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Cheap 12 String Acoustic Guitar Guide

Finding a good quality cheap 12 string acoustic guitar is a bit more difficult than with 6 string acoustic shopping.

Many experienced players will warn you that anything below the mid-range is only worth a second look if you're new to 12 string playing. Many 12 string makers cut corners and hope you'll just be satisified with the novelty of 6 extra strings. Beware!

While it's true that you get what you pay for, there are two 12 string acoustic guitars under the $350 mark, each with very different tonal qualities, that can jangle right up there with more expensive models, and will prove a long-term playing investment.

Best 12 String Acoustic Guitar Under $350

Yamaha have ruled the budget acoustic market for over 20 years. And for good reason. 6 strings such as the FG700S have garnered an unmatched reputation from new and experienced players alike for their solid fit, impeccable finish and rich, full tone. Based on the same principles, and receiving the same high praise, is Yamaha's sub-$300 12 string offering.

Yamaha FG720S-12 12 String Acoustic Guitar - $330

Yamaha FG720S-12 12 String Acoustic GuitarYamaha FG720S-12 thumbnail
Overall Rating

9 / 10

Forum Buzz
Key Features
  • Solid spruce top
  • Tortoise shell pick guard
  • Well balanced sound
  • Slim, fast neck profile


Natural Finish / Solid Spruce top / Nato back and sides / Rosewood fingerboard / Rosewood bridge / White & black body and neck binding / Die-cast tuners / Tortoise shell pickguard

What users say

Boasting a solid Sitka spruce top, rosewood fretboard and bridge, the FG720S-12 is virtually identical to its 6 string brother. Also identical is the build quality and tuning stability provided by what at first appear to be cheap machines, but which nevertheless do a fine job.

The neck still conforms to Yamaha's slim, fast profile which is especially great for those 12 string virgins. However, bear in mind this may make it more difficult for finger picking, as some users have commented. However, for the usual 12 string role of big, strummed chords, Yammie's narrower neck may actually make things smoother.

Tone wise, the Yammie instantly delivers that rich, coursed shimmer people buy 12 strings for. It delivers it in a way that, to experienced ears, diminishes the perceived value for money on much higher priced instruments. As a full dreadnought, there's plenty of low end presence which is balanced well enough to take the edge off what is naturally increased treble on 12 strings. No tinny highs. Responsive attack.

Nobody has expressed any doubts about gigging with the FG720S-12, and when mic'd up it'll fill the room gracefully. In the cheap 12 string acoustic guitar market, the 720 easily blows all others out of the equation. Don't bother looking for something better unless you have at least $300 more to spend.

Cheap 12 String Acoustic Guitar for Tight Budgets

For those on an even tighter budget, Epiphone's DR-212 has proved a hit among acoustic players, and especially beginners or those moving from 6 to 12 strings for the first time. Don't settle for a thin sounding 12 string just because you're on a shoe-string!

Epiphone DR-212 12 String Acoustic Guitar - $170

Epiphone DR-212 12 String Acoustic GuitarEpiphone DR-212 thumbnail
Overall Rating

8 / 10

Forum Buzz
Key Features
  • Bright, cutting but full sound
  • Slim Taper neck
  • Exceptional value for money


Body: Mahogany / Top: Select Spruce / Neck: Mahogany / Fretboard: Rosewood

What users say

Over $100 less than the Yammie, yet you still get a resonant, beautiful and carefully crafted 12 string . Differences include the laminated finish with the mahogany back and sides as opposed to nato. You also get Epiphone's "slim taper" neck (a precise, varying thickness from 1st to 12th fret intended to reduce player fatigue).

The DR-212 produces a surprisingly cutting tone, but the mahogany gives it the fullness it needs. It's brighter, with more mid-high end presence in comparison to the Yamaha. Add to this the more standard neck width, in comparison to the narrower FG720 neck, and it could be said the Epi is better for fingerpicking. It also means that if you're strumming on stage, you'll be sure to cut through the mix with this 12 string. What it lacks in low end warmth it makes up for in mid-high end presence.

The solid mahogany body and neck helps maximise sustain.

Quite a number of experienced players of 25 years + have expressed how pleased they were with their budget Epiphone purchase. It certainly seems to meet all the criteria people look for in a 12 string, and it has its own unique sond that means any comparison to the "big boys" is meaningless. The DR-212 stands proudly on its own.

Compare 12 String Acoustic Guitars

Use this side-by-side comparison table to help decide which 12 string is best for you...

FG720S-12 DR-212
Best For Guitarists who want a solid top 12 string with a rich, balanced sound. Guitarists on a very tight budget who still want a quality 12 string.
Defining Features Solid top. Slim neck. Tortoise shell pickguard. Balanced sound. Bright but full, cutting sound. Slim Taper neck.
Top Solid Spruce
Back Nato Mahogany
Sides Nato Mahogany
Rosewood Rosewood
Price $330 $170
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