Hey guys, new to the forum.
My current 12 strings has decided to have a go at self destructing and has ripped the bridge off. Luckily not to much soundboard damage but as it's a £45 guitar and the repair is £60 and as it's also in need of a neck reset I'm gunna have a crack at it all myself.
So I'm now in need of a new 12 string. But I'm a bit apprehensive to say the least. so im currently only a novice player. Self taught but intend to have A good few lessons in the next 12 months.
But anyway let's get into guitars.
The misses' dad has a 70's Eko ranger 12. I personally really like it but I know that they are a bit marmite, but that's the guitar that got me into 12 strings.
Eko are doing vintage reissues at between £210 and £320 depending on spec. I'm very tempted by one but I'm really unsure. My budget is around 350 to 400 but I'm willing to stretch that a bit. I want to get myself something new because I want it to last and I like the comfort of a warranty.
A couple guitars that have really caught my eye are the following
Dean AXS dreadnaught 12 that is mahogany top back and sides. It looks stunning but I can't find uk stock. There are a couple from the states that come to about £250 including shipping. The only thing I don't know about them is if they are all laminate, solid top at complete solid body. Ideally I want a solid body.
2 guitars I've seen at just over my £400 budget are an Ozark although I can't remember the model and a dean ultra exotica quilted ash top and mahogany back and side. Both of these are solid body and come in at £440 including shipping,
In my price range are allot of fenders, takamine, wash burns and a few others.
I play a bit of a mix of everything and I intend to stay that way. I also have a bit of a thing for silk and steel strings. Sound wise I'm after something with strong but clear mid and bass and slightly less on the treble side of things.
Anyway guys all advice is very welcome and needed haha.
Also if you could include a bit of reasoning behind your suggestions that would be greatly appreciated as I hate the 'this is crap buy this' type of answers as they help no one.
Thanks guy
Oh and if anyone is interested in knowing, my current 12 that's died is an aria aw110t solid cedar top.
The Dean "Exotica" series, especially the "quilted XXXXX wood top" are all laminate, and not even laminated from materials considered to be "tone woods", Ditto for Ibanez "Exotic Wood" series, which also includes a "quilted maple" 12 string. They're probably "meh" at best.

As to "because I have one", I'm going to recommend the Taylor 115e. I'll be qualifying that by saying I've had six other 12 strings as well, and save for a Guild jumbo, (likely worth 3 or 4 grand these days), the Taylor is the best of the bunch.

Taylor's 115e (their least expensive twelve), is pretty much flying off store shelves these days, and my recommendation is hardly unique. Pretty much anyone I've heard of having bought one, gushes over it.

So, there you go. This guitar is worth about $750.00 US. It's up to you to do additional research to corroborate my endorsement. I will say I bought this guitar because I already had a Crafter D-8-12, and pretty much can't stand the sound of it. My other 2 twelves are Crafter hybrids, (basically semi-hollow guars with piezo pickups), and so can't be compared directly to the Taylor full size dreadnought acoustic. The Taylor is A/E, or "Electric-acoustic" as you are wont to call them across "the pond". That's the only configuration in which the guitar is available.

^^^^ 150e?

I tried one a short while ago and thought it was a terrific guitar in terms of both playability and tone. They are also very easy to fix if they go banana-shaped, which is a significant risk if you use high string tensions on a 12-string. The b&s are laminate, which wouldn't bother me in the least, the top is solid.
Well thankyou so far for your answers. Very helpful. Really gutted about the deans and the ibanez. Both were actually my favourites. Bit annoyed though as both guitars under their blurb are solid body and top. The dean here is £440 solid mahogany back side and solid quilted ash top apparently. And the ibanez is supposedly solid figured ash all over at £350.
Will have a look into Taylor but are the ones mentioned in my price range new? As that is the key thing I want a new guitar.
Also it's unfortunate but Taylor's are off the table. Most other guitars tend to follow the exchange rate between USD and GBP. Taylor's however just seem to change the sign. And here are starting at £750-£800! I can't justify that unfortunately. I don't work at the moment and am a uni student. I have 350 saved up but willing to go in for 450 for something good but that's my hard limit.
I miss my 12 string and this whole finding a new one ordeal is becoming a real soul crusher!
Quote by Thom1989
Well thankyou so far for your answers. Very helpful. Really gutted about the deans and the ibanez. Both were actually my favourites. Bit annoyed though as both guitars under their blurb are solid body and top. The dean here is £440 solid mahogany back side and solid quilted ash top apparently. And the ibanez is supposedly solid figured ash all over at £350.
Will have a look into Taylor but are the ones mentioned in my price range new? As that is the key thing I want a new guitar.
This is simply a function of my lack of knowledge of Dean's (and possibly Ibanez') current line. Their original "Exotica" series was poorly received. I noticed the 've since released
some solid top 6 strings, I wasn't aware' that extended to their 12 strings.

I can assure you however, that neither of these instruments are solid top;



So, we're at an impasse. I can't think of anything which sounds better than one of those Taylors in that price range, and I've already told you my personal excursion into the less expensive 12 string arena was unsatisfactory. Since I play left handed, I would be unable to tour all the music stores in my area to develop more suggestions for you. Sorry I couldn't be of more help.
No you have been a great help. I was just after clarification. Mostly because I don't trust online retailers to provide accurate descriptions. A couple have specified solid and some just state the wood type and leave the construction method frustratingly ambiguous. As I'm in the uk there doesn't seem to be quite the same variety and the higher end is made guitars seems to carry a massively inflated price tag compared to their respective us pricing. Possibly down to import taxes as such but it does unfortunately put some of the guitars recommended a good couple of hundred pounds out of my price range. To give an example what you pay $700-$800 for would equate to around $900-$1000 if I convert the gbp price to usd. With it being Easter all of my music stores are still closed but I'm going to go and have a nosey around play a few and see what I like. As I think I mentioned in my OP I have a huge soft spot for d'adario and john Pearce silks. Having done a bit more research in still quite tempted to go for the
Ibanez AEW4012AS and slap a set of 11-47 d'adario ej35s on. I've used these on my cheap stagg laminate body and it completely transformed the sound from a twangy noise box to a nice warm and subtle sounding instrument. But I'm still on the fence as if I'm going to end up with a lower end laminate I may just save some money buy an Eko vintage reissue as I know how they play and sound and that was my first 12 string love. Damn I hate choice! Haha
Thanks for clarifying the construction on those 2 guitars. Out of curiosity what wasn't good about them?
What's the general consensus on washburns, fenders, yamahas, tanglewoods, takamines etc that are sub $600? They all seem to pop up in searches. Most appear to be laminate. Some are solid top.
As has probably been deduced by most I'm not clued up on guitar brands. But i have noticed a that some brands have guitars ranging from £200 to £3500 whilst others seem to only make guitars in the £250-£400 ish region. Now in my experience of other products (mostly biking stuff) just because a brand sells stuff that costs 2k doesn't mean it's 300-500 quid stuff is good. I've bought £300 shocks from the big names who also sell several thousand pound models only to find out it's been blown out of the water in both quality and performance by one made by a company who only makes stuff in the £300 region. Does this stand true for guitars aswell?
But anywho I'm ruling out Taylor as a brand as I seriously can't afford one in any way. So what's my next best option? And just to put my budget properly into perspective I have 350 I have put into a dedicated guitar fund pot. I also have 100 I keep to one side as just incase money which am happy to use to get something a bit better. Taylor's come in at 650-700 start price most are 1000 upwards. I'm going to have a look and make a list of what's readily available near me that I can go and play in my local stores. Then if you guys can advise in which is the best of a bad bunch that would be superb.
Last edited by Thom1989 at Mar 28, 2016,
So then here is the list.
Wd10sce £249
AD60-12CE £279
FG720s £285
FG820-12 £285
AEL2012E £425
AEW4012AS £355
Heartsong £299
Muse Grand Auditorium £399
GD30CE-12NAT £389
Villager £336
Tim Armstrong Hellcat £345
CD-160SE £384
TW145/12ss £450

Then there's also guitars by the following that I've not listed
Freshman, Ozark, Sigma, Hagstrom and seagull.

The tangle wood is solid AA Sitka spruce top and solid mahogany sides. I think it's the only fully solid body guitar available in my price range and it's right on the limit.

So if you can advise on these that would be superb.
Those guitars are really designed as hollow electrics, where acoustic tone is secondary to looks and amplified performance. Some guitars of that kind are OK (I had a Gibson J160e), but these were dull and clunky. Anything with a fancy timber top is likely to be the same.

On your list I would be looking first at Yamaha, but it is really a case of try it and see. Another one is Recording King if you can find any.
Taken in the literal sense, your, "next best option", would more than likely be the Seagull S-12. This is a Canadian 12 string with a solid cedar top. Unfortunately, while priced "less" than the Taylor, it isn't priced substantially less...

I have a raging love/hate relationship going with unplugged 12 strings anyway.

I find they're a bit unbalanced toward too bright played acoustically. Played through an amp with small speaker(s), they get nasal. So, I like to play them through an amp with a 12 incher. That extends the bottom way down and balances the frequency spectrum. Not for volume mind you, but simply for reinforcement.

IMHO, you might approach a more reasonably priced 12 in that way. Plug the sucker in, dump in some reverb and delay, and keep reasonably fresh strings on it.

Ibanez' guitars have the reputation of sounding like crap unplugged, and sounding astounding when they are. That's one approach.

12 strings are more or less "out of style", these days. They certainly aren't enjoying ther popularity they did in the 60's & 70's as the "protest instrument of choice". Thus, the selection tends to more limited, and players with a wide range of experience across brands aren't going to be around.

At another popular forum with a heavy acoustic leaning, you're liable to be told the 115e while decent, doesn't compare to the 6xx 7xx, or 8xx series twelves. So, get your 3 to 5 grand ready, or go home..

I appreciate the difficulties of having to buy online more than most, needing "backwards" instruments.... And I've captured a couple of dogs having done so.
^^^I forgot about Seagull, good choice, but I would go for spruce rather than cedar in a 12 string.

FWIW, I've tried a few Taylors, and mostly come away preferring the Mexis - the 100 and 200 series. I think my views on acoustic tone are shaded by the fact that I only played Japanese clunkers for the first 10 years.
Now I'm not a big fan on plugged in acoustics. I like the natural sound of them. So it frustrates me that they are all A/E because that's just adding cost I don't need. The video reviews of the ibanez I saw I must say I like its unplugged sound but it did sound good when thru an amp. But it's the styling that's drawing me to it. The look of featured ash and the lovely lines of the cutaway making want to go against advice and buy it. Although I have got all the supplies needed to make myself a guitar so I may just make my own copy of it with all solid woods.
What's people's opinion if tangle wood? As that's the only one in my list that's solid wood throughout I'm tempted to get it if it plays nicely.
My mate sells Tanglewood, and I've tried quite a lot of them. Quality varies, but most seem pretty good to me.

Most of us buy with our eyes as well as our ears, you just have to find the happy compromise.

When buying, be sure to check neck angles. By that I mean that when the action has been set as low as you want it, there will still be plenty of saddle left showing above the bridge. This is more important on 12-strings than 6-strings, because of the greater deformation potential due to the higher string tension. I check it by looking down the crowns of the frets from the headstock to the bridge. Imagine that the neck is straight, and estimate where the fret crowns would point on the bridge. They should aim right at the top of the wood. A bit lower is OK, but not much.
I will take my straight edge with me. I have a 60cm one specifically for checking head angle. My understanding has always been the projected line should pass over the bridge with 2-3mm clearance so that the saddle at its highest point is around 4-5mm above the bridge as a taller saddle helps with volume and sustain. However the saddle that's showing should not exceed 150% of the saddle sat in the bridge itself. Meaning if the overall height of the saddle is 9.5mm then at least 4mm of that should be in the saddle slot. This prevents the stresses pulling the front of the bridge off. Guitar geometry is not foreign to me as I have studied a lot of books on guitar building and am about to undertake my own build. I hope I don't seem like I'm a know it all. I know I'm not but I have so far dedicated around 6 months to researching about guitar building so I do have a fairly firm grasp of how they function. I just can't play very well yet haha. Sorry for my continued ramblings haha.
Last edited by Thom1989 at Mar 28, 2016,
If you use a straight edge, you need to be careful to compensate for the relief of the neck. If the neck has the correct relief, just laying the straight edge on top of it will underestimate the angle a little.

I would have said that a sight line that goes 2mm above the bridge is too much, as is 5mm of saddle showing. 3mm is good, once the neck relief and action height have been correctly set. What you are really aiming for is 12.5mm between the middle strings and the top of the guitar at the bridge, a little less is acceptable, but not much.

I think the bridge/saddle height does affect volume and sustain, but having it too high could be as bad as having it too low, and it will vary between guitars.
a sight line can cause issue in that the nut will obstruct the view. You are right in taking relief into account but a straight edge gives a better representation. I am good friends with the guys who own a guitar shop by me. One of whom is their luthier and I have pecked his brain a lot in the last few months whilst acquiring tooling to build my own. According to him On new guitars the straight edge when placed on a tensioned guitar fretboard should project above by a couple of mm because in his experience the soundboard will Belly and sag quite a lot in the first 6-12 months depend on how much it is played. If a brand new guitar had a neck angle that projected a line to the top of the bridge then it would need a neck reset within 2-3 years. Also if at its highest point there was only 3mm of saddle showing then there is very little saddle left to remove for action adjustment and compensation for soundboard compression over time as saddle have a curve 3mm at highest point would be around 1-1.5mm at its lowest which can cause sever break angle issues very early on depending on bridge construction. This is also confirmed by my guitar making books.
Anyways guitar construction is not the point of this thread and I feel like im going to start stepping on some toes or sound ungrateful for the advice relieved. Neither of which I want.
To bring this back on topic if people could shortlist my shortlist down to 5 that I should try that would be great.
I carry a Takamine eg 523sc12 occasionally to play live. In fact, for a time, I only carried the 12, as the electronics in my 6 string gave up the ghost. I highly recommend it. I've had the 12 for about a year, and still love pulling it out, though some of the more difficult numbers we've been doing lately have me leaving it at home.

While I have not seen, much less played, a Seagull 12 string, I do own a 6 string which has been my main stage guitar for about a month. Again, so far I am happy with her, though I've not owned this one for very long. So take that as you will.

As always, I recommend laying one before buying, and if you're not certain, drag a friend along to check it out for you.
Unfortunately they seem to be discontinued. But they would have been out of my price range. But thanks for the suggestion.
Had a look at seagulls and I'm going to rule them out as an option. My current (broken) 12 looks identical to them. Is also cedar top and I fear that when repaired I will end up with 2 very very similar guitars.