What Are the Best Twelve-String Guitar Songs to Learn?

Quick Answer: “Mr. Tambourine Man,” “A Horse with No Name,” “Ticket to Ride,” and “Look Through Any Window” are great beginner twelve-string guitar songs.

Key Takeaways:

  • “Mr. Tambourine Man” by The Byrds, “A Horse with No Name” by America, and “Ticket to Ride” by The Beatles are ideal beginner twelve-string guitar songs, offering simple chord progressions and strumming patterns that help players get accustomed to the instrument’s unique sound and wider neck.
  • Intermediate players can challenge their skills with songs like “Over the Hills and Far Away” by Led Zeppelin and “Wish You Were Here” by Pink Floyd, which introduce techniques such as hammer-ons, pull-offs, and combining picking with strumming, enhancing finger dexterity and timing.
  • Advanced twelve-string guitarists can aim to master iconic songs like “Hotel California” by The Eagles and “Stairway to Heaven” by Led Zeppelin, which require intricate solos, complex chord changes, syncopation, and fast-tempo picking, pushing the limits of their musicianship.

Table of Contents

Top Twelve-String Guitar Songs for Beginners

Diving into the world of twelve-string guitars can be an exhilarating experience for any beginner. The rich, full sound that emanates from the double courses of strings can make even the simplest songs resonate with an almost magical quality. To start your journey, it’s essential to choose songs with simple chord progressions and strumming patterns that allow you to get comfortable with the instrument. These tracks not only highlight the unique sound qualities of the twelve-string guitar but also serve as a solid foundation for your playing skills.

When learning these songs, focus on the basics: getting your fingers used to the wider neck, mastering smooth chord transitions, and keeping a steady rhythm. Listen closely to each song to pick up on the distinctive twelve-string sound, which can help guide your strumming and picking techniques.

The Byrds – Mr. Tambourine Man: Mastering the Jangle

“Mr. Tambourine Man” by The Byrds is a quintessential song that showcases the jangly sound of the twelve-string guitar. The song’s historical significance is immense, as it helped define the folk-rock genre. Roger McGuinn’s iconic Rickenbacker playing is a masterclass in creating that shimmering jangle. Beginners can start by focusing on the strumming technique, which is central to achieving the song’s signature sound. Try to mimic the light, yet precise, strumming pattern and let the natural resonance of the twelve-string shine through.

America – A Horse with No Name: Simplifying Chord Progressions

For those just starting out, “A Horse with No Name” by America is perfect due to its simple, repetitive chord progression. This two-chord song allows you to really hear and feel the twelve-string resonance without getting bogged down by complex fingerings. It’s an excellent track for practicing smooth chord transitions and maintaining a laid-back rhythm. As you strum through the song, focus on the consistency of your strumming to keep the groove flowing. Use this tune as a practice tool to build confidence in your playing.

The Beatles – Ticket to Ride: Strumming Patterns and Rhythm

“Ticket to Ride” by The Beatles is another great song for beginners to learn on the twelve-string guitar. The strumming patterns and rhythm in this track are distinctive, yet accessible for new players. John Lennon’s guitar work is a fantastic example of how strumming can be used to add depth to a song. Pay close attention to the downstrokes and upstrokes in the pattern, and practice them slowly at first to get the feel. Consistency is key, so work on keeping a steady hand to maintain the song’s driving rhythm.

The Hollies – Look Through Any Window: Introduction to Fingerpicking

“Look Through Any Window” by The Hollies offers a gentle introduction to fingerpicking on a twelve-string guitar. The song’s fingerpicking pattern complements the melody beautifully and can be a bit challenging due to the double-string configuration. Start slowly, getting used to picking two strings at once, and gradually build up speed as you become more comfortable. Listening to the song will help you understand how the fingerpicking interplays with the melody, enhancing your ability to replicate the rhythm and feel of the track.

By starting with these songs, you’ll not only enjoy the process of learning but also quickly appreciate the sonic beauty that a twelve-string guitar brings to music. Remember, patience and consistent practice are your best allies as you embark on this musical adventure.

Intermediate Songs to Challenge Your Twelve-String Skills

Once you’ve got the hang of the basics, it’s time to step up your game with some intermediate twelve-string guitar songs. These tracks will not only broaden your repertoire but also refine your technique. You’ll encounter hammer-ons, pull-offs, capo adjustments, and arpeggios. These techniques will enhance your finger dexterity and timing, crucial for any advancing guitarist. Let’s delve into some songs that are milestones in the twelve-string guitar world and unpack the skills they can help you develop.

Led Zeppelin – Over the Hills and Far Away: Hammer-Ons and Pull-Offs

“Over the Hills and Far Away” by Led Zeppelin is a treasure trove for guitarists looking to master hammer-ons and pull-offs. Jimmy Page uses these techniques to add a dynamic range to the song. Here’s how to bring that energy to your twelve-string:

  • Practice the hammer-on by quickly pressing down on the fretboard after plucking a string.
  • For pull-offs, pluck the string and swiftly lift your finger to let the lower note sound.
  • Work these techniques into the song slowly, focusing on clean transitions.

Pink Floyd – Wish You Were Here: Combining Picking and Strumming

The iconic intro of “Wish You Were Here” by Pink Floyd is a perfect example of blending picking and strumming. Adapting this to a twelve-string adds depth to the sound. To smoothly alternate between picking and strumming:

  • Isolate the intro’s picking pattern and practice it separately.
  • Gradually introduce the strumming parts, ensuring a seamless transition.
  • Feel the emotional weight of the acoustic elements as you play.

The Who – Substitute: Playing with a Capo

Using a capo can change the game on a twelve-string, as seen in “Substitute” by The Who. Pete Townshend’s use of a capo brings a unique pitch and tone to the song. Here are some tips for capo use:

  • Place the capo on the required fret and check for any tuning adjustments needed.
  • Experiment with strumming and picking to understand how the capo affects the sound.
  • Practice the song to get used to the new fret positions and sound dynamics.

Tom Petty – Free Falling: Arpeggio Techniques

The flowing arpeggios in “Free Falling” by Tom Petty give the song its melodic quality, which sounds even richer on a twelve-string. To play these arpeggios:

  • Break down the arpeggio pattern and practice each chord shape.
  • Maintain a consistent tempo to keep the song’s fluidity.
  • Focus on picking accuracy to ensure each note is clear and in time.

By tackling these songs, you’ll not only enjoy the rich sounds of your twelve-string guitar but also build a solid foundation of intermediate guitar skills. Keep practicing, and you’ll be amazed at how much you can grow as a musician.

Iconic Twelve-String Guitar Songs for Advanced Players

For those who have honed their skills and are ready to tackle the pinnacle of twelve-string guitar playing, there’s a set of songs that stand as true tests of mastery. These tracks aren’t just about playing notes; they’re about embracing and executing advanced techniques like intricate solos, complex chord changes, syncopation, and fast-tempo picking. Each song is a journey through the capabilities of the twelve-string guitar, offering a chance to explore its rich harmonics and dynamic range. Let’s delve into some of the most challenging and rewarding pieces in the twelve-string repertoire.

The Eagles – Hotel California: Soloing on a Twelve-String

The solo in “Hotel California” by The Eagles is legendary, and adapting it for a twelve-string guitar adds a new layer of complexity. The challenge lies in the guitar’s doubled strings, which require precise finger placement and picking techniques to achieve the right tone and expression. Here’s how to approach learning this solo:

  • Break down the solo into smaller sections and master each one before moving on.
  • Pay close attention to your tone; it should be clean and resonate well.
  • Practice the transitions between sections to maintain the flow of the solo.

Led Zeppelin – Stairway to Heaven: Complex Chord Changes

“Stairway to Heaven” by Led Zeppelin is a masterclass in chord changes and song progression. The song’s structure is intricate, with each chord serving a purpose in building the track’s epic feel. To play this on a twelve-string guitar:

  • Familiarize yourself with the chord shapes and practice transitioning between them smoothly.
  • Focus on the song’s build-up, ensuring each chord adds to the rising tension.
  • Understand the song’s impact on rock music and how it showcases the versatility of the twelve-string guitar.

Rush – Closer to the Heart: Syncopation and Time Signatures

Rush’s “Closer to the Heart” is a rhythmic adventure, featuring syncopation and complex time signatures. Playing this on a twelve-string guitar requires a solid grasp of rhythm and timing. To master these elements:

  • Practice counting out loud to internalize the syncopated beats.
  • Work with a metronome to nail the timing, especially where the time signatures change.
  • Listen to the song repeatedly to understand how the rhythmic elements contribute to its unique feel.

Stevie Ray Vaughan – Rude Mood: Fast Tempo Picking

“Rude Mood” by Stevie Ray Vaughan is a high-octane track that demands fast tempo picking. On a twelve-string guitar, this technique can push your speed and precision to the limits. To build up to the song’s speed:

  • Start by playing the picking patterns slowly and accurately.
  • Gradually increase your speed, ensuring clarity of each note.
  • Study the influence of blues on Vaughan’s style to add authenticity to your playing.

These songs are not just exercises; they’re musical experiences that will test and expand your abilities. They require focused practice routines and a deep understanding of the subtleties within each piece. As you work through these advanced songs, you’ll find that the twelve-string guitar is not just an instrument—it’s a gateway to a richer, more expressive level of musicianship.

Essential Techniques for Twelve-String Guitarists

Mastering the twelve-string guitar requires a solid grasp of specific techniques that are unique to the instrument. These techniques are vital for bringing out the rich, full sound that twelve-string guitars are known for. From maintaining proper tuning to developing finger strength and dexterity, each skill plays a crucial role in your playing ability. Let’s explore these essential techniques and provide practical advice to help you develop them effectively.

Tuning a Twelve-String Guitar: Methods and Tips

Tuning a twelve-string guitar can be daunting due to its double-string courses. Here’s how to ensure your guitar sounds its best:

  • Start by tuning the lower four courses (E, A, D, G) in octaves, with the higher octave string slightly tighter.
  • The top two courses (B and E) are tuned in unison.
  • Use an electronic tuner or app for accuracy, especially for the octave strings which can be tricky by ear.
  • Check the tuning stability frequently, as twelve-string guitars can detune more easily due to the extra string tension.

Transitioning from Six-String to Twelve-String Guitar

Moving from a six-string to a twelve-string guitar involves both physical and mental adjustments. Here are some strategies to make the transition smoother:

  • Be mindful of hand positioning and the pressure needed to fret two strings at once.
  • Practice chord shapes slowly to get used to the wider neck and double courses.
  • Incorporate exercises that focus on string management, such as playing arpeggios and scales.

Finger Strength and Dexterity Exercises

Increased string tension on a twelve-string guitar means you’ll need more finger strength and dexterity. Here are some exercises to help:

  • Practice barre chords across all frets to build strength.
  • Perform finger independence exercises, like spider-walks, to improve agility.
  • Work on alternate picking across strings to enhance coordination between your fretting and picking hands.

Understanding the Role of Octave Strings

The octave strings on a twelve-string guitar add a distinctive sonic texture. To play them effectively:

  • Strum with a consistent hand motion to ensure both strings in the course are sounded.
  • Practice picking individual string courses to get a feel for the octave strings.
  • Balance the volume between the standard and octave strings to avoid overpowering the melody.

By focusing on these essential techniques and incorporating regular practice, you’ll be well on your way to mastering the twelve-string guitar. Remember, patience and persistence are key to your development as a musician.

Resources and Tools for Learning Twelve-String Guitar Songs

Embarking on the journey to learn twelve-string guitar songs is an exciting endeavor, and having the right resources and tools can make all the difference. From the tactile feel of a quality guitar to the digital convenience of online lessons, there’s a wealth of options to support your musical growth. Let’s explore the essentials that will help you strum your way to twelve-string mastery.

Recommended Twelve-String Guitar Models for Beginners

Choosing the right guitar is crucial, especially when starting out. Here are some factors to consider:

  • Playability: Look for a guitar with a comfortable neck and easy action.
  • Affordability: There are great models that won’t break the bank.
  • Build Quality: Durability is important, as you’ll spend many hours practicing.

Some popular models for beginners include the Yamaha FG820-12 and the Fender CD-60SCE-12. These guitars are praised for their playability and solid construction, making them a great starting point for new players.

Best Online Platforms for Twelve-String Guitar Lessons

Online learning platforms offer a flexible way to improve your skills. When choosing a platform, consider:

  • Content Quality: High-definition videos and clear instructions are key.
  • User Experience: The platform should be easy to navigate.
  • Learning Styles: Some learners prefer structured courses, while others like to jump into learning songs.

Platforms like Guitar Tricks and JamPlay are renowned for their comprehensive lesson libraries and user-friendly interfaces, catering to various learning preferences.

Sheet Music and Tablature for Twelve-String Guitar

Finding the right music resources can accelerate your learning. Here’s what to look for:

  • Sheet Music: Ideal for understanding musical theory and rhythm.
  • Tablature: Tabs are great for visual learners and getting started quickly.

Websites like Ultimate Guitar and Songsterr offer extensive collections of tabs and sheet music suited for twelve-string guitars. They are invaluable for both beginners and advanced players looking to expand their repertoire.

Community Forums and Support for Twelve-String Guitarists

Community support is a treasure trove of knowledge and motivation. Engaging with fellow enthusiasts can provide:

  • Advice: Tips and tricks that only experienced players can offer.
  • Encouragement: Moral support to keep you motivated on tough days.
  • Shared Experiences: Learning from others’ journeys can be enlightening.

Forums like the Acoustic Guitar Forum and the Twelve String Guitar Group on Facebook are excellent places to connect with other twelve-string guitarists.

With these resources at your fingertips, you’re well-equipped to tackle the learning curve of the twelve-string guitar. Dive into the rich soundscape of this unique instrument, and let the music guide your journey.

Frequently Asked Questions

What are some tips for maintaining a twelve-string guitar?

Answer: Regularly check tuning stability and string tension, and consider a professional setup to ensure optimal playability.

How can I improve my fingerpicking on a twelve-string guitar?

Answer: Start with simple patterns, practice slowly, and gradually increase speed while maintaining accuracy and consistency.

Can I use a six-string guitar capo on a twelve-string guitar?

Answer: Yes, but ensure it’s properly seated across all strings and check tuning after placement due to the added tension.

What’s the best way to amplify the sound of a twelve-string guitar?

Answer: Use an acoustic amplifier or a PA system with a good quality pickup or microphone designed for acoustic instruments.

Are there any specific brands that make strings just for twelve-string guitars?

Answer: Yes, many string manufacturers offer sets specifically designed for twelve-string guitars to optimize sound and playability.