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Review: Danelectro's 59X12 is an affordable and widely versatile electric 12-string

(Image credit: Danelectro)

Everyone loves a 12-string. Well… except guitar players. Whoa, calm down! Don’t bite my head off just yet! What I’m saying is, typically, a 12-string isn’t a player’s first choice in an electric guitar

Yes, a 12-string guitar sounds amazing and we love it for many reasons, but mostly for the chorusy shimmer produced by its double-octave and unison-tuned strings, and how it also can bring intense earnestness to a cheesy song. But let’s face it: a 12-string is often regarded as a utility guitar for the studio or kind of a showstopper live instrument when you really want to impress (Hotel California, anyone?). 

However, I’m going to stop giving this instrument backhanded compliments because I really do love an electric 12-string, but have never had the urge to own one - until now. Danelectro, who continually refresh their very hip instruments, used their popular 59XT guitar as the platform to introduce the 59X12, an affordable and widely versatile electric 12-string.

The 59X12 is solid and well-built with the ultra-cool short-horn body style of their original ’59DC. It features a semi-hollow body design to reduce weight and add resonance, a maple neck with a pau ferro fingerboard, a fully adjustable hardtail bridge, master volume and tone, and a three-way switch. 

What sets the 59X12 apart is its full-range lipstick humbucker (that has push-pull coil-split accessed by the tone control) in the bridge, and a reverse-angled P-90 neck pickup. The wealth of electrified 12-string tones are staggering - with the lipstick humbucker able to reproduce that early R.E.M. and Tom Petty style of jangle with astonishing conviction, or the bright bell-like chime on Mr. Tambourine Man.

The guitar loudly rings out chords with firm clarity and sounds remarkably full. You can also get surprisingly close to acoustic-electric tones when both pickups are active and engaging the coil-split. Add to that its low action and you have no excuse not to play the Eagles’ biggest hit for your fans.

STREET PRICE: $499
MANUFACTURER: Danelectro, danelectro.com

Paul Riario

Paul Riario has been the tech/gear editor and online video presence for Guitar World for over 25 years. Paul is one of the few gear editors who has actually played and owned nearly all the original gear that most guitarists wax poetically about, and has survived this long by knowing every useless musical tidbit of classic rock, new wave, hair metal, grunge, and alternative genres. When Paul is not riding his road bike at any given moment, he remains a working musician, playing in two bands called SuperTrans Am and Radio Nashville.