Are you shopping for a 12-string guitar? Check out our comprehensive guide tailored for musicians seeking rich, full sound. From classic designs to modern innovations, each guitar is meticulously evaluated based on sound quality, build, playability, and value.
The best 12-string guitars are:
- Takamine G30CE-12 String Guitar
- Rickenbacker 360/12 Fireglo Acoustic Electric Guitar
- Martin D-X2E 12-String Guitar
- Fender CD-60SCE 12 String Guitar
- D’Angelico Premier Fulton LS
- Yamaha LL16-12
- Yamaha FG820-12
- Taylor 652CE Builder’s Edition
- Epiphone Hummingbird 12-String
- ESP TL-12
Whether a seasoned guitarist or a curious beginner, this guide offers great reviews to help you discover the perfect 12-string guitar.
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Best 12-String Guitars
|Takamine G30CE-12 String Guitar||Solid top for clear soundWarm tone with mahoganyPreamp system with tuner|
|Rickenbacker 360/12 Fireglo Acoustic Electric Guitar||Unique headstock for stabilityBright tone with maple bodyStereo output capability|
|Martin D-X2E 12-String Guitar||Polished top for refined feelDurable HPL bodySimplified string setup|
|Fender CD-60SCE 12 String Guitar||Solid top for resonanceDurable, balanced sound bodyPreamp with tuner|
|D’Angelico Premier Fulton LS||Balanced tone with classic woodsComfortable neck and fingerboardEnhanced resonance with bracing|
|Yamaha LL16-12||Rich sound with rosewoodBright spruce topComfortable neck|
|Yamaha FG820-12||Loud, punchy sound with spruce topThin, comfortable neckAffordable price|
|Taylor 652CE Builder’s Edition||Bright and mature soundUnique string setupHigh-end finish and electronics|
|Epiphone Hummingbird 12-String||Robust acoustic propertiesMahogany body for warm toneBalanced dreadnought sound|
|ESP TL-12||Streamlined body for playabilityStrong, warm tone woodsStable tuning|
- Body Finish: Gloss
- Body Shape: Dreadnought Cutaway
- Bracing: Quartersawn “X”
- Body Back: Mahogany
- Body Sides: Mahogany
The Takamine GD30CE 12-string guitar perfectly blends traditional design and modern technology. A key player in the acoustic guitar scene, particularly in the 12-string category, this guitar stands out with its solid Sitka spruce top, a feature common in many of the best 12-string guitars.
The solid spruce top, renowned for its clarity and resonance, ensures that the guitar produces a bright, clear sound, making it a prime choice for those seeking the iconic 12-string jangle.
A distinct feature of the Takamine GD30CE is its mahogany back and sides, contributing to the guitar’s warm and rich acoustic tone. This combination of Sitka spruce and mahogany is a classic in acoustic guitars, providing a balanced, deep, and sparkling sound.
The guitar’s dreadnought body shape further enhances its powerful acoustics, making it an excellent choice for strumming and fingerpicking.
Suppose you like to toggle between acoustic and electric guitars. In that case, the GD30CE allows you to seamlessly transition with its onboard TP4TD preamp system. This system, featuring a built-in tuner, three-band EQ, and gain controls, enables players to precisely shape their sound.
This should make it easy for you to play live performances and studio recordings.
The playability of this guitar is excellent, with its cutaway design offering easy access to the upper frets. The neck profile is comfortable, catering to traditional and modern playing styles.
The fingerboard, made of Ovangkol, a wood similar to ebony, offers a smooth playing experience, enhancing the overall playability.
- Semi-hollow acoustic body carved from single piece of maple
- Two single pole vintage style “toaster” Rickenbacker pickups
- Three-way pickup selector with five rotary controls
- Neck features dual field truss rod assembly
- Hardshell case and “Ric-O-Sound” Box
The Rickenbacker 360/12 Fireglo is a testament to Rickenbacker’s innovative design and craftsmanship. Known for its unique configuration and “jangly” sound, this guitar has become a top choice for guitar players.
One of the most notable features of the Rickenbacker 360/12 is its unconventional headstock design. Unlike traditional 12-string guitars with extended headstocks, the Rickenbacker mounts the additional tuners on the side of the headstock.
This design maintains a more conventional headstock length and adds to the overall playability and tuning stability.
However, some players have noted that while this design looks sleek, it may make the task of tuning and string replacement slightly more difficult.
The guitar’s body is crafted from maple, contributing to its bright and clear acoustic tone. The Fireglo finish, a cherry sunburst, highlights the guitar’s visual appeal and showcases its intricate wood grain.
The neck, constructed from multi-pieced maple with a lacquered rosewood fretboard, finished the overall polished look.
Further enhancing its playability, the Rickenbacker 360/12 features a rounded neck profile, perfect for the complex, 12-string system. The guitar’s rosewood fretboard, visually striking and tactilely pleasing, plays a significant role in the guitar’s overall feel and playability.
The guitar also comes with dual output jacks, enabling stereo output. This feature allows each pickup to be connected to different amplifiers, offering a wide range of tonal possibilities. This makes the guitar versatile for studio recording and live performance.
One thing to note about the Gireglo is that some players have reported issues with the quality of the side-mounted tuners, especially in tuning stability. Although only a small part of the guitar’s overall design, it may be something you want to know.
- PROFESSIONAL SOUND & APPEARANCE: Martin’s D-X2E acoustic-electric guitars offer a blend of wood and high-pressure laminate (HPL) patterns: Sitka spruce, mahogany, KOA, rosewood, and Macassar. The Sitka spruce and HPL construction delivers a balanced sound and crisp, consistent tones, while the dreadnought body style adds a rich and exceptional-sounding bass. This Martin professional guitar is complete with Fishman MX electronics and Martin’s Authentic Acoustic Lifespan 2.0 strings.
The Martin D-X2E 12-string Guitar is a noteworthy addition to the acoustic 12-string market, offering quality and affordability. Known for its remarkable playability and robust sound, this guitar is a part of Martin’s acclaimed X Series.
A standout feature of the D-X2E is its hand-polished spruce top, giving the guitar a smooth and refined feel. Unlike some higher-end models, this guitar does not feature traditional binding. Instead, it sports a subtle black strip around its edge. The design also includes an attractive mother-of-pearl inlay, adding a touch of elegance.
The back and sides of the D-X2E are made from HPL (high-pressure laminate), a durable material known for its resilience.
Though HPL might not provide the same aesthetic or tonal qualities as solid mahogany or Rosewood, it makes the guitar more affordable and robust, suitable for daily use and travel.
The neck, described as ‘select hardwood,’ likely a mahogany or sapele, contributes to the guitar’s sturdy feel. While appearing similar to Rosewood, the fingerboard is also made from select hardwood, adhering to Martin’s sustainable materials usage.
One unique aspect of this 12-string guitar is removing the higher octave G string, as some players find it excessive. There is also an onboard electronic system, with a pickup system allowing you to hook it up to an amp.
In conclusion, the Martin D-X2E 12-string Guitar is a great value for money. While more budget-friendly, its construction does not compromise on the classic 12-string sound and Martin’s signature quality.
It’s a practical choice for guitarists looking for a reliable, versatile, easy-to-play 12-string acoustic guitar.
- Solid Spruce Top with Laminated Mahogany Back and Sides
- 25.3″ scale mahogany neck w/20 fret walnut fingerboard
- Fender ‘Easy-to-Play’ shaped neck with rolled fretboard edges
- Crème Plastic nut
- Case Not Included
The Fender CD-60SCE, an integral part of Fender’s acoustic guitar lineup, showcases a blend of traditional craftsmanship and modern features. This guitar is a standout choice for players seeking an affordable yet quality acoustic-electric option.
A key feature of the CD-60SCE is its solid spruce top, known for its clarity and resonance. This solid top, available in black or natural finishes, promises to age gracefully, enhancing the guitar’s tone over time.
The back and sides are crafted from laminate mahogany, offering durability without compromising acoustic quality. This combination of spruce and mahogany delivers a balanced sound profile suitable for various musical genres.
The CD-60SCE is equipped with scalloped “X-bracing,” a design that reduces the weight of the internal bracing without sacrificing structural integrity.
This scalloping allows for more top movement, resulting in greater volume and resonance, making the guitar easy to play and rich in sound.
Fender has installed the Fishman Classic preamp system into this model. This modern electronic system includes a built-in tuner volume, bass, and treble controls. It also features an under-saddle pickup, ensuring that the guitar’s natural acoustic tone is faithfully amplified.
The neck profile of the CD-60SCE is designed for comfort, with a slightly thicker carve and rounded fret ends. This design and the rosewood fingerboard ensure a smooth playing experience, making it a great choice for beginners and seasoned players. The guitar also boasts a Venetian cutaway, allowing easier access to upper frets and enhancing playability.
- 12-string Acoustic-electric Guitar with Spruce Top
- Merbau Fingerboard – Satin Vintage Sunburst
- Mahogany Back Sides
- Mahogany Neck
The D’Angelico Premier Fulton LS is a good entry model, priced competitively in the 12-string acoustic guitar market. Its design and construction cater to seasoned players and those venturing into the world of 12-string guitars for the first time.
Aesthetically, the guitar boasts an eye-catching Iced Tea Burst finish, instantly setting it apart in visual appeal. The body has a Sitka spruce top and mahogany back and sides. It is a classic combination known for its balanced acoustic tone, offering both brightness and warmth.
This tonewood pairing is particularly effective in a 12-string guitar, as it helps balance the jangle and shimmer of the extra strings with a solid, resonant base.
The neck of the Premier Fulton LS is crafted from mahogany and shaped into a comfortable C-profile. Paired with a 14-inch radius fingerboard made of Ovangkol, a material known for its durability and tonal properties similar to Rosewood.
This is crucial in a 12-string guitar, where the increased string count can make playing more challenging.
One of the standout features of this D’Angelico model is its onboard preamp and tuner, a convenient addition for guitarists looking to amplify their sound.
The preamp system allows for easy control over volume, bass, middle, and treble, enabling players to shape their sound to their liking.
Additionally, the guitar employs X-scalloped bracing, which enhances its resonance and durability and contributes to its full-bodied sound.
This bracing technique is especially beneficial in a 12-string guitar, where maintaining structural integrity under increased string tension is paramount.
- 12-String version of the Ll16 a.R.E.
- Solid Engelmann Spruce top treated with a.R.E
- Original Jumbo Body with solid rosewood back & sides
- 5-ply neck with high comfort traditional neck profile
- SRT Zero impact passive pickup
The Yamaha LL16-12 12-string guitar is one of the best 12-string guitars, with a balance of quality and an affordable price tag.
This model, renowned for its rich tonal quality and playability, stands out as a great guitar for seasoned players and those new to the 12-string experience.
A notable feature of the LL16-12 is its solid Rosewood back and sides, which contribute significantly to its full and rich sound.
This choice of wood ensures that the guitar produces a warm and resonant tone, which is crucial for the complex harmonic structure of a 12-string guitar.
The Sitka spruce top, another standard in high-quality acoustic guitars, complements the Rosewood, adding brightness and clarity to the guitar’s sound.
The guitar’s neck, crafted for comfort and ease of play, is something to note. The neck profile and string spacing are designed to accommodate the complexity of a 12-string without compromising on playability.
You may like this model if you struggle with wider guitar necks, which is very common in 12-string guitars on the market.
Users have reported that some minor upgrades, such as replacing the nut, saddle, and tuners, can significantly enhance the guitar’s performance. These modifications are quick fixes that further elevate the guitar’s quality. You may consider the same
- Solid Sitka Spruce Top
- Mahogany Back & Sides
- Rosewood Fingerboard
- Rosewood Bridge
- Diecast Tuners
The Yamaha FG820-12 12-string guitar has made its mark in acoustic guitars as a reliable and affordable option for both beginners and experienced players.
Known for its exceptional playability and robust sound, this guitar has garnered attention for its high-quality construction at a budget-friendly price point.
A standout feature of the FG820-12 is its solid spruce top, which contributes to its loud and punchy sound. Spruce is a favored choice for many high-quality acoustic guitars due to its ability to project sound efficiently while maintaining clarity.
This, combined with the guitar’s mahogany back and sides, results in a balanced tonal quality, offering warmth and brightness – a necessary attribute in a 12-string guitar where sound clarity can often be a challenge.
The guitar’s neck is designed with playability in mind. Despite being a 12-string, it boasts a very thin and comfortable neck, making it easier for players to wrap their hands around and hold chords.
However, one aspect to consider is the string spacing. It is relatively narrower compared to some other 12-string models, which might require a period of adjustment for players used to wider spaces between strings.
Another notable feature is the scalloped bracing, which enhances the guitar’s resonance and durability. Additionally, users have reported that the guitar’s action may initially be high. Still, once set up properly, playing becomes much more comfortable.
In conclusion, the Yamaha FG820-12 is a compelling option for those seeking a quality 12-string acoustic guitar without a hefty price tag. Its solid spruce top, comfortable neck profile, and balanced sound make it an attractive choice for many players.
- Top: Torrefied Spruce
- Back/Sides: Big Leaf Maple
- Neck/Heel: Hard Rock Maple
- Fretboard Wood: West African Ebony
- Case: Taylor Deluxe Hardshell Brown
The Taylor 652ce Builder’s Edition 12-string guitar is an exquisite addition to Taylor’s renowned acoustic guitars. Introduced at NAMM 2020, it is the first 12-string in Taylor’s newly expanded Builder’s Edition series.
This guitar combines modern design with classic acoustic elements, making it a highly sought-after instrument for professional and amateur guitarists.
The body is designed as a 12-fret grand concert with a V-braced cutaway, enhancing the playability and acoustic projection.
One of the guitar’s most notable features is its solid torrefied Sitka spruce top paired with solid big-leaf maple back and sides. This combination offers a bright and crisp sound, typical of maple.
At the same time, the torrefied spruce top adds a level of sonic maturity and complexity.
The solid maple neck is topped with an ebony fingerboard, providing a smooth and responsive playing experience. This neck design is notable for its comfort, especially for a 12-string guitar.
Its reverse stringing is unique to the 652ce Builder’s Edition, a setup reminiscent of some famous electric 12-strings. This arrangement places the fundamental string on top, closer to the player, with the octave string below, giving it a distinctive playability and sound.
Finished in Taylor’s Silent Satin with a full-body Wild Honey Burst, the guitar is as visually striking as it is sonically. Gold Gotoh 510 machine heads and Taylor’s ES2 pickup system round out its high-end specifications.
The 652ce Builder’s Edition 12-string guitar has a Taylor hard case, ensuring protection and durability.
- Scale length: 24.724″ / 628mm
- Sonitone pickup system
- aged vintage gloss finish
The Epiphone Hummingbird 12-string guitar stands out as a remarkable instrument in 12-string guitars, offering a unique blend of playability, aesthetics, and sonic richness that appeals to guitar players seeking the best 12-string guitar experience.
Renowned for its acoustic prowess, this 12-string version mirrors the iconic Gibson Hummingbird in design and aesthetics. It features a solid Sitka spruce top, known for its robust and versatile acoustic properties.
The back and sides are crafted from mahogany, complementing the Sitka spruce top to produce a warm, rich tone with excellent projection. The choice of mahogany not only adds to the guitar’s acoustic qualities but also contributes to its stunning visual appeal.
The neck of the Epiphone Hummingbird is adorned with a rosewood fingerboard, offering smooth playability and comfortable string spacing, a crucial aspect for 12-string guitars. This choice of wood also enhances the guitar’s overall resonance and sustain.
The frets are meticulously filed and finished, ensuring a playing experience akin to pricier instruments.
In terms of electronics, the Epiphone Hummingbird 12-string boasts onboard preamp and pickup systems, allowing for easy amplification. This versatility makes it an excellent choice for acoustic and electric guitar players.
The Grover tuners are a notable addition, providing reliable and precise tuning stability, a must-have for the complex tuning requirements of 12 strings.
The guitar’s dreadnought body shape is a classic choice for 12-string acoustics, offering a powerful and balanced sound. The guitar resonates with the shimmer and jangle characteristic of 12-string guitars.
Still, it maintains clarity and avoids the muddiness that can sometimes plague lesser 12-string models.
- The LTD TL-12 Black has a Mahogany Body with a Maple Top, Mahogany Neck and a Rosewood Fingerboard
- This guitar comes equipped with a Rosewood Bridge w/ Graphtech Nubone XB Saddle
- It has a Set-Neck Construction with a 25″ Scale with 22 Jumbo Frets and a Thin-U Neck Contour
- The Pickup is a B-Band Electret Film Transducer w/ B-Band T-7 Preamp w/ Onboard Tuner
The ESP TL-12 12-string guitar stands out in the 2023 lineup of 12-string guitars, uniquely bridging the gap between traditional acoustic qualities and modern electric guitar features.
This hybrid approach positions it as a compelling option for guitar players who traverse the acoustic and electric realms.
A key feature of the TL-12 is its body shape, which deviates from the typical dreadnought design common in acoustic 12-strings. Instead, it opts for a slimmer, more streamlined cutaway design, enhancing playability, especially for those accustomed to electric guitars.
The cutaway also allows easier access to the higher frets, a notable advantage when navigating the extended range of a 12-string.
The guitar’s top is crafted from solid Sitka spruce, a choice material for its balance of strength and elasticity, essential for handling the tension of 12 strings. The back and sides are mahogany, complementing the Sitka spruce top with warm tonal characteristics.
This combination produces a rich and full sound yet distinct enough to cut through in a mix.
For the fretboard, ESP chose ebony, a material known for its smooth playability and durability. The fingerboard and well-crafted frets ensure a comfortable playing experience, crucial for the complex playing styles often employed on 12-string guitars.
Regarding electronics, the TL-12 features an onboard preamp and pickup system, offering many tonal possibilities. This makes the guitar incredibly versatile, suitable for pure acoustic strumming, jangly 12-string shimmer, or even amplified rock’ n’ roll.
The tuners are another high-quality component, providing stable and precise tuning, a must for maintaining the guitar’s intricate harmonic structure.
Wrapping Up: Best 12-String Guitars
In conclusion, the diverse range of 12-string guitars reviewed in this article showcases the remarkable versatility and unique tonal qualities these instruments bring to the musical landscape.
From the traditional, rich acoustic resonance of the Takamine GD30CE and Martin D-X2E to the innovative design of the Rickenbacker 360/12 and Taylor 652CE Builder’s Edition, each guitar offers something special for every type of musician.
Whether you seek a guitar for studio recording, live performance, or personal enjoyment, these top ten 12-string guitars promise to enrich your musical journey with exceptional sound, playability, and craftsmanship.