TEN Unforgettable 12-String Acoustics • Acoustic Tuesday 236

What if I told you my favorite acoustic 12-string guitar was less than $300? This episode will cover my top 10 favorite acoustic 12-string guitars. From the high-end to the low-end, you’ll get a wide variety of takes on 10 guitars.

12-string guitars are known for their full, rich sound. It gives a natural chorus sound to an acoustic guitar. They can be a little difficult to play. Sometimes they’re even harder to tune. But I promise, it’s well worth your time.

The 12-string guitars that made my top 10 list are judged on value, tone, and beauty. They’re all great guitars — especially the cheapest one. But for those who are loyal to Taylor Guitars, you’ll be happy to know there are two Taylors on my list!

Featured in this episode…

  • Charlie Parr
  • National Guitars
  • Orangewood Guitars
  • Taylor Guitars
  • Fender
  • Martin Guitar
  • Guild Guitars
  • Seagull Guitars
  • Larrivee
  • Yamaha Guitars

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  1. Mitchell D120S12E listed at $359 got it on sale for $249 at Guitar Center. I own Martin & Guild acoustics but wanted a cheap 12 string to experiment with. All I can say is play one if you can. It will blow your mind. Sounded as good as $600 Martin and & $900 Taylor I played. Amazing!

  2. Hi Tony, Love everything about what you are doing. As I am relatively know to the family, i don’t get to view the Tuesday shows timely. I cannot find how to access the guitar lick for this week (Tuesday 236). Help in where to find it would be greatly appreciated.

    I started playing as a teenager in the late 60’s playing Gordan Lightfoot (Hence my nickname) put down the guitar for 40 years basically and you have me started again and having fun. And at 70 that is all it is about. Thanks You

  3. Hi Tony
    Loved the feature on 12 strings. A few years ago I was able to shop for a 12 string. I had played several models that you had mentioned. However I kept coming back to a Martin DX12-1ae. It was the most comfortable and had the most balanced sound. It comes in at less than $600. Every time I take it to an open mic people are amazed at the tone and projection.

  4. Tony,
    I often thought about having a 12 string, but it was not really a priority as while they sound really, really cool, they are kind of a niche instrument. However, just a few days after watching this episode of Acoustic Tuesday, I randomly stumbled up a Seagull Coastline Cedar 12 string up for sale on Facebook Marketplace. I immediately remembered this as one of the models in your Top 10 rundown. It was very reasonably priced and resided only about an hour and fifteen-minute drive from my house. I couldn’t resist the urge to go check it out.

    The guitar sounded good and was in great shape. It needed a fret board cleanup and new strings (on order), but you could tell it had been well cared for. Unfortunately, the owner had recently passed away, and his widow didn’t know how old it was, so I emailed Seagull with the serial # info. Amazingly they got back to me within 24 hours and identified it as a 2011 model. Impressive customer service response!

    I am now the proud owner of a Seagull 12 (: If it wasn’t for this episode of Acoustic Tuesday, none of the above would have ever happened. I can now happily blame you for helping to expand my Guitarsenal (: Thanks.

    Playing a 12 string is a bit more challenging, especially given the wider neck and need to cover 2 strings with each finger. Might be worth you considering adding a few lessons in the Skill Sets on tips and tricks for playing a 12 string, and perhaps something on how to restring and properly tune one. Food for thought.

    Thanks much for another great review.

  5. Many thanks for that informative profile of a wide range of 12-strings, as well as for including a few Canadian-made guitars ! But I was wondering if the Taylor 326CE (of one of which I recently became a proud owner) shouldn’t have been on that list, too, or instead … ? — Art from Vancouver, BC

  6. I have always had a 12 string. From an Aria to an Ovation. My favorite is my current guitar. It is a Taylor 654ce. It has a Sitka spruce top, with maple sides and back. This 12 has a piano sound quality and I love it. I haven’t missed an episode yet. Keep up the good work.

  7. Guild F-212 twelve string was present on more recordings and stage performances of the 1960’s than all other makes and models put together. 🙂

  8. Hi Tony!
    I think you are a dynamite teacher, and I enjoy watching Acoustic Tuesday every week. I was excited about the 12-string show, but was disappointed that you didn’t do a bit of a teaching moment about the 12-string. I’m a novice, and I’d love to know the pros and cons about playing the 12-string. Heck, I don’t truly even know how the strings are laid out. Do they use special strings, like a major and minor string for each note? (I mean that more in placement and size than in tone.) Or is a 12-string just two sets of strings that a typical six-string guitar would use? Told you I was a novice! I love the sound of a 12-string, but they seem intimidating. Are they much harder to play? Love your lessons! Thanks!

  9. tony i bought a Yamaha 820 12 string about 4 years ago and i love it and for the price i don’t think i could have gotten a better 12 string guitar i play it often and couldn’t really see me playing a different one. thank you for putting it on your list

  10. Enjoy this, although I don’t think a lot of the samples really show these guitars off. 12 strings don’t shine when they’re strummed. They shine when they’re played by Leo Kottke! Stupidest thing I ever did was get rid of my original Guild F212. Recently I replaced it with a guild 2512 which plays and sounds fantastic, it’s a little hard to finger pick because of the string spacing but for less than 500 bucks it should be on the list

  11. One of these days I’ll have to treat myself to a 12 string. Right now I think I would be a little overwhelmed as I’m still working on (and progressing) on six strings.

  12. I too fell in love with a 12 the first time I heard and then played one. Inspirations when learning it were Doc Watson and Leo Kottke. At age 16 I managed to buy a Martin D18 12 and still have it. The way this guitar resonates in my chest while being played is what makes it a keeper. It’s a classic American made beauty. Thanks for the 12-string 10-best!!

  13. I love my D’Angelico Premier Fulton 12 string. Very inexpensive but it sounds great and is easy to play. Solid Sitka Spruce top and laminate back and sides.

  14. Sorry Tony! I don’t share the same sentiments as you in regards to those 12 string guitar comparisons. As a former owner of a Guild 12 string (offshore made), I have experienced the difference between the budget based 12 strings by trying the Yamaha keeping price in mind for yet another guitar purchase. Ready to pull the trigger on the purchase, it wasn’t until I saw the Guild hanging behind the counter that ultimately change my mind. I asked the sales person if I could have a go at it, and all it took was two strums that convinced me to put the Yamaha back on the hook. This guitar was nearly three times the price, but I didn’t care! For a thousand bucks, an all solid wood guitar with ebony fretboard, and a solid case, I disregarded the financial dilemma. You only come around once, so don’t go out of it with regrets.
    Obviously the high end guitars are out of touch financially for most of us, but if you can see your way in the lower mid ends, then buy one! The have a more livelier sound from low end to high end, bar none. HPL or solid? It’s a no brainer.
    You can’t come here and say the best one you ever played was a few Grand and then pick your number one at the lowest end. At least pick the Seagull which isn’t bank account depleting. The Yamaha is, sorry, crap by any standard. I don’t think a guitar player would be happy later on with that sound. It just fails to shimmer with robust. JMO.

  15. Tony, have you considered the Breedlove Solo Concert CE 12 String sound and playability? At $799.00, I thought this was a great value.

  16. Tony, you mentioned playability of the Taylor 562CE. The 652 CE Builders Edition has the body bevels that take playability to a whole new level. A little more expensive but worth every cent!

  17. Dear Tony
    I am Ernest Cook
    I enrolled in TAC several years ago but stopped due to my wife’s terminal illness
    Bette is now deceased but she wanted me to re-enroll in you wonderful teaching and the “personal” manner that distinguished your lessons from many others. On one occasion, I encountered a technical problem and was “blown away” by the fact I was contacted by a live voice who helped me resolve my issue


  18. I love the sound of the 12 string guitars. I’ve owned and played a Yamaha FG-512 for years and still love it’s sound and ease of playing. It wasn’t an expensive guitar but sounds better as it has aged. Thanks for all you do on the Acoustic Tuesday show.

  19. I started playing guitar on a 12 string Ovation years ago. I retired my Ovation a few years ago and replaced her with a Martin D12X1. After I made some minor adjustments to her (new strings and adjustment of the bridge high , I was surprised at the sound I was getting from her and how playable she was. Its a keeper! It can be had for around $459.99 I think it is worth every penny.

  20. This was super interesting to me today as i am actively seeking a 12 string to purchase. i am an old man 77 and have been playing longer than i want to admit, given the crapola skillset i have built. 12 string has always fascinated me, love the sound. I have a 45yr old martin d28, rings like a bell but can’t play it for beans. i have a guild travel guitar, i can play better due to the short scale but the sound profile is very limited. i have a taylor travel mini and it has minimal sound. So the 12 seems to be my focus now: i have watched a million videos and am convinced i need a 12 fret 12 string, which means taylor 300 series as a starting point. my guild is spruce, sapele so i want a different tonewood combination and am now focused on the 362ce from taylor, which is not the 562 you featured here but 700 bucks cheaper, different woods and still with taylor quality. What do you think? otherwise i’ll go get that yamaha.

  21. let’s face it a 12 string is just a 12 string. they all sounded good to me. there is really no need to spend $4,000. for one of these . you left the best one out. Mitchell makes the best for $300. check this one out.