50 Epic 12 String Guitar Songs Of All Time – Tabs Included

Many guitarists claim that whatever they play on a 12-string sounds better than what they would play on a 6-string. It is somewhat true, and it is a significant part of the attractiveness of this sort of guitar, despite its many flaws. 

The “ear candy” factor is probably the biggest reason most guitarists start playing a 12-string guitar. It simply “sounds cool.” It is probably because of its chorus effect. 

The greatest thing about the 12-string guitar is that you can play the same songs and notes on a regular guitar. Any song composed for a 6-string can instantly be enhanced with that extra octave. Anything written for a 12-string can be performed on a regular guitar.

However, you should know that working with extra strings produces a distinct sound. A song written for six strings would sound different on a 12-string guitar. 

The 12 guitar part is frequently a “hook” in pop music, attracting listeners and making the song memorable. There are very likely thousands of such examples. I’ve compiled a list of the 50 best 12-string guitar tracks to get you started. Some are entirely played on 12-string guitar, while others feature a riff or a few notes that give them their signature 12-string flavor. 

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Rolling Stones – Paint It Black 

“Paint It Black” was released in 1966. It is a fast-paced song featuring Indian, Middle Eastern, and Eastern European influences and lyrics about sadness and loss. It is remembered as one of the best songs of once and future by Rolling Stone magazine.

Many artists have covered “Paint It Black,” and it has appeared on compilation albums and film soundtracks. The Rolling Stones have performed the song on various tours. In the Grammys of 2018, the record was in the Hall of Fame.

Paint It Black Guitar Chords

Pink Floyd – Wish You Were Here 

Pink Floyd can’t be left out of this list. Here is one of their most lovely tunes. “Wish You Were Here” is an excellent ballad, emotional and warm throughout, full of brilliant, rich notes. The entire piece is calm and rather straightforward in terms of technique, so even if you’re a beginner, you shouldn’t have too much trouble nailing it down.

Additionally, this tune will help you master chords and chord progressions if you’re new to guitar playing.

Wish You Were Here Guitar Chords

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Nickelback – Photograph

“Photograph” is one of Nickelback’s famous songs. It was released in 2005. The song entered the top ten in many countries around the world. 

It has the most memorable music video on MTV in 2005 and is fun to play on a 12-string acoustic guitar. It is a great song both for 12-string and a regular guitar.

Photograph Guitar Chords

Bon Jovi – Wanted Dead or Alive 

Bon Jovi is a legendary band of all time. “Wanted Dead or Alive” is one of the band’s famous ballads. It’s from their album Slippery When Wet, released in 1986. Richie Sambora wrote it with Jon Bon Jovi. 

I especially love this song both for the technical guitar playing and the lyrics. The arpeggios here are great to play with a 12-string guitar. 

Wanted Dead or Alive Guitar Chords

The Eagles – Hotel California

The Eagles’ “Hotel California” is possibly the most renowned acoustic guitar song ever written. It was released in 1976, and many still listen to it now. Furthermore, it sounds so nice that it will melt your heart, and it’s not that difficult to play. 

The main theme is present throughout practically the entire song, so once you’ve mastered the first few chords, you’ll be able to learn how to play the song.

Hotel California Guitar Chords

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Led Zeppelin – Stairway To Heaven

“Stairway to Heaven” is the fourth track on British rock band Led Zeppelin’s unnamed fourth album. “Stairway to Heaven” is remembered as the best song by Led Zeppelin of all time, and it may well be the greatest rock song ever composed. The “Stairway” guitar solo is called the best guitar solo by Guitar World.

“Stairway To Heaven” was recorded in London at Basing Street Studios. The famous studio belongs to Island Records. Robert Plant added lyrics to the song during the recordings for the band’s 4th album in Hampshire in 1971. After that, Jimmy Page returned to Island Studios for the famous guitar solo.

Stairway To Heaven Guitar Chords

Fun. – Carry On 

Fun. is an American indie pop band, and “Carry On” is one of their famous songs. “Carry On” was released in 2012. As the third single of their album, Some Nights, the song was a significant success for the young band. 

“Carry On” has been described as “a song about endurance amid difficult circumstances.” It has a rock anthem sound and is great to play with a 12-string guitar—a beautiful song in F major. 

Carry On Guitar Chords

David Bowie – Space Oddity 

“Space Oddity” is one of David Bowie’s most successful and famous songs. It was first released as a single by Philips Records in 1969. We see “Space Oddity” later as the opening track of Bowie’s second album.

“Space Oddity” has been described as a psychedelic folk ballad. It is one of Bowie’s most complicated songs up to that date. He storyboarded each section, one leading into the next, just like a movie. 

Space Oddity Guitar Chords

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Tom Petty – Free Fallin’

“Free Fallin'” is one of the famous songs by Tom Petty, and it is the first single from his album Full Moon Fever (1989). Petty and his record writing partner, Jeff Lynne, wrote the song, which features Lynne on backup vocals and bass guitar. 

Petty and Lynne finished the song together, and it became the first song written for the album. The song “Free Fallin'” is one of Petty’s greatest. Billboard and Rolling Stone ranked the song fourth on their list of best Tom Petty songs.

Free Fallin’ Guitar Chords

Ozzy Osbourne – Mama I’m Coming Home

In the first bar, Zakk Wylde’s clear Southern-rock homage gives way to a gorgeous, descending riff that anchors Ozzy Osbourne’s first solo Top 40 success. Zakk Wylde is playing crazy here. 

It is a great song to play on a 12-string guitar and one of the special Ozzy songs recorded with a 12-string guitar.

Mama I’m Coming Home Guitar Chords

America – A Horse With No Name

America is a successful folk-rock band in the United States. Dewey Bunnell wrote the song “A Horse with No Name.” It was released in 1971 and became the band’s first and most famous song. 

Many assumed this was Neil Young’s song. However, it is written by the band America. However, they admit that they were influenced by Neil Young musically. Em, D6/9, Em9, and Dmaj9 are the only chords to play this beautiful song. 

A Horse With No Name Guitar Chords 

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John Butler Trio – Ocean

John Butler is a great musician, and “Ocean” is an unforgettable song! The song is pretty old, than it seems. It was released in 1998 and is still a masterpiece. John Butler had played it with a new wonderful recording for YouTube in 2012, and it’s worth giving an ear to.

This great piece is played in open C tuning with a 12-string guitar. Butler prefers to have just one string on the 3rd string, by the way. 

Ocean Guitar Tabs

Boston – More Than A Feeling

“More Than a Feeling” was released in September 1976 as the lead single from the band’s 1976 debut album by Epic Records, with “Smokin'” as the B-side. Tom Scholz wrote the entire song. 

The single was No. 5 on the Billboard Hot 100 in the United States. The song is now a fixture of classic rock radio, and VH1 voted it the 39th best hard rock song in 2008. The 12-string guitar sounds great in this beautiful track. 

More Than A Feeling Guitar Chords

The Beatles – Ticket To Ride

Ticket To Ride by The Beatles is another one from 1965. You can hear the crisp of a 12-string Rickenbacker on this one. Everybody should remember it from the band’s famous movie “Help!”. It is very easy and fun to play.

The “Ticket To Ride” begins with a series of quiet notes that repeat until the refrain – this song is relatively basic and ideal for beginners, but the tempo may be tough if you have no expertise with 12-string guitars at all.

Ticket To Ride Guitar Chords

The Outlaws – Ghost Riders In The Sky

“(Ghost) Riders in the Sky: A Cowboy Legend” was written in 1948 by Stan Jones. This is The Outlaws version. A folk cowboy legend is narrated by the song and performed by the Outlaws in modern times. A great song has been played with a 12-string guitar. 

Ghost Riders In The Sky Guitar Chords

Bob Dylan – Hurricane

“Hurricane” is a protest song by Jacques Levy, and Bob Dylan featured it on his 1976 album Desire. In November 1975, the song was released as a single. 

The song is about boxer Rubin “Hurricane” Carter’s incarceration. A series of trials and convictions took Dylan’s attention. You know Dylan likes to write and sing about social and political issues. This is one of the great examples of Dylan sticking to the man. 

It sounds perfect on a 12-string guitar.

Hurricane Guitar Chords

The Rolling Stones — Wild Horses

“Wild Horses” is from Rolling Stones’ album Sticky Fingers. It was released as a single, too, in 1971. The song was recorded in 1969 but not released until 1971 due to a legal dispute between the band and their manager. 

The song has been awarded many times in many countries until now. It is one of the widely listened to songs by Rolling Stones. It is a great song for a 12-string and a regular acoustic guitar. 

Wild Horses Guitar Chords

The Beatles – A Hard Day’s Night

“A Hard Day’s Night” was composed by John Lennon with some help from Paul McCartney and is credited to Lennon-McCartney. In 1964, it was featured on the soundtrack of the band’s famous movie “A Hard Day’s Night.” 

The song was included on the soundtrack to the Beatles’ debut feature film, A Hard Day’s Night, and on their companion album. Sounds perfect with a 12-string guitar. It is one of my favorites from The Beatles. 

A Hard Days Night Guitar Chords

America – Sister Golden Hair

Gerry Beckley wrote the song “Sister Golden Hair” for the band America’s fifth album, Hearts (1975). It was their second No.1 single on the hit lists and held the top spot for one week. 

Gerry Beckley claimed to have played the 12-string guitar and overdubbed the slide guitar for this song. One of all-time classics! 

Sister Golden Hair Guitar Chords

Alice In Chains – I Stay Away

The song “I Stay Away” is the second single from Alice in Chains’ 1994 EP Jar of Flies. This was the band’s first collaboration with bassist Mike Inez. The record peaked at No. 10 on Billboard’s Mainstream Rock Tracks list and remained there for 26 weeks when it was first released.

In 1995, “I Stay Away” was awarded a Grammy Award. It is an unforgettable song and sounds perfect when played with a 12-string guitar. It has such an opening that it is a great example of how 12-string guitars can sound so amazing. 

I Stay Away Guitar Chords

Stevie Ray Vaughan – Rude Mood

The sixth tune on Stevie Ray Vaughan’s debut album, Texas Flood, is “Rude Mood.” It’s a blues shuffle in 4/4 (common time) performed at 264 beats per minute.

The song begins with the guitar introducing the main riff; the bass notes are played swiftly with muffled notes, creating a swinging vibe. Following the beginning, the bass guitar and drums establish the beat that lasts till the finale. 

The song is divided into several pieces, each separated by a 12-bar blues progression, with most sections concluding in the same manner as the opening theme.

Rude Mood Guitar Tabs

Red Hot Chili Peppers – Breaking The Girl

“Breaking the Girl” is from RHCP’s 1991 album Blood Sugar Sex Magik. It was released in 1992 as the fourth single from their studio album and is a melodious ballad about frontman Anthony Kiedis’ troubled relationship with his former lover, Carmen Hawk.

The bridge of “Breaking the Girl” is defined by a percussion break that rises with the usage of progressively intricate rhythms.

Frusciante’s main riff was inspired by ballads by Led Zeppelin, such as “The Battle of Evermore” and “Friends.” The tune also includes a 12-string guitar and a Mellotron with a flute patch.

Breaking The Girl Guitar Chords

The Beatles – Norwegian Wood

The Beatles released “Norwegian Wood” on their 1965 album Rubber Soul. It was primarily composed by John Lennon, with lyrical additions by Paul McCartney, and it was ascribed to the Lennon-McCartney songwriting team. 

The song, inspired by Bob Dylan’s introspective lyrics, is regarded as a watershed moment in the Beatles’ development as composers. The single includes a sitar solo by lead guitarist George Harrison, which was the first time the Indian string instrument appeared in a Western rock song. 

Norwegian Wood Guitar Chords

The Byrds – Turn! Turn! Turn!

“Turn! Turn! Turn!” is composed by Pete Seeger in the late 1950s. When The Byrds’ American folk-rock group modified the song, it became an international smash in late 1965. 

The track debuted at number 80 on the Billboard Hot 100 list on October 23, 1965, eventually hitting number one on December 4, 1965. It peaked at number 3 in Canada on November 29, 1965, and at number 26 on the UK Singles Chart. Again, a great song for 12-string guitars. 

Turn! Turn! Turn! Guitar Chords

Jimi Hendrix – Hear My Train A Comin’

Jimi Hendrix wrote the blues ballad “Hear My Train A Comin’,” also known as “Get My Heart Back Together.” We now have one of Hendrix’s rarest video footage with a 12-string guitar for this song. 

Between 1967 and 1970, Hendrix recorded the song multiple times live, studio, and in other settings but never finished it to his satisfaction. Maybe the only 12-string guitar song that Jimi Hendrix composed and the best one! 

Hear My Train a Comin’ Guitar Chords

Led Zeppelin – Over The Hills And Far Away

It’s nearly hard to find a “greatest song” list that doesn’t include at least one Led Zeppelin masterpiece. England is regarded for producing some of the world’s best musicians, such as Jimmy Page, Plant, and Bonham.

This remarkable work of art was created in 1972 and released on the Houses of the Holy album the following year. In general, there’s a lot of chord play, hammer-ons, and pull-offs, but that’s to be expected from a band such as Led Zeppelin.

Over The Hills And Far Away Guitar Chords

Extreme – Hole Hearted

Extreme is a genius band. Both vocally and instrumentally, they are writing perfect songs. And “Hole Hearted” is a great song played with a 12-string guitar from their album Pornograffitti. 

Nuno Bettencourt ordered a 12-string guitar. And he got it when the record Pornograffiti was almost finished. He played the chords of “Hole Hearted” on the 12-string, and the band immediately loved how it sounded with the new guitar and recorded it as we know “Hole Hearted” today.

Hole Hearted Guitar Chords

Rush – Closer To The Heart

“Closer To The Heart” begins with a beautiful Alex Lifeson pattern of a 12-string guitar. It sounds marvelous. This song was Rush’s first UK hit and has remained a fixture of their live set ever since. 

The Canadian “Rush” is responsible for a slew of heartbreaking ballads and chart-topping singles, but their musicianship and technical prowess have propelled them to stardom. Unfortunately, they split in January of 2020, which is the reason why we’re determined to keep the flame burning – they’re “Closer to the heart” than ever.

Closer To The Heart Guitar Chords

The Rolling Stones – As Tears Go By

“As Tears Go By” was originally written by Rolling Stones but was firstly recorded by Marianne Faithfull in 1964. It is a classic baroque rock/pop song. 

After, the song was recorded and released by Rolling Stones in 1965 again. “As Tears Go By” is very easy to play on a 12-string and also a regular acoustic. G, A, C, D, and Em are the chords for it. 

As Tears Go By Guitar Chords

Led Zeppelin — Tangerine

Led Zeppelin‘s song “Tangerine” is a folk-rock tune. The song was released in 1970 and appears on the second, more acoustic side of the band’s third album. The melancholy ballad dwells on lost love and is accompanied by strummed acoustic guitar beat and pedal steel guitar.

The song begins with a pattern, followed by a pause to establish the tempo. The guitar continues with an Am-G-D chord pattern. Jimmy Page plays two guitar parts in this song. One of them is with a 12-string guitar, and the other one is a regular acoustic guitar. 

Tangerine Guitar Chords

The Who – Substitute

Pete Townshend wrote “Substitute” in 1965. It got released in 1966 and was Number 5 on the lists in the UK. A classic The WHO song was recorded with a beautiful 12-string guitar. 

Again a politically critical song from The WHO and an anthem of the young people who struggle with the system. 

Substitute Guitar Chords 

Queen – 39 

“39” is a purely Brian May song. For those who don’t know he is the guitarist from Queen. He plays his beautiful 12-string acoustic guitar in this song. It sounds amazing. And he sings most of the part himself, either. 

The song tells a story about space travelers and their preparation for the voyage. It was released in 1975 and got immediately popular after. 

39 Guitar Chords 

The Byrds – Mr. Tambourine Man

Although George Harrison played his 12-string Rickenbacker for some time, Jim McGuinn demonstrated to everyone how amazing a 12-string guitar is with “Mr. Tambourine Man.” 

Its jangly sound complemented Bob Dylan’s ethereal lyrics well. Until the Byrds dissolved in 1973, the 12-string Rick was an essential aspect of their sound.

Mr. Tambourine Man Guitar Chords

Supertramp – Give A Little Bit

“Give A Little Bit” is a great progressive pop, folk-rock song released in 1977. It is a great combination of American folk heritage and a 70s rock band touch to it. 

Supertramp is a musically diverse band. They always experiment very nicely on a folk-rock ground and write more progressive progressions to their songs. And “Give A Little Bit” is one of them, played with a 12-string guitar. It just sounds great to me! 

Give A Little Bit Guitar Chords

The Byrds – Eight Miles High

In 1966, “Eight Miles High” was released as a single for the first time. The song’s mix of Indian and free-form jazz elements, as well as its impressionistic lyrics, had an immediate impact on the nascent psychedelic rock genre.

The song, influenced by sitarist Ravi Shankar and jazz saxophonist John Coltrane, was crucial in the evolution of the psychedelia and raga rock musical styles. As a result, critics frequently identify “Eight Miles High” as the first true psychedelic rock song and a counterculture classic.

You should listen to the 12-string patterns on “Eigth Miles High.” It is genius! 

Eight Miles High Guitar Chords

The Beatles – If I Needed Someone

“If I Needed Someone” was released in 1965. It appeared on the album “Rubber Soul.” It was widely regarded as Harrison’s best song when it was released. 

Harrison wrote the song for his wife, Pattie Boyd. However, the lyrics have an ambiguous tone and have been interpreted as a communication to a casual love interest. 

“Rubber Soul” is one of my favorite albums from the Beatles. It is just lovely. And the 12-string guitar on this song just sounds great! 

If I Needed Someone Guitar Chords

Melissa Etheridge – Like The Way I Do 

This song is a great version of a 12-string guitar song from 1988. “Like The Way I Do” was written many years before it was recorded. 

Melissa Etheridge had already performed it live, where it was the first of her works frequently requested by the audience. It has only 4 chords to play: Dm, Bb, C, and A7. 

Like The Way I Do Guitar Chords

Styx – Suite Madame Blue

American rock band Styx was formed in 1972. They have a unique power rock sound, and their songs are progressive. “Suite Madame Blue” is one of their beautiful examples. 

A classic progressive rock ballad from Styx’s album Equinox was released in 1975. The whole song goes with beautiful arpeggios played with 12-string guitar. It is worth checking! 

Suite Madame Blue Guitar Chords

KISS – Hard Luck Woman

“Hard Luck Woman” is the lead single from the album Rock and Roll Over. It was released in 1976. Paul Stanley wrote it as a possible Rod Stewart song, but following the success of “Beth,” Kiss opted to keep it for themselves as a follow-up.

The song is considered a gentle folk-rock song played with 12-string acoustic guitars. KISS has plenty of ballads or softer rock songs, which is one of the beautiful examples.

Hard Luck Woman Guitar Chords

Tiamat – Whatever That Hurts

Tiamat is a very different Swedish metal band from the other bands and artists on the list. But the song has some arpeggio parts played with a 12-string guitar that is worth listening to. 

“Whatever That Hurts” was released in 1994. In my opinion, it is one of the deepest and greatest songs of the band. I think the music video is also very good. 

Whatever That Hurts Guitar Tabs

The Eagles – The Best Of My Love

I love this song. It is a classic Eagles composition that narrates a classic love story. “The Best Of My Love” was released in 1974 and remastered in 2013. 

You can hear the crispy and mesmerizing 12-string guitar progression throughout the whole song. It is just a mellow feeling to listen to this song. 

The Best Of My Love Guitar Chords

Gordon Lightfoot – Early Morning Rain

Early Morning Rain is a classic folk-rock song from 1966 written by the Canadian artist Gordon Lightfoot. Its country-infused arpeggios are very fun to play with a 12-string acoustic guitar.

Early Morning Rain Guitar Chords

Rod Stewart – You Wear It Well

This song is written by Rod Stewart and Martin Quittenton. They performed it also together. “You Wear It Well” has a similar arrangement to “Maggie May,” one of Stewart’s previous year’s smashes. 

Stewart recorded the song for his album Never a Dull Moment. It was released in 1972. You should give it an ear to the 12-string patterns here. It is brilliant.

You Wear It Well Guitar Chords

Greg Lake – I Believe In Father Christmas

“I Believe in Father Christmas” is written by Peter Sinfield and performed by English artist Greg Lake. Although it is commonly classified as a Christmas song, Lake did not intend this to be the case. He claimed he penned the song in response to the commercialization of Christmas.

Lake penned the tune in his west London home after tuning his guitar’s bottom string from E to D. A brilliant song played with a 12-string guitar. 

I Belive In Father Christmas Guitar Chords 

The Hollies – Look Through Any Window 

“Look Through Any Window” is a perfect example of a 60s jangle beat pop. You should hear how the 12-string guitar sounds here. It is one of the early 12-string examples released in 1965. 

“Look Through Any Window” can be one of the famous songs of The Hollies and might be responsible for the band’s fame after. 

Look Through Any Window Guitar Chords

Pantera – Suicide Note, Part 1

Pantera’s “Suicide Note, Pt. 1” is a song from The Great Southern Trendkill, one of the band’s famous albums, released in 1996. It is the first installment of Suicide Note, Pt. 2. 

The song deviated from most of Pantera’s output since Vulgar Display of Power, including synthesizers, acoustic guitars, and a discordant lyric approach.

During live performances, Pt. 1 was frequently played over the intercom in its studio format, only to be interrupted when the band took the stage and performed Pt. 2 as an opening.

Suicide Note, Part 1 Guitar Tabs

The Eagles – Doolin-Dalton

Doolin-Dalton first appeared on the band’s famous album, Desperado. The album was a huge success for The Eagles back then. A great song to play on a 12-string acoustic guitar while chilling on your balcony. 

Doolin-Dalton Guitar Chords

Mahavishnu Orchestra – You Know You Know 

Mahavishnu Orchestra is a super band formed by John McLaughlin,  Jan Hammer, Billy Cobham, Jerry Goodman, and Rick Laird. “You Know You Know” was released in 1971. The song appeared on the band’s debut album, The Inner Mounting Flame.

Between 1971 and 1973, the band garnered initial praise for its complicated, powerful music, a combination of Indian classical music, jazz, and psychedelic rock, as well as its dramatic live performances. Many band members went on to have successful careers in jazz and jazz fusion.

You Know You Know Guitar Tabs

Tiamat – Do You Dream Of Me?

Tiamat is a Swedish metal band that Johan Edlund founded in Stockholm in 1987. The band’s style evolved throughout time, usually leaning toward gothic metal.

“Do You Dream Of Me?” is another perfect song from Tiamat’s album Wildhoney. It is worth checking! 

Do You Dream Of Me Guitar Tabs


It can be hard to play a 12-string guitar sometimes. But once you tune it right and understand its needs, you can create magic with a 12-string guitar. It has a unique sound flavor and inspired many musicians along the way. For decades, various genres and musicians have composed and recorded legendary music with 12-string guitars. 

I hope this article helps you figure out where to start looking for 12-string guitar tunes with the tabs and chords I’ve compiled for you. If possible, develop your foundation and understand the fundamentals before strumming the guitar strings. Also, carefully listen to various records from different eras of music carefully to improve your ear and playability. 

As a closure, luckily, 12-string guitars were invented, and we had the chance to listen to beautiful masterpieces such as “Stairway To Heaven,” “Space Oddity,” or “Ocean”! And good luck with your 12-string guitar journey. 

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I have been playing guitar since 2004. As long as I can remember I always had a huge passion for rock music and I extremely enjoy playing it. Helping people on their rock journey is what drives me to keep on playing. Read More About Me

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