How to Tune a 12-String Guitar With a Tuner

By Mike Biscoe
Enlisting a tuner can make 12-string guitars more accessible

Twelve-string guitars give audience members the sensation of hearing multiple guitars. Producing a fuller tone than their six-string counterparts, 12-string guitars create a chorus effect due to six strings strategically set an octave above six opposing strings tuned to “EADGBE.” Largely used as a rhythm instrument, 12-string guitars are commonly used in folk, rock and blues music. Marginally more difficult to tune, guitar players who are unfamiliar with the instrument might consider employing a tuner to make the job easier.

Attach or plug in the tuner to the guitar. If the tuner being used has no attachment or plug, place it within a few inches of the guitar body. Note that tuning will start with the thinnest string and work upwards, finishing at the thickest string.

Tune the first two strings, the high “E” strings. These are the thinnest strings. Tune both strings to “E.” The strings should be the exact same pitch.

Tune the second pair of strings. Tune both strings to “B.” The strings should be the exact same pitch.

Tune the third pair of strings. Both strings will be tuned to “G.” Tune the bottom of the two strings first. Tune this string to “G,” the same pitch as the “G” on a six-string guitar. Tune the top string to “G” but an octave above the lower string.

Tune the fourth pair of strings. Both strings will be tuned to “D.” Tune the bottom of the two strings first. Tune this string to “D,” the same pitch as a “D” on a six-string guitar. Tune the top string to “D” but an octave above the lower string.

Tune the fifth pair of strings. Both strings will be tuned to “A.” Tune the bottom of the two strings first. Tune this string to “A,” the same pitch as an “A” on a six-string guitar. Tune the top string to “A” but an octave above the lower string.

Tune the sixth pair of strings. Both strings will tuned to “E.” Tune the bottom of the two strings first. Tune this string to “E,” the same pitch as an “E” on a six-string guitar. Tune the top string to “E” but an octave above the lower string.

Tip

Note that, in general, tuners are designed to pick up the same note regardless of octave. When striking the “B” strings, for example, the tuner will register the note in the exact same way.

About the Author

Mike Biscoe has been writing since 2009. Focusing on travel, sports and entertainment topics, he has credits in various online publications including LIVESTRONG.COM and Trails. He often writes articles covering uncommon travel destinations from firsthand experience. Biscoe holds a Certificate of Completion in acting from the Pacific Conservatory of the Performing Arts.