Guide To 12-String Guitars

Why Choose a 12-String Guitar? Guest blogger Diego from The Musician Lab will explain the benefits offered by 12-string guitars.

Playing a 12-string guitar

Canadian psych rockers The Elephant Stone, using an Eastwood Classic 12

Here at Eastwood, we offer an interesting mix of 12-string guitars: from the positively Beatles-y Classic 12, to the punk rocker Sidejack 12A 12-string is not just for "jingle-jangle" music, you's a very versatile and interesting instrument that any guitarist should consider adding to their collection.

Eastwood Classic 12

The Eastwood Classic 12...

Meet Our 12-String Range

Our 12-string guitars offer you all the jingle, all the jangle, and much more... but only YOU can decide which one is the perfect fit for you!

Eastwood Classic 12

Classic 12

If you want to sound like George Harrison or The Byrds, this Eastwood Classic 12 is the one for you! Beautiful vintage look and all the jingle-jangle you'll ever need! This is an instrument with great balance and feel. Maple top back and sides, set maple neck with unique fret markers. It's made for that everyday player that can stand and twang for hours!

Eastwood Sidejack 12 STD

Sidejack 12 STD

If you prefer a solid-body 12-string that also totally rocks, then the Sidejack 12 is the one for you! The 6-string version is one of our most popular models, perfect for surf music, punk, alternative.

Sidejack 12 DLX

Sidejack 12 DLX

The Sidejack 12 DLX features a Jazzmaster-style tremolo system... something you won't find on most 12-string guitars!

Surfcaster 12

Surfcaster 12

The Surfcaster 12 is the new kid on the block - now we're looking at a tribute to an early 90's model: the Charvel Surfcaster, which was used by a wildly variety of bands before being discontinued: Anthrax, The Charlatans and My Bloody Valentine all used a Surfcaster at one stage or the other.


12-String Guitars: What You Need To Know

Of course, having those extra six strings makes a world of difference, from how you play a chord to the extra trouble you'll have to go to change a set of strings. But, if twelve strings is what you really want, it's totally worth it! Guest blogger Diego will explain the ins and outs of 12-string guitars... enjoy!

Why Play A 12-String Guitar?

Some of your favorite songs were written on a 12 string guitar and you probably don’t even realize it! “Wish You Were Here” by Pink Floyd, “Blackbird” from the Beatles, “Stairway to Heaven” by Led Zeppelin are just a handful of the many fantastic songs composed with it.

Although we don’t see them around as commonly as their six-string brethren, there are a lot of reasons why you should consider getting a 12 string guitar.

It’s All About the Tone

The reason many players adopt a 12 string guitar is that it provides such a great diversity of tonal nuances ranging anywhere from bright and sharp to warm and mellow. Basically anywhere on the spectrum! Because of its unique construction it tends to have a very full sound that has a “chorus” or “sparkle” type feel to it. For the reason, it makes both a great rhythm and solo instrument!

The Tuning

One of the most common questions that people have about twelve string guitars is how they are tuned. You have a wide variety of possibilities here, but if we are talking about standard tuning than generally each of the thicker gauge strings is tuned to their standard note (E-A-D-G-B-E) and the narrower ones are tuned exactly the same except one octave higher.

This is what gives them that “chorus” type of sound. Here is what is generally considered the standard of twelve-string guitars: E3•E2 A3•A2 D4•D3 G4•G3 B3•B3 E4•E4, That said, you have such a huge range of options and different options that the best thing you can do is experiment and see what works for you best!

Playing a 12-String Guitar

With double the strings, playing a 12 string is a little bit different. They have a higher total string tension and are a good deal wider so playing chords requires more force. Soloing and string- bending can get rather challenging, so the instrument tends to be used for rhythm purposes.

12 strings are particularly great for those who have picked up a lot of skills from fingerstyle guitars. A lot of people are moving up from those to take the time to work on the 12 string as a solo instrument.

Acoustic musicians like Leo Kottke, have created very unique fingerstyle techniques, and even classical guitar musicians like Ralph Towner have adopted the instrument.


Taking Care of a 12-String Guitar

For a lot of musicians, the twelve string is a part of their instrument collection and they pull it out every so often. If they take it gigging, maybe they use it for a song or two and are done. As a result, they tend to get a lot less TLC than 6 strings despite actually needing a little more care to stay in the best shape.

Whether you focusing on the 12 string as a primary instrument or just adding it to your wall of axes, there are some basic steps you are going to want to take to protect your investment. When you are tuning go very slowly, just a half-step at the most at a time. Likewise, be very careful with the Truss rod. Remember, you are dealing with a lot more overall tension and even though 12 strings tend to be built sturdier, you still want to take it easy on the neck.

12-string guitar neck & headstock

Since there are twice as many strings, 12 strings are probably restrung about two times less frequently than six strings. A lot of sites will tell you that practice makes perfect, but if it is a headache for you then just drop your guitar off at your local music shop and have them do it. Then can do some other maintenance on your guitar and may be worth the $10-$20 charge for the service for you not to frustrate yourself over the course of several hours of trying to do it yourself.

Which is Right for Me: 6 or 12?

It really is up to you. Usually beginners work their way up to a 12 string since they typically have a higher action. It is also possible to turn a 12 string guitar into a 6, if it is not working for you at first. Once again, you just have to be careful with the tension and you will need to reconfigure the truss road.

Whether you choose a six string, 12 string, fingerstyle or classical guitar, it is all about choosing the ax that has the sound and that special feeling that inspires you to practice and play everyday. If you want to make the best music possible then your guitar should be an extension of yourself.

Eastwood Surfcaster 12

- By Diego Cardini

For more great tips and instrument reviews, head over to The Musician Lab where you can find the answer to any of your music questions!

View 12-string guitars for sale


  • steve

    Been Playing 12 string guitars since high school.Love George Harrison who was the first ti introduce the electric 12 With Hard Days Night on a Rickenbacher Electric 12.Which bt the way have the base strings first.Then Roger McGuin and “The Best of the Birds” I’ve been hooked ever since.I have a 1967 Gagliano_Hofner Single cutawsy electric 12 and a Charvel accoustic electric 12.But I have had many in the past.Love them all!

  • Jon Fine

    “Blackbird” wasn’t recorded on 12-string. There are plenty of other Beatles songs that were—“You Can’t Do That”, “A Hard Day’s Night”, “If I Needed Someone”—tons of them.

  • Lou Dasaro

    I am enjoying my Classic 12 – great sound and playability for my big hands! I only wish I could order a cool truss-rod cover like the one in the pic (and maybe a t-shirt?).

  • Jim Bryant

    I have been looking at getting a 12-string electric for quite awhile but really wanted to get close to the Byrds & Beatles ‘chimeness’ but could not even think of affording either a Fender XII or a Rickenbacker – then I discovered Eastwood Guitars! From everything I have heard and read, this is the guiat I have been looking for. I finally saved enough pennies and was able to take advantage of the Halloween sale (20% off everything) and ordered a white Classic 12 with a hard case. I can hardly wait for it to arrive!!!!!

  • scorpio

    I have the Surfcaster 12 and love it! The neck is actually quite wide, which accommodates all 12 strings quite nicely, especially down at the nut where you’re playing most of your chords anyway. I am very happy with this groovy guitar!

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