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9 Best 12-string Guitars That Money Can Buy

12-string guitars add a unique dimension to your playing that is hard to match. Whether you favor acoustic or electric guitars, the doubling effect of a 12-string guitar gives your chords a choral quality that surpasses what pedals or overdubs can achieve.

With the bottom four strings doubled an octave higher and the top two doubled, the 12-string guitar offers a broader frequency range. It introduces textures, overtones, and a sparkling top end to your music. It can infuse an ethereal quality into your solo performances.

Playing a 12-string encourages subtle changes in your technique; the densely populated fretboard makes each note more intentional and resonant. Depending on the chord progression and fingerpicking, these guitars can evoke a medieval or pure folk jangle.

So let’s wait no longer and explore some of our favorite 12-string guitars in the market now!

Quick Summary

NameWhy We Chose It
1ZAD900CE AURA Pro Series sunburstA budget-friendly option with a solid spruce top and class-leading onboard electronics Finished in sunburst color.
2Taylor K68e LTDLimited-edition model with Sapele back and sides, offering rich tones and visual appeal.
3Taylor Builder’s Edition 652cePremium Taylor experience with Sitka spruce top and mahogany body, for clear and articulate sound.
4Gibson J-45 Standard 12-StringLegendary Gibson tone in a 12-string format, known for its warmth and projection.
5VILLAGER™ 12-STRINGSolid mahogany construction and Fishman electronics, provide balanced sound and stage-ready versatility.
6Martin D-X2E 12 StringRenowned Martin quality with Sitka spruce top and onboard Expression System 2 electronics, for crisp articulation and playability.
7Yamaha LL16All-solid construction with a warm, rich tone, ideal for fingerstyle playing.
8Epiphone Hummingbird 12 StringSloped-shoulder dreadnought body with spruce top and mahogany back and sides, delivering a classic vibe and powerful sound.
9Martin HD12-28 – 12 StringPremium rosewood back and sides paired with Adirondack spruce top, offering exceptional depth and responsiveness.

Primary Comparison

TonewoodBody ShapeConstructionFretsTuning Machine
ZAD900CE AURA Pro Series sunburstSpruce top, solid mahogany back and sidesDreadnought with Venitian CutawaySolid top, solid back and sides20Genuine Grover (gold)
Taylor K68e LTDHawaiian Koa top, back and sidesGrand OrchestraSolid22Gotoh 500 series
Taylor Builder’s Edition 652ceSitka spruce top, Maple Back And SidesBeveled CutawaySolid18Gotoh 500 series
Gibson J-45 Standard 12-StringMahogany, back and sides, Spruce topJumbo (J-45)Solid20Grover Mini Rotomatics
VILLAGER™ 12-STRINGMahogany top, back and sidesNewporterSolid20Vintage-Style
Martin D-X2E 12 StringSitka spruce top, mahogany back and sidesDreadnoughtMortise & Tenon Neck Joint20Chrome Enclosed gear 
Yamaha LL16Sitka spruce top, rosewood back and sidesOriginal JumboSolid20Die-cast Gold 
Epiphone Hummingbird 12 StringSpruce top, mahogany back and sidesSquare Shoulder DreadnoughtSolid top, laminated back and sides20Grover Mini Rotomatics
Martin HD12-28 – 12 StringAdirondack spruce top, rosewood back and sidesDreadnoughtDovetail Neck Joint20Chrome Enclosed Gear 

The 9 Best 12-String Guitars for 2024

1. ZAD900CE 12 String Solid Spruce/Rosewood Acoustic Electric AURA Pro Series Tobacco Sunburst

ZAD900CE 12 String Solid Spruce/Rosewood Acoustic Electric AURA Pro Series Tobacco Sunburst

The Zager Pro Series 900, is a top-tier guitar with unparalleled craftsmanship and sound. This full-size dreadnought features a solid Sitka Spruce/Indian Rosewood build, adorned with maple binding, abalone, and pearl inlay.

Powered by a Fishman AURA Sound Imaging system, the 900 delivers 15% more power than its 80 Series counterpart. It is a preferred choice for musicians transitioning from Martin D45, Taylor 9, and Gibson Hummingbird guitars.

Denny Zager’s expertise shines in the 900’s unique bracing system, enhancing projection and power. Strumming a chord on the 900 is truly a great experience, a rarity in new guitars especially in this price range.

As part of the Zager Pro Series, the 900 ensures easier playability and a more potent sound with aged woods and a thinner finish. Hand-laid abalone inlay, gold Grover tuners, and a Venetian cutaway enhance both visual appeal and playability.

The Fishman electronics in the 900 series will allow you to download professionally mixed sound images. Genuine Fishman transducer, automatic tuner, and equalizer cater to diverse playing styles.

What’s a bonus is that these guitars have a 100% money-back guarantee and a lifetime warranty. The Zager Pro Series 900 is a timeless work of art, maturing in sound over the years. Notable artists who use the 900 series are Dave Roe, Andre Coutu, and Tom Bowes.

2. Taylor K68e LTD

Taylor K68e LTD

The Taylor K68e Grand Orchestra 12-string Limited Edition Acoustic-electric guitar is a masterpiece that seamlessly blends elegance with exceptional tonal qualities. Featuring a stunning figured Hawaiian koa construction on the top, back, and sides, this limited edition gem offers a rich, sweet, and resonant voice. 

Taylor’s grand orchestra body shape, the largest in their lineup, delivers massive projection and volume, enhanced by the solid, figured Hawaiian koa body. The V-class bracing allows the guitar’s top to be both stiff and flexible. As a result, it has great volume, sustain, and improved intonation. The mahogany neck with a Crelicam ebony fingerboard adds comfort and style. 

Crafted with top-tier Taylor craftsmanship, the K68e is not only a visual and sonic delight but also boasts excellent electronics. The Expression System 2 features a proprietary pickup system for overtone-rich sound translation, offering control over volume, tone adjustments, and onboard feedback suppression. 

The Taylor K68e Grand Orchestra is a limited edition 12-string that marries exquisite craftsmanship with cutting-edge technology, making it a standout choice for guitar enthusiasts such as Cat Burn and Hailey Knox.

3. Taylor Builder’s Edition 652ce

Taylor Builder's Edition 652ce

The Taylor 652ce, the first 12-string in the Builder’s Edition series, introduces reverse stringing for a unique sonic punch. Derived from Rickenbacker’s techniques, this approach strategically places the fundamentals on top of the E, A, D, and G pairs, enhancing resonance. 

The guitar’s slim neck, 1 7/8 inches at the nut, and 24 7/8-inch scale length cater to electric players, providing enhanced mids and a relaxed playing feel with the body joining at the 12th fret.

Crafted with maple back and sides and a torrefied Sitka spruce top, the 652ce delivers a forward-leaning tone with remarkable clarity. V-Class bracing ensures tunefulness and the double-crossing string anchoring system enhances intonation. The CE in the model’s name indicates the cutaway and Taylor’s Expression 2 system for natural-sounding amplified tones.

Visually, the 652ce stands out with a Wild Honey Burst finish, highlighting the maple’s grain patterns. Aesthetic details include purfling lines, burst shading, a multi-ring rosette, and mother-of-pearl inlays. Despite a slightly nose-heavy feel, the guitar compensates with the majestic sound of 12 strings. 

With great low-end presence, shimmer, complexity, and chime, the 652ce captivates various playing styles. Offering outstanding playability, visual allure, and exceptional sound, it stands as an irresistible choice for those seeking excellence.

4. Gibson J-45 Standard 12-String

Gibson J-45 Standard 12-String

Gibson’s iconic J-45, aptly nicknamed “The Workhorse,” now dazzles in a Limited-Edition 12-string version, merging traditional attributes with a glorious shimmer. Handcrafted in Boseman, Montana, by Gibson’s master luthiers, this guitar features premium solid tonewoods such as mahogany, Sitka spruce, and rosewood—delivering an expressive, balanced tone. 

Ideal for solo work, doubling other guitars, or layering arrangements, it boasts tight, punchy bass, a powerful dynamic range, and excellent projection. The LR Baggs VTC pickup system ensures an unbelievable onstage tone. Whether you’re a singer/songwriter or an acoustic rocker, the J-45 12-String is a must-have, available in a limited edition at Sweetwater.

This J-45 variant maintains Gibson’s beloved body style with a mahogany back and sides, and a Sitka spruce top for a broad dynamic range suitable for various playing styles. The fingerboard is crafted from high-grade rosewood. Plek Pro treatment ensures fret consistency and smoothness. The Plek’d frets guarantee clarity and unblemished tone in every position. 

Equipped with LR Baggs’s VTC acoustic pickup system, renowned for its robust, lively, and natural sound, the J-45 12-String achieves natural-sounding amplification with no compromises on tone or convenience.

5. VILLAGER™ 12-STRING

VILLAGER™ 12-STRING

Drawing inspiration from the iconic designs of Fender electric guitars, California Player Acoustics captures the adventurous and free-spirited essence of the West Coast. These guitars beckon musicians to embrace their unique creativity and challenge the conventional.

The Villager™ 12-string, crafted with an X-braced solid spruce top and sapele back and sides, boasts a non-cutaway Newporter auditorium body shape. This design yields a versatile sound ensuring comfort for extended sessions of inspiration. The nato neck features a slim “C”-shaped profile, enhanced with graphite reinforcement rods for stability. 

With a 24.75″ scale length and a distinctive 1960s-inspired “hockey stick” headstock, Fender pays homage to its acoustic heritage. Vintage-style tuning machines, a GraphTech NuBone nut and saddle, and a Fishman Flex preamp system for authentic amplified sound enhance the guitar. A deluxe gig bag completes the package.

The California Series instruments, characterized by boldness, eye-catching aesthetics, and uniqueness, strike a perfect balance between effortless playability, superior sound, and standout style. Ideal for those aspiring to play something different, these guitars deliver a compelling blend of form and function.

6. Martin D-X2E 12 String

Martin D-X2E 12 String

The Martin D-X2E 12-string acoustic-electric guitar, featuring Fishman electronics and the favored High-Performance neck taper, delivers a delightful performance experience. Its bold and beautiful unplugged sound is accentuated by X bracing beneath the Sitka spruce top. This versatile instrument is accompanied by a gig bag for on-the-go convenience. 

Whether you’re a beginner seeking value or a seasoned player exploring new alternatives, the Martin D-X2E 12-string acoustic-electric guitar is a wise choice. Equipped with Fishman MX electronics, the D-X2E impresses musicians at Sweetwater with its faithful reproduction of warm and mellow tones. 

The onboard preamp, discreetly mounted inside the soundhole, provides easy access to volume and tone controls. With such exceptional onboard electronics, you can confidently take the stage or plugin for recording sessions, ensuring a seamless transition between acoustic and amplified performances.

7. Yamaha LL16 Acoustic-Electric 12-string Guitar

Yamaha LL16 Acoustic-Electric 12-string Guitar

Experience exceptional tone and playability with the Yamaha LL16 acoustic-electric 12-string guitar, a standout in Yamaha’s renowned L Series. The LL16 boasts a hand-selected, solid Engelmann spruce top treated with Yamaha’s A.R.E. process, combined with solid rosewood back and sides, delivering a rich and warm sound with a full-range response. 

The 5-ply mahogany/rosewood neck features a smooth ebony fretboard, a slimmer neck shape, and an enhanced fingerboard edge for improved playability. Enhancing the LL16’s great tone and playability is Yamaha’s A.R.E. wood torrefaction, offering a broken-in and aged tone by manipulating the wood’s molecular properties. 

Modified non-scalloped bracing further enhances the guitar’s low end. The premium solid Engelmann spruce top, chosen for both its look and articulate sound, pairs seamlessly with the solid rosewood back and sides, providing exceptional bass and powerful punch.

Equipped with Yamaha’s SRT Zero Impact pickup, the LL16 delivers a faithful reproduction of its natural, dynamic sound. The inconspicuous design preserves the guitar’s aesthetics and tone, with each string having its piezoelectric element for accurate transmission of the 12-string jangle. 

8. Epiphone Hummingbird 12-String Acoustic Guitar

Epiphone Hummingbird 12-String Acoustic Guitar

The Epiphone Hummingbird 12-string acoustic-electric guitar captures the timeless essence of iconic acoustics, blending classic tone, comfort, and aesthetics. Whether standing or sitting, its square-shouldered design offers a unique balance, ensuring hours of effortless strumming or fingerpicking. 

The solid Sitka spruce top and mahogany back and sides produce a harmonious mix of crisp highs, midrange richness, and a deep low-end foundation. The mahogany neck with an Indian laurel fingerboard provides exceptional response and playability for diverse playing styles.

Visually, the cherry sunburst top with an aged gloss finish, adorned by the distinctive pickguard, creates an appealing look. Ivory and black binding, a reverse-belly Indian laurel bridge, and a crown headstock inlay pay homage to the original design. The rounded C-profile neck, antique ivory binding, and vintage mother-of-pearl split parallelograms on the fingerboard enhance the guitar’s classic appeal. 

The Fishman Sonicore pickup, paired with a soundhole-mounted preamp, ensures easy tone adjustments with volume and tone controls. Delivered with deluxe tuners and gold bushings, the Epiphone Hummingbird is not just an instrument; it’s an invitation to experience acoustic excellence with straightforward playability and timeless aesthetics.

9. Martin HD12-28 – 12 String Acoustic Guitar

Martin D-X2E 12 String

The Martin HD12-28, a 12-string dreadnought acoustic guitar, stands as a testament to Martin’s timeless craftsmanship. Boasting the classic D-28 design with herringbone top trim, a traditional zigzag back stripe, and X-bracing, it delivers the deep bass response synonymous with Martin dreadnoughts, accentuated by the richness of its 12 strings. 

A favorite among musicians at Sweetwater, the HD12-28 combines versatility with quick response and excellent note definition. As Martin’s premium dreadnought, the HD12-28 features a solid Sitka spruce top, solid East Indian rosewood back and sides, and intricate zigzag purfling, presenting a visually stunning and acoustically superior instrument. 

The select hardwood neck, ebony fingerboard with inlays, vintage-styled belly bridge, and chrome enclosed gear tuners contribute to its impeccable design. Originally popularized for supporting vocals, fiddles, and banjos in country and bluegrass, the HD12-28’s acclaim has grown steadily

Crafted with precision, it utilizes the classic tonewood combination of Sitka spruce and rosewood, delivering a resonant and mellow sound. A standout feature is the guitar’s ability to produce strength and subtlety, making it a sought-after choice for musicians.

The Martin HD12-28 is celebrated for embodying the desired sound and premium quality of Martin’s legacy. Whether played unplugged or amplified, its exceptional craftsmanship and tonal richness make it a cherished addition to any musician’s collection.

How To Pick A 12 String Guitar?

  • Budget: Determine your budget range. There are 12-string guitars available in various price ranges. Look for a balance between quality and affordability that suits your financial plan.
  • Body Style: Choose a body style that fits your preference. Common options include dreadnought, concert, and jumbo. Each has its tonal characteristics, so pick one that aligns with the sound you desire.
  • Tonewoods: Consider the tonewoods used in the guitar construction. Different woods produce distinct tones. Spruce and cedar are often used for the top, contributing to the guitar’s resonance, while mahogany and rosewood are common choices for the back and sides.
  • Brand Reputation: Research reputable brands known for producing quality 12-string guitars. Read reviews and gather opinions from experienced players to ensure reliability and durability.
  • Playability: Prioritize playability. Test the action and make sure it feels comfortable for your playing style. A guitar with good playability will enhance your overall experience.
  • Check Intonation and Tuning Stability: Confirm that the guitar has proper intonation and tuning stability. A well-set guitar will stay in tune and sound harmonious across the fretboard.
  • Test Before Purchase: Whenever possible, play the guitar before making a decision. This hands-on experience allows you to feel the instrument and assess if it meets your expectations.

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Conclusion

When seeking the “best” 12-string guitar, you need to consider factors such as musical preferences, budget constraints, and individual playing styles. Each guitar mentioned in this context presents distinctive strengths catering to various needs. 

The ZAD900CE AURA Pro Series stands out for budget-conscious players, offering solid-top sound without breaking the bank. For those inclined towards fingerstyle playing, the Yamaha LL16 boasts an all-solid construction and a warm tone, particularly well-suited for intimate settings. 

If vintage aesthetics appeal to you, the Epiphone Hummingbird 12 String combines classic looks with a powerful dreadnought sound. For those seeking the pinnacle of craftsmanship, the Taylor Builder’s Edition 652ce and Martin HD12-28 feature top-tier tonewoods and exceptional playability, making them ideal for serious players. 

Ultimately, the perfect 12-string guitar is the one that resonates with your ears and sparks inspiration in your fingers. Through research, hands-on exploration, and trusting your connection, you’ll discover the instrument that unlocks your unique sonic potential. Happy strumming!

Author Avatar
WRITTEN BY
Jolene
Jolene, a guitar enthusiast whose journey began by watching their uncle Dennis Jr. craft guitars. Growing up surrounded by the mesmerizing process of guitar creation, Jolene developed a profound appreciation for the artistry behind these instruments.

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