This is my review of the best 12 string electric guitars.
Twelve strings strings add an extra dimension to your guitar sound. Chords sound fuller and reverberate beautifully in space, with more harmonic resonance and chime. The frequency range is greater and, in addition to chords, you can solo in a way that cannot be matched with a 6-string guitar. Who better than Eric Johnson to demonstrate to us the beautiful sound of a 12-string electric guitar?
12-sting electric guitars have been around some time. They rose to prominence in the guitar scene of the 1960s, by the use of bands like The Beach Boys, The Byyrds and the Beatles. During the late 1970s and early 1980s alternative rock, pop, and indie musicians resurrected the electric 12-string guitar. Today, the 12-string electric guitar is somewhat of a niche instrument. Having one will make your guitar collection complete and will allow you to create unique, awesome tones.
The twelve-string guitar can be played in the same way as a six-string guitar since players use the same notes, chords, and guitar skills, but advanced techniques may be challenging because players must play or pluck two strings at the same time.
Top Picks: best 12 String Electric Guitars on the market
- Best high-end 12-string electric guitar: Rickenbacker 330/12.
- Best value-for-money 12-string electric guitar: Ibanez Artcore AS7312.
- Best budget 12-string electric guitar: Harley Benton RB-612.
Best High End 12-string Electric Guitar
- Price indication: $ 2500-3000
- Body: Maple
- Neck: Maple, Scale: 629 mm
- Fretboard: Rosewood, 24 frets
- Pickups: 2 Hi-gain single coils
- Controls: 2x volume, 2x tone, mastervolume, 3-way switch.
- Hardware: mono output through single jack plate.
- Other: Dot fretboard inlays, Schaller machine heads, ‘R’ Tailpiece, 6-Saddle Bridge, Set neck joint, Left-handed available, Case included.
This is the best high-end 12-string guitar. A one-of-a-kind guitar with exceptional craftsmanship and sound.
The Ricky series has several models, but the red-and-yellow 330/12 and the 360/12 are the most iconic. The Rickenbacker 330 is slightly cheaper than the 360. The main difference is that the 330 has a standard mono output while the 360 has a stereo output that allows you to assign the signal from the different pickups to separate amplifiers. The other features are practically identical: maple body, rosewood fretboard, hi-gain pickups, 24-fret neck. In terms of acoustics, the Rickenbacker is everything your ears have ever dreamed of: lots of sustain and the archetypal jangle with a balanced tonal range.
The neck has a slim profile and is particularly suited to playing chords with great comfort. With the three-way-selector you can switch between neck and bridge pickup and a combination of the two. There is a fifth tone pot for the (lead)volume of the neck pickup, which can also serve as a bass/treble equalization control. The Schaller tuners are located differently on the headstock, so you can quickly and easily see which string you’re playing. A clever design that works great in practice. A six-way adjustable bridge with saddles for each string and the iconic ‘R’ tail-piece for easy re-stringing complete the design.
I’ve got a few terrific guitars since 1990 and this one is the one I’ve never been able to catch. It is everything I imagined it would be.John Q From New Jersey
- Iconic appearance
- Great tones with excellent switching options
- Mono/stereo outputs
- Unique Rickenbacker trapeze tailpiece
- Neck is a bit stubby on the 330
- Price indication: $ 800-900
- Body: Maple laminated with trestle block
- Neck: Maple, Classic C
- Fretboard: Laurel, 22 Medium jumbo frets
- Pickups: 2x FT-5E FilterTron humbuckers
- Controls: 2x Volume control, Master Volume, Master Tone
- Hardware: Gold plated hardware (see other)
- Other: Pearloid Hump Block fingerboard inlays, Graph Tech NuBone nut, Gold Plexi pickguard with black Gretsch and Electromatic logo, Adjusto-Matic bridge with secured Laurel base, Bigsby B60 tremolo, Open vintage style tuners
This guitar is truly fantastic to look at and without a doubt the most beautiful guitar in our list of the best 12-string electric guitars. Its gold hardware and pickguard complement its natural finish and fully bound body. And the gold “G”-cutout tailpiece is very luxurious.
The arched thinline hollow body provides enough volume for living room practice without an amp. The blacktop Filter’Tron pickups deliver chime and jangle without sacrificing punch or warmth. The hollow construction helps with this. The string spacing is well-judged for strumming and arpeggiating. Bass sounds firm, trebles are bright but not strident, and string-to-string balancing needs no compression. The 5422G-12’s neck, bridge, and tuners are sturdy: once you have tuned it, it will stay in tune and with good intonation.
Like most 12-strings, it can be neck-heavy, but Gretsch’s strap buttons keep it well balanced. With a comfortable strap, your back will be more than happy. Gretsch’s solution to the strap lock question is to use threaded inserts so the “buttons” screw down over the strap, keeping it secure.
The neck is a compromise between a traditional acoustic 12-string and an electric guitar. It is easy to play, but if your fingers are a bit chubby, you’ll have to get used to it. Flat-picking on this model is a joy; speedy runs and arpeggios require little thought or practice.
It’s easy to set up the neck and bridge pickup volumes with individual volume controls, a master volume knob, and a master tone control. This makes it easier to settle on distinct lead and rhythm sounds without having to touch a volume knob when swapping pickups or adjusting the overall level. You can dial in blended tones if you want a smoother lead or chimier rhythm.
Some players may conceive of a 12-string as a one-trick pony, but this guitar is great for many styles: jazz, blues, rock, and pop. The guitar does it all from clean to overdriven sounds!
First the guitar is beautiful! What a looker! 2nd, the playability is astounding! I play barre chords on the 12th fret, no problem! I play lead jazz riffs, no problem! Great action. The pickups? Just wow! That Gretsch sound everyone talks about is in this 12 string. I’m very impressed. The pups are keepers for sure. Everything about this guitar shouts awesome – build, action, sound, tone, playability, everything. If you’re looking for a great 12 that won’t break the bank, this is the one!Mo Cee in Pasadena, CA
- Even tone with good sustain
- Flawless intonation across all strings
- Full body; enhanced presence; classic chime
- Limited finish options
- Headstock is a bit heavy (uses a die-cast tuner)
Best Value-For-Money 12-string Electric Guitar
- Price indication: $ 450-550
- Body: Basswood
- Neck: Nyatoh, 628 mm (24.72″), 1st fret: 21 mm / 12th fret: 24 mm
- Fretboard: Walnut, 22 Medium frets
- Pickups: 2 Classic Elite humbuckers
- Controls: 2 Volume controls and 2 tone controls, 3-Way switch
- Hardware: Chrome hardware
- Other: ART-12 bridge with ART-12 tailpiece, Ibanez machine heads, case not included
The 12-string AS7312 is based on the AS73 guitar. This series has rocker-friendly semi-hollow jazz guitars. These axes have compact bodies to let solid-guitar players switch. The fact that the guitar is semi-acoustic adds to its appeal, since it allows users to play without the use of an amplifier.
AS7312’s maple body is double-cut. Carved, creme-bound top. It has bound “f” holes on each side of the bridge. This model only comes in gloss Sweet Transparent Cherry. Ibanez inserts an ART-1 bridge with stoptail bar on top. Bridge and hardware are chrome-plated. Active, versatile ACH humbuckers.
The Ibanez Artcore AS7312 has a comfortable neck and bonded rosewood fretwork that allows players easy access to all frets. Mahogany neck with Artcore contour. Rosewood fingerboard with 22 medium-sized frets and dot inlays. The guitar’s fret size is medium, making frets and bar chords more accessible to individuals with less experience. Other features such as individual volume and tone controls, as well as a 3-way pickup selector, ensure that the Ibanez Artcore AS7312 can suit the sound needs of a wide range of guitarists.
Would you like to add a semi-acoustic 12-string to your collection and do you prefer an affordable one? Then this AS7312 Artcore by Ibanez offers you a very fine price-quality ratio.
Been playing guitar for 45 years and have owned many higher priced electric guitars. This guitar was arrived in perfect shape and required very little set up (a slight adjustment to intonation settings). It plays and sounds great. Very pleased with the purchase. If you are looking for an inexpensive 12 string that has outstanding value, look no further than this guitar.S W in Shelton, CT
- Beautiful looks: the cherry finish is an eye-catcher
- Affordable, well worth the money
- Lots of playing comfort
- Very good pickups
- Sounds great with effects or clean
- Saddle width is relatively small for a 12-string
- Hard to find a suitable case (the ASB 100C Case / ASB 180 Bass by Ibanez is a workable fit)
- Real pearl dots would be nice instead of the acyrlic
- Price indication: $ 650-950
- Body: Maple
- Neck: Canadian Hard Maple, Scale Length: 24,75″ / 628 mm
- Fretboard: Resinator Fretboard
- Pickups: 2 x Hagstrom HJ-50
- Controls: 3-Way Toggle 3-Way Toggle Switch, 2 x Volume 2 x Tone
- Hardware: see below
- Other: Pearl Block Position Marks, Tuning Keys: Hagstrom 18:1 Die Cast, Bridge: Long Travel Tune-O-Matic w/ Hagstrom Stop Tail, Trussrod: H-Expander
I love the look of the Hagström guitar line. Hagström is a Swedish brand that produced all of its guitars until the early 1980s in Lvdalen, central Sweden. This guitar is a great choice considering the great tone, playability and the overall value for money. The Viking Deluxe looks really deluxe too: beautiful dark wood that transitions to a lighter tone, solid knobs, a comfortable neck profile with the two HJ-50 humbuckers made specifically for the 12-string.
The fingerboard is composed of resonator, a composite material. Hagstrom created this composite which is made up of various discarded wood pieces a well as non-wood components. It’s a fantastic fingerboard with an excellent surface. It has an Ebony-like feel and sound to it. It’s clean, punchy, and smooth-sounding, and Hagström deserves credit for their environmental efforts, as it helps to preserve the world’s valuable wood supply.
As with all of the Hagstrom guitars I’ve played so far, this feels and sounds fantastic. The neck is made of Maple and is reinforced with Hagstrom’s unique H-Expander TrussRod, which is a very small, very thin TrussRod that allows Hagstrom to keep the Viking’s neck profile compact whiled still ensuring that the neck can withstand the incredible pull and resistance of the twelve strings. If you can rationalize adding a twelve string electric guitar to your collection this one is a great choice. It has a funky retro aesthetic that looks amazing on stage and gives your chord sequences and riffs a whole new perspective. Also with a distortion pedal, this guitar sounds fantastic.
Pickups are clear voiced but fairly hot, and the Resonator fretboard feels great and works with the overall timbre of a maple bodied guitar. The most playable and comfortable neck I have EVER put in my hand for a 12-string; a profile similar to an early 60’s Gibson or modern ESP being “thin”, but with a 15″ radius and a 45mm black Tusq nut. Perfect for chording and rhythm, but enough room between string pairs for either finger or flatpicking with precision. Get It!
- Great retro look
- Fantastic amplified sound
- Comfortable neck
- Quality of the knobs could be higher
- Price indication: $ 1000-1300
- Body: Arched Mahogany
- Neck: Mahogany with a Maple Center Strip, 24 3/4″ (629mm)
- Fretboard: Ebony, 22 frets, Pearloid Dots.
- Pickups: Guild LB-1
- Controls: Neck Volume & Tone, Bridge Volume & Tone, 3-way Toggle Pickup Switch
- Hardware: Nickel Plated
- Other: Guild Tune-O-Matic, Stopbar Tailpiece – Nickel, Guild Die-Cast Tuning Machines, Cloud-Gear, Vintage Style Strap Buttons, Black Pickguard with Guild Logo, Case Included.
The Guild Starfire’s double-bound f-hole-guitar is made of laminated wood. Like a Gibson ES-335, it sports a double-cutaway chassis with a wooden center block. The Starfire IV is a 335 with double the strings.
The set mahogany neck has a Gibson-style 24.75-inch scale. The 240mm (9.5-inch) radius fingerboard is either Indian rosewood or ebony, depending on the manufacture period. The Starfire has cream neck binding and pearloid dot inlays.
The guitar’s bridge and tailpiece are anchored and tune-o-matic. Twelve 18:1 sealed tuners are nickel-plated to match the other metal parts. That includes the Guild LB-1 ‘Little Bucker’ pickup covers. The wire loom has two volumes, two tones, and a three-way pickup selector.
The Starfire IV ST-12 looks great. Maple strip along the neck adds quality. The Art Deco-style stepped pickguard and reflector control knobs are stunning.
Guild’s ST-12 boasts a small neck profile and easy-to-manipulate D’Addario EXL150 Nickel Wound Super Light strings. The factory-set action is pleasant and allows the strings to ring out. I expected finger/wrist fatigue. I’m OK hours later.
The LB-1 ‘Little Bucker’ pickups are modeled on 1960s versions and are tuned between a single coil and PAF-style humbucker. On clean, the bridge unit sounds old-school. Overdrive fattens the tone. Palm muting reduces the 12-string drone and gives you a powerful rhythm sound.
This guitar can play wide open chords and jazz progressions. This guitar plays blues. Robert Lockwood Jr. was Guild Starfire XII’s finest exponent. He played 12-string licks. Bend ST-12’s strings. Yes, even simultaneously. This guitar has more string space than a classic Ricky. This new Guild guitar has a 43mm nut. Rickenbacker 360/12 nuts measure 41.4mm. Ricky’s neck and string spacing too narrow? ST-12 has greater wiggle room.
This Guild Starfire IV ST-12 is a great choice for a semi-hollow guitar without spending $3K to $6K. If the player adapts, it’s a versatile guitar. It’s gorgeous, fun to play, and weighs 3.6kg (8lb). It’s cheaper than a Rickenbacker and fancier than a Danelectro ’59X 12.
- Seriously good looking
- The pickups have a wonderful timbre.
- Versatile guitar for different styles
- Tone pots are either on or off and lack range.
- Buttons for the volume and tone look feel a bit cheap.
- Price indication: $ 850-1050
- Body: Chambered alder
- Neck: maple, C-profile, 622 mm
- Fretboard: Pau Ferro, 22 frets.
- Pickups: Larget Housing Single Coil and Dual Humbucking Lipstick
- Controls: 2 stacked volume and tone pots, 3-way pickup switch
- Hardware: see below.
- Other: Double-acting truss rod, 12 adjustable tailpieces, “6 on a side” Gotoh headmachine tuners,
This guitar’s bridge/tailpiece includes six saddles with intonation adjustment. It has classic Kluson-style machineheads and UFO volume and tone knobs. It also has a F-hole binding, Danelectro pickups, it’s all in vintage style. Furthermore: A 1966’s bolt-on maple neck with 22 medium frets. The ’66’s alder body is semi-solid.
A fat single-coil at the neck pickup. Like the bridge unit, it has a master volume, master tone, and three-way pickup selection. The ’66 features a C-shaped neck. The retro zero fret regulates string height well. This guitar is well-organized. 😀
The semi-hollow alder body, 25″ scale, and lipstick bridge pickup create a Rickenbacker-like jangle. The neck pickup sounds like a P-90 and is perfect for jazz and blues, demonstrating the guitar’s versatility. I like the ’66’s clarity.
It’s well-made, flexible, and easy to play. I appreciate the semi-hollow construction’s bright and vibrant resonance, and the hardtail makes the guitar exciting to pound with your right hand.
- Quality construction
- Great playability
- Very usable tones
- Relatively heavy price tag, case not included
- The tone’s coil-split switch is hard to operate
Best Budget Vintage 12-string Electric Guitar
- Price indication: $ 400-600
- Body: Poplar and Masonite
- Neck: Maple, 635 mm
- Fretboard: Pau Ferro, 21 frets
- Pickups: 2 Lipstick single coil pickups
- Hardware: Pro hardware
- Other: Fixed bridge with individually adjustable saddles, case not included.
An affordable 12-string electric guitar with beautiful aesthetics and vintage tones.
The guitar body has a Masonite-covered laminated pine frame and a maple neck with a Pau Ferro fretboard. The hollow body is resonant, and this model has a typical f-hole. The 12-string boasts a comfortable neck and low, in-tune movement. Fully adjustable chrome bridge rests securely on body.
Two Alnico lipstick pickups, master tone and volume controls, and a three-way toggle selector. The bridge pickup gives a 60s 12-string tone. It’s a bright sound, yet it matches the vast tone palette, and you still hear mid and bass. The tone control lets you roll off the top end to create a flatter, back-in-the-mix sound with lots of presence. The twin-pickups are wired in series, so instead of hum-bucking phase cancellation we get a rich, rounded sound with a hi-fi flavor.
The neck pickup is deeper and more acoustic-sounding. A little roughness is occasionally essential if you’re trying to replicate The Beatles or The Byrds, as this represents the era’s amplification. Compression and spring reverb also help.
First 12 electric strings for me. Very pleasant handle, the tuning is very good. Versatile sounds. And the most: it is beautiful and light!
- Delivers both vintages and contemporary tones
- Great guitar for singer/songwriters
- Excellent price-quality ratio
- Typical sound character of this guitar might limit its use.
- Not everyone will like the ‘in series’ middle-position tone
- Price indication: $ 1000
- Body: Maple
- Neck: Thin C, 629 mm (24.75″)
- Fretboard: Ebony, 22 medium jumbo frets
- Pickups: 2 Schecter Diamond Tubebuckers
- Controls: 2 volume controls, 2 tone controls with push-pull function, 3-way toggle switch
- Hardware: Gold plated hardware
- Other: Mother of Pearl Mission UK design fingerboard inlays, Diamond Adjustable-12 bridge, Grover tuners.
Wayne Hussey has almost 30 years of experience with The Sisters of Mercy and The Mission. Wayne Hussey is a 12-string guitar expert. This guitar is high-quality. Maple body, ebony fretboard, set-neck construction give it natural tones. The Schecter Diamond Tubebucker sounds great. Beautiful Ivory guitar with gold hardware and Mission UK inlay.
The 2016 semi-hollow guitar has a short 24-3/4″ scale, semi-hollow construction, and gold-plated hardware.This 12-string’s body and C-shaped neck are constructed of maple. The neck has a 22-fret ebony fingerboard with unique inlays.
Schecter’s Diamond Tubebucker pickups include separate volume and tone controls. Push/pull switches on tone pots divide coils. Features include a Diamond Adjustable 12 bridge and Grover tuners.
An excellent guitar, set up and ready to play! It has a great sound, very versatile, low action and just feels right. It’s beautiful to look at, quite heavy so needs a good broad strap.
- Stunning looks: gold hardware, custom inlays etc.
- Superior thin neck design
- Great sounds, sounds great
- Excellent hardware
- Can’t think of any
Best Tiny Budget 12-string Electric Guitar
- Price indication: $ 200-300
- Body: Sapele
- Neck: Maple, C-profile, 628 mm.
- Fretboard: Roseacer, 22 frets.
- Pickups: 2 Artec Classic Mini humbuckers
- Controls: 2 Volume knobs and 2 tone knobs, 3-Way toggle switch
- Hardware: Chrome hardware
- Other: Tune-O-Matic bridge, Casino tailpiece, Die-cast machine heads.
This model offers great value. The sound is clear, crunchy, and full-bodied. The instrument’s neck is comfy, and it’s light and easy to play. This guitar looks suspiciously like a Rickenbacker.
Some guitarists say the guitar wasn’t playable out of the box (out of tune when trying to get to the octave, strings attached to high from the fingerboard, bad pull of the strings). You must be willing to adjust the guitar or take it to a luthier. A guitar builder’s setting fixes everything.
Get this Harley Benton if you want a good 12 string electric guitar for a few hundred dollars. Bring it to a guitar builder for excellent setup.
It is not a Rickenbacker and is one tenth the price of an equivalent and it would be unrealistic to think that it compares directly. However, what you get is a very acceptable compromise against the Rickenbacker.
If you are in the market for a budget 12 string electric with much more than budget construct and sound, then this is your Jingle jangle man.
- High value for money
- Great looks
- Nice sounds
- Will probably need some adjustments. But at this price, you can easily pay a luthier.
Best Double Neck 12-string Electric Guitar
- Price indication: $
- Body: Mahogany
- Neck: Mahogany, double neck model – 6 + 12-string
- Fretboard: Rosewood, 20 Frets
- Pickups: 2x Custombucker Alnico II pickups
- Controls: 2 Volume controls and 2 tone controls, 3-Way pickup switch, 3-Way neck selector switch (6-string / 12-string)
- Hardware: ABR-1 bridge with 1275 tailpiece
- Other: Case included
Just for fun we end this list ending with the priceless double neck Gibson guitar. It’s the 2019 Slash EDS (Electric Double Neck Solid body) 1275 signature. Jimmy Page became famous with his red-and-black double-neck. Gibson, Slash decided to release his model in all-black. He needed a double-neck guitar for the song Knockin on Heaven’s door.
The guitar has a mahogany body, maple necks, rosewood fingerboards, Vintage Gibson tuners, a 3-way selector, and a tune-o-matic bridge. Gibson PAF humbuckers are used. Gibson Custom Shop in Tennessee makes the EDS-1275s.
Holding this guitar makes you feel like a rock star. It stimulates new ways to play. You may feel the guitar’s vibrations throughout your body. It weighs 11-12 pounds, despite appearances (some Les Pauls weigh more than that). It has big, strong necks. The guitar is neck heavy, but you’ll get used to it if you play correctly (rock star pose).
Below the neck selector switch are volume and tone knobs. A toggle switch for picking combinations. They even aged pickup screws to fit the guitar’s finish.
The guitar is great for rock. Neck pickup creates a strong sound. Beautiful sound, with or without driving or effects. This Gibson was constructed to last and can withstand live performance. It’s a perfectly setup guitar.
- Looks great and sounds even better.
- Follow the footsteps of the legends 😀
12 String Electric Guitars: Buying Guide
It is helpful to know a few things if you are used to a 6-string guitar and are switching to 12-string electric guitar. The basic feel of guitar playing is the same (picking, fretting, strumming), but in terms of playing technique there are some important differences.
A 12-string guitar can be slightly more difficult to play. Since you are always pressing two strings at once, you have to apply a little more pressure to the frets to play the strings. Also make sure that the spacing between the string pairings is consistent at the nut and the bridge. Soloing is a bit more difficult on a 12-string guitar: this type of guitar is mainly designed as a guidance instrument and to add more texture. But don’t be put off: soloing is certainly possible and gives a unique effect.
To handle the 12 strings, these guitars are built slightly differently: The headstocks are a bit longer, the necks a bit wider and the fretboards are a bit flatter. You should look for the most comfortable neck that suits your hand. Also experiment with softer strings: they can vastly improve your playing experience.
The most common tuning of strings is an octave difference between the lowest four strings (E, A, D, G) with the highest strings (B and E) tuned in unison. The micro differences in the tuning of the strings create the natural chorus effect for which 12-string guitars are known.