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5 Great Full-Sized 12-String Guitars for Around $1,000

Wesman Todd Shaw started playing the guitar when he was 12 years old. He loves nothing more than to pick one up and pluck some strings.

Martin D12X1AE 12-String

Martin D12X1AE 12-String

Everyone Loves to Hear a 12-String Guitar

When it comes to playing twelve-string guitars, people either love them or hate them. There is no doubt it is more work to play twelve strings instead of six, and when it comes to tuning a twelve-string guitar, well that's just nearly torture to my way of thinking. The thing about it all is, the twelve-string guitar sounds fabulous. The sound from the twelve-string instrument simply can't be reproduced with six strings; there's no comparison, and no mistaking one for the other.

The twelve-string guitar is a very versatile instrument. Though such guitars are mostly used for rhythmic backup for a singer or another instrument playing a lead, there is no reason why melodies can not be picked out on a twelve-string guitar; they're only a tad more difficult to play with twelve instead of six strings. Many great artists have played twelve-string guitars, and many more will in the future. From Doc Watson to Roger McGuinn, to Leo Kottke, the sound of the twelve-string guitar is memorable, distinctive, and timeless.

CF Martin D12X1AE Test /Review

Martin: D12X1AE 12-String Dreadnought acoustic-electric guitar

The Martin D12X1AE 12 string is a wonderfully priced 12 string dreadnought, and sells for just over six hundred dollars, leaving lots of wiggle room insofar as the pricing of instruments in the title of this page is concerned. This guitar is very inexpensive - but it is a Martin, and simply saying "Martin" on it means it's going to get a lot of respect and retain some resale value even were it to get scuffed up by the campfire.

Yes, this guitar comes with built-in electronics, it is an acoustic/electric guitar. Please do not feel regulated or restrained to the campfire area. For playing on stage, this is a musician touring acoustic guitar. Why is this Martin 12 string dreadnought so inexpensive?

Well, this guitar is meant to be the modern hippy's delight, it's built of almost entirely sustainable materials. It's FSC certified, but the appearance is that of a classic Martin Dreadnought with twelve strings. It's really surprising the price of this guitar is so low considering it has a solid Sitka spruce top, this is a real sneaker value instrument here.

Of course, Martin makes a lot of more expensive twelve-string dreadnoughts, but this one is such a terrific bargain for the price it would have been practically immoral for me to not list it here. For a more expensive all solid wood model, check out the Martin D-28 12 String guitar. Specifications are as follows:

  • Construction: Mortise/Tenon Neck Joint
  • Body Size: D-14 Fret
  • Top: Solid Sitka Spruce
  • Rosette: Multiple Black/White Boltaron With Red Fiber
  • Top Bracing Pattern: A-Frame "X"
  • Top Braces: Solid Sitka Spruce 5/16"
  • Back Material: Mahogany Pattern HPL Textured Finish
  • Side Material: Mahogany Pattern HPL Textured Finish
  • Neck Material: Rust Stratabond
  • Neck Shape: Low Profile
  • Nut Material: White Corian
  • Headstock: Solid/12 String Taper
  • Headplate: Mahogany Pattern Hpl
  • Fingerboard Material: Black Richlite
  • Scale Length: 25.4"
  • # Of Frets Clear: 14
  • # Of Frets Total: 20
  • Fingerboard Width At Nut: 1-7/8"
  • Fingerboard Width At 12th Fret: 2-5/16"
  • Finish Top: Hand Rubbed Finish
  • Bridge Material: Black Richlite
  • Bridge Style: Belly - 12 String
  • Bridge String Spacing: 2-5/16"
  • Saddle: 16'' Radius/Compensated/White Tusq
  • Tuning Machines: Chrome Enclosed W/ Small Buttons
  • Recommended Strings: Martin Studio Performance Extra Light Phosphor Bronze (MSP4600)
  • Bridge & End Pins: White W/ Black Dots
  • Pickguard: Tortoise Colour
  • Electronics: Fishman Sonitone
Ovation Elite 2058 TX 12-String Acoustic-Electric Guitar

Ovation Elite 2058 TX 12-String Acoustic-Electric Guitar

Ovation Elite 2058 TX 12-string Acoustic-electric Guitar

This elite 12-string features Ovation’s contour bowl composite body, which maximizes acoustic output and is ergonomically designed for comfort in any playing position. A deluxe AA solid-Sitka spruce top and ovation’s legendary lightweight, yet high-strength bracing give this guitar tremendous sonic power. An ultra-thin textured enamel black finish allows the soundboard to resonate freely, and sound ports on the bass-string side of ovation’s sculpted cutaway composite body enhance lower-frequency projection. Shaped to offer the fast feel of an electric guitar, the slim, hard-rock maple neck delivers superior sustain, while the op-pro preamp and ocp-1k pickup produce an uncompromising plugged-in performance.

The Ovation is a non-traditional guitar, but anyone who has eyes to see can tell that. It is a very very nice guitar; it only doesn't fit the needs of the one who prefers another tone or visual appeal. Do not let the plastic body deter you, my friends, listen with your ears and not your prejudices.

Myself, I've spent a lot of time with guitars just like this one and found them extremely to my liking, and perhaps you will do the same. You especially will should you prefer the alternative looks and the environmental friendliness of a guitar which looks different, and is absolutely built from non-traditional materials. I'm pricing this instrument on at just over six hundred and fifty dollars at $659.00.

Of course, you could find them for less on the used market. One thing you need to catch about this guitar which is VERY IMPORTANT is with this instrument, for whatever reason - the case is sold separately. So if you plan to have a case for it, and I'm sure you do, you need to look at this instrument as costing at least a hundred dollars more than the list price, if you want a premium case, consider this twelve-string guitar at $859.00 instead of $659.00 Further specifications for this Ovation twelve-string dreadnought are as follows:

  • 12-String Acoustic-Electric
  • Body Type: Deep Contour
  • Top: AA Solid Spruce
  • Bracing: Scalloped X
  • Scale Length: 25-1/4"
  • Fretboard: Rosewood With Black Stain
  • Bridge: Rosewood With Black Stain
  • Rosette: Multi-Soundhole Bass Side
  • Nut width: 1-11/16"
  • Machines: Black Ovation
  • OCP-1K Pickup
  • OP-PRO Preamp
  • Case sold separately
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Eastman E6D-12

Eastman E6D-12

Eastman E6D-12 Guitar Review from Acoustic Guitar

Eastman E6D-12 12-String Acoustic, Spruce/Mahogany

For just under one thousand dollars and coming with a hardshell case is this all solid wood guitar by Eastman. It has a solid spruce top, solid mahogany back and sides, and a very traditional look to it. This guitar even has an ebony fretboard and bridge, and a bone nut and saddle. It's hard to imagine a guitar with those kinds of specifications selling for that price, listed on Amazon at $960.00

It is important to note here these Eastman guitars are made in China. In China, the guitar manufacturers don't have to worry about some idiot presidential administration having some idiot federal police administration raiding them for any petty presidential reason as does an American guitar manufacturer like Gibson Guitars, and so Gibson can not sell you a guitar like this one at this price, as American regulations prevent the markets from being free in this way. In no way do I think lesser of the Eastman guitar for its having been made in China. Specifications are as follows:

  • Top: Solid Sitka Spruce
  • Back: Solid Mahogany
  • Sides: Solid Mahogany
  • Finish: Nitrocellulose
  • Rosette: Classic Styling
  • Neck: Mahogany
  • Hand fit Dovetail neck joint with diamond headstock volute
  • Nut Width: 1 ⅞
  • Fretboard: Ebony
  • Bridge: Ebony
  • Fretboard Inlay: Pearl Dots
  • Binding: Multi-ply
  • Tuning Machines: Sealed Mini Tuners
  • Nut: Bone
  • Saddle: Bone
  • Case: Hard Case
Blueridge BR-160-12 Historic Series Acoustic Guitar

Blueridge BR-160-12 Historic Series Acoustic Guitar

Acoustic Guitar Review - Blueridge BR-160-12 String

Blueridge Historic Series BR-160-12: 12-String Jumbo Acoustic Guitar

If you were to tell me the guitar above by Blueridge were not a dreadnought, but a jumbo, well, I'd have to agree with you. It sure looks like a jumbo-sized instrument to me. Very odd the Blueridge naming system is, as the BR-160 and the BR-260 are both D-28 style dreadnoughts. Whether this guitar is more a reproduction of a Martin J-40 or a Guild jumbo is a matter of some discussion.This Blueridge instrument, like the Eastman, is made in China, but Blueridge is more well known and compares really well with the Martin guitars their designs are almost always copied from.

This Blueridge guitar is all solid wood. The guitar is especially a bargain for being solid wood, and for having East Indian rosewood backs and sides. A US manufacturer could never provide you an instrument at this level for this price because of the over-regulation our guitar manufacturers must face. I'm pricing this amazing guitar from $914.00—just under a thousand dollars. Further specifications are as follows:

  • Select, solid Sitka spruce top with hand-carved parabolic top braces in authentic prewar forward X-pattern
  • Solid Indian rosewood back and sides with a center strip of delicate wood marquetry
  • White body binding with delicate herringbone inlay around top
  • Slim mahogany neck with dovetail neck joint and adjustable truss rod
  • Rosewood bridge and bridge plate
  • Rosewood peghead overlay adorned with a unique Mother-of-pearl and abalone design
  • Saga's exclusive Dalmatian style pickguard
  • Natural high-gloss finish with aged toner
  • 14:1 ratio vintage-style, 6-in-a-line closed-back tuners with round buttons for exceptional tuning accuracy and instrument balance
  • Bone nut and saddle
Yamaha LL16-12 - Natural, 12-string Guitar

Yamaha LL16-12 - Natural, 12-string Guitar

Yamaha LL16-12 - Natural, 12-String Guitar

Yamaha LL16-12 - Natural, 12-String Guitar

It's impossible to talk about great acoustic guitars for under a thousand dollars without mentioning Yamaha acoustic guitars. On this page this Yamaha guitar is different from all the others in one specific way, it uses a different spruce wood as the soundboard or top. All others save this one use a Sitka spruce top, the Yamaha uses an Engelmann spruce top, and Engelmann is possibly preferable to Sitka for a twelve string instrument. If you'd like to read about why Engelmann is maybe preferable to Sitka for you, then go here.

In my lifetime I've probably had my hands around several hundred Yamaha guitars, from the cheapest ones to the most expensive ones—and for the prices, those guitars sell at, I've always been impressed with Yamaha. Oh—Martin makes some better guitars, and even Martin is being outdone these days by some very amazing boutique custom craftsmanship totally handmade people, but Yamaha sets a benchmark, so to speak. This guitar, like the Blueridge, also is all solid wood, and with solid East Indian rosewood for its back and sides. When it comes to acoustic guitars, and for the money you spend for one, you'll always get a really good guitar for that price. I'm pricing this Yamaha on, brand new, at $899.00

Yamaha LL16-12 guitar features:

  • Die-cast gold tuners
  • Natural color
  • Gloss top finish
  • Solid spruce top, Engelmann
  • Solid East Indian rosewood back and sides
  • Mahogany neck (three ply)
  • Ebony fingerboard or fretboard
  • Ebony bridge
  • Hard shell case
  • Traditional Yamaha dreadnought design

Final Thoughts

So I hope to have provided a nice cross section of five acoustic guitars for around a thousand dollars, guitars of the acoustic variety with 12 strings. All of these instruments are quite a lot different from any other of them, and one of them breaks the mold for not being a dreadnought, but instead, a jumbo. Twelve-string guitars are almost never someone's primary guitar; they are more secondary guitars for specific songs a performer may play. All these instruments will feel and sound quite a lot different. One of them even has a plastic body, but yet can't be considered lesser at all for that. As always, shop around, all feedback and readers appreciated. Thanks.

© 2014 Wesman Todd Shaw

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