I’ve been a musician for several years now. I own a few six string guitars of various designs and brands, with diverse sounds and voices. As a lover of the guitar, I enjoy shopping for them. I’ve been looking at 12 string guitars because I’d like to try something new. I decided I wanted to find out which is the best 12 string guitar before I make a purchase. So, I set out to see which is the best 12 string acoustic guitar, best 12 string electric guitar and investigate a cheap 12 string guitar as well. I compiled a list of instruments along with the pros and cons. This would help me make the best decision that will result in ownership of a quality instrument I will be proud to own for years to come as I expand my collection.
Before I share my list, I want to talk about what is special about 12 string guitars, because you might be wondering, what’s the point? Many famous musicians, such as John Denver, Billy May of Queen, and Jimi Hendrix played on some of the best 12 string guitars and created memorable songs on them.
The 12 string is a favorite instrument for blues and folk music with its double octave or harmonious voice.
This creates a fullness of sound that is part of the appeal of 12 string guitars. For each string, there is a twin and the first string will be tuned like a six-string guitar. The second string can then be tuned to harmonize or to be an octave higher or lower. This creates a rich and complex sound. Songs like Led Zeppelin’s Stairway to Heaven, Horse with No Name by America, Jimi Hendrix’s Hear My Train Comin’ and Rod Stewart’s Maggie May were all played on variations of the 12 string guitar.
The 12 string creates a set of challenges that go beyond a six-string guitar. With two strings to fret and a wider neck, the player has to do more work and be more accurate when fretting the strings. This will require practice and a thicker set of calluses but the rewards are experiencing the rich, beautiful tones that can only come from the best 12-string guitar.
Now, let’s go in search of the best 12 string guitar.
My list includes acoustic and electric/acoustic guitars and a semi hollow body electric. I have listed them cheapest to most expensive acoustic/electric and cheapest to most expensive acoustic, finishing off with the electric.
The Oscar Schmidt OD 312 CE 12-string acoustic electric guitar comes in at just under $200. Measuring 42 x 15.5 x 4.2 inches it weighs 7.7 pounds. It features a select spruce top and a laminated mahogany body. The neck is mahogany with a rosewood full scale fretboard. The active MET-A07 preamp with digital tuner requires 1.9V battery. This 12 string offers a dreadnought body style with a classic cutaway. When I tried it, I found it to have a rich deep sound, with clarity and playability. It has a beautiful look and sound at a very affordable price. The bonus is being able to plug it in!
1.Pros are the resonate spruce top, gorgeous mahogany overlay and Active MET-A07 Preamp with digital tuner.
2.I couldn’t find any cons with this guitar. To do better you just need to pay more money. This is a really nice 12 stringCheck Price On Amazon
The Martin D12XAE 12-string acoustic electric guitar will cost you under $600, which is a great price for a Martin! This beauty is constructed of high-pressure laminate over a solid Sitka spruce top. This results in the beautiful Martin sound that you will hear when you pick this instrument up and play it. The Fishman Sonitone pickup is a top-quality system with controls that are easy to reach. With a low oval neck made of Stratabond, fretting is easier and playing is a joy.
Pros are the great price for a quality Martin product, the low action which makes for easier playing, the Fishman Sonitone pickup system and the amazing Martin sound.
Cons: this guitar might be outside some people’s budgets, but it is worth the cost for a Martin product.Check Price On Amazon
This handsome 12-string guitar, well built with a beautiful sound, lives up to the Martin name. The action is easy to play and the sound is good enough to play in front of an audience. It might seem expensive to some, but it delivers on quality.
The Oscar Schmidt OD312 12-String Dreadnought acoustic guitar is priced at just over $150. It features decorative wood marquetry, chrome die cast tuners, fully adjustable mahogany neck and a high gloss natural finish. Its dimensions are 42 x 15.5 x 4.2 inches and weigh 7.3 pounds. The back is made of rosewood as is the fretboard. The top is spruce with laminated-wood forming the body. This cheap 12 string guitar has a low, easy to play action. I found it had a good sound with a nice tone.
Pros include the easy playing action of the neck, the great price and the good tone and sound.
Cons I found were that the frets did stick out a bit which was hard on my fingers, even with the callouses.
This 12-string acoustic is an affordable way for guitarists to try out a 12 string and explore its possibilities. It has a full range of sound, making it a really nice guitar and the price makes it even better.Check Price On Amazon
The Epiphone DR-212 Dreadnought 12 string comes with a price tag under $250. This guitar has a select spruce top with scalloped bracing. With mahogany back, sides and neck, it is beautiful and has a nice sound. The dreadnought shape helps to create a loud voice. It is well structured to support the extra strings. When I played it, I was impressed by the quality of sound it produces and does a good job of staying in tune. It is well made and solid which does well to support its resonance.
Pros are the reasonable price for an Epiphone 12 string, the solid construction, and the nice sound and tone.
Cons I found were a buzz in the fret. This can be taken care of though with a professional set up.
Overall, I think this is a very good instrument for the price and plays as well as other, more expensive instruments.Check Price On Amazon
The Dean BOCA 12 String Semi Hollow Body electric guitar rounds out my list with fabulous electric sound and style. You can own one for $330 which makes it a lower priced hollow body electric. It features a semi-hollow body with arched top and dual humbuckers giving the guitar a warm, rounded sound and great sustain. Grover tuners, adjustable bridge with a stop bar tailpiece help make this electric fun to play and listen to. The guitar measures 6 x 15 x 43 and weighs 8 pounds. The back is solid wood, the body is mahogany and the fret board is rosewood on a maple bolt on neck. It comes in a head turning cherry sunburst finish. Compared with more expensive 12 string electrics, it has a great sound and tone and is a great rock-n-roll guitar.
Pros include the Grover tuners that stay in tune well, the low action makes it easy to play and the cost is good for the quality of sound and construction.
Cons are few because of the beauty and quality in this guitar. It will probably need some adjustments to make it just right, but that will be worth it once you have it set up to your liking.
This Dean 12 string electric lives up to the Dean name and is pleasing in every way it should be. I think it will bring years of playing joy to anyone who purchases it. The price is really good for this category of 12 string guitar.Check Price On Amazon
All five of these 12-string guitars have good qualities and pretty good sound. It’s a testament to the guitar makers that they can produce instruments with the consistently high-quality character from economical materials. After testing these guitars, I have to say the Martin D12 XAE is my favorite. I liked its sound and how easy it was to fret the strings. It lives up to the Martin name. Even as a product from the Mexico factory where the guitars are kiln dried rather than air dried. The fast drying can affect the sound, but with this piece, it shows how far manufacturing has come. I enjoyed getting to play all of these guitars but for me, the Martin is the best 12 string guitar on this list.
Hi, I am Joe Nevin, 30 years of age. Despite being involved in a different occupation where I have to work from 9 to 5, I am very passionate about music and playing guitar since I was 12 years old! Thus, being inspired to start guitareviewed.com with an intention of pursuing my passion as I offer important information in the line of music and guitar.
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