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How to Tune a 12 String Guitar (Complete Beginner’s Guide)

As you are aware, tuning a guitar is necessary since it guarantees that the instrument is set at the proper pitch for creating chords, scales, and the precise tone you like. It is best to tune your acoustic guitar using various guitar tuners since a guitar that is out of tune may not sound well or the way you want it to.

A six-string guitar’s tuning may initially appear challenging, but you will get the hang of it with a few tries. However, tuning a 12-string guitar is more complicated because it has twice as many strings as a standard acoustic guitar. 

Due to the higher string count, the need to correctly intonate the paired strings, the greater tension, and the frequency interference, beginning guitarists may find it a little challenging.

For 12-string guitars, regular tuning is necessary as the entire tone can be changed by a slight flattening or sharpening of one of the octave strings.

Fortunately for you, here is a complete guide to teaching you how a 12-string guitar should be tuned.

What is the Difference Between a Standard Guitar and a 12 String Guitar?

There are twelve strings in all, divided into 6 pairs, on a 12-string guitar. All string pairs have one string that is set to the same pitch as the other but is an octave higher. The pairs make up the courses, and the pitch serves to set each course apart from the others.

Playing all of these paired strings requires precise strumming techniques and a fluent, uncluttered playing technique. A 12-string guitar‘s chorus tone becomes richer and more authentic as additional octave strings are added.

When compared to a six-string guitar, thesel strings generate a tone that is fuller, deeper, and more melodic. While the strings in the top two courses are normally tuned in unison, the bottom four courses’ strings are frequently tuned in octaves. 

In a 12-string guitar, more tension is produced due to these paired strings. This additional tension is required for maintaining the proper pitch and tension throughout all of the string pairs. The greater pressure needed to fret the strings and simultaneously hold down all 12 strings adds to the tension’s severity.

Also, the excessive strain may cause the guitar’s neck and body to become more fragile, which may affect the instrument’s tone, tuning stability, or overall performance. Some guitarists may find it more difficult to play due to the increased strain that comes with the instrument, especially new players who are not accustomed to it.

Tuning Process of a 12-String Guitar

When tuning a 12-string guitar, first ensure your instrument is in standard tuning. A 12-string guitar’s most common tuning is EADGBE, but the lower four courses have been doubled to make them an octave higher. Several guitarists tune their instruments differently, such as by tuning the whole thing down a full step to lessen string stress.

When tuning your 12-string guitar, make sure to tune each set of strings to a distinct note in the acronym EADGBE, working your way up from the bottom to the top. On the upper pair of strings, one thin string is first coupled with a thicker string, and so on. The E note from the acronym, which is the introductory note, will be played by these two strings.

This pairing, however, will result in the thinner strings being tuned an octave higher than the thicker string, giving them the same note but a different pitch. Typically, while examining a guitar, the higher octave string is positioned to the right of the lower string.

The first pair of strings are tuned in E, followed by the second pair in A, the third in D, the fourth in G, the fifth in B, and the sixth in E.

Let’s go through each step in depth in order to explain the tuning procedure further.

  1. Tuning should be done with the first E guitar string, which is the thinnest. Tune the next string to also E. This string has an octave higher pitch than the first one.
  2. The second string pair is made up of two B-tuned strings, with the second string being an octave higher than the first.
  3. Both strings in the third course are tuned to the key of G, with the second string tuned an octave higher than the first.
  4. The second string in the fourth string pair is tuned an octave higher than the first, and both strings are tuned to the same note, D.
  5. In the fifth course, both strings are tuned to note A, with the second string tuned an octave higher than the first.
  6. On the sixth course, which is the lowest-pitched course, the second string is tuned an octave higher than the first string.

Due to the additional strings, tuning a 12-string guitar may seem complex, but with some familiarity with both the regular strings and the octave strings, it will not be a problem. You can easily master the 12-string guitar tuning with a little practice, understanding, and various tuning techniques.

Tuning Methods

Now that you know the proper order for tuning a 12-string guitar, it is crucial to understand how to do so accurately and effectively. Many guitar tuning accessories have been developed since it may be difficult to determine whether it is tuned correctly simply by listening to the tone the strings generate.

So, let’s explore some of the most popular technologies for tuning guitars. A good tuner can help your guitar produce a richer sound.

Chromatic Tuner

Source: Zager High Accuracy Sonic Guitar Tuner

A chromatic tuner’s ability to measure and display the pitch of musical notes enables guitarists to tune their instruments properly. A chromatic tuner is an adaptable tool for guitarists of all genres since it can detect and show any pitch, in contrast to traditional tuners, which are made for specific instruments or tunings.

The only difference between a guitar tuner and a chromatic tuner is that a guitar tuner is limited to tuning notes on guitars, whereas a chromatic tuner can be used to tune any note on other instruments as well.

There are three types of chromatic tuners:

  • Pedal tuner
  • Clip-on tuner
  • Microphone tuner

You can tune to any of the 12 notes that make up the chromatic scale between octaves by using a chromatic tuner. This is also handy for alternate tunings, provided you know which notes you’re looking for.

Many guitarists use chromatic tuners for tuning a 12-string guitar. After a note is played, the guitarist checks the display to determine if the strings are set to produce the correct pitch.

If the pitch is sharp, as in higher than the required pitch, the guitarist must loosen the string or alter the instrument. If the pitch is flat, as in lower than the required pitch, the guitarist must tighten the string or make some other instrument adjustment in order to raise the pitch.

You can acquire a chromatic tuner affordably either online or at any music store. This easy-to-use, little device is fastened to the head of the guitar. It determines the note you are playing by responding to the strings’ vibrations as you tune.

Guitar Tuner Apps

smartphone, mobile phone, google games

As you know, the world is developing more and more as each day passes by. New technology has made everyone’s lives a lot easier and consequently, many new software applications have been developed for specific purposes.

The pitch of musical notes played on a 12-string guitar can be measured and displayed using a piece of software, which is referred to as a guitar tuner app. The conventional standalone tuners or clip-on tuners might not be needed if you use one of these software applications instead.

Alternate, standard, and drop tunings are just a few tuning possibilities that users can choose from using the relatively simple and user-friendly interfaces of guitar tuner software. The kind of phone app can identify guitar notes and determine if they are in tune. Some apps also include additional features like metronomes, chord databases, and scales.

The accuracy of a tuner app is contingent upon the quality of the microphone in the device being used. A high-quality guitar tuner is guaranteed with a good microphone of good quality.

With the help of these amazing guitar tuning apps, a person can easily tune a 12-string guitar. The Android Google Play Store, the iOS App Store, and several Google Chrome websites provide different guitar-tuning phone apps. These apps come in both free and in-app purchase versions.

Some of the best guitar tuner apps include GuitarTuna, Boss Tuner, etc.

Zager 12-string guitar

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ZAD900CE 12 String Solid Spruce/Rosewood Acoustic Electric AURA Pro Series is one guitar that is rated in the top 5% of guitars in the USA. It is a full-sized guitar made up of solid Sitka Indian rosewood, which comes with maple binding, abalone, and pearl inlay.

Since it is a Zagers pro series guitar, these guitars play a little easier and sound a little more powerful than our regular series instruments.   The woods are aged longer.  The finish is applied thinner, so the sound board moves half a millimeter more when the strings are hit, providing a deeper bass response.  Each piece of abalone and pearl is laid by hand in combination with gold Grover tuners that pop to the eye.  

Experience the rich sound of our 12-string guitar with a sound demo here. Also, explore some of the great Zager 12-string guitar models.

About Zager Guitars

The best thing for beginners is that Zager has come up with a deal that if you buy any guitar from Zager, it comes with an accessory pack that includes all the essential accessories one needs when buying a guitar.

The Zegars accessory pack includes the following:

  • Free Zager pro-ABS digital humidified case $199
  • Free lifetime membership to Mr. Zager’s Guitar Lesson Library for $295
  • Free years’ worth of Zager custom EZ-Play pillow touch strings for $89
  • Free years’ worth of Zager carbon guitar picks for $39
  • Free Zager leather padded strap $48
  • Free Zager pro stainless capo $39
  • Free expedited shipping for $79

Zegar has the best guitars in the market, as they are super easy to play because they are made with a custom bracing system and custom string spacing. The bracing gives in the face slightly, so you barely have to press form chords, and the custom spacing makes it easier to play the guitar as there are no accidental buzzing and rattles.


Is a 12 String Guitar Difficult to Tune?

Since a 12-string guitar has extra strings that must be tuned an octave higher, tuning one can be extremely complex. Yet with practice and experience with the tuning process, it might eventually become easier. High quality guitar tuners are essential for tuning a 12-string guitar.

A 12-string guitar might not always be easily capable of alternative tunings due to the low tensile strings’ tendency to become extremely difficult for the guitarist to play, especially the high G string.

Is There an App For Tuning a 12 String Guitar?

Several apps and websites have been created since tuning the instrument can be challenging. You can easily and successfully tune your guitar using the free Guitar Tuners App for iPhone and Android. Guitar Tuner is freely downloadable. GuitarTuna.com is another amazing app that has an awesome feature which allows you to tune a tune.

Are Chords the Same on a 12-String Guitar?

A 12-string guitar can also be played similarly to a standard 6 string guitar because the guitar player can continue to use the same notes, chords, and guitar skills. Yet if players simultaneously play two strings, advanced techniques can become more challenging.

What is the Standard 12-String Guitar Tuning?

Standard E tuning (EADGBE) is a common choice for 12 string guitars. For tuning such guitars, you have to match the octaves of the pairs of the E, A, D, and G strings. Together with the other high B strings, the string sets must be tuned to equal frequencies. The standard tuning is the most well-liked and frequently applied tuning.

The first six strings are tuned like a standard 6 string guitar’s first six, while the remaining six strings are tuned in octaves with the first six. In turn, this causes the second string to be tuned to a higher octave than the first string, the fourth string to be tuned to a higher octave than the third string, and so on.

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Meet Emily, a guitar enthusiast who learned the art of guitars through pure observation. Passionate about the instrument, Emily has cultivated skills and insights by watching and appreciating the craft.

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