The 12 string guitar — whether acoustic or electric there is something wonderful about the shimmer, chime, chorusing and overall tones that come from them. They are a delight to hear, but not always to play.
There are complaints about the species, and there are many humorous comments about them. This is my favorite: “A 12 string guitarist spends half his time tuning one, and the other half playing out of tune.” The complaints and jokes can still hold true, but all are more accurate for 12 string guitars constructed of wood.
Of course, the wooden guitar is a beautiful instrument, but it comes with innate problems. Wood is structurally susceptible to damage from both excess atmospheric humidity and dryness. It is susceptible to extremes of temperature. It is susceptible to damage from the incredible tension put on the entire instrument by its strings, and this is even more true for the 12 string guitar. The tension brought about by 12 steel strings demands a formidable construction. The formidable feature is the neck. It is wider (12 strings take up more room than six strings), and it is stouter — the circumference is larger than almost any six string acoustic guitar.
Enter carbon fiber/graphite. The material is not susceptible to heat, cold, or any atmospheric condition. Carbon fiber has the strength to withstand the pressures of 12 steel strings that no wooden guitar could withstand. In this review I will compare the characteristics of a Rainsong Concert Series Jumbo 12 string neck to that of an Eastman jumbo 12 string neck, and discuss the Rainsong’s great playability and tone.
Rainsong CO-JM3000T: 1.875 inches, or 4.125cm
Eastman AC530: 1.875 inches, or 4.125 cm
Distance Between Strings at Nut:
Rainsong CO-JM3000T: 1.75 inches, or 3.85 cm
Eastman AC 530: 1.75 inches, or 3.85 cm
So far, identical measurements for both guitars.
Neck Circumference at Nut:
Rainsong CO-JM3000T: 5.41 inches, or 11.9 cm
Eastman AC-530: 5.64 inches, or 12.4 cm
The advantage goes to the Rainsong.
Neck Circumference at 12th fret:
Rainsong CO-JM3000T: 6.5 inches, 14.3 cm
Eastman AC 530: 6.91 inches, 15.2 cm
Again, the advantage goes to the Rainsong.
I am familiar with both guitars. The ease of play with the Rainsong is very noticeable, is clearly superior to that of the Eastman. The playability advantage that goes to the Rainsong is attributable to only one thing: the smaller dimensions of the Rainsong’s neck. This smaller dimension is due to the carbon fiber construction’s superior strength and stability.
Back to the joke quoted above regarding tuning stability. To its credit, the Eastman generally stays in tune between “play dates” (if not detuned after play), but not to the degree that is found with the Rainsong. With my Eastman I had to think about the potential to retune — I generally detune down by at least a whole step after playing it to preserve the integrity of the guitar. So, do I want to take the time to tune it, or pass. I’ll pass. No need with the Rainsong — it can withstand the pressure of 12 strings at standard tuning at all times!
Unfortunately, a carbon fiber guitar is a non-starter for many acoustic guitar traditionalists. The conceptual objection centers around tone: How can a carbon fiber guitar possibly sound as good as a wooden guitar? Subjectively, I find the “Rainsong tone” to be exceptionally pleasing. A Rainsong guitar’s tone sounds like a guitar should sound — there is nothing foreign or alien about it. In fact, I own two Rainsong’s myself, a Nashville series jumbo N-JM1100N2 (see the review:) which possesses a thin spruce layer infused onto the carbon fiber top, and now the 12 string jumbo CO-JM3000T. The complexity of tones that come from these guitars are both wonderful and differ from each other — Rainsong guitars are not clones. (And remember, every wooden guitar also possesses differing qualities that effect tone, and some of them not at all pleasing).
A Rainsong guitar is inimitable: it cannot be copied due to its qualities of design and construction. I own a number of wooden acoustics, and on any given day I will choose to pick up one of the Rainsong guitars — they are the ones I pick up time and time again. Regarding this jumbo 12 stringer, it is nearly as easy to play as any 6 string acoustic, and there is no hesitancy to play it due to the issue of necessary tuning and fine tuning that would come with the Eastman AC530. The Rainsong CO-JM3000T is truly a winner and a keeper. I give a “hats off” to the Rainsong guitar company (rainsong.com), and am thankful to discover and own my two treasured guitars.
Keep on playing!