These are the 12-string guitars you’re looking for…
The 12 string guitar, such an awesome instrument that has appeared on everything from folk records to heavy metal albums. If you’re a Fairport Convention fan, Springsteen aficionado or Led Zeppelin fanatic the 12-string guitar will undoubtedly appeal to you. Even if you’re not a fan of any of those bands (I’m silently judging you), as a guitarist, you have to appreciate the full, rich sounds emanating from a great 12 string acoustic or electric.
Pros and cons of a 12-string guitar
As far as the pros and cons of 12-string guitars go, there aren’t a lot of downsides to a 12-string. This is aside from adjusting to the extra pressure that needs to be applied to the strings. Hand cramps can sometimes occur but the benefits of a 12 string’s sound when played far outweigh a little discomfort. They’re described by some as the grand piano of guitars, owing to the sheer amount of volume they produce. The addition of an extra six strings, some as an octave higher provides a fullness of sound that you really can’t beat. Playing solos on a 12 string guitar can sometimes prove a little tricky, especially when you’re trying to do huge dive bomb bends. However, with a little bit of practice, you’ll get there. One string solos, guitar lines and hooks really sound great though. The best thing to do is try one out. They’re great to have in your arsenal and an awesome addition to any song.
But where should you start? “Which 12 string guitar is right for me?” I hear you say. Fear not! Today we’re going to look at some of the best 12 string guitars to get you started.
The Yamaha FG820-12 12 String is the perfect model for those in the market for a mid-level 12 string acoustic. Accompanying the solid spruce top is a rich mahogany back and sides, whilst the very comfortable Nato neck ensures playing is a breeze. Although it provides plenty of volume due to the classic dreadnought shape, you’ll find this guitar slowly becoming your favourite very quickly. This is thanks to the newly developed scalloped body bracing that offers enhanced acoustic response. As such, it stands up to those guitars that are higher up the budget scale, easily. Top grade woods and plenty of volume – what more could you want?
Another great addition to the world of 12 string guitars comes in the form of the Epiphone DR-212 Acoustic. Epiphone guitars are by far one of the best examples of brands who couple expert craftsmanship and superior build quality without adding a hefty price tag. Yes, the DR-212 2 string is one of the more lower cost options. However, it’s in no way a lower quality guitar.
Like a fine wine, this guitar will get better with age. The mahogany wood body starts to react to your style and the mahogany neck and rosewood fretboard, which make up the generous 25.5-inch scale length of the guitar, offer superior playability and comfort. The classic dreadnought shape bolsters the mid to low-end energy for rich, resonant tones. Coupled with the reinforcement from the soundboard bracing, this beauty will stand up well to the rigours of touring. All in all, it’s a great guitar to cut your teeth on the live circuit, or to record at home.
For those who want a gigging guitar that can withstand the pressures of touring, the Taylor 150E 12-string Electro Acoustic should be at the top of your wish list. The body of the affordable guitar from the world renowned brand has been crafted from sapele laminate, which not only brings out the lower registers of the acoustic but also responds extremely well to changes in temperature. This is especially useful if you’re travelling with the guitar on a plane, to gigs or throwing it in the back of a van cross country. The Sitka spruce top ensures a rich resonant tone and the bracing makes sure the guitar is fit to last a lifetime or 5.
When it comes to gigging, the Taylor 12-string the all magnetic Taylor Expression System comes in handy. With just three easy to use controls, volume, treble and bass to sculpt your sound, yo can dial in your ideal tonality quickly without taking away from the natural beauty inherent in the guitar’s sound. If you want a higher end 12-string guitar, ideal for touring and creating music with on the go, or in the studio, this is your best bet.
The Fender CD-60SCE-12 Classic Design Electro Acoustic Guitar is another model that bears an affordable price tag that belies an impressive build quality. Whether you’re dipping your toes in the waters of 12-strings for the first time or are a seasoned pro everyone can appreciate the outstanding quality of the CD-60SCE-12.
The body is built using mahogany for the back and sides, whilst a solid spruce top has been employed as the soundboard. Thanks to scalloped-X bracing to the spruce, the top resonates freely whilst withstanding buckling or warping over time. The tonal palette offers incredible breadth for players to explore with stirring mids and crisp, articulate highs. The mahogany neck sits comfortably in the fretting hand, whilst the rosewood fingerboard provides a delightfully tactile playing experience. The 12-inch fingerboard radius is accommodating and encourages you to move freely around the frets without impediment.
Fender have equipped the CD-60SCE-12 with a Fishman CD active onboard preamp and pickup system, which includes a three-band EQ for shaping your output, as well as a phase switch, tuner and low battery indicator light. You have pretty much everything needed to set the stage alight within easy reach. At this price, you’d be hard pushed to find anything more affordable that offers such advantages.
For the last model we’ve gone with something very special, the Taylor 358e LTD NAMM Exclusive 12 String Electro Acoustic Guitar. The Grand Orchestra body enhances the low-end response for a full-bodied character, giving you a wide tonal arsenal from which to draw upon. As we’d expect from a limited edition model, unique tonewood appointments have been employed. This includes Tasmanian blackwood for the back and sides, paired with a Lutz spruce soundboard finished in a glorious sunburst. The all-satin finish promotes an exceptionally smooth playing feel by significantly limiting any stickiness or tackiness from slowing you down. Fitted to the body is a sleek yet undeniably robust neck and fingerboard partnership. Complete with gothic diamond position inlays to guide your way.
Taylor have once again entrusted their super Expression System 2 electronics with translating the acoustic timbre of the guitar, which it does so with faithful dedication. Each model comes with a Taylor deluxe hardshell case for added protection at home or on the go.
View the full range of 12-string guitars at the Dawsons website.
Jon is a multi-instrumentalist with a passion for inspiring others to get involved in making music. After spending many years playing venues here, there and – pretty much – everywhere, he joined the Dawsons’ Music Web Team before progressing into his current role managing the Dawsons Blog.