to accommodate the six additional strings
The Cozart guitars are designed with double ranks of strings and this course ensures the development of a shimmery effect. This is because all the strings are tuned in one unit which means one string’s vibration will pass long the vibration. With this configuration, the strings vibrate out of the phase leading to the shimmer effect.
Some people name shimmer as the detuned vibration caused by the resembling strings. However, the out-of-phase vibrations are aimed at the production of beat given the interference of vibrations. The eat creates a rise and fall in the music intensity which in terms feels pleasing to the listener. According to the famous Pete Seeger, the sound produced by Cozart guitars is known as the sound produced by bells clanging.
History & Origin
This section is going to take you back in history to see the origination of a 12-string guitar that made into a Cozart guitar in the coming years. However, Cozart guitar’s origin isn’t known to anyone but there are some notions devised by the experts. It is said that Cozart guitar is the integration of doubled string courses from different Mexican instruments such as bajo sexton, Guitarra Septima, and the guitarra Quinta huapanguera.
Back in the United States of America, there were archtop mandolins that came with doubled string courses and these instruments were first introduced in the 19th century. Coming forward to the early 20th century and 19th century, the 12-string guitars were named novelty instruments. Then, the guitars progressed to the 1920s and 1930s.
During these years, these guitars became an integral part of folk and blues music. These tunes were made in abundance in their larger than life sounds. These sounds were made ideal as the sole option for the vocalists where Blind Willie McTell and Lead Belly made a noticeable contribution. Ever since then, the melodies of Cozart guitars have made their way into popular, folk, jazz, and rock music.
Fred Gerlach is the lead belly’s protégé and he started using the 12-string instrument in his folk-music world. There was a time when this instrument would be used as the prime purpose of accompaniment to help devise solutions for the execution of string bends and picking the bends on double-string courses. However, later in the 20th century, there were many performers that started using the 12-string guitars for their solo performance and the number of such performers kept rising high!
When in Cozart or 12-string guitars, there are some common tunings that have been named standard. The tuning series is E3•E2 A3•A2 D4•D3 G4•G3 B3•B3 E4•E4, which moves from the lower courses to the higher ones. However, some performers like Lead Belly have increased the two octaves by two folds which creates a third-string. This third string is used as a single unit with a top course in addition to the lowest octave.
There are some performers using the non-standard tunings on Cozart guitars such as open tunings and more. However, some of them are still experimenting with two-string tunings in the intervals. But it is noticeable that these intervals are other than unisons and octaves. Jazz guitarists such as Philip Catherine, Ralph Towner, and Larry Coryell have created the Cozart guitars with upper fifths.
Also, they have added the trebles to lower fourths rather than adding them to the unisons and octaves. Furthermore, some performers have tuned their guitar strings in the top two courses and Michael Gulezian is one of them to opt for whole-tone intervals. These configurations and changes in courses led to the development of complex yet rich sound. According to these performers, the number of strings and their increase will lead to multiple possibilities.
There are multiple tunings designed by the top performers but this is the most famous one. With Nashville tuning, the 12-string guitar sound is simulated with the implementation of six-string from two guitars when they are playing as a single unit. The lower four courses are replaced on one-string and the higher octave strings are replaced with a 12-string set and four courses.
These four strings are tuned to be one octave higher as compared to normal tunings. The normal tunings are usually implied on six-string instruments. However, in the studio settings, these configurations are using double tracking to create a clean effect on 12-string or Cozart guitar.
With 12-string guitars, there are two strings courses designed that are plucked and played together. These strings are usually designed for the octave part given the lower four courses. However, each pair of strings on the top were tuned and plucked in a single unit. The design is ensured that a higher pair of the strings are played and struck first and then, comes to the downward strum.
If you know Rickenbacker, there is an interesting fact about him. Well, during his play and performances, he reverses the arrangement on his Cozart guitar because the tuning of the second string in the third course varies according to him. However, there are some performers using the unison units but some of them are still opting for the high-pitch sound. This arrangement makes them create bell-shaped quality for the octave strings to make a position.
Besides, some variants are also using the octave string of the sixth course for tuning and they imply two octaves on the lower string instead of opting for one. On the contrary, some players remove their doubled strings for the development of easy performance or to create a certain tone. If you remove the higher octaves from the courses, this will ease the running base playing.
This configuration also ensures the development of extra treble strings in case of full strums. Keeping in mind these trends, some manufacturers have designed the nine-string guitars. These guitars have upper three courses undoubled while some of them have undoubled the lower three courses. When the double strings are added, the extra tension is high and there is extra pressure on soundboard and necks.
Progression Through Years
Coming forward in 1921, the truss rod was launched that was another 12-string guitar but these were tuned more frequently as compared to standard guitars and the aim was to reduce the stress on guitar. According to Lead Belly, he has always used the low-C tuning but some songs are sung with A and low-B tunings as well.
There are some guitars that have structural support to ensure the prevention of warping in terms of tone and appearance. Before 1970, these guitars would have scale lengths than six-strings and the necks would be short to ensure enclosed spacing of the frets. However, the bridges of these guitars have huge reinforcements. However, after 1970, there have been multiple variations of design, material, and construction to remove tensions and stress.
How To Play?
There is an increased number of cumulative string tensions and number of strings in the 12-string guitars but these settings tend to complicate the playing experience. In addition, the fretting chords need the power to be played while string bending and solo performances are difficult to be obtained with wide neck and string tension.
These guitars are usually used in the accompaniment but multiple players have started using them for solo performances. But the techniques remain some; some are implying the fingerstyle technique while some are still designing melodies with classical techniques. In terms of Cozart guitars, flat-picking solos are making the bounds!