12-String Guitars that are smaller than a Dreadnought and less expensive than a Taylor, Gibson or Martin

I blame my wife. She’s the one who bought tickets to a Leo Kottke concert this year. I’ve wanted to play a 12-string ever since. Maybe all I would need is five minutes with a decent 12-string guitar and I would get it out of my system. Or maybe five days or five weeks. What was I to do? Buy one? Apparently.

I’ve been researching twelve string guitars online for the past two months. I’ve never owned one but missed an opportunity to buy a used one from a want-ad by thirty minutes when I was in high school1. My best friend had called before I did. The guitar I didn’t buy was an Epiphone B25-12, a small bodied guitar.

As usual here at Dan Loves Guitars, I am avoiding dreadnought sized 12-string guitars. Nothing wrong with a dreadnought if it’s your thing. I would have loved a dreadnought six or twelve-string guitar back in high school. But I’ve evolved. I know which guitar sizes and styles best fit my size and style of playing. So here are some of the possible twelve-strings I’ve considered. You may be surprised that I include some jumbo sized twelve-strings in my list. But jumbos are a natural for 12-strings while the narrow waist gives a more even response for fingerstyle as well as more comfort when sitting and playing.

Another criteria I had in making this list was the price. Twelve-string guitar is an itch I must scratch, but it’s not my main thing. I didn’t want to pay as much as I have for some of my other guitars. The price target I am looking for is in the neighborhood of $500.

Alvarez AF610ESB 12-String Folk Acoustic-Electric Guitar Sunburst

Price: About $4502.

The Alvarez is a small bodied, non-cutaway acoustic-electric 12-string with a solid Cedar top and Mahogany back and sides.


Alvarez AJ80CE-12 Artist Series Guitar

Price: About $485.

This jumbo Alvarez guitar has a Venetian cutaway3. The top is solid spruce while the back and sides are maple.



Blueridge BR-40-12 Contemporary Series Jumbo 12-string Guitar

Price: About $490

The BR-40-12 is a non-cutaway jumbo 12-string with solid Sitka top and mahogany back and sides.


Guild F-2512E Acoustic-Electric Guitar in Natural

Price: About $525 to $550.

Guild was known for several things back before they were bought and sold or whatever. One of those things was for making twelve string guitars. Another was for making jumbo sized guitars. The last was for making arched back guitars. This guitar combines all those elements at a reasonable price. You can still purchase a Guild 12-string for over $1000, but this one is a great value. It has Mahogany back and sides and a solid Sitka spruce top. It’s acoustic electric on top of that. No cutaway, though.


Yamaha APX700II-12 12-String Thinline Cutaway Acoustic-Electric Guitar – Natural

Price: About $550.

I haven’t yet commented on any of above guitars, except for the Guild, because I don’t know much about them. The Alvarez guitars seem like a good value. I don’t have any experience with this Yamaha model either, but Yamaha has a reputation for making excellent instruments which are also good values. I own a Yamaha acoustic-electric classical guitar and love it.

This 12-string has a solid spruce top and mahogany back and sides. It’s a smaller body size than a jumbo and has a cutaway.


Breedlove PURSUIT 12 STRING Pursuit 12-String Acoustic-Electric Guitar Natural

Price: About $550.

Finally, we reach one of the guitars I was seriously considering to purchase. The Breedlove Pursuit line of guitars (as all the guitars in this post) are made in China or elsewhere, but not in the USA. The guitars come into Breedlove’s site in the US and setup before being sent to the dealers. I like the size and steep Venetian cutaway of this guitar. The design is Breedlove’s original used when on their first guitars. It is a smaller sized guitar that should be good for fingerstyle playing.

The details are a solid spruce top with laminated nato (AKA African Mahogany) back, sides neck. One of the unique Breedlove features is a pinless bridge. The price includes a gig bag. A small thing but it saves trying to find a case or bag that fits the guitar.


Takamine GJ72CE-12BSB Jumbo Cutaway 12-String Acoustic-Electric Guitar

Price: About $600.

The Takamine GJ72CE-12 was the alternative to the Breedlove listed above. Some of the things against this guitar for myself were:

  • It’s a jumbo. Yes, I said jumbos are fine for 12-strings. But they are big. I still prefer smaller bodied guitars.
  • It doesn’t come with a case or gig bag. None of the guitars except the Breedlove included any case or bag. Takamine doesn’t even sell a case for their guitars. They don’t list the guitar’s dimensions, so I can’t search for a case that would fit. That’s annoying.
  • I don’t like the shape of the Venetian cutaway on Takamine guitars. You might notice that the Alvarez Jumbo 12 and Yamaha 12 have similarly shaped cutaways.

Points for the guitar: It has excellent reviews. The sunburst finish is pretty. And it has excellent reviews. (I know I’ve said that twice).

It has a solid spruce top and flamed maple back and sides.


And the winner is?

I’ve placed an order for the Breedlove Pursuit 12-string. Now I’ll have to learn some Leo Kottke tunes, not to mention Blind Willie McTell, Barbecue Bob, Leadbelly and of course Eric Darling classics with the Rooftop Singers such as Walk Right In.

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Footnotes

  1. Want Ad: how people sold things before the internet, Craigslist or eBay.
  2. Price, availability and details for this guitar and all other guitars in this post are estimates as of December 2016. Prices and specifications can change. Please check for yourselves.
  3. The Florentine cutaway is the one that comes to a point. The Venetian is the rounded one.

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