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How to string a Norman B20?

Posted: Wed Oct 12, 2011 12:09 pm
by vigman

I bought a second-hand Norman acoustic B20 guitar in mint condition and it is beautifully made BUT strung like a cheese grater ..... only strum-able and impossible to pick!

What gauge strings would I need on this to do Gordon type pull-offs etc, and what sort of setting up might this need?

I have happily played all styles and guitars since age 5 and am now 58 but have never known/bothered about the technical side of playing (even had to look up Canadian guitars to find out which model I had bought!!)

Gordon did give his approval at Cassington, Oxford a few years ago to the state of my 1971 Yamaha FG-100 and its straight neck!!!!

Oh yes, if I wanted to amp out the sound of the Norman would a soundhole pickup be best or the Fishman type jacked at the bottom of the guitar (told you I wasn't techy)? Also I hate the idea of holes being drilled into it!!



Re: How to string a Norman B20?

Posted: Wed Oct 12, 2011 1:31 pm
Hi Vigman.

First of all, the Norman is a cracking guitar, and with a good set up and a set of Martin SP 11 to 52 strings will get it sounding like a million dollars.

Next thing, give Roger Williams a call, the number's on the Tools of the Trade site. He will set it up beautifully for you.

He's not cheap but the best.

Good luck sir.

Be Well.


Re: How to string a Norman B20?

Posted: Wed Oct 12, 2011 1:47 pm
by Trevor Raggatt
As Gordon says, if the action is like a cheese grater, it's not the strings it's the set up. A few minutes TLC in the hands of a good guitar tech will transform the playability. Getting the neck profile, the height of the nut slots and the height of the bridge right will make an immense difference.

And I'd agree about the Normans... Thea's acoustic is a Norman B20 Folk model (the smaller bodies version of yours) which we bought about 15 years ago and everyone remarks on what a nice sounding and playing guitar it is.

Re: How to string a Norman B20?

Posted: Wed Oct 12, 2011 7:42 pm
I agree... a cracking little guitar that, reminds me of my Armstrong parlour guitar.



Re: How to string a Norman B20?

Posted: Thu Oct 13, 2011 7:25 am
by vigman
Wow, a reply from the man himself....much appreciated Gordon!

BTW by 'cheese grater', I didn't mean to imply the action was poor just that the gauge of strings on it are so tight that they almost hurt to pick or even strum with my fingers.

I'm a bit strange about using anything new, or in new condition, and have only taken the Norman out about twice in three years in case I scratch it (I know, I know!) so the idea of drilling holes in it for the pickup and controls really hurts.

However, for my Christmas present, I'll get it set up first with the strings that Gordon recommends from his approved luthier.

How would most of you get the best amplification out of this......?

Also how does the 'dual action' truss rod work?


Re: How to string a Norman B20?

Posted: Sat Apr 02, 2016 7:40 pm
by DaveLeighton
I know this is an old thread but I just bought a second hand Norman B20 12 string too.

I tried to find the 11-52s that Gordon recommended but couldn't find them so I got 10-47 instead.
Hopefully these will be OK for the guitar too.

Re: How to string a Norman B20?

Posted: Sat Apr 02, 2016 11:23 pm
by Roger
Hi Dave

I have the same strings on my Vintage LH-VTG100N travel guitar and I like them - good price, feel good and sound great too :D I tried quite a few different makes and gauges for this guitar before arriving at the Martins.

I've never owned a 12 string and I don't know much about the Norman B20, but the lighter gauge will put less stress on the guitar neck. I'm not sure if it should be tuned to concert pitch too for this reason, but hopefully some of the 12 string players will be able to advise.

Hope this helps,


Re: How to string a Norman B20?

Posted: Mon Apr 04, 2016 11:11 am
by Harrysong
I've been playing 12 string acoustic since the mid 1970's. I've tried varying gauges of strings over the years but settled on .010 - .047.
I've tried heavier strings but I am a flat picker and found heavier strings a little difficult to work with, especially with things like hammer on's and pull off's etc.
I've been using D'Addario EJ38 over the last 18 months or so.
I have always played in standard tuning (although I have ventured into alternate tunings occasionally). Standard tuning has not had any effect on my guitar, which I bought new in 1979 (Washburn D25-12). A recent health check by my guitar tech hasn't found any issues whatsoever.