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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.