6-String vs 12-String Guitars – Which Should You Choose?

When it’s time to select an acoustic guitar, you may notice that you can choose from a 6-string or 12-string guitars. There are several differences in these two types of instruments. Let us explain.

By far the more prevalent choice is the 6-string guitar. Played by guitarists of all styles, both strummed or finger-picked, the 6-string guitar comes in a wide variety of tonewoods and body variations. Most of the acoustic guitar songs you hear on the radio utilize a 6-string guitar. Think Ed Sheeran’s “The A Team,” The Kinks’ “Lola,” or The Beatles’ “Blackbird.”

Tonal choices

You’ll find that 6-string guitars come in a wide variety of tonal nuances, from bright and punchy, to smooth and warm and everything in between. A 12-string guitar also offers a sought-after tonal variation that is characteristically full-sounding, often with a sparkle that is the result of its unique construction. The 12-string doubles up strings in six pairs, with the doubles of the four lower strings being tuned an octave higher than the typical 6-string guitar tuning.

Well-known songs that are played on a 12-string guitar include The Eagles’ “Hotel California,” Bon Jovi’s “Wanted Dead or Alive,” and even Led Zeppelin’s “Stairway to Heaven.” It was also famously used by early blues and folk players like Lead Belly.

Laurel Canyon Laurel Canyon LD-100J 3/4 Size Steel, Junior Dreadnought (spruce top) Standard Laurel Canyon unveils the LD-100J — a 3/4 size travel guitar that’s a perfect fit for musicians with smaller hands. The LD100J features a genuine spruce top and mahogany back and sides for remarkably full volume. Finishing touches like an “O” style rosette and body/neck binding ensure that it looks as beautiful as it sounds. Learn More

Construction differences

Structurally 6-string and 12-string guitars do differ. First, you’ll notice that the headstock on a 12-string guitar is longer to accommodate all of the strings and tuning heads. The neck and body on a 12-string also have to be reinforced a bit more to handle the extra string tension, and sometimes the necks will have a shorter scale to reduce tension as well.

The biggest difference you’ll notice as you play is the width of the neck. A 12-string guitar will have a wider neck to make room for all of the strings. This can make it a little trickier to fret than a 6-string.

Fender CD-160SE 12-String Acoustic-Electric Guitar Natural The CD160SE-12 dreadnought guitar from Fender features Fishman Aero electronics with a built-in tuner, a solid spruce top, mahogany back and sides, rosewood fingerboard with snowflake fingerboard inlays, and chrome die-cast tuners. The gig-ready Fishman Aero electronics include a tuner with an LED Display and on/off switch, volume, bass, mid, treble, phase switch, and a low battery indicator light. Learn More

Which should you choose?

There are many players that start off on a 12-string, like pop artist Matt Nathanson, who picked up a 12-string from day one and never looked back. There’s something about that 12-string sparkle that can’t be denied!

You’ll find that a lot of players will begin learning on a 6-string guitar and then add a 12-string to their guitar collection to enjoy its beautiful, full tone as they improve their fretting and right hand technique.

Our advice is to choose a guitar with a tone and feel that inspires you to play and practice, and you can’t go wrong!

Once you purchase and start playing your guitar, you’ll likely experience fingertip pain. For some advice on how to manage it check out Guitar Tips: Toughening Up Your Fingertips. 

 

 

Music & Arts

Music & Arts is a family owned and operated music resource for parents, students, educators and musicians. With over 140 stores in 23 states and the largest private lesson program in the United States, Music & Arts is an authority on music education and a resource for new and experienced musicians alike.

No Comments Yet

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.