One of Preston’s favorite models to play was the 000 12-fret and it is also the one that Peter Rowan purchased in the 1980’s at Winfield. This model strikes a balance and works for not only a finger-style player, but also bluegrass picking.
The 000 12-fret model is one that doesn’t get nearly enough exposure to players. As with every model size there are characteristics that each individual player needs to weigh for themselves, but if you are looking for a full, rich sounding, highly responsive instrument that gives you the flexibility to both finger pick and flat pick then this is a model that you should seriously consider.
First of all a 000 12-fret most often built is actually a 14-fret OM with an elongated body. What that means is that the body meets the neck at the 12th fret instead of the 14th fret. The result of this is that there is more top surface area available to vibrate. A second critical factor is bridge placement. All 12-fret models have the bridge more centrally located in the lower bout than that of OM’s or dreads, which are located closer to the waist (a tighter location). These factors create a top that can more freely vibrate and produce more sound than one would expect and why so many players love the sound of a 12-fret model..
Another factor that makes the 12-fret 000 so attractive to players is that it traditionally comes with a long scale length, like an OM or a dread. A long scale length provides more punch than a short scale (more string tension) and thus will work wonderfully as a flat picking guitar. One of Norman Blake’s favorite guitars is a 000 12-fret for example.
As with an OM the body depth of the 000 12-fret is shallow compared to a dread resulting in a quicker response when playing it and notes that often seem a little more focused.
Finally there is one additional option that can enhance this sound even more and that is the traditional slotted headstock (which provides a bit more sound due to the added downward pressure of the strings on the nut).
The only “drawback” of the instrument is the amount of available frets for your fretting hand (12 vs. 14). If you tend to play a lot of leads you might consider this, but if you don’t, well, you’ll never notice it and you will be getting more sound.
So, if you are looking for a sweet sounding instrument that has a rich, full, highly responsive sound and is very versatile for flat picking and finger picking then you should seriously consider a 000-12 fret model.