What Are the Best Brands of Twelve-String Guitars?

Quick Answer: Top twelve-string guitar brands include Rickenbacker, Taylor, Martin, Yamaha, Fender, Gretsch, Squier, D’Angelico, and Guild, known for quality and sound.

Key Takeaways:

  • Rickenbacker, Taylor, and Martin are top brands for twelve-string guitars, each offering unique qualities such as Rickenbacker’s bright sound, Taylor’s playability, and Martin’s resonance and craftsmanship.
  • Factors like wood type, body style, and string gauge significantly influence the sound and playability of twelve-string guitars, with options varying from rich, full tones to bright, jangly sounds suitable for different music genres.
  • Proper maintenance, including regular cleaning, string changes, and attention to humidity and temperature, is crucial for preserving the quality and longevity of a twelve-string guitar.

Discovering the Best Twelve-String Guitar Brands

When you’re on the hunt for a twelve-string guitar, the brand you choose can make all the difference. The best brands stand out for their craftsmanship, tonal quality, and innovation. Let’s dive into the world of renowned twelve-string guitar makers and uncover what makes them the go-to choices for both budding and seasoned guitarists.

Rickenbacker is a name that resonates with history and prestige. Known for their bright, jangly sound, Rickenbacker twelve-strings have been a staple in the music of iconic bands like The Beatles and The Byrds. Their use of high-quality maple and their unique “R” tailpiece are just a few features that make these guitars a favorite.

Taylor Guitars is another brand that has earned a spot at the top. They are celebrated for their playability and rich, full tones. Taylor’s use of patented neck designs and innovative electronics make their twelve-strings a modern marvel in the guitar world.

Martin Guitars brings a legacy of over 180 years to the table. Their twelve-string models are revered for their exceptional resonance and depth, thanks to the use of fine woods like Sitka spruce and East Indian rosewood. Martin’s attention to detail and traditional handcrafting techniques have set a standard in the industry.

Moving on, Yamaha might be known for a wide range of musical instruments, but their twelve-string guitars offer remarkable quality at an accessible price point. They are a great choice for those who are just starting out but still want a reliable instrument.

Fender is synonymous with rock and roll, and their twelve-string models are no exception. With a solid build and versatile sound, Fender twelve-strings can handle everything from aggressive strumming to delicate fingerpicking.

For those who love the vintage vibe, Gretsch Guitars delivers with their distinct retro look and sound. Their use of unique body shapes and eye-catching finishes make Gretsch a brand that stands out on stage.

Squier by Fender offers the Fender experience at a more affordable price. While they are the budget-friendly arm of Fender, Squier twelve-strings still pack a punch with their sound and durability.

D’Angelico may be less known to some, but their art deco designs and exceptional craftsmanship have caught the attention of guitar enthusiasts. Their twelve-strings are a blend of classic aesthetics and contemporary playability.

Lastly, Guild Guitars has a reputation for robust, rich-sounding twelve-strings that many players swear by. Their use of high-quality materials and refined building techniques contribute to the powerful and nuanced sound of their guitars.

Each of these brands has something unique to offer. Whether it’s the handcrafted excellence of Martin, the innovative design of Taylor, or the historic sound of Rickenbacker, these brands have earned their stripes in the music industry. They are not just manufacturers; they are the creators of the tools that have defined generations of music.

As you consider which brand might be right for you, think about the music you want to play. Do you dream of the Beatles’ “A Hard Day’s Night” riff or Led Zeppelin’s “Stairway to Heaven” solo? Maybe the rich, full sound of a Taylor is more your style, or the affordability and reliability of a Yamaha fits your needs. Whatever your preference, these brands have proven time and again that they can deliver the quality and sound that twelve-string guitarists crave.

Remember, the best brand is the one that resonates with you, both in sound and feel. So, take your time, do your research, and find the twelve-string guitar that will help you make your musical mark.

How to Choose Your Ideal Twelve-String Guitar

Selecting the perfect twelve-string guitar is a journey that’s as exciting as it is nuanced. Whether you’re a seasoned musician or a newcomer, understanding the key differences between models is crucial. Let’s explore what to look for to find a guitar that feels like it was made just for you.

Firstly, consider the distinction between acoustic and electric twelve-string guitars. Acoustic models are beloved for their rich, full sound that’s perfect for rhythm players and solo acoustic performances. They’re often heard in folk, country, and rock music. Electric twelve-strings, on the other hand, offer a brighter, more jangly tone that cuts through the mix and is a staple in rock and pop genres.

The type of wood used in the guitar, known as tonewoods, plays a significant role in shaping its sound. Spruce tops are common for their clarity and dynamic range, while mahogany provides a warmer tone. Rosewood, with its rich overtones, is often used for the back and sides of higher-end models. The choice of wood affects not only the resonance and tone but also the guitar’s aesthetic and price.

Body styles also have a big impact on your playing experience:

  • Jumbo bodies are large and in charge, offering powerful volume and deep bass response.
  • Dreadnought guitars are a versatile choice, known for their balance of low and high frequencies.
  • Auditorium styles are more mid-sized, providing a comfortable fit and a sound that’s well-suited for both strumming and fingerpicking.

When it comes to playability, the neck width and scale length are key factors, especially if you’re transitioning from a six-string guitar. A wider neck can provide more room for finger placement, which is helpful for complex chord shapes. However, it may also be more challenging for smaller hands. Scale length influences the tension of the strings; a longer scale results in a brighter tone and firmer feel, while a shorter scale is easier to play but may have less sustain.

Finally, your budget will guide you toward the best options within your price range. Entry-level twelve-strings can be quite affordable, but as the price increases, so does the quality of materials and craftsmanship. Here’s what you can expect at different price points:

  • Under $500: Durable, laminate woods and simpler designs. Great for beginners or as a backup guitar.
  • $500 – $1,000: Solid tops with improved tonewoods and better resonance. Ideal for serious hobbyists.
  • Above $1,000: Premium woods, intricate craftsmanship, and superior sound. Aimed at professional musicians.

Remember, the best twelve-string guitar for you is one that not only fits your budget but also feels right in your hands and sounds great to your ears. Take the time to play several models, listen to how they resonate, and pay attention to how they feel. With these tips in mind, you’re well on your way to finding a twelve-string guitar that will be a joy to play for years to come.

Mastering the Basics of Twelve-String Guitars

Playing a twelve-string guitar can be a thrilling musical adventure, offering a fuller and more harmonic sound than its six-string counterpart. To start on the right note, it’s crucial to grasp the basics of tuning, string selection, and playing techniques.

Tuning a twelve-string guitar is similar to tuning a six-string, but with a twist. Each pair of strings consists of a standard-tuned string and an octave string, except for the two lowest pairs, which are both tuned to the same note. Here’s a quick guide:

  • The E, A, D, and G pairs have the second string tuned an octave higher.
  • The B and high E pairs are tuned in unison.

The added tension from the extra strings means you’ll need to be careful not to over-tighten, as this can damage the guitar. A good electronic tuner is your best friend here, ensuring accuracy without the guesswork.

When it comes to string gauges, lighter strings can be easier for beginners to handle, offering less tension and a softer touch. However, heavier strings can provide a richer tone. Beginners might start with lighter gauges and work their way up as their fingers strengthen.

Chord shapes on a twelve-string guitar are the same as on a six-string, but they sound fuller and more resonant. Here are some tips for making the transition smoother:

  • Practice holding down two strings at once, which requires a bit more pressure.
  • Start with simple chords like G, C, and D to get used to the wider neck.

Fingerpicking patterns can create beautiful, intricate textures on a twelve-string. The key is to maintain a steady rhythm and let the natural resonance of the guitar shine through. Experiment with alternating thumb patterns and arpeggios to explore the instrument’s rich sound.

For those used to a six-string, hand positioning and strumming techniques will need some adjustment. The wider neck may require a slight change in thumb placement, and strumming might need a lighter touch to avoid a muddy sound.

Remember, the journey to mastering the twelve-string guitar is as rewarding as it is challenging. Take your time, be patient with yourself, and enjoy the lush, vibrant music you’ll create.

Maintenance and Care for Your Twelve-String Guitar

To keep your twelve-string guitar sounding its best, regular maintenance and care are essential. A well-maintained guitar not only plays better but can also last a lifetime. Here are some key practices to ensure your instrument remains in top condition.

Cleaning your guitar is fundamental. Dust and oils from your hands can build up over time, affecting the wood and strings. For the body and neck, use a soft, dry cloth to wipe away grime. For tougher spots, a slightly damp cloth followed by a dry one does the trick. Fretboards may require occasional cleaning with a specialized guitar cleaner and conditioner to keep the wood healthy.

When it comes to string changing, the frequency depends on how often you play. A good rule of thumb is to change them every 100 hours of play or every 3 months, whichever comes first. When changing strings:

  • Replace one string at a time to maintain tension on the neck.
  • Use a string winder to speed up the process.
  • Apply a small amount of lemon oil to the fretboard to keep it conditioned.

Humidity and temperature control are crucial for wood preservation. Extreme conditions can cause the wood to warp or crack. Aim to keep your guitar in an environment with:

  • Relative humidity between 45% and 55%.
  • Temperature around 70-75 degrees Fahrenheit (21-24 degrees Celsius).

Storage solutions such as hard cases or stands can protect your guitar when it’s not in use. A hard case is best for controlling humidity and preventing physical damage. A stand is convenient for daily access but doesn’t offer as much protection.

Lastly, a professional setup might be necessary if you’re experiencing issues with intonation or after changing string gauges. A professional can adjust the action, truss rod, and intonation to ensure your guitar plays correctly.

By following these maintenance tips, you’ll help your twelve-string guitar retain its beauty and sound quality, making every strum as enjoyable as the first.

Enhancing Your Twelve-String Guitar Experience

Playing a twelve-string guitar is a unique experience that can be enriched with the right accessories and knowledge. Whether you’re a beginner or a seasoned player, these tips will help you get the most out of your instrument.

Capos are a fantastic tool for twelve-string guitars. They allow you to change the key of the guitar easily, which can be especially useful for singing in different vocal ranges. A capo can also reduce the tension on the strings, making it easier to play for extended periods.

When it comes to picks, the thickness can greatly affect your sound. Thinner picks can provide a brighter tone, ideal for strumming, while thicker picks offer more control for lead lines and fingerpicking.

For those with an electric twelve-string guitar, amplification and effects open up a world of sonic possibilities. Consider these options:

  • Amplifiers that are known for their clean channels will complement the natural chime of a twelve-string.
  • Effects pedals like chorus or reverb can enhance the guitar’s natural resonance and depth.

Recording techniques are important to capture the fullness of your twelve-string’s sound. In a home studio or professional setting, using a combination of microphones can help. A large-diaphragm condenser mic can capture the lows and mids, while a small-diaphragm condenser can pick up the sparkling highs.

Exploring the works of iconic twelve-string guitar songs and notable players can also provide inspiration and new techniques to try. From the folk-rock strumming of Bob Dylan to the intricate fingerpicking of Leo Kottke, there’s a rich history to delve into.

Here are a few tips to enhance your playing:

  • Experiment with different playing styles to find what suits you best.
  • Listen to iconic songs to understand how the twelve-string can be used across genres.
  • Watch performances by notable players to pick up new techniques.

By exploring these aspects, you’ll not only improve your skills but also deepen your appreciation for the twelve-string guitar. With the right approach, your twelve-string can provide a lifetime of musical enjoyment.

Frequently Asked Questions

Question 1:

Can I use a twelve-string guitar if I have small hands?


Yes, you can play a twelve-string guitar with small hands; look for models with narrower necks and shorter scale lengths for comfort.

Question 2:

Are there specific brands that specialize in electric twelve-string guitars?


Rickenbacker is renowned for electric twelve-strings, but Fender and D’Angelico also offer quality electric models.

Question 3:

What should I expect to spend for a professional-quality twelve-string guitar?


Professional-quality twelve-strings typically start above $1,000, with prices increasing with craftsmanship and materials.

Question 4:

How do I know when it’s time to replace the strings on my twelve-string guitar?


Change strings every 100 hours of play or every 3 months, or sooner if you notice a decline in sound quality.

Question 5:

Can I use regular six-string guitar accessories with my twelve-string?


Many accessories are compatible, but ensure capos and picks are suitable for the twelve-string’s wider neck and string spacing.