Best 12 String Guitars

Best 12 String Guitars

If you’re looking for a 12-string guitar, you’ll probably have as much choice as buying a 6-string. Most guitar manufacturers make a 12-string option, ranging from all of the top makes and even down to budget makes. So what is a 12-string guitar? Let’s have a look at the basics.

What Is A 12-String Guitar?

As the name implies, a 12-string guitar is a guitar, with 12 strings. These create a rich, deep tone and an overall chorus type effect.  The strings are ordered like this, the 4 lower strings, E, A, D, B are doubled with strings tuned at an octave higher. With the top 2 strings B, E are doubled up with strings tuned the same as the top 2. So to clarify, there are 4 standard tuning E, A, D, B, coupled with another 4 tuned at an octave higher. With the top 2 strings, tuned to a standard tuning along with another 2 tuned with standard tuning as well. 

Who Uses 12-String Guitars?

Many top bands have used a 12-string in some of their more popular tunes including:

  • Yes
  • Pink Floyd
    Wish You Were Here
  • Boston
    More Than A Feeling
  • Led Zeppelin
    Stairway To Heaven
  • The Beatles
    Ticket To Ride
  • Tom Petty
    Free Fallin’
  • The Byrds
    Mr. Tambourine Man
  • David Bowie
    A Space Oddity
  • Bon Jovi
    Wanted Dead Or Alive
  • The Eagles
    Hotel California

What To Look For When Buying A 12-String Guitar

Like buying any guitar, buying a 12-string comes down to personal preference, and suitability. 12-strings are substantially heavier than 6-strings but apart from that, you might be wise to try before you buy and check for comfort etc. Let’s run it all down to be sure you get a decent guitar that will suit you for many years.

Body Size

It has been a long held common misconception that 12-string guitars need to be jumbo or dreadnought, this is simply not true. Think about mandolins, these are available in 12-string models and yet are not too heavy or large to carry. So without straying too far from the subject in hand, it is possible to get a small bodied 12-string guitar. In fact most of the major guitar companies make a small bodied 12-string guitar.

Neck Size

As with any guitar necks,check for thickness, width, overall size and comfort. Are Barre chords easy to play? etc. How about the action? It should be easy enough to play without creating that annoying buzz. Sometimes the makers of 12-strings make the neck extra wide to accommodate the extra 6 strings, check this isn’t the case and you have room to play each string individually.

Tuning Head

Is it easy to tune using the screws? Does the position of the tuning screws make playing the guitar difficult? 

Overall Weight

This is going to be in your arms for some time.Possibly for more than an hour at a time, be sure it’s comfortable.

Sound Quality

Check that the tone is clear and crisp and sounds as you would like it to sound.Also the sound hole should be large enough that the 12-string can be played acoustically.


If you decide to electrify your 12-string, check it using the amp you will be playing it with and using the pickup you intend to use too.

12-String Guitar Price

!2-string acoustics range in price from around £75.00 and rise to way over £8,000.00 depending on make, model, wood content etc. With a mid range Fender CD-140SCE weighing in at around £250.00/£260.00.

Frequently Asked Questions

What are 12 string guitars good for?

12-string guitars are good for creating a deep, fuller sound on any number of tracks.

Is a 12 string guitar harder to play?

A 12-string guitar can be harder to play at first, but once you get the hang of it, the extra sound quality is so worth the effort.

Do 12 string guitars sound better?

12-string guitars do sound better, they give a fuller, richer sound with only one guitarist needed to create the sound.

Can you play a 12 string guitar with 6 strings?

You can play a 12-string guitar with only 6 strings. It will not sound as good, and it will feel strange to play because of the extra spaces between the strings, but it is possible.