Five Tempting 12 String Electric Guitar Options

The unique jangle sound of a 12-string electric guitar has inspired several songs across different musical genres. Some of these songs include the Beatles’ “A Hard Day’s Night,” The Byrds’ “Turn! Turn! Turn!,” the Mahavishnu Orchestra’s “You Know You Know,” and many others.

Incredible Craftsmanship
guild starfire i 12

Guild Starfire I​

Classic Guild design, with impeccable craftsmanship, and tone.

Retro Appeal & Sound
gretsch g5422g 12

Gretsch G5422G

Unmmistakably Gretsch in appearance and tone. Retro style aesthetics.

Best 12 String Guitar Overall
rickenbacker 360 12

Rickenbacker 360/12

Popularized by the Beatles, combining iconic tone, deluxe features, and premium build quality.

Budget Friendly Pick
squier paranormal jazzmaster xii

Squier Paranormal Jazzmaster XII

Standout Jazzmaster Body paired with a striking headstock design, priced accessibly.

Modern Playability and Quality
ibanez as7312 artcore

Ibanez AS7312

Quality Construction Rivaling Even Some Expensive 12-String Guitars, Minus the Steep Price.

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This unique 12-string sound is produced when a pair of strings are plucked together. The first four pairs of strings, also known as courses, are tuned in octaves, while the highest two strings (high B and E) are tuned in unison. 

This pairing creates a natural chorus effect. It’s because the minute differences in pitch and timbre of the paired strings converge and are heard as one.

Most agree that 12-string guitars are commonly used for rhythm and accompaniment. 

However, guitarists like Jimmy Page and George Harrison have demonstrated that you can do more than play chords with these guitars.

Here are five of the best 12-string electric guitars that we’ve researched for you. 

It’s hard to go wrong with these high quality instruments, you can also use them as a spring board for your quest to finding other good 12-string guitars.

Sweetwater

Best 12-String Electric Guitars - Details

Guild Starfire I-12

Incredible Craftsmanship

guild starfire i 12

Guild Starfire I-12 String Electric Guitar

Guitarsite Expert Opinion

The Guild Starfire I-12 is a practical choice if you’re seeking quality craftsmanship at an affordable price point.

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Guild is well known for acoustic guitars, but they also have a line up of high quality electric guitars. And their 12-string offering, the Starfire I-12 carries that same meticulous craftsmanship and quality.

This 12-string electric guitar is Guild’s most budget-friendly 12-string electric guitar, part of their Starfire I series.

This semi-hollow guitar has a mahogany body and a center block. Unlike most 12-string guitars of this style, it offers sustain and chime while keeping feedback to a minimum.

With a short-scale mahogany neck, a slim “U” profile, and a 1 11/16″ nut width, this is a highly playable 12-string guitar. 

This setup also makes it easier to access the upper frets.

The Tune-o-Matic bridge and stop bar tailpiece help stabilize intonation and sustain. 

This guitar is fitted with Guild HB-2 humbuckers, which provide a variety of vintage and modern 12-string tones. 

These pickups have the added feature of coil-splitting for more sonic options.

Visually, it has a classic Guild look, with a bound body, rosewood fretboard, and a full-gloss Cherry Red finish.

This is the one for you if you’re looking for a 12-string guitar with exceptional craftsmanship.

Pros:

Cons:

Specifications:
Body: Mahogany
Build: Semi-Hollow Body
Neck: Mahogany
Fingerboard: Indian Rosewood
Scale Length:: 24.75″
Nut Width: 1.653″
Fingerboard Radius: 12.5″
Frets: 22
Bridge Pickup: Guild HB-2 Humbucker Nickel
Neck Pickup: Guild HB-2 Humbucker Nickel
Controls: Neck Volume & Tone, Bridge Volume & Tone, 3-way Toggle Pickup Switch, and Push/Pull Coil Split
Bridge: Guild Tune-O-Matic, Nickel

Gretsch G5422G

Retro Appeal and Tone

gretsch g5422g 12

Gretsch G5422G 12-String Electric Guitar with Gold Hardware

Guitarsite Expert Opinion

Gretsch’s G5422G-12 is a 12-string electric guitar that captures the classic ’50s and ’60s Gretsch vibe. This hollow-body guitar offers authentic Gretsch sound and style in a sleek and playable package.

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The Gretsch G5422G-12 captures that classic ’50s and ’60s Gretsch vibe. 

This 12-string beauty can deliver the lush sound synonymous with the era. 

It’s thanks to its complete hollow-body construction and authentic Filter’Tron pickups.

It is constructed with a laminated maple body and a vintage-inspired design. 

It also features refined arches and new trestle block bracing that reduces feedback and improves sustain and attack. 

This results in a punchy, well-defined sound with a classic chime and enhanced clarity. 

You are also assured of enhanced playability with its maple neck shaped in a comfortable Classic “C” profile.

The G5422G-12 has plenty of premium features. This includes its upgraded controls, oversized bound F-holes, and pearloid Hump Block inlays.

FT-5E Filter’Tron™ pickups, versatile controls, and iconic Gretsch aesthetics make this guitar a solid choice. It is ideal if you want that authentic Gretsch sound and style.

Stock currently available in Single Barrel Burst or Walnut Stain finishes with gold hardware. 

This 12-string guitar features excellent playability, tone, and sleek aesthetics.

Pros:

Cons:

Specifications:
Body: Laminated Maple
Build: Hollow Body
Neck: Maple
Fingerboard: Laurel
Scale Length:: 24.72″
Nut Width: 1.77″
Fingerboard Radius: 12″
Frets: 22
Bridge Pickup: FT-5E Filter’Tron
Neck Pickup: FT-5E Filter’Tron
Controls: Volume 1. (Neck Pickup), Volume 2. (Bridge Pickup), Master Volume with Treble Bleed, Master Tone
Bridge: Adjusto-Matic with Secured Laurel Base

Rickenbacker 360/12​

Best 12 String Electric Guitar (Overall)

rickenbacker 360 12

Rickenbacker 360/12​ 12-String Electric Guitar

Guitarsite Expert Opinion

The Rickenbacker 360/12 is a renowned 12-string guitar, made popular by George Harrison of The Beatles. It is celebrated for its deluxe features, iconic sound, and comfortable playability. It’s a great choice if you want a high-quality build and sound.

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The Rickenbacker 360/12 guitar is renowned for its deluxe features and iconic sound. This 12-string guitar has been a staple in recording studios for over thirty years.

Unsurprisingly, a member of The Beatles would use a high-end guitar. But the Rickenbacker 360/12 is undeniably gorgeous in looks and sound.

One of the standout improvements of this classic is its slimmed and re-contoured neck. This makes it easier to play than its older versions. The Rickenbacker 360/12 features 21 frets and a short scale length, providing a comfortable playing experience.

If you’re into that haunting, melodic chorus-like characteristic of Rickenbacker twelve-strings, this guitar delivers in spades.

However, despite its many advantages, this 12-string guitar is very expensive. Its need for a factory setup is weird, considering its high price.

This model only has a 6-saddle bridge. If you want a more vibrant sound, buy a 12-saddle bridge and install it in this one.

So, if you’re into a 12-string with a great tone and looks but are okay with the price, the Rickenbacker 360/12 is the guitar for you. This guitar is iconic for a reason, and if you’re willing to pay for that level of quality, then go for it.

Pros:

Cons:

Specifications:
Body: Maple
Build: Semi-Hollow Body
Neck: Maple and Walnut
Fingerboard: Rosewood
Scale Length:: 24.75″
Nut Width: 1.63″
Fingerboard Radius: 10″
Frets: 21
Bridge Pickup: Rickenbacker Hi-gain
Neck Pickup: Rickenbacker Hi-gain
Controls: Volume (2), Tone (2), Mix control, Mono/stereo output
Bridge: 6-Saddle Bridge with “R” Trapeze Tailpiece

Squier Paranormal Jazzmaster XII

Budget Friendly 12-String Guitar

squier paranormal jazzmaster xii

Squier Paranormal Jazzmaster XII 12 String Electric Guitar

Guitarsite Expert Opinion

The Squier Paranormal Jazzmaster XII 2-string electric guitar features the classic Jazzmaster body. It is equipped with a dual pickup system and has the striking aesthetics of an old classic guitar.

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Squier introduces the Paranormal Jazzmaster XII 12-string Electric Guitar. It carries the classic offset body shape of the iconic Jazzmasters.

This 12-string has dual Fender-designed Alnico single-coil Jazzmaster pickups. These pickups offer an authentic chime-y tone with the right jingle, jangle, and twang. A 3-way switching system complements the instrument for some tone-shaping action.

Its vintage-inspired “hockey stick” headstock design pays homage to Fender’s legacy. The instrument’s hybrid string-through-body/top-load bridge ensures reliable intonation.

Regarding playability, this guitar has a “C”-shaped neck for ease of fretting. This thin neck design and a single-action truss rod with graphite support rods ensure stable neck performance.

Regarding hardware, you’re looking at a fully adjustable 12-saddle hardtail bridge. It’s got a vintage-style tuning machine and a chrome hardware finish for dependable tuning stability.

Despite its low price, it has a gloss polyurethane finish for the body and a gloss urethane finish that covers its neck. These aesthetics hint at a touch of class that enhances the instrument’s overall appeal and feel.

Add a 3-ply mint green pickguard and white “Witch Hat” control knobs to round out the package. Aside from blue, it also comes in an Olympic White finish for a cleaner look.

Overall, the Squier Paranormal Jazzmaster XII is a solid choice. With a striking appearance, this guitar is a nod to an iconic model in a 12-string format.

Pros:

Cons:

Specifications:
Body: Poplar
Build: Offset Solidbody
Neck: Maple
Fingerboard: Laurel
Scale Length:: 25.5″
Nut Width: 1.6875″
Fingerboard Radius: 9.5″
Frets: 21
Bridge Pickup: Fender Designed Alnico Single-Coil
Neck Pickup: Fender Designed Alnico Single-Coil
Controls: Volume, Tone
Bridge: Fully Adjustable 12-Saddle Hardtail Bridge

Ibanez AS7312 Artcore

12-String Electric Gutiar with Modern Playability 

ibanez as7312 artcore

Ibanez AS7312 Artcore​ 12-String Electric Guitar

Guitarsite Expert Opinion

The Ibanez AS7312 Artcore is a 12-string electric guitar built to Ibanez’ specs, ensuring modern playability and good construction at a more accessible price point. It also has a  darker tone. This hollow-body electric guitar is an excellent option for a quality yet affordable 12-string.

 

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The Ibanez AS7312 Artcore Hollow Body 12-String Electric Guitar combines quality construction with a chimey tone that evokes bands from the ’60s, like The Byrds.

It starts with the neck. It’s made of Nyatoh and set into the body for a rich mid-low end. 

The bound walnut fretboard adds to the guitar’s tonal balance. In addition, its medium frets with acrylic block inlays make for a comfortable playing experience.

Its body has a Linden top, back, and sides, offering a well-balanced and resonant tone. Paired with the Classic Elite pickups at the neck and bridge, you get a nuanced sound with a solid low-end response. 

This means that this guitar will deliver excellent clarity and articulation, whether you’re strumming chords or playing intricate melodies.

You have an ART-12 bridge and tailpiece on the hardware side. This and the chrome finish ensure precise intonation and tuning stability.

Overall, the Ibanez AS7312 is an excellent option for a 12-string that leans more toward a darker tone. 

It delivers sound that can rival some expensive 12 strings while having a modest price tag.

Pros:

Cons:

Specifications:
Body: Linden
Build: Semi-Hollow
Neck: Nyatoh
Fingerboard: Walnut
Scale Length:: 24.7″
Nut Width: 1.692″
Fingerboard Radius: 12″
Frets: 22
Bridge Pickup: Classic Elite (H) Passive/Ceramic
Neck Pickup: Classic Elite (H) Passive/Ceramic
Controls: Volume (2), Tone (2)
Bridge: ART-12 bridge

Things to Consider in Choosing the Best 12-String Electric Guitar

Sound Quality

12-String guitars have extra high-frequencies, and these are captured nicely by the pickups of the guitars listed here.  Tone is subjective, but it filters or narrows down your search to guitars that sound close to the tone you’re trying to achieve.

A good 12-string electric guitar should give you good chime-y clean tones. Even better if it sounds full and gritty when overdriven. Guitars that offer diverse tones are also good for those who need sonic flexibility.

Playability

A comfortable neck shape and smooth fretboard can significantly enhance your playing. This is especially needed since you’re pressing on extra strings with a 12-string electric guitar. String gauge also impacts playability, along with scale length. 

Construction Quality

Good quality tonewoods, build, and finish results in better resonance, sustain, and durability over time. Craftsmanship is important especially in the neck area and fingerboard, since you’re hands will feel any shape inconsistencies. To be safe, go to a seller that you know is reputable, same with manufacturer or brand choice.

Hardware and Electronics

Reliable hardware ensures stable tuning and accurate intonation. Electronics which include the pickups and related controls – impact guitar tone greatly. High quality pickups give you clear and articulate sound reproduction. While good quality controls allow for good tone shaping.

Budget Considerations

While higher-priced guitars may offer high-end features and craftsmanship, but quality options are also available at more affordable prices. Still, If you want a premium product, you’ll have to be prepared to spend more. 

Personal Preferences

Other factors to consider include aesthetics, brand reputation, and any specific features or personal characteristics necessary to you as a guitarist. This may include something as simple as a specific finish, or something more complex like an upgraded bridge hardware, active pickups, and the like.

Conclusion

As heard in iconic songs, the unique jangle sound of a 12-string electric guitar underscores its appeal and versatility. 

Each guitar in this list has distinct features and characteristics that cater to a wide range of playing styles and tastes. 

By carefully weighing the aspects above, you can find the perfect 12-string electric guitar to inspire you to create captivating music.

Alexander Briones

Lead Author

Jerome Arcon

Contributor: Research and Supplemental Writing

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