Best 12 String Guitars of 2019 – Complete Review

Did you know that some of the most popular songs ever were played with a 12-string guitar? That’s correct! Pink Floyd and The Beatles are only two of the numerous bands that have opted for 12-string guitars.

Keep reading to find out what a 12-string guitar is, why you should consider purchasing one, and which ones are the best options on the market, depending on your needs. 

Comparison of the Best 12 String Guitars

Product

Rating

Price

Fender CD-60SCE 12 String Acoustic-Electric Guitar

Fender CD-60SCE Right Handed 12 String Acoustic-Electric Guitar - Dreadnaught Body - Natural

Best Overall

Takamine GJ72CE-12NAT Jumbo Cutaway 12-String Acoustic-Electric Guitar

Takamine GJ72CE-12NAT Jumbo Cutaway 12-String Acoustic-Electric Guitar

Runner-up

Oscar Schmidt OD312 12-String Dreadnought Guitar

Oscar Schmidt OD312 Natural 12-String Dreadnought Guitar- Natural featuring Handcrafted quality.Rosewood fingerboard & bridge.Fully adjustable truss rod and Chrome die cast tuners

Best for the Money

Danelectro 12SDC 12-String Electric Guitar

Danelectro 12SDC 12-String Electric Guitar Black

Best 12 String Electric Guitar

Yamaha FG820 12-String Solid Top Acoustic Guitar

Yamaha FG820 12-String Solid Top Acoustic Guitar

Best 12 String Acoustic Guitar

Dean Rhapsody 12 Twelve-String Bass Guitar

Dean Rhapsody 12 Twelve-String Bass Guitar, Trans Black

Best 12 String Bass Guitar

Martin D12X1AE Left-Handed

Martin D12X1AE Left-Handed - Natural

Best Left Handed 12 String Guitar

What is a 12 String Guitar?

12-string guitars are so-called because each string is coupled with another one. For instance, if you touch E and B, you also strum the same type strings, which means that two notes are pressured into the same note.

This makes the 12-string guitar a perfect choice for players who aim for a complex, high-quality performance. They are often chosen for studios or live performances due to their sound complexity and the highest sound quality. 

6-String vs. 12-String Guitars – Similarities & Differences

If you have just decided to buy your first guitar, or you want a replacement, you will come to realize that they come in either 6-string or 12-string varieties. On one hand, they are both played the same way, so the experience and playability will be identical. On the other hand, there are several noticeable differences between them. 

Tonal Differences

First, there is a tonal difference between them. 6-string guitars come in a wide variety, including bright, punchy, smooth, warm and everything that comes in between them. A 12-string guitar is uniquely built; therefore, its tone is also unique, with a sparkle that comes from its unique build. 

Construction Differences

Second, there are construction differences. The headstock on a 12-string is naturally longer to accommodate all tuning heads and strings. They also come with a reinforced neck and body to be able to handle string tension. Most importantly, 12-string guitars have wider necks to accommodate all the strings, which might require a little extra skill to fret compared to a 6-string guitar. 

Musical Difference

Third, the musical difference comes from the fact that a 12-string has an extra pair of strings compared to a 6-string. This results in vibrant tones, as E, A, D, G strings all have an extra string. This extra string is tuned an octave higher than the original one, which sounds on top of the original, condensing two notes in one. The remaining two strings are tuned in unison with their pairs. 

How to Choose a 12 String Guitar

Similar to any 6-string guitar, the best one for you is the guitar that suits you best. To ensure compatibility, have a look at what you should consider before choosing your 12-string guitar:

Material

Material is essential to consider when selecting your 12-string. Some of them come as laminated/solid wood. Solid wood is more resonant, so the tone is much better than a laminate guitar. But solid wood is harder to play, and it is more expensive compared to laminated wood.

Fender CD-60SCE 12 String Acoustic-Electric Guitar is made of spruce.

Spruce is extremely popular due to its all-around sound, such as sweet and smooth, but not extra bright, with enough warmth and volume. Particularly, sitka spruce has clear fundamental harmonics. If you are looking for a much warmer tone, go for cedar. Many guitars are also made from mahogany, which is warmer and darker than both cedar and spruce. Lastly, maple is the best of bright tones and note definition. If you want to go for high-class, rosewood is what you are looking for: complex harmonic tones, with smooth and warm sounds. 

Size

Size is important to consider, especially if you are a beginner or a traveler. In these situations, it is important to look for a lightweight, compact design. Otherwise, you might want to try out some of the sturdier designs. 

Complexity and Playability

Although most of the guitars reviewed below are beginner-friendly, there are also some of them which offer greater complexity. Although they do not compromise on comfort, more complex guitars can be more challenging to set up and tune, thus novices should avoid them until they have acquired more experience. 

Review of the Best 12 String Guitars

This section presents the best 12-string guitars on the market, along with their main features, pros and cons, buyers’ experiences, and why you should consider them.

Fender CD-60SCE Right Handed 12 String Acoustic-Electric Guitar - Dreadnaught Body - Natural

PROS

  • High-quality sounds with a smooth fretboard.
  • Full, balanced, and rich low, mid and upper notes.
  • Easy to play small-scale travel design with a gloss finish.
  • Great tones and a built-in tuner offering increased playability.
  • Visually pleasing with a solid and durable build (dreadnought cutaway).

CONS

  • Right-handed only.
  • High end sounds a bit zingy.
  • Not so suitable for blues players.

What Recent Buyers Report

This product offers excellent quality at an affordable price. It has a shorter scale that allows easy movements across the fretboard. It has a comfortable body with smooth and incredibly stable tunes. Overall, product quality is surprising, considering its top-shelf design and performance. 

Why it Stands Out to Us 

The Fender CD-50SCE 12-String acoustic-electric guitar is the best option on the market. This product has a solid spruce top, all mahogany design and an easy to play neck. It offers high-volume and crisp sounds in a high-quality design, with an incredibly attractive ratio of quality to price. 

Who Will Use This Most 

This guitar is best for both professionals and beginners. It has enhanced playability, which allows musicians to pick up guitar skills extremely easy. Its high-quality tones, sounds, and durability make it the perfect choice for professionals playing for long hours. 

Bottom Line

The Fender CD-60SCE Right-Handed 12-String Acoustic-Electric Guitar is our best overall 12-string guitar on the market. This instrument is specially built to last and help you deliver your best performance yet. You can also choose it if you are a novice, as it is exceptionally comfortable and easy to play. 

Takamine GJ72CE-12NAT Jumbo Cutaway 12-String Acoustic-Electric Guitar

PROS

  • Especially perfect for below the 12 frets.
  • Visual design with a natural gloss finish.
  • Solid top construction with premium sound qualities.
  • Excellent action and playability, with gold tuners and perfect grain.
  • Slim mahogany neck and maple back and sides suitable for any music genre.

CONS

  • Bright tones.
  • Not suitable for chunky growly basses.
  • Need to raise the action if you have a heavy hand (very responsive to light touches).

What Recent Buyers Report

Extremely easy to play, especially on upper frets, this guitar is by far the most responsive to light touches; it is best for players looking for bright sounds, brought by the maple construction. Tone and playability are the best assets of this particular model. 

Why it Stands Out to Us 

This runner-up alternative offers high-quality sounds for an affordable price. Similar to the first product reviewed, this 12-string guitar produces robust, lush sounds that will fascinate any audience. It has numerous other features, including a built-in tuner, three-band EQ and gain controls, notch filter and EQ bypass, mid contour switch, among others. 

Who Will Use This Most 

This guitar is a perfect choice for both professionals and beginners. It is very responsive and easy to play. However, it might not be the best choice for players looking for chunky basses. The guitar offers bright tones, and is an excellent choice, because, due to its versatility, it can be adjusted (change of strings) to give it warmer tones. 

Bottom Line

The Takamine GJ72CE-12NAT Jumbo Cutaway 12-String Acoustic-Electric Guitar is an excellent option if you are looking for a high-quality, affordable 12-string guitar, either as a beginner or a professional. It encompasses a wide range of features that allow you to personalize your experience and impress your audience!

Oscar Schmidt OD312 Natural 12-String Dreadnought Guitar- Natural featuring Handcrafted quality.Rosewood fingerboard & bridge.Fully adjustable truss rod and Chrome die cast tuners

PROS

  • Best quality to price ratio.
  • Very loud and clear sounds.
  • Good quality control, comes in double-packaging.
  • Solid built and sturdy design, best for sustained playing.
  • Easy to use, enhanced versatility, and stays tuned for a long time.

CONS

  • Acoustic only.
  • Larger size compared to other products reviewed.
  • Neck a little wide compared to traditional 6-string.

What Recent Buyers Report

Users describe this guitar as the perfect match between price, size, and quality of sounds. The company has terrific quality control, it is delivered fast, and it comes in a double package for extra protection, free of scratches. It has a great design and is built to last for a long time. 

Why it Stands Out to Us 

The Oscar Schmidt OD312 Natural 12-String Dreadnought Guitar with a high-gloss finish is the best budget option on this list. It has enhanced durability, lasting for a long time. It has a fully adjustable truss rod while maintaining a high level of playability and versatility. 

Who Will Use This Most 

This 12-string guitar is perfect for both professionals and beginners. It is easy to play, highly versatile, and delivers excellent quality sounds. Whether you are an experienced 12-string guitar player or a 6-string guitar player looking to expand your repertoire, this is the perfect choice for you regarding price-to-quality ratio!

Bottom Line

Overall, the Oscar Schmidt OD312 Natural 12-String Dreadnought Guitar offers the best value for the price. High-quality sounds and playability ensure that this product lives up to your expectations. 

Best 12 String Electric Guitar:
Danelectro 12SDC 12-String Electric Guitar

Danelectro 12SDC 12-String Electric Guitar Black

PROS

  • Enhanced playability due to a wide neck.
  • Electric guitar with a fully adjustable bridge.
  • Reliable construction and quality control.
  • Comes with D’Addario XL EXL150 regular light nickel wound strings for best quality sounds.
  • Sturdy, but visually pleasing design with a matte finish and a textured tape binding on the sides.

CONS

  • No gigbag.
  • No case included.
  • The design could be more complex.

What Recent Buyers Report

This high-quality guitar has a lightweight construction and improved tuners. It features a pleasant chime, and the neck is more comfortable than expected. The vintage appearance is a great asset of this product. 

Why it Stands Out to Us 

The Danelectro 12SDC 12-String Electric Guitar Black is the best electric 12-string guitar on this list. It suits classical music genres and offers a double-cutaway body constructed from laminated wood and 2 lipstick pickups. Overall, the beautiful vintage tones are generated using high-quality materials and long-lasting build. 

Who Will Use This Most 

This model is the perfect equipment both for professionals and novices. It comes with a wide neck, which ensures high-level playability. It is lightweight and comes with increased tuning stability. Each note is extremely clear and sustainable.  

Bottom Line

The Danelectro 12SDC 12-String Electric Guitar Black is the perfect choice for a 12-string electric guitar. It offers high versatility and flexibility due to numerous features included and comes with a unique, rare vintage design. 

Yamaha FG820 12-String Solid Top Acoustic Guitar

PROS

  • Long-lasting tuning.
  • Upgraded design with cream plastic.
  • Beautiful sounds with classic touches.
  • Wide variety of colors suitable for every personal taste.
  • Warmer and stronger sounds, favored by the mahogany back and sides.

CONS

  • Sounds might be too bright.
  • Strings are too light for some.
  • Packaging could be improved to avoid damages.

What Recent Buyers Report

This acoustic guitar comes in the best quality at an affordable price. Sounds are bright and wonderful; the design is simple and compact. This robust instrument is perfect for smaller hands or inexperienced players, and it can be played straight out of the box, with little to no tuning needed. 

Why it Stands Out to Us 

The Yamaha FG820 12-String Solid Top Acoustic Guitar earns the title of best 12-string acoustic guitar due to numerous reasons. At an affordable price, this instrument offers deep and rich musicality. It is highly playable by musicians with different skill levels, and it comes in a wide variety of colors and designs. Also, the guitar keeps its tuning for the long term and promotes the everlasting classic design and quality. 

Who Will Use This Most 

This guitar comes in a lightweight, compact design, making it the best choice for beginners and travelers alike. The sounds are rich, deep tones, and it is suitable for any playing style. Enhanced convenience and flexibility are the main assets that make this acoustic guitar a real long-term investment. 

Bottom Line

Overall, the Yamaha FG820 12-String Solid Top Acoustic Guitar is the best 12-string acoustic guitar, offering high clarity, good volume, and rich deep tones, all packed into a balanced design. 

Dean Rhapsody 12 Twelve-String Bass Guitar, Trans Black

PROS

  • Wider tones and enhanced flexibility.
  • Comfortable build with a narrow neck.
  • Complex features with long-lasting tuning.
  • Heavy, sturdy design with great finger action.
  • Rosewood fingerboard, mahogany body, maple top, and black hardware, the perfect combination for any bass player.

CONS

  • Setting up takes a long time.
  • Hard to tune; not suitable for beginners.
  • Case needs to be purchased separately.

What Recent Buyers Report

This bass guitar is an excellent choice due to its complexity and quality of sounds. With a mix between rosewood fingerboard, maple top, and mahogany body, the sounds will sound better than ever. It is hard to tune, but once it is tuned, it stays so for an extended period of time. It is not suitable for beginners.

Why it Stands Out to Us 

The Dean Rhapsody Twelve-String Bass Guitar offers a wide variety of benefits and features.  This makes it not only perfect for bass but can even replace parts of a guitar. This specialist instrument comes with a high-quality black design, and it now has wider tones to match any playing needs. 

Who Will Use This Most 

This instrument is relatively more complex than other reviewed products on this list. It needs dexterity to be used and tune, thus it is best recommended for experienced players or ambitious novices who are willing to overlook its complexities. 

Bottom Line

Overall, the Dean Rhapsody 12-string bass guitar has the potential to complement any bass player. It is the perfect choice for a 12-string bass guitar; it is comfortable, long-lasting, and in a moderate price range. However, it overcomes any expectations when it comes to durability and quality. 

Best Left-Handed 12 String Guitar:
Martin D12X1AE Left-Handed

Martin D12X1AE Left-Handed - Natural

PROS

  • Perfect for bands or solo shows.
  • Extremely durable and high-quality.
  • Ideal combination of looks, tones, and playability.
  • Low-profile neck for comfortable, long-lasting playing.
  • Comes with Fishman Sonitone electronics that can be plugged into PA.

CONS

  • Left-handed only.
  • Case not included.
  • Might need to adjust octave G string (slightly misaligned out of the box).

What Recent Buyers Report

This guitar packs strength and quality into some of the best sounds you have yet to hear. The full robust sounds can definitely wow the audience, either in a band or solo show. This is due to its integrated Fishman Sonitone electronics, which allow the player to plug it into the PA. Although a modern instrument, this guitar preserves the warmth of classic tones. 

Why it Stands Out to Us 

The Martin D12X1AE Left-Handed guitar is the best lefty-oriented instrument on this list, delivering high playability due to its low-profile neck and amplified tones through the Fishman electronics. It delivers full, rich sounds to your audiences, and it ensures high durability through the high-pressure laminate (HPL) back and sides made from mahogany. 

Who Will Use This Most 

This well-crafted guitar was specially designed for left-handed players, allowing them to enjoy the everlasting Martin without compromising on quality, durability, and playability. It is an excellent choice for band players or solo players who aim to enrich their performances in complete comfort.  

Bottom Line

The Martin D12X1AE guitar allows your audience to enjoy clear amplified sounds due to its integration of Fishman Sonitone electronics. With a satin finish, this guitar ensures high playability and comfort during sustained playing periods. 

Perks of Getting a 12 String Guitar

Here’s a summary of your benefits and why it is worth it to invest in one of the products above: tonal diversity, quality, and durability. 

Tonal Diversity

Replacing your 6-string guitar with one of the models above will enhance your musical palette. Most musicians choose them for their unique sounds and high versatility, as they can be used to achieve any sounds, whether bright, warm, or anywhere in between. It is an excellent instrument in any situation, including live, studio, or purely for practice. 

Quality

Investing in one of the models we reviewed ensures that you benefit from the highest quality options on the market. The products are thoroughly reviewed and carefully selected to match a wide variety of musicians and needs, delivering the best value for your money!

Durability

Another perk of investing in a 12-string guitar is also related to product quality, which is durability. 12-string guitars are long-lasting, built from durable materials with greater care and quality. 

Aspects to Consider Before Buying

Here are the main factors to keep in mind before buying:

Price Range

Although most products are reasonably priced, their ranges tend to vary widely. It is important to consider your budget before deciding on a model. If you are a beginner, you might find a cheaper guitar first, such as laminated wood. Professionals should not compromise; rather, they should opt for higher quality and more complex options, such as rosewood. 

Playability

Modern guitars are built for your convenience and comfort. It is necessary to consider how long you are about to play it. Will you purchase it for practicing only, or will you need a model to last throughout an entire live performance?

Experience

According to your experience with 12-string guitars, you might want to choose the product carefully. Some of them are easier to play, as they can be played right out of the box, while others need adjusting and tuning for a more extended period. 

Conclusion

By now, you must be quite well accustomed to 12-string guitars. Keep in mind that the best guitar feature is not the price range or its tones, but how much it inspires you to practice and play each day. A good guitar is one that feels like a part of your body; that’s when your music will sound the best and your audience will be in awe!

People Also Ask

Here is a short FAQ section to help you get started on your experience with 12-string guitars:

Are 12-String Guitars Harder to Play?

Both types are generally played the same regarding notes and chords, but here you need to keep in tune 12 strings; a wider neck might also negatively impact playability. They come with heavier thicker necks to support the string tension, which can make the guitar significantly more cumbersome and less comfortable compared to a 6-string alternative. It is also more difficult to fret the strings because you press down two strings (thus you need more pressure). 

Can Beginners Use 12-String Guitars?

Most 12-string guitars have high levels of playability, and they can be beginner-friendly. Most models are ready to play right out of the box; thus, they are mostly similar to 6-string guitars. However, they have unique, complex sounds. It is generally dependent on the model and its features whether it is suitable for beginners or takes more experience.