How to tune a 12 string guitar

Author: Lachlan Bush  Date Posted:12 November 2020 

Tuning a 12-string guitar is a little more complicated than a regular 6 string.  There are twice as many strings and a lot more tension on the guitar.  You may find you'll need to tune it a few times over before you get it right because, by the time you finish the first round of tuning, the tension on the neck will have increased which will make the first few strings you tuned sound flat.

Help, my String snapped!

A common problem with 12 string guitars is that the higher octave G string is prone to breakage.  This is due to the high tension on the string to reach the high pitch. There are a couple of ways to stop this:

1. Tune the G string gradually. Don't wind it all the way up straight away.

2. Use a higher gauge string (9 instead of an 8)

3. Rub a graphite pencil on in the string groove of the nut.  This will provide some lubrication and stop breakage from friction.

4. Tune the whole guitar down a Tone/Semitone.  The lower tension will make your G string last a little longer

It's difficult to avoid altogether, so we recommend always carrying a few spares! You can pick up a set here, or just grab a pack of singles here.

What notes should I tune to?

When the strings are different thicknesses then you tune an octave apart (Low E,A,D,G)

When the strings are the same thickness you tune in unison (B and High E)



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