Our #1 Pick for the best 12 string acoustic guitar
If you’re a Queen, I’m sure you’ve heard the song “Love of My Life.” It’s one of the band’s most iconic songs. I mean, it’s legendary.
IMO, it’s great having Freddie accompanied it with his piano, however I think Brian May’s version of it on a 12-string guitar is fascinating. What’s your opinion on it?
I’m sure you’ve thought of learning to play a 12 string guitar now.
Using a 12 string acoustic guitar has its perks. Some songs just sound better when played using a 12 string guitar– more detailed and more refined. However, if your a 6 string guitar player, switching to one that has 12 strings might take some time and patience.
Fret not, though. There are guitars that make this switch smooth and easy. Getting one of the best 12 string acoustic guitars is an important step if you think it’s time to move on from a regular 6 string guitar.
Here are the best 12-string acoustic guitars in 2020
- Solid Sitka Spruce Top
- Mahogany Back & Sides
Back in 1966, Yamaha pioneered their FG guitar collection. It became such a hit that it made Yamaha a home to one of the most sought out and trusted guitars we have today. So, it’s no surprise that Yamaha FG820 12-String is one of best 12 string acoustic guitars on this list.
Considered as a classic musical instrument, the FG 820 gives you an excellent tone and build quality, notable features and amazing playability. Featuring its mahogany back and sides, the FG820 produces a balanced warm and mellow sound that’s sure to capture every music lover out there. One of the best things about the FG820 is that you don’t have to break the bank for you to have it—it’s amazingly affordable!
52 years since its launch, and it still makes a name for itself. Its updated features make it a versatile guitar, with its scalloped bracing design and well-crafted construction. This oldie-but-goody 12 string acoustic guitar really makes a great addition to your guitar collection!
- Classic design
- Great deal for its price
- Scalloped bracing provides well-balanced sound
- Strings might need a replacement, as it’s not really the easiest on the fingers
- Solid spruce top and flame maple back and sides
- Produces all the lush, robust sound that players expect from a jumbo 12-string guitar
Coming in at second place is the Takamine GJ72CE-12 Acoustic-Electric Guitar. This mighty instrument will wow you with its good design, solid overall construction, and excellent warm tone. Hailed as one of the best 12 string acoustic guitars, the Takamine GJ72CE will make you feel like you’re the next Bob Dylan.
Boasting a solid spruce top, flame maple back and sides, the jumbo GJ72CE-12 produces a nice and robust sound that you’d typically expect from a jumbo 12 string guitar. It consists a mahogany neck, rosewood fingerboard and gold die-cast tuners with pearl buttons. Introducing its very own Takamine TK040D preamp system, the sound quality won’t be a problem given its built-in tuner, three-band EQ and gain controls, mid contour switch, notch filter and EQ bypass switch.
With the Takamine GJ72CE-12, you’re getting the most out of its price (considering its price that’s a bit higher than Yamaha FG180). Among the notable features are its synthetic bone nut and split bridge saddle, abalone rosette, and a classic glossy finish.
- Its maple sides give great tone
- Good materials used
- High quality construction
- Slightly bigger for a 12 string acoustic
If you want a piece of instrument that is sure to last long and is “eargasmic” in every way possible, Epiphone DR-212 Acoustic Guitar is your buddy. Without having a costly price tag, the DR-212 is among the best 12 string acoustic guitars on this list.
Coming from a brand that takes pride in their series of musical instruments, the DR-212 isn’t a stranger when it comes to having a superior quality and excellent craftsmanship. Featuring a mahogany body and neck, and rosewood fret board, the DR-212 gives great playability. The DR-212 dreadnought produces warm, resonant tones. Its soundboard bracing also makes up for its sound accuracy.
Don’t worry about it going out of tune as it won’t be a problem with this 12 string acoustic guitar, thanks to its high quality nut and bridge. So, if your go-to music genre is rock, folk, country, and blues, you’re in for a treat because the DR-212 is made for these categories.
- Best for rock, country, and blues music
- Spruce top allows breathability
- Good audio
- Might require tuning every now and then
- Poor bridge construction
Another sweet contender on this list is the Martin D12X1AE Acoustic-Electric Guitar. The D12X1AE Dreadnought is sure to win your heart with its full and strong sound. Packed with excellent features and playability, the D12X1AE is one of the best 12 string acoustic guitars in the market.
With a combination of solid Sitka spruce top and mahogany grained HPL back and sides, the D12X1AE produces a warm and balanced tone. Every aspiring guitarist will feel comfortable while playing the D12X1AE mahogany neck and body measuring up to 25.5 inches.
With a Limited Lifetime Guarantee and Gibson 24/7/365 customer service, you’ll be getting more than what you paid for, if bought from an authorized Epiphone dealer. Now, that’s a steal!
- Great value
- Good sound quality
- Heavy weight due to its laminated finish
Lastly, to complete the list of top 5 best 12 string acoustic guitars, we have the Seagull Coastline S12 Cedar QI Acoustic Guitar. Known for its outstanding craftsmanship, the award-winning brand, Seagull, boasts its very own Coastline S12 Cedar QI. Complete with high quality construction, magnificent features, and beautiful design, the S12 will surely capture your attention.
Along with other models from the Coastline Series, the back and sides of S12 consists of a three-layer lamination of Wild Cherry wood. Featuring a semi-gloss finish, select pressure tested solid cedar top, and built-in Godin QI electronics, the S12 gives off a mid to low range tone with rich and full sound.
Boasting its Godin EPM Quantum system, the S12 is extremely accurate and responsive. Created skilfully and to every user’s comfort, the S12 does not disappoint.
- Full sound
- Attractive finish
- Great value for its price
- Might develop a buzzing string sound over time
- QI controls might feel odd
Things You Need to Know When Buying a 12 String Acoustic Guitar
Before we start tackling the factors to be considered when buying a 12 string acoustic guitar, let’s get to know what it is first. A 12 string acoustic guitar has 12 strings (obviously), which are grouped in pairs tuned to the same notes of a normal acoustic guitar.
The two highest strings, E and B, are tuned in unison, while the other four lower strings, G, D, A, and B, are in octaves.
Popularly used for country, blues, and rock music genres, a 12 string acoustic guitar produces a robust and full sound. Its strumming gives more wood resonance, which you don’t always get in a 6-string acoustic.
Physical-wise, a 12 string acoustic guitar has a wider neck, somewhat larger headstock, and wider fret board.
Going back, there are some things to keep in mind if you’re planning to buy one of the best 12 string acoustic guitars.
I think, one of the most important things you have to mind is that a 12 string acoustic guitar is not really made for beginners. Check out our list of best beginner acoustic guitars instead.
I mean, if you’re a beginner but is really determined to learn a thing or two in playing a 12 string acoustic, know that what you’re about to do is no joke and needs a lot of patience and adjustment.
After all, Jimi Hendrix won’t be “the” Jimi Hendrix if not for his dedication and passion play this kind of acoustic guitar.
Expect your fingers to hurt for quite some time, as it is a bit hard to fret a 12 string acoustic guitar. Having the right feel and getting used are one of the things you must achieve when playing one of the best 12 string acoustic guitars.
When playing this type of guitar, get used to having hand cramps. You have been warned.
Since a 12 string acoustic guitar does not exactly have the exact body and shape of a 6-string guitar, it is important to know that the former has a wider neck. However, once you get the hang of it, you might even love it more than a 6-stringed acoustic.
It creates a beautiful, full sound and a sheer amount of volume that’s perfect for any music genre, especially country and pop-rock.
Ultimately, playing a 12 string acoustic guitar has its advantages and drawbacks. It might take you some time and effort, but no pain no gain, right? Even the best 12 string acoustic guitars are a challenge to play, it really is up to you to make it worth the while.
What is the best 12 string acoustic guitar?
With its premium sound quality and outstanding features, the Yamaha FG 820 12-string acoustic guitar is the front runner on the best 12 string acoustic guitars list of ours.
Hailing from a powerhouse of excellent guitars (but not limited to), the FG 820 still stands strong even after 52 years from its debut in 1966.
This classic beauty is more than what eyes meet. The FG 820 produces a robust, full sound and great playability.
It has a mahogany back and sides, solid Sitka spruce top, Nato neck, and a rosewood fingerboard containing 20 frets and subtle dot inlays. With all these features, you’d be surprised that this timeless piece of guitar won’t break the bank.
ALSO READ: Our ultimate list of the best acoustic guitars
Our #1 Pick for the best 12 string acoustic guitar