What Are the Iconic Rock Songs Featuring Twelve-String Guitars?

Quick Answer: Iconic rock songs with twelve-string guitars include The Beatles’ “A Hard Day’s Night,” Pink Floyd’s “Wish You Were Here,” and the Eagles’ “Hotel California.”

Key Takeaways:

  • Twelve-string guitars have been pivotal in rock history, with The Beatles’ “A Hard Day’s Night” and Pink Floyd’s “Wish You Were Here” being prime examples of the instrument’s distinctive, rich sound that can range from bright jangles to haunting melodies.
  • The twelve-string guitar’s doubled strings, typically tuned in octaves, create a fuller, resonant sound that has been featured in various rock genres, from the folk-rock of The Byrds to the intricate solos of the Eagles’ “Hotel California.”
  • To play the twelve-string guitar effectively, one must master light strumming, precise fingerpicking, and familiar chord shapes, while also maintaining the instrument due to the added tension from the extra strings.

Iconic Rock Songs Featuring Twelve-String Guitars

The twelve-string guitar is a beacon of rock music, its rich and chiming sound a staple that has graced countless classic tracks. This instrument’s unique voice has helped to craft some of the most memorable songs in rock history, and its influence is undeniable.

When The Beatles released “A Hard Day’s Night,” the opening chord alone was enough to cement the song’s place in rock history. The Rickenbacker twelve-string guitar played by George Harrison delivered a bright, full sound that became a signature of the band’s early years. This distinctive jangle was more than just an intro; it was a call to a new era of rock music.

Moving from the upbeat to the introspective, Pink Floyd‘s “Wish You Were Here” features a haunting acoustic intro that showcases the twelve-string’s depth. The song’s layers of sound create a space that is both ethereal and grounded, a testament to the guitar’s versatility. The way David Gilmour weaves the twelve-string into the fabric of the song is a masterclass in subtlety and emotion.

The Eagles‘ “Hotel California” is another track where the twelve-string guitar shines, particularly in the intricate solo that has become one of the most recognizable in rock history. The song’s extended outro, with its dueling guitars, one of which is a twelve-string, adds a rich texture that elevates the track from great to legendary.

The Byrds’ rendition of “Mr. Tambourine Man” is a prime example of the twelve-string’s influence on the folk-rock genre. Roger McGuinn’s Rickenbacker twelve-string rings out with a jangly sound that became the band’s trademark. This song not only helped define an entire genre but also showed how the twelve-string could be the driving force behind a hit.

Boston’s “More Than a Feeling” is a rock anthem that owes much of its power to the layered guitar tracks, including those from a twelve-string. The song’s iconic intro and soaring choruses demonstrate how the instrument can be used to create a sound that is both powerful and melodic.

The twelve-string guitar has also found its place in the realm of progressive rock, with bands like Rush utilizing its sound to add a complex layer to their music. The rich, shimmering quality of the twelve-string adds a texture that is perfect for the intricate compositions of progressive rock.

Each of these songs not only showcases the twelve-string guitar’s capabilities but also its impact on the musicians and the genre. The instrument’s ability to provide a fuller sound with just a strum has made it a favorite for guitarists looking to add depth to their music. The twelve-string guitar has become synonymous with certain sounds in rock music: the bright jangle of folk-rock, the haunting melodies of classic rock ballads, and the layered richness of guitar solos.

The use of the twelve-string in these iconic songs has influenced countless musicians, inspiring them to explore the instrument’s potential. Whether it’s the acoustic intros that pull listeners into a reflective state or the powerful overdubs that drive a rock anthem, the twelve-string guitar has proven to be an essential tool in the rock musician’s arsenal.

These tracks are not just songs; they are landmarks that have shaped the sound of rock music. The twelve-string guitar’s role in these compositions is a testament to its enduring appeal and the creativity of those who wield it. Aspiring guitarists often look to these iconic songs as a source of inspiration, learning from the techniques and sounds that have made them stand the test of time.

The twelve-string guitar continues to be a source of innovation and expression in rock music. Its distinctive sound is one that listeners can immediately recognize, and its influence is woven into the fabric of rock history. Whether used to create a gentle acoustic backdrop or to drive a powerful rock anthem, the twelve-string guitar remains an iconic and versatile instrument in the world of music.

The Twelve-String Guitar in Rock History

The twelve-string guitar has woven its way through the tapestry of rock history, leaving a sound that is as unmistakable as it is enduring. This instrument’s journey in rock began in the hands of trailblazers like The Beatles, who embraced its jangly charm in the early 1960s. The distinctive chime of the twelve-string on tracks like “Ticket to Ride” showcased its ability to add depth and texture to a song.

As the decade progressed, the twelve-string became synonymous with the folk-rock movement, largely due to The Byrds. Their cover of Bob Dylan’s “Mr. Tambourine Man” is a prime example of the guitar’s ability to bridge the gap between folk storytelling and rock energy. The Byrds’ Roger McGuinn, with his Rickenbacker twelve-string, became an icon, influencing a wave of musicians.

The Rolling Stones also experimented with the twelve-string’s sound, using it to add a layer of richness to their music. Songs like “As Tears Go By” demonstrate the versatility of the twelve-string, proving it could enhance not just up-tempo rockers but also more contemplative tracks.

Led Zeppelin took the twelve-string to new heights in the 1970s. Jimmy Page’s use of the instrument in songs like “Stairway to Heaven” and “Over the Hills and Far Away” showcased its potential for both delicate acoustic intros and powerful electric riffs. This period saw the twelve-string guitar become a vehicle for sonic exploration and a symbol of rock’s expanding boundaries.

The twelve-string guitar’s cultural impact during the 1960s and 1970s cannot be overstated. It was a time of musical innovation, and the twelve-string guitar was at the forefront. Its unique sound became a hallmark of the era, capturing the spirit of change and the quest for new forms of expression.

Technical advancements in guitar manufacturing also played a role in the twelve-string’s popularity. Companies like Rickenbacker were instrumental in bringing the twelve-string guitar to the masses, making it more accessible and reliable for touring musicians. The jingle-jangle of a Rickenbacker twelve-string became a defining feature of the classic rock sound.

The twelve-string guitar’s ability to produce a fuller, more resonant sound than its six-string counterpart is due to its doubled strings, which are typically tuned in octaves. This creates a natural chorus effect that can make a simple chord progression sound rich and complex. It’s a sound that continues to resonate with musicians and audiences today, ensuring the twelve-string guitar’s place in the pantheon of rock instruments.

Artists like Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers and R.E.M.’s Peter Buck carried the twelve-string guitar into the modern era, blending its traditional sound with contemporary rock. The instrument’s influence is evident in the works of these artists, proving that its appeal is timeless.

The twelve-string guitar has not only shaped the sound of rock music but has also become a symbol of the genre’s evolution. From the folk-rock revolution to the hard-rock anthems of the ’70s, the twelve-string has been there, adding its distinctive voice to some of the most iconic songs ever written. It’s a sound that continues to inspire, a thread that connects generations of musicians, and a testament to rock’s ongoing journey.

How to Play Twelve-String Guitar Like the Greats

Playing the twelve-string guitar is like stepping into a grand hall of sound. Each strum fills the air with a chorus of echoes that a six-string just can’t match. If you’re aiming to master this majestic instrument, start with the basics: tuning and maintenance.

Tuning a twelve-string is similar to tuning a six-string, but with a twist. Each string pair consists of a standard-tuned string and either an octave higher or, in the case of the two lowest pairs, another string tuned to the same note. This setup is what creates the guitar’s full sound. Here’s a quick guide:

  • Tune the E, A, D, and G pairs with the standard string first, followed by its octave.
  • For the B and high E pairs, tune both strings to the same note.

Keeping your guitar in top shape is crucial. The extra strings mean extra tension, so regular guitar maintenance is a must. Check the neck for bowing, keep the fretboard clean, and change the strings when they start to sound dull.

Now, let’s dive into the playing techniques that define the twelve-string sound:

  • Strumming: Use a light touch. The extra strings will do the work for you, creating a rich sound.
  • Fingerpicking: This technique can produce intricate textures. Practice slowly to ensure clarity between notes.
  • Chord shapes: Many are the same as on a six-string, but they sound fuller on a twelve-string.

To emulate the iconic riffs from classic songs, start by learning the basics of these techniques, then apply them to songs you love. For example:

  • Practice the opening chord of “A Hard Day’s Night” by The Beatles to get a feel for the jangle of a twelve-string.
  • Try the arpeggiated picking from “Wish You Were Here” by Pink Floyd to understand how a twelve-string can be used for texture.

Here are some practice tips to help you along the way:

  • Start slow: Focus on clean execution of chords and riffs before speeding up.
  • Use a metronome: It will keep your timing tight and improve your rhythm.
  • Listen closely: Pay attention to the nuances in twelve-string guitar songs to understand the sound you’re aiming for.

Incorporating the twelve-string guitar into various musical styles can help you develop a unique sound. Whether you’re into rock, folk, or even pop, the twelve-string can add a new dimension to your music. Experiment with different genres to find where your twelve-string fits best.

Remember, the key to mastering any instrument is patience and practice. The twelve-string guitar can be challenging, but it’s also incredibly rewarding. As you learn, you’ll not only develop your skills but also gain a deeper appreciation for the artists who have made this instrument legendary. Keep strumming, and soon you’ll be creating your own iconic riffs.

Choosing Your First Twelve-String Guitar

Embarking on the journey of playing a twelve-string guitar is exciting, and selecting the right one is your first step. When shopping for your first twelve-string, there are several key features to consider that will affect the sound and playability of the instrument.

The body shape of the guitar is more than just an aesthetic choice; it also influences the sound. Larger bodies tend to produce a richer, more resonant tone, which is great for a twelve-string’s natural chorus effect. Smaller bodies, on the other hand, might be more comfortable to play, especially for those with a smaller frame.

Wood type is another critical factor. Different woods can dramatically alter the tone of a guitar. For example, spruce tops are known for their bright, clear sound, while mahogany provides a warmer tone. Consider the kind of music you want to play and choose a wood that complements it.

String gauge can impact both the sound and the feel of the guitar. Lighter strings are easier to press down and bend, making them a good choice for beginners. However, heavier strings can give you a fuller, more balanced sound. It’s often a trade-off between playability and tonal quality.

When it comes to beginner models, there are several popular options that balance quality and affordability:

  • The Yamaha FG820-12 is a solid choice for beginners, known for its durability and clear sound.
  • The Fender CD-60SCE-12 offers a cutaway design for easy access to higher frets and built-in electronics for amplification.
  • The Ibanez AEG1812II is another excellent option, with a slimmer body for comfort and a built-in tuner.

Each of these models has its pros and cons, so it’s important to try them out and see which one feels right for you.

Budget considerations are, of course, a practical aspect of purchasing a guitar. Thankfully, there are quality twelve-string guitars available at various price points. Here’s what you can expect:

  • Under $300: Entry-level models that are great for learning the basics.
  • $300-$600: Mid-range guitars with better build quality and sound.
  • Over $600: Higher-end guitars with premium materials and features.

For the best deals, consider shopping at local music stores, where you can often find discounts on used or open-box guitars. Online retailers are also a good option, as they frequently offer competitive pricing and a wide selection.

When choosing your first twelve-string guitar, take your time and do your research. Play as many guitars as you can to get a feel for what suits you. Remember, the right guitar should feel comfortable in your hands and inspire you to play. With the right instrument, you’ll be well on your way to creating the lush, rich sounds that make twelve-string guitars a beloved staple in rock music.

Resources for Twelve-String Guitar Players

For those enchanted by the jingle-jangle of the twelve-string guitar, a wealth of resources is available to help you master this instrument. Whether you’re a beginner or an experienced player looking to refine your skills, these tools and communities can support your musical journey.

Online tutorials and video lessons are fantastic starting points. Platforms like YouTube have countless instructional videos for twelve-string guitarists. Look for channels that focus on guitar lessons, and you’ll likely find specific tutorials for twelve-string techniques and songs. Some standout educators include:

  • JustinGuitar, known for his clear, structured lessons.
  • Marty Music, who offers a variety of song tutorials and tips.
  • Andy Guitar, whose beginner-friendly approach is great for new players.

For those who prefer a more traditional approach, there are books and magazines dedicated to guitar players of all levels. “The Twelve-String Guitar Guide” by John Tapella and “The Art of Twelve-String Guitar” by John Lawlor provide in-depth insights into playing and maintaining your instrument.

Forums and communities are invaluable for connecting with fellow guitar enthusiasts. Websites like Ultimate Guitar and The Acoustic Guitar Forum have sections dedicated to twelve-string players where you can ask questions, share experiences, and get advice from seasoned musicians.

Here are some apps and tools that can enhance your practice sessions:

  • GuitarTuna, a user-friendly app for accurate tuning.
  • Anytune, perfect for slowing down songs to learn them note-for-note.
  • GarageBand or Audacity, which are great for recording your playing and listening back for improvement.

Learning platforms like TrueFire and JamPlay offer structured courses on twelve-string guitar playing, often with interactive tabs and backing tracks to practice with.

When it comes to tuning, the twelve-string guitar can be a bit more challenging than its six-string counterpart. Apps like Cleartune and Fender Tune can help you get each pair of strings perfectly in tune.

For practicing, a metronome is essential. Apps like Pro Metronome or a simple Google search for an online metronome will keep your timing tight and accurate.

And for recording your progress or laying down tracks, consider a DAW (Digital Audio Workstation) like Reaper or Ableton Live, which offer more advanced features for those looking to get serious about their sound.

By tapping into these resources, you’ll be well on your way to mastering the twelve-string guitar and perhaps even creating your own iconic rock songs. The journey of learning an instrument is as rewarding as it is challenging, and with the right tools at your disposal, you’ll be strumming those legendary riffs in no time.

Frequently Asked Questions

Question 1:

What are some lesser-known rock songs that feature the twelve-string guitar? Answer: Lesser-known tracks include “Look Through Any Window” by The Hollies and “The World Turns All Around Her” by The Byrds.

Question 2:

Can you recommend any modern rock bands that use the twelve-string guitar? Answer: Bands like The Raconteurs and Wilco have incorporated the twelve-string guitar into their modern rock sound.

Question 3:

Are there any female rock artists known for playing the twelve-string guitar? Answer: Artists like Melissa Etheridge and Nancy Wilson of Heart have been known to use twelve-string guitars in their music.

Question 4:

What are some tips for amplifying a twelve-string guitar during live performances? Answer: Use a quality acoustic amplifier or DI box, and consider a twelve-string with built-in electronics for balanced sound.

Question 5:

Are there specific brands that are renowned for their twelve-string electric guitars? Answer: Rickenbacker is highly renowned, but other brands like Fender and Gibson also offer quality twelve-string electric guitars.