12 String Guitar String Order and Tuning – Everything you need to know

tuning-a-12-string-guitar

Confused about the 12 string guitar string order? Don’t be because this post will answer three important questions about the 12 string guitar;

  1. What is the string order of a 12 string guitar?
  2. What are the string names of a 12 string guitar?
  3. How a 12 string guitar is tuned?

At first, a 12 string guitar may seem like a completely different instrument from the regular 6 string guitar but it is pretty much the same. I am not saying it is exactly the same but as you will go through this post you will start to see how similar they are.

Let’s start with the strings order and names of a 12 string guitar.

12 String Guitar String Order and Names

12 string guitar string order

On a typical 12 string guitar the string order from top to bottom goes like this;

  • e – 12th String
  • E – 11th String
  • a – 10th String
  • A – 9th String
  • d – 8th String
  • D – 7th String
  • g – 6th String
  • G – 5th String
  • B – 4th String
  • B – 3rd String
  • E – 2nd String
  • E – 1st String

Points to remember

  1. The 12th string (the one closest to you when you are playing) is an E string
  2. The string right below that string is a bigger string. That bigger string is actually your low E string on a regular 6 string guitar.
  3. The 12th and 11th strings are both tuned to E the only difference is the 12th string is tuned an octave higher than the regular E tuned 11th string.
  4. Each pair of strings is tuned this way except the B and high E strings.
  5. In a 12 string guitar, the B and high E strings are tuned to the same octave and have the same size string.
  6. The sound of a 12 string guitar is very wide and open. Each string is doubled with another smaller or same-sized string making the sound a lot bigger than a normal 6 string guitar.

How a 12 string guitar is tuned?

As I have mentioned above, the first set of strings i.e, the 12th and 11th strings are tuned to E. The 12th string is one octave higher than the bigger E string ( 11th string ) right below it.

The second set of strings are tuned to A ( 10th and 9th string ). The first string in this pair is tuned one octave higher than the A string right below it.

The third set of strings are tuned to D ( 8th and 7th strings ). Like the two pairs of strings before this one, the first string in the set is tuned an octave higher than the next one.

The fourth set of strings are tuned to G. The same goes for this pair of strings.

Here is where it gets even more simple. Both sets of B and high E strings are the exact same string. They are both tuned to same octave.

This method allies to every single 12 string guitar tuning.

Tuning a 12 String Guitar to DADGAD tuning

If you wanted to tune your 12 string to DADGAD, which is a very popular alternate tuning, then you would use this tuning method. Your strings would be tuned to this. These notes are in order from bottom to top ( 1st string to 12th string ).

  • D – 1st String
  • D – 2nd String
  • A – 3rd String
  • A – 4th String
  • G – 5th String
  • g – 6th String
  • D – 7th String
  • d – 8th String
  • A – 9th String
  • a – 10th String
  • D – 11th String
  • d – 12th String

This is very simple once you start doing it. Using this method you can tune a 12 string guitar to any tuning you want.

Summary

 A 12-string guitar needs to be tuned frequently. If one of the octave strings goes flat or sharp slightly then it throws the whole sound off. Luckily, you don’t need a 12-string guitar tuner to tune a 12-string guitar, a simple Guitar Tuner will work just fine.