The 12 string guitar is a beast to master but the tonal qualities can be wonderful.
It’s definitely not something suited to a beginner – master 6 as best you can as the jump to 12 can be difficult without a lot of experience (plus hand strength & dexterity!). To whet your appetite, listen to some of these 12 string guitar classics:-
- Pink Floyd – Wish You Were Here
- The Who – Substitute
- Rod Stewart – Maggie May
- The Eagles – Hotel California
- The Beatles – A Hard Day’s Night
- Bon Jovi – Wanted Dead or Alive
- Boston – More Than a Feeling
- Supertramp – Give a Little Bit
- …and Stairway, of course.
12 String Guitar Comparison Table
We’ve chosen and reviewed our favorite 12 String Acoustic-Electric Guitars – there should be something for everyone here based on skill level and budget. Hopefully this will help you with the difficult decision ahead. And if you need amplification for your 12 string guitar then check out our favorite Practice Amps.
Fender Classic Design Series CD-140SCE
The Fender CD-140SCE 12 String Guitar is from the Classic Design Series which mixes time-honored body configuration with newer features that guitarists have come to expect.
It shares a number of common features to its more budget friendly cousin the Fender CD-60SCE 12 String Guitar, but has a number of improvements, including upgraded electronics in the form of the Fishman® CD Presys Preamp & Tuner (with Volume, Bass, Treble, Integrated Electronic Tuner with On/Off Switch, Low Battery Indicator Light).
The solid spruce top gives it a modern stylish look, complimented by the Fender® ‘Easy-to-Play’ neck shape with rolled fretboard edges. The back and sides are ovangkol (a type of rosewood) giving it a warm rich tone.
A full sounding tone can be heard across the range, strumming produces a fresh warmth. A sweet-sounding instrument for sure.
The cut away design will appeal to many making the upper frets easily accessible.
Protecting your 12 string guitar is so important – fortunately the Fender CD-140SCE comes complete with a sturdy hard-shell case to keep it safe from life on the road.
It’s fair to say we’re impressed by this classic, a quality product at a reasonable price – definitely a good option for the advanced beginner or intermediate player.
- Integrated Electronic Tuner
- Solid spruce top
- Includes hard-shell case
- Comfortable to play
- At this price, can’t think of any!
- Single-cutaway 12-string dreadnought body style
- Solid spruce top with scalloped "X"-bracing
- Ovangkol back and sides
Yamaha L-Series LL16
The Yamaha LL16 12 string guitar sits in Yamaha’s L Series traditional range. All instruments in the L Series have a number of common features, one in particular is the wood reforming technology employed by Yamaha known as A.R.E. (Acoustic Resonance Enhancement). During this process temperature, humidity & atmospheric pressure are meticulously regulated, altering the properties of the wood reproducing a tone and resonance you would expect from an aged instrument.
The jumbo-sized body is ideal for those looking for that big open sound. The rich tone is thanks in part to the solid rosewood back and sides and the solid engelmann spruce top. The neck is 5-ply mahogany and rosewood – designed with comfort and playability in mind. The craftsmanship at this price is unbeatable.
Yamaha have kept the electronics on the LL16 simple, choosing to use their SRT Zero Impact Pickups – another component that their L Series shares across the range. This is a passive system designed to reduce the pickup’s impact on the tone and traditional look of the guitar. Individual piezoelectric elements are used for each string. It’s worth noting that the system does not include controls or a preamp on the guitar, you’ll need to plug into an external preamp via the output jack.
This is a big beautiful well-crafted 12 string guitar – bang for buck it’s hard to beat.
- Acoustic Resonance Enhancement
- Quality materials
- Tone & sustain
- Value for money
- You’ll need a preamp
- Might need some initial setup
- 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
The Takamine G Series aims to deliver the quality expected from Takamine at an “accessible price“. Made in China, as the G Series is, shouldn’t always conjure up negative connotations.
The Takamine GJ72CE-12BSB 12 string guitar, from the “70 Series”, sits one from the top in the G Series range (the others being Classical, 10, 15, 20, 30, 50, 70 & 90).
It is a BIG jumbo cutaway body, finished in a gorgeous Sunburst (natural is also available – but not my cup of tea!) – really stands out on stage, beautiful to hold.
The sound is clear and pronounced, playability is very satisfying, helped by its slim mahogany neck.
Takamine have added upgraded electronics to the 70 Series. The generous TK-40D system includes: –
- Three-band equalizer
- Gain controls
- Notch filter
- Mid contour switch
- EQ bypass
Targeted at the advanced beginner/intermediate (or better) the Takamine GJ72CE-12BSB is a well-made beautiful looking instrument that sounds great unplugged or amplified. The upgraded electronics provide plenty of control. It won’t disappoint.
- Comprehensive electronics
- Stylish looks
- Sounds great out of the box
- It’s a BIG instrument that may not be suited to everyone
- Solid spruce top and flame maple back and sides
- Produces all the lush, robust sound that players expect from a jumbo 12-string guitar
- Slim mahogany neck and 12"-radius bound rosewood fingerboard provide great feel and playability
Taylor 100 Series 150e
A Taylor for “sensible” money, really? The 100 Series is aimed at those typically put off by the significant investment usually required to own an instrument by one of the world’s leading builders of exceptional acoustics. This Mexican crafted 150e comes in the classic dreadnought style.
Taylor have not skimped on the quality of materials used on this 12 string guitar. The soundboard comes courtesy of Sitka Spruce, known for its strength and elasticity, sourced from the coastal rainforests of Alaska and Canada. Whilst the back and sides are layered walnut – an affordable reliable material. It feels balanced and light to hold.
It comes complete with a rather nice Taylor branded gig bag – although personally I’d invest in a hard-shell or flight case given the value of the instrument.
The electronics come in the form of the Taylor Expression System® 2. This has their patented “behind-the-saddle pickup” featuring 3 individually calibrated sensors. It also includes a professional “audio-grade” preamp. The ES2 electronics are powered from a 9-volt battery and controlled with three well placed knobs (volume, treble & bass). And should you need it, a phase switch can be accessed through the sound hole of the guitar just on the side of the circuit board.
This is not a cheap product by any stretch of the imagination – it’s a professional instrument with remarkable build quality – one for the intermediate/advanced player. So, the answer is a resounding YES – this is s guitar worthy of the Taylor name at sensible money.
- Choice of materials
- Suited to both live and recording artists
- Taylor Expression System® 2
- Needs little to no adjustments out of the box
- It’s not cheap – but still fantastic value
- Body Body type: Taylor Dreadnought Cutaway: No Top wood: Solid Sitka Spruce Back & sides: Layered Walnut...
- Taylor's 100 Series makes a great guitar-playing experience accessible to everyone with these real wood...
- These models have layered walnut backs and sides, as well as new architecture for even more volume and...
The Ibanez AEG1812II is part of the AEG Series of guitars. The instruments in this series share a number of common cosmetic and electronic features such as the cut-away mahogany body and spruce top giving them a pleasant balanced tone. They also include the Fishman® Sonicore pickups, Ibanez preamp & tuner.
The AEG1812II 12 string guitar comes in three finishes – Dark Violin Sunburst High Gloss (pictured here), Natural High Gloss and Black High Gloss. Another nice touch that stands out is the purpleheart bridge.
If you’re more comfortable with the size of an electric you’ll appreciate the thinner body and shorter scale length (25 inches) and that deep cutaway letting you get to those the upper frets with ease.
The featured Fishman® Sonicore pickup has separate treble and bass controls. Dual balanced outputs are delivered by XLR and a 1/4″ jack ensuring reliable low noise connections. The AEQ-SP2 preamp lets you dial in your DI tone. Another benefit is the onboard LED chromatic tuner.
One final feature the AEG series shares is the Ibanez Advantage™ bridge pins. Designed to make it easier to take out and put in than standard pins, they have a special bulb-shaped end making it easier to hold and stop it from being inserted too far.
Of the 12 string guitars we’ve reviewed here, this one is definitely targeted at the beginner/intermediate guitarist, and will be of additional interest to those looking for a slimmer body. Great value, good looking option.
- Capable electronics with onboard tuner
- XLR and 1/4″ jack outputs
- Might need a little adjustment
- AEG body Spruce top Mahogany back and sides Abalone rosette Ivory body binding Chrome die-cast tuners Fishman...
- The AEG Series is a stage-ready acoustic-electric guitar designed specifically with the electric player in...
- With a thinner body and shorter 25” scale length, the AEG is designed to put the electric guitarist at ease...
Sawtooth Mahogany Series
It will be no surprise to learn that the neck, top, back and sides of the Sawtooth Mahogany Series 12-string are constructed using, wait for it… mahogany. The bridge, however, is not mahogany but made using ovangkol wood.
A left-hand version is also available. And if this seems like mahogany overkill, there is always the Sawtooth Maple Series 12 String Guitar.
Manufactured in China it comes in the tradition dreadnought shape – a favorite of many. It has a good balance of volume and size. Being constructed from mahogany we found it had a prominent and warm sustain. The positive fretboard action is another notable feature.
The electronics of the Sawtooth Mahogany Series are provided by the reliable Fishman Presys II Preamp/Tuner featuring unobtrusive knobs for volume, bass, treble and phase controls and a pre-wired Fishman® Sonicore pickup. Also onboard is a tuner and low battery indicator.
Sawtooth might not be your go-to manufacturer – but we found that combination mahogany, build quality and fretboard action to leave us with a really positive experience. I’d suggest its one to consider for the beginner or intermediate. You’ll not be disappointed.
- Decent electronics, including phase control
- Great out of the box
- For some the brand name may lack the prestige or cachet of some of its peers (please don’t let that put you off).
- Solid Mahogany Top, Mahogany Neck, Sides, & Back
- Ovangkol Bridge and Fingerboard, Custom Sawtooth Inlays
- 25.5" Scale Length, 1-7/8" Nut Width, Tortoise Pickguard
Last update on 2020-10-29 / Source: Amazon