Top 5 Best 12 String Guitars of 2023

Kanye Cristiano
  Feb 1, 2023 10:30 PM

When it comes to bringing a new depth to your performance, the best 12-string guitars are possibly unparalleled. Yes, they are specialized instruments, but regardless of whether you favor acoustic or electric guitars, the doubling quality of a 12-string guitar gives your chords a choral sound that cannot be replicated with pedals or overdubs.

With the bottom four strings doubling an octave higher and the top two strings doubled, the 12-string guitar has a broader frequency range, which adds textures, overtones, and a sparkling top end to the mix. Additionally, it can provide an ethereal feel to a solo performance.

Our Top Pick

1. Taylor 150e

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If you're searching for a high-quality, great-sounding acoustic guitar, Taylor should be one of your first stops. And with the Taylor 150e, the business delivers a nearly ideal 12-string acoustic guitar for intermediate players.

By combining Sitka spruce and walnut, you achieve the ideal combination of projection and sparkle, but the neck and fingerboard aren't as broad as on other 12-string guitars, so electric guitarists will feel perfectly at home.

Even when boosted, we thought that the inbuilt electronics provided a realistic representation of the 150e's tone. There's a lot to like about this, and the pricing is really affordable.

Pros

  • Tone for days
  • Excellent electronics

Cons

  • None at this cost

2. Epiphone DR-212

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If you're new to the world of 12-string guitars or simply need an economical method to play "Hotel California," you may want to sample one of the less costly models on our list before committing to one of the more pricey options.

This situation is ideal for the Epiphone DR-212. It lures you in with its great, rounded tone that begs for those wide open chords you've been dreaming, and being an Epiphone, you can count on its durability and dependability.

There is a reason why the Epiphone DR-212 is one of the world's most popular 12-string guitars. It combines delicious, jangling tones with sturdy construction and is available at a very reasonable price. Strongly suggested

Pros

  • Amazing value
  • Superior for students

Cons

  • No electronics onboard

3. Fender Villager V3

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The Fender Villager, now in its third version, is the closest thing to a traditional 12-string there is. Despite its designation as a dreadnought guitar, we found its upper body to resemble that of a parlour guitar.

The cutaway allows excellent access to the top frets, while the Fishman onboard electronics amplified our tone without loosing its sheen.

The thin C-shaped neck makes playing 12 strings as comfortable as possible, and the onboard tuner enhances the total package. The Fender Villager is an excellent choice for electric guitarists who like to add a little of shine to their arsenal.

Pros

  • We adore that strut
  • Slightly lower size facilitates easy playing.

Cons

  • Not as full-bodied as larger-bodied acoustic instruments.

4. Danelectro 59 Vintage 12

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As the first electric 12-string instrument on the list, we want something rather unique. The Danelectro Vintage 12 surely fits the bill. This electric semi-hollowbody has certain qualities with its acoustic cousins, most notably the use of spruce, which is uncommon for an electric guitar, but the rest is vintage Dano.

From the soapbar pickups, which naturally emphasize trebles and high-mids, to the choice of colors, this instrument is undeniably era-specific. Although we adored it, we could quickly tell that it was not the most adaptable to diverse genres.

Pros

  • Pickups are ideal for 12-string guitars.
  • Looks fantastic

Cons

  • Not especially versatile

5. Yamaha LL16-12

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The list concludes with the stunning Yamaha LL16-12, an electro-acoustic with a gigantic body. We never found it wanting when it came to more intricate playing, despite the bigger body cavity's greater low-end response being ideal for those big, resonant chords.

Yamaha has a well-deserved reputation for producing high-quality instruments at reasonable prices, and this guitar is no exception; at over $1,000, it is not cheap, but it seems like it might be a lifelong companion.

Pros

  • Unbelievable bass response
  • Top-notch construction and building practices

Cons

  • Some people may find the body to be uncomfortably huge.

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    9.4
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    Taylor
2
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    9.3
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    Epiphone
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    9.2
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    Fender
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    9.1
  • Brand
    Danelectro
5
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    9.0
  • Brand
    Yamaha

Last update on 2023-02-01 / Affiliate links / Images, Product Titles, and Product Highlights from Amazon Product Advertising API

Buying Guide

Neck

Compared to a guitar with six strings, the neck of a 12-string instrument is subjected to twice as much tension. Because the neck of a regular acoustic guitar won't hold up to the strain of 12 strings, you should check with the maker to see whether the neck is made specifically for 12 strings.

A 12-string guitar's neck should be strengthened with two truss rods that go the whole length of the instrument's shaft. Unfortunately, these truss rods might make adjusting the neck difficult. See how the neck of the 12-string reacts to your playing style before you buy.

Strings

Typically, bronze is used for the strings of a 12-string guitar. These strings were were rather pricey, however they have since dropped to more reasonable levels. Asking the seller about the 12-string guitar's string material, quality, and durability might give you a fair idea of how well it plays.

Whether or if you want coated strings is something to think about. Coated strings are often more costly than uncoated strings but last far longer. Uncoated bronze strings, while more prone to rust, should endure for quite some time as long as they are cared for properly.

Instrument with a fretboard and individual frets

Every stringed instrument relies heavily on its fretboard, also called its fingerboard. The fretboard is a long and narrow strip of material that is laminated to the front side of the instrument neck, and is often made of wood. The vibrational length of the strings is altered as the player presses down on the fretboard, resulting in a range of pitch adjustments.

Thin strips of hard material (usually metal) run perpendicular to the guitar strings on a fretted fingerboard, which is standard on most 12-string guitars. These days, fretted fingerboards are the norm, and only the most seasoned 12-string guitarists would ever consider a fretless model.

The third, fifth, seventh, and ninth frets (and their octaves) are commonly marked on fretboards. This is something to keep an eye out for, especially if you're just starting out and could use some extra help with things like chord progressions and musical notation.

The Human Form

Numerous components come together to form the 12-string's body. The soundboard is the top of the instrument and is supported by X-bracing inside the instrument, which also reinforces the back and sides, which together create an interior hollow chamber.

The sound and ease of playing a guitar are affected by the instrument's body, which may be customized by choosing a certain shape and size. The optimal body form for a 12-string guitar depends largely on the player, who must take into account their particular body type and preferred playing technique. Finding the most comfortable 12-string guitar to play requires handling and playing a range of models.

The sound is emitted through a hole in the body known as the soundhole. The soundholes of 12-string guitars are typically spheres, however triangular holes have been tried by some builders. To evaluate the potential for projection from a 12-string guitar, it is required to compare soundholes. When played acoustically, electric 12-string guitars with a small or nonexistent soundhole will not project a strong and full tone.

Tonewood

The type of wood used in the guitar's construction will have a significant impact on the character and quality of the sound produced by the instrument, so keep this in mind while shopping for a 12-string guitar.

Mahogany, a solid wood with a slower reaction rate, is prized for its ability to produce a warm tone in 12-string guitars, especially in the upper register. Artists that play the folk or blues guitar may like these tones. The solid spruce top of a 12-string guitar is both more costly and more desirable than the laminate top of a similar instrument.

If you've found a 12-string guitar you like, it's worth your time to learn about the wood it's made of so you know what to expect from the instrument's sound.

FAQs

1. Is a 12-string guitar a suitable instrument for beginning musicians?

If you have never played the guitar before, it will be exceedingly tough to handle a 12-string instrument. Ideally, you should improve finger dexterity on a 6-string instrument before switching to a 12-string instrument.

Although several 12-string guitars are now designed for novices, the term "beginner" often refers to someone who has previously played a 6-string instrument.

2. How is a 12-string guitar tuned?

A 12-string guitar's strings are split into 6 pairs of two strings, covering the notes (E, A, D, G, B, and E) x2. The thicker string must be tuned to the same octave as it would be on a six-string guitar.

Since E and A are the same note in the same octave, they should sound identical. The next four pairings (D, G, B, and E) must be tuned to the same pitch but one octave apart. This creates a very strong and full sound.

3. How do I determine whether to get a 12-string or 6-string guitar?

You just select the option you prefer the most. If you wish to learn how to play a 12-string guitar, you should inform your instructor and see instructional videos online.

If you are uncertain, simply listen to the sound of each guitar and select the one that best suits you. In the meanwhile, it is possible to convert a 12-string guitar into a 6-string one, allowing you to study the simpler version first.

Conclusion

This essay has hopefully given individuals interested in purchasing a 12-string guitar food for thought. There is a vast range of possibilities, including both pricey and more economical alternatives. To choosing the best 12-string guitar for your purposes, it is crucial that you understand your own musical style and where your creativity may lead you.