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How To Set Up A 12-String Guitar Perfectly

How to set up a 12-string guitar

There are several important factors to consider while answering the question of how to set up a 12-string guitar. This is essential for optimal performance and to avoid potential damage.

Let’s delve into the key aspects of setting up a 12-string guitar: strings, alignment, action, tuning, and maintenance.

12-string setup

Have you checked out some of the most outstanding 12-string guitars from Takamine?


Strings play a crucial role in the setup of a 12-string guitar. Takamine 12-strings come from the factory equipped with D’Addario light gauge phosphor bronze sets (.010-.047). It is essential to stick to the recommended string gauge to ensure the proper tension on the neck. 

Attempting to install two sets of phosphor bronze 6-string sets (.012-.053) can lead to excessive tension, causing potential problems and damage to the guitar. Instead, it is advisable to use two extra-light six-string sets (.010-.047), resulting in a tension of 266.5 pounds, which is within a safe range.

If you opt for strings from other manufacturers, it is important to check the combined tension of the set using two sets.

For example, GHS Ultra Light Phosphor Bronze (.010-.046) exerts 232.6 pounds of tension, GHS Extra Light Thin-Core (.011-.046) exerts 243.6 pounds, and Elixir Extra Light Phosphor Bronze Nanoweb (.010-.047) exerts 270 pounds. 

Always ensure that the total tension of the strings stays within a safe margin and does not exceed the recommended limits set by the guitar manufacturer.

Alignment and Action

Alignment and action are crucial factors in achieving optimal playability. Proper alignment ensures that the strings are evenly spaced across the fingerboard and that the neck is not twisted. The action, or string height, should be set according to your playing style and preference.

It is recommended to consult with a professional guitar technician to ensure precise alignment and action adjustments.

String Action


Tuning is another vital aspect of setting up a 12-string guitar. Use a reliable tuner and follow the standard tuning for a 12-string guitar: E, A, D, G, B, E, from low to high. Make sure each string is tuned accurately to maintain proper intonation and ensure a balanced sound.

As there are high and low octave sets for all strings. Be careful while tuning.



Maintenance is key to keeping your 12-string guitar in optimal condition. Regularly clean the strings, fretboard, and body using appropriate guitar cleaning products. Keep the guitar properly humidified to prevent damage caused by changes in humidity. Additionally, inspect the instrument for any signs of wear or damage and address them promptly to avoid further complications.

How to set up a 12-string guitar: DIY or Expert Support?

When it comes to getting my 12-string guitar just right, I had to decide: should I do it myself or get some expert help? As someone who loves playing, I’ve tried both options. Doing it on my own seemed cool, but it’s quite tricky. Tweaking things like the truss rod, bridge, and nut, and making sure all the strings sound good can be tough. 

It’s easy to mess up. On the flip side, a guitar expert, also called a luthier, really knows their stuff. They can set up the guitar perfectly, adjusting everything so it feels and sounds awesome. So, for the best results, I’ve found that expert help is the way to go.

Sharif Leen
Latest posts by Sharif Leen (see all)

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