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The Top 30 12-String Guitar Songs of All Time

The Top 30 12-String Guitar Songs of All Time

When considering the choices for this list, we realized it wasn't as easy a task as we initially thought.

What makes for a great 12-string guitar song as opposed to a great song that just happens to have a 12-string guitar somewhere on it? Let's face it, if Led Zeppelin's "Stairway to Heaven" had a ukulele on it, it would immediately be in the running for Greatest Ukulele Song of All Time.

That being said, we looked at not only the legacy of the song but how prevalent 12-string guitar is in the song and how influential the song would be in inspiring others to pick up their 12-strings.

Without the 1964 Beatles film A Hard Day's Night, the Byrds might not have existed as you now know them (assuming you know them—and you should know them), and without "Stairway to Heaven," the doubleneck guitar might be sitting in a museum as a one-time oddity produced by Gibson. So what song will we crown as the Greatest 12-String Guitar Song of All Time?

Read on ... (And yes, we threw in an extra song; our math isn't too good. Enjoy our top 31!).

Also, before we get started, we're presenting an "honorable mention" award for Tom Petty's "Somewhere Under Heaven," his standalone 2015 single, which proves artists are still writing and recording great 12-string guitar songs in the modern era. The song, which was written by Petty and Mike Campbell, was featured in the Entourage soundtrack in 2015 (but don't hold that against it). It's actually an unreleased song from Petty's Wildflowers sessions.

Anyway, here we go:

31. Pantera, "Suicide Note, Part 1" The Great Southern Trendkill (1996) This song marked one of the most experimental moments in Pantera's catalog, with Dimebag Darrell's dark 12-string guitar part perfectly echoing the song's somber subject matter.

 

30. John Butler Trio, "Ocean" John Butler (1998) The newest song to make the cut, John Butler's instrumental masterpiece "Ocean" stands as a fine example of the timeless sound of the 12-string. Keep an ear out for Butler's use of two-hand tapping ala Satriani in "Midnight."

 

29. America, "A Horse with No Name" America (1971) Although the 12-string acoustic guitar plays only a supporting role in this ubiquitous folk-rock tune about a nameless equine, it actually plays a major part in its overall sound. When "A Horse With No Name" was released, a lot of people thought it was a Neil Young song, which is ironic because it replaced Young's “Heart of Gold” at the Number 1 spot on the U.S. pop chart.

28. Bob Dylan, "Hurricane" Desire (1976) Most assume it was Dylan himself who played the 12-string here, but it was actually session guitarist Vinnie Bell manning the Danelectro Bellzouki 12-string guitar on this classic cut.

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