How to String a 12-string Guitar? A Clear Guide

The 12-string guitar is a unique instrument that produces a fuller and richer sound than a regular six-string guitar. However, the additional six strings can make it difficult to string the guitar properly. In this article, I will take you through the process of stringing a 12-string guitar, step by step. You will learn how to properly remove the old strings, replace them with new ones, and tune your guitar to achieve the perfect sound.

Key Takeaways

  • Stringing a 12-string guitar is more challenging than stringing normal 6-string guitars, but it is not an impossible task.
  • Properly removing the old strings, replacing them with new ones, and tuning the guitar are essential steps in stringing a 12-string guitar.
  • By following the steps outlined in this article, you can learn how to string a 12-string guitar like a pro.

How to String a 12-string Guitar?

In this section, I will walk you through the process of stringing a 12-string guitar, step by step.

Things to Keep In Mind When Stringing 12-string Guitar

Before we dive into the steps, there are a few things you should keep in mind when stringing a 12-string guitar:

  • Take your time: Stringing a 12-string guitar can take longer than stringing a 6-string guitar, so be patient and take your time.
  • Use the right strings: Make sure you’re using the right strings for your guitar. Check the manufacturer’s recommendations or consult a guitar technician if you’re not sure.
  • Tune your guitar regularly: Tuning your guitar regularly is essential to keep it sounding great and prevent damage to the neck and bridge.

Step 1: Gather Your Materials

Before you start, make sure you have all the necessary materials. You will need:

  • A set of 12-string guitar strings
  • Wire cutters
  • String winder
  • Tuner

Step 2: Remove Old Strings

  1. Loosen and remove the old strings one at a time. Start with the high E strings (the thinnest), then move on to the B strings, G strings, and so on (the order you remove the strings doesn’t matter that much.
  2. Use a string winder or turn the tuning pegs manually to unwind the strings. Carefully remove each string from the tuning pegs.
  3. Remove bridge pins by using a string winder, or pliers, or pushing them out through a sound hole (use some plastic or something strong between your hand and bridge pins since they can be sharp).
  4. Once all the old strings are removed, clean the guitar’s fretboard and body with a clean cloth.

Step 3: Install New Strings

displays headstock of 12 string guitar
Check for the correct string order.
  1. Begin with the high E strings (the thickest) and work your way to the low E strings (the order you add the strings doesn’t matter that much).
  2. Insert the ball end of the string into the bridge’s corresponding pinhole. Make sure the ball end is securely in place.
  3. Pull the string up to the corresponding tuning peg and thread it through the appropriate nut slot. For example, the low E string should go through the nut slot designated for the low E string.
  4. Pull the string tight, leaving some slack, and wind it around the tuning peg. For the wound strings, like the low E, wind it clockwise; for the unwound strings, like the high E, wind it counterclockwise.
  5. Wind the string until it’s snug but not overtightened. Leave enough slack in the string to allow for tuning.
  6. Repeat this process for all 12 strings, making sure to insert them into the correct pinholes, nut slots, and tuning pegs.

Step 4: Tune and Stretch the Strings

  1. Tune each string to the correct pitch using your tuner. Start with the low E strings and work your way up to the high E strings.
  2. After tuning, gently stretch each string by pulling it away from the fretboard. This helps to seat the string properly and prevent future tuning issues.
  3. Check the tuning again and make any necessary adjustments.

Step 5: Final Adjustments

  1. Double-check the action (string height above the frets) and intonation (whether the guitar plays in tune up the neck). Adjustments may be needed, but they’re best done by a professional luthier or guitar technician.
  2. Trim any excess string length with wire cutters if needed.
  3. Give your guitar a final wipe-down to remove any fingerprints or residue.

Congratulations! You’ve successfully strung your 12-string guitar. With regular maintenance and tuning, your guitar will sound great for years to come.

When it comes to tuning, there are a few basics to keep in mind. The standard tuning for a 12-string guitar is E-A-D-G-B-E, just like a 6-string guitar. However, there are many alternate tunings you can use to create different sounds and moods. Some popular alternate tunings for a 12-string guitar include open E, open D, open C, and open G. If you’re not sure how to tune your guitar, there are many tuning apps and online resources available to help you.


What are the best 12-string guitar strings and gauges to use?

There are many great options when it comes to choosing strings for your 12-string guitar. Some popular choices include D’Addario, Martin, and Elixir. It’s important to choose strings that are specifically designed for a 12-string guitar, as they are thicker and have a higher tension than standard 6-string guitar strings. The gauges of the strings can vary, but a common set includes .010 and .014 gauge strings for the high octave strings, and .023 and .030 gauge strings for the low octave strings.

How do you properly tune a 12-string guitar?

Tuning a 12-string guitar can be a bit more challenging than tuning a standard 6-string guitar. It’s important to use an electronic tuner or tuning app to ensure that each string is in tune. The strings on a 12-string guitar are typically tuned in pairs, with the higher octave string tuned to the same note as the lower octave string, but one octave higher. The standard tuning for a 12-string guitar is E-A-D-G-B-E, with the pairs of strings tuned to E-E, A-A, D-D, G-G, B-B, and E-E.

What are some tips for stringing a 12-string guitar?

Stringing a 12-string guitar can be a bit more complicated than stringing a standard 6-string guitar, but with some practice, it can be done easily. It’s important to remove and replace each string one at a time to avoid losing tension on the neck. When stringing the guitar, it’s important to wind the strings tightly around the tuning pegs to ensure they stay in tune. It’s also important to make sure the strings are properly seated in the bridge and nut.

What is the proper setup for a 12-string acoustic guitar?

The proper setup for a 12-string acoustic guitar can vary depending on the player’s preferences and playing style. However, a good starting point is to have a medium to high action to allow for proper string vibration and to avoid fret buzz. The neck should be straight, and the intonation should be set correctly to ensure that the guitar plays in tune up and down the neck. It’s also important to keep the guitar properly humidified to avoid damage to the wood.

Should a 12-string guitar be tuned down and why?

Some players prefer to tune their 12-string guitar down a half-step or a whole-step to reduce tension on the neck and make the guitar easier to play. However, tuning down can also change the tone and feel of the guitar, so it’s important to experiment and find what works best for you. It’s important to note that tuning down too far can cause the strings to become too loose and can result in poor intonation and tone.

What is the purpose of a 12-string guitar?

The purpose of a 12-string guitar is to provide a fuller, richer sound than a standard 6-string guitar. The additional strings create a chorus-like effect that can add depth and dimension to a player’s sound. 12-string guitars are often used in folk, rock, and country music, and are popular among singer-songwriters. However, they can also be used in a variety of other genres, and can add a unique texture to any style of music.

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