Looking to pick up your very first left handed 12 string guitar? This quick primer article should clue you in on what you need to know!
Although you probably won’t find many left handed 12 string acoustic guitars in your local store, there are tons of great options for us out there. Ever since I first saw John Butler playing Ocean on his Maton acoustic, I knew that a 12 string was missing from my collection. So I’ve gone out and done the research so that you don’t have to!
Left Handed 12 String Acoustic Guitars
Before we look at some good examples of left handed 12 string guitars, let’s go over some basic ideas to give you an idea of what you’re about to get yourself into…
How is a 12-String Tuned?
On a 12, the strings are paired. Although it’s totally up to you how you decide to pair them, generally the 4 lowest pitched strings are coupled with thinner strings tuned an octave higher, and the highest two are simply paired with another identical string. This gives you that fantastic, airy, jangly sound that only a 12-string can produce. The most common tuning from lowest to highest is (E3-E2) (A3-A2) (D4-D3) (G4-G3) (B3-B3) (E4-E4).
Although we have twice as many strings as a regular guitar, the paired strings are spaced closely together to allow them to still be played with a single finger simultaneously. It isn’t like a 7 or 8-string guitar where the fretboard is widened to accommodate extra strings – although the neck is very slightly wider. If you are comfortable with a 6-string acoustic, you’ll be fine on a 12 as well.
A Note About Extra Tension
The added tension introduced by the extra strings is high, which necessitates improved reinforcement of the neck and body. 12-string guitars used to have a bad reputation of warping over time, but with modern design techniques this is largely not an issue any more. Still, some players will tune down a half-step to help relieve stress. I only bring this point up to try and dissuade you from buying a super cheap 12-string which might not be up to the job.
Cost. You have twice as many strings, so restringing will set you back twice the price of a 6-string acoustic.
Time. You have twice as many strings, so restringing and retuning will take double the time.
Best Beginner Left Handed 12 String Guitars
If you’re anything like me, you just don’t have the patience to wait months for your local store to special order a guitar from the manufacturer. Need a left handed 12-string acoustic guitar right now? Here are my top 2 readily available choices which you can pick up today!
Seagull S12 – Best Value
If you’re looking to take your first steps into the world of left handed 12 string guitars, my top choice is the award winning Seagull S12. When it comes to sheer value for money, the Canadian made Seagulls are always topping player lists. The S12 is essentially a 12 string version of Seagull’s multi award winning S6 (which I recommend as one of the best beginner lefty acoustics in the Newbie Guide!).
It features a solid cedar top with Canadian wild cherry back and sides. The slightly shorter 24.84″ scale length helps to ease the tension on the maple neck with rosewood fingerboard. Having owned one myself, I can attest that these are absolutely incredible value for money. As far as i’m aware, this is the most affordable left handed option with the sought after solid wood top.
Oscar Schmidt OD312CELH – Budget Choice
On a tight budget, i’m going to send you over to the brand that really have us lefties covered when it comes to niche guitars – Oscar Schmidt. For those who don’t know, this company is actually owned by Washburn, and pumps out some excellent choices for lefties on a lower budget.
The Oscar Schmidt OD312CELH electro-acoustic won’t quite be able to go toe-to-toe with the Seagull above, but then again, it is half the price! However, it should give tentative new players a perfectly solid taste of 12-strings without breaking the bank.
It features a spruce top with mahogany back/sides, and a mahogany neck with rosewood fingerboard and bridge. A cutaway provides improved upper fret access, and comes complete with built-in EQ controls and a handy tuner.
Pricing Information: Check it out by clicking here.
If you’d prefer to stick with one of the bigger, more well known brands, then how about this beauty from acoustic legends Martin Guitars? Recently updated for 2016, it is undoubtedly one of the best value Martins available, at just a touch more expensive than the Seagull above.
Main features include a solid sitka spruce top, mahogany back and sides, extremely strong birch laminate neck and richlite fretboard. It is also equipped with the excellent Fishman Sonitone onboard preamp system.
All of the companies listed below offer left handed 12-string acoustic guitars which may or may not need to be special ordered depending on where you live. Note that this list is for acoustics guitars only – I plan to add a guide for left handed 12-string electric guitars at a later date.
- Collings – All guitars available left handed
- Carvin/Kiesel – All guitars available left handed
- Fender – Tim Armstrong Hellcat
- Furch/Stonebridge – All guitars available left handed
- LAG – T66D12 (now discontinued)
- Lakewood – All guitars available left handed
- Larrivée – All guitars available left handed
- Martin – All guitars available left handed
- Taylor – All guitars available left handed
Hopefully that’ll give you plenty of left handed 12 string guitars to choose from. If I’ve missed any brands, please leave a comment below!