Guitar Tricks Blog

How to Play a 12-String Guitar

How to Play a 12-String Guitar

This guest blog post is presented by our friends at Deplike Guitar FX

If you're a fan of the sound of an acoustic guitar, then you're probably listening to a song that features two guitarists playing together seamlessly. 

Various models on the market can accommodate different budgets. With various features and options, 12-string acoustic guitars can provide a unique and authentic sound.

The sound of 12-string electric and acoustic guitars has captivated listeners for decades. Whether you're looking for an electric or acoustic guitar, there's something special about this versatile instrument.

This guide will walk you through the steps needed to learn how to play a 12-string guitar. Although it's commonly considered the same model as a six-string guitar, the small differences can make it hard to transition seamlessly.

What is a 12 String Guitar?

Before the electric guitar became a common instrument in rock music, 12-strings were a staple in folk music. These instruments' added power and resonance made them an ideal choice for artists who wanted to perform without amplifiers. The jangle and shimmer of these instruments also added a more appealing dimension to their voices. For solo acoustic performances, 12-strings had an advantage.

Due to the emergence of the electric guitar industry during the 1950s and 1960s, companies such as Danelectro and Rickenbacker started making electric versions of 12-strings. While these instruments were no longer necessary for volume, their unique vibrations and choruses became more apparent with the addition of electric pickup systems.

The 12-string guitar is not equipped with 12 strings specifically tuned to different notes, such as those used in seven- and eight-string models. Instead, it has six strings that are the same as those used in a regular guitar. These are then paired with six other strings tuned to the same standard. The resulting strings are then tuned to unison.

Unlike other extended-range models, the 12-string guitar doesn't open up any notes on the fretboard. Its appeal is due to the added resonance and the jangle of the additional six strings. Also, since their bodies and necks are close to the size of six-string models, the learning curve for these guitars is shorter.

Like other six-string models, the 12-string guitar can be played similarly. Just like with regular six-string models, the finger is placed on the bridge so that the body covers both the original and the matched strings simultaneously.

What Does a 12-String Guitar Sound Like?

Due to the extra strings, some 12-string models are referred to as "shimmering" and "bright." This type of guitar has a natural tone often used by rhythm players and lead guitarists who need a more balanced sound. The extra weight of these strings makes them ideal for players who need a more accurate and fuller sound.

Besides being more balanced, 12-string models also have a deeper and more harmonically rich sound. This is because there are double the strings that are typically found in a six-string guitar. These extra strings create a more balanced sound when compared to a standard 12-string. Besides the notes that your guitar produces when it plucks a string, these are also the notes that are added to the instrument's body. With flatwound strings, you can achieve a more vintage sound by adding a more balanced tone.

A 12-string model can provide players with greater sustain than a six-string guitar. The increased vibration helps the sounds carry longer, and it also adds to the overall playing experience. The world's most famous 12-string models are acoustic or hollow-body instruments.

Semi-hollow and hollow-body models provide a more balanced sound than standard 12-string models. They also offer a warm and woody tone. Some companies, such as Taylor, make exceptional 12-string models. The 150e 12-string is an example of their finest acoustic models.

How Do You Tune a 12-String Guitar?

Although 12-string electric guitars are more painful to play than normal ones, they follow the same tuning rules as six-string models. The lower four strings have pairs of higher notes, while the top two have double-coiled strings at the same pitch.

Some 12-string models follow a different arrangement. For instance, the standard 12-strings place the higher string on top, which means that if you strum down, you can hit the "pair" first string. However, this setup is only slightly different from other setups. You can use Deplike Guitar FX for good and strong tuning.

Neck Tension on 12-String Guitars

Adding six strings to a 12-string guitar increases the tension on the body and neck of the instrument. This is especially true for acoustic models, which have thinner soundboards and are more delicate. If you're planning on tuning a 12-string guitar, remove all of the strings from one side at a time.

Doing so will cause a drop in tension that can affect the neck and body of the instrument. This can lead to various issues, such as cracks and pulling.

One of the most important factors you should pay attention to when tuning a 12-string guitar is the high-octave G string. This is the highest string on the body and neck of the instrument, and it has the most tension of any other string. You might accidentally snap this string while trying to pitch it if you're not careful.

The heavier gauge strings are more likely to resist breaking and should be tuned gradually. You should also avoid using a string winder to speed up the process, as this can cause the tension to drop. To minimize the risk of flying strings, keep one hand over the neck while working with these strings.

After you've cut the old strings off, replace them with new ones as quickly as possible. Doing so will allow you to free up some space between the tuning pegs, which will allow you to insert a new string. To avoid jarring shifts to the neck, ensure the tension is balanced on both sides of the instrument.

After a while, the re-treading and tuning process will become easier, as it will allow you to get the most out of your 12-string guitar. It may take a couple of hours to re-tread a traditional model, but the enhanced tone will be worth it.

How to Play a 12-String Guitar

A 12-string guitar is similar to a standard ax in terms of playing it the same way. It can be used for all of the parts that you usually play with just six strings.

Contrary to popular belief, a 12-string guitar is not a replacement for a traditional instrument. It has a unique sound and characteristics that allow players to create their unique style. Besides its unique sound, the 12-string also has a variety of other factors that contribute to its distinct playing style.

Besides its unique sound, the 12-string also has a variety of other factors that contribute to its distinct playing style. One of these is the traditional techniques and styles that are associated with it.

Before you start playing a 12-string guitar, most guitarists have already experienced playing six-string instruments. This doesn't mean that they need to re-learn anything in order to play it well. While most players will be able to carry over their knowledge, there are some techniques that dozen-string players can use to improve their playing.


Although 12-string instruments are similar in terms of their body size and shape, there are some notable differences. These include the unusual features that make them an ideal choice for players who are familiar with the techniques used on six-string instruments.

Some of the tricks commonly used on 12-string instruments are focused on the hand technique, while others are on the arm and picking. To make the transition from a six-string to a 12-string guitar as smooth as possible, keep these tips in mind.

The width of the neck of a 12-string guitar is slightly wider to accommodate the extra strings. Many players are not used to the extra weight when they first pick up a new instrument. To keep the instrument in tip-top shape, you may need to purchase various accessories. One of these is a capo, which is designed for nylon-string instruments.

The addition of extra strings can also be a challenge for guitarists. Manufacturers of different types of instruments provide varying spacing between the strings, which means that they can be pressed down with one hand at the same time. If the strings are close enough, you can still play the same way if you have a six-string model.


Due to the complexity of playing both strings simultaneously, many guitarists struggle to maintain a consistent tone when they fret both instruments simultaneously. To solve this issue, some 12-string guitarists use a flatter fret technique. Instead of pressing down on the strings directly with the tip of their fingers, they flatten their hand and fret them with a larger portion of the finger.

Keep your fingers on the palm to maintain a proper hand position and not lean over the fretboard. The additional surface area helps ensure that both the standard and the matched strings ring properly. Also, ensure you don't accidentally mute the other strings on the sides.


When it comes to picking a 12-string guitar, the extra strings can sometimes make it feel a bit more difficult to play. This is because the body of the instrument tends to feel stiffer.

Since adding extra strings can make it difficult to play, 12-string guitarists must avoid accidentally skipping any notes while they're playing. To achieve the full potential of this instrument, they must practice all 12 strings simultaneously. Having a consistent practice routine can help improve this skill.

To improve this skill, it's important that you keep your hands and wrists moving as you strum. Doing so will allow you to carry out all of the work while you're playing. Having a compact strumming motion will also help you perform better with single-note lines and chord progressions.

Who Plays 12 String Guitars?

The 12-string guitar has been a prominent part of guitar history, both in terms of its popularity and in other genres. Some of the most prominent individuals who have played this instrument are some of the most famous musicians in the world. Their techniques and innovations have helped shape the instrument that we play today.

Although there are many famous players of the 12-string guitar, it might be hard to choose a list that is representative of all of them. This page aims to provide a list of some of the most inspirational individuals who have played this instrument.

Most people know Roger McGuinn for his work with The Byrds, but he is also known for his contributions to the development of the electric guitar. Among the many people who play the instrument, he is regarded as one of the first individuals to use a 12-string. Take a listen to the song "I'll Feel a Whole Lot Better" by The Byrds. The song's rhythm guitar makes the song's pulse move forward.

Although McGuinn was one of the first guitarists to use a 12-string, George Harrison from The Beatles started using it before he was even given a prototype model in 1964. He would go on to play numerous historical recordings with the help of his 12-string. One of the most prominent songs that Harrison would play with his 12-string was "A Hard Day's Night." Here, he demonstrates how he uses his instrument to carry the song's weight by strumming the opening chord.

After Harrison and McGuinn established a trail for the use of the 12-string in popular music, Peter Buck started to expand its sonic possibilities. His style became more prominent during the 1980s and 1990s. Most of his work was influenced by the extra shine and tone that the 12-string provided. Buck was the only guitarist in R.E.M., and he was able to create his own unique sound by blending the various elements of his instrument.

The 12-string version of the standard six-string axe is one of the most popular variants. It has been used in the development of various forms of music, such as rock and roll and indie rock.

Although it's easy to play for guitarists who are familiar with standard six-string models, the 12-string model offers a unique tone and feel. If you're interested in learning more about this type of guitar, take the time to experiment with it.

When playing 12-string guitar, you can use Deplike Guitar FX to get a more effective and saturated sound or to get better sound outputs. You can click here to get information about Deplike Guitar FX, see how to use the application, and download it.



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