How To Tune A 12 String Guitar?

The guitar’s a popular musical instrument. There are various types of guitars and each has different strings. One of the popular types of guitars is a 12-string guitar.

You would want to learn how to tune a 12 string guitar if you are looking to try this type of guitar.

If you are a guitarist, then you would want to try different types of guitars. But each guitar has a different tuning, and you would need to learn it.

So, if you want to try a 12-string guitar then, we will help you to learn how to tune it.

how to tune a 12 string guitar

When choosing an acoustic guitar, you will have the choices of a 6-string guitar and a 12-string guitar.

Both guitars are good and, the choice ultimately depends on you and which guitars connect with you. Some beginners will first learn 6-string guitar then slowly move on to a 12-string.

What is the difference between a 6 and a 12-string guitar?

  1. The structure – First difference is in the structures of both guitars. The 12-string guitar has 12 strings, and its headstock has 12 tuning posts. The first thickest 4 pairs of strings that are; low E, A, D, and G tuning are an octave higher. The neck of 12-string guitar has a wider neck as they have more strings compared to a 6-string guitar.
  2. The tuning – although the tuning of the 12-string guitar is the same as that of the 6-string guitar, you require twice as much effort to set up and tune the strings as compared to the 6-string guitar. But in the end, the efforts are worth it once you get used to it after some practice.
  3. The style of playing – while on a 6-string guitar, you can play almost anything, 12 string guitar is more suitable for strumming and picking. You get more rich and full sounds on a 12-string guitar.
  4. Sounds – with the difference in strings and tuning it’s obvious that both guitars would sound different. Compared with a 6-string guitar the sound of a 12-string guitar is more full and rich; therefore, it is more beautiful and louder.

Learning a 12-string guitar may sound difficult, but once you get the hang of how to tune a 12-string guitar you will find it to be very easy and make great music with it.

Given below are the details on how to tune a 12-string guitar

There are 6-pairs of strings on a 12-string guitar where each pair is a combination of one thick string and one thin string.

When playing the 12-string guitar don’t treat each string separately instead treat every pair as one like you are playing a single string instead of a pair like that on a normal 6-string guitar.

The standard tuning for the 12 string

This is the most common and basic tuning for 12-string guitars. Just remember to treat each pair as one, and this will be much easier for you.

how to tune a 12 string guitar

The D A E G B E strings on the 12-string guitar are tuned like the 6-string guitar. The thicker strings in the lower string pairs are what you need to tune similar to a 6-string guitar.

The four lower pairs of the strings, grouped with G E A D, are tuned to an octave higher.

The two pairs of strings that are higher than B E are tuned the same as paired strings.

So, the tuning for 12 string guitar is written as

eE aA dD gG BB EE.

The tuning of the upper case letter is the normal tuning of the 6-string guitar, and the lower case letter is notes tuned to an octave which is higher than normal.

So, to summarize:

e a d and g are tuned to a higher octave compared to thicker paired string and

E A D G B B E E is all tuned to the 6-string tuning.

Some other tunings you can try for a 12-string guitar after practicing standard tuning are half-step down and Drop-D.

  1. For half-step down tuning, you need to tune your guitar to normal, and then every string should be tuned down to a semitone which is a half-step. The difference between standard and this tuning is that; in half-step down every individual string is a half-step lower.
  2. For Drop-D, you would only need to change the lowest pair of strings of the standard tuning. The pair of low-E is lowered down to D in a whole step. And everything else is the same.


  1. Is it possible for a beginner to play the 12-string guitar?

    A beginner can play a 12-string guitar, but many think that having the experience of playing a 6-string is better before moving to a 12-string.

  2. What is different between a 6-string and a 12-string guitar?

    The major difference between a 6 and 12-string guitar would be that a 12 string sounds fuller and richer than a 6-string guitar.

William Larson
William Larson

Hi, I am William. I am a music enthusiast. I play the guitar and ukulele. I like to try out all instruments and review them, to help others make an informed decision. You must choose the right instrument to get that sweet sound you desire. When I am not on my instruments I will be found reading or cooking.

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