The affordable 12 string guitar, one that is of good quality, is something of an elusive beast. It is infinitely more complicated to make a 12 string guitar than a 6 or 7 string guitar. The problems of higher pressure exerted onto the wood and increased demand for tone expression make construction much more complicated than many think. Let’s take a close look at one of the better affordable 12 strings guitars: the Ovation AB2312-4-KIT-1 Applause Balladeer.
First the body. The manufacturer opted for the lighter, yet still expressive and powerfully projecting mid depth cutaway body shape. Smaller and much lighter than the dreadnought or even the concert shape, this guitar retains good projection and provides a nice emphasis on the mid tones of the guitar.
The top wood used in the instrument is spruce. This hardwood is often used in many guitars. In this one it does a good job of introducing nuance to the higher tones, yet the lamination of the wood flattens the tones slightly. The back and sides of the guitar are Lyrachord, a fibrous resin material that resembles wood both in feel and sound. The material further enhances the bottom sounds, yet is slightly lacking when compared to traditional woods. Not much different from the laminated woods which would be used on an affordable guitar anyway, so nothing is really lost. The material is lightweight and sturdy.
The neck of the guitar is made of Nato, which is a dark, sturdy and lightweight material that resembles mahogany. The use of this material makes the guitar one of the lightest 12 string guitars out there. The fretboard of the guitar is rosewood, creating a nice contrast with the bright top of the guitar.
The bridge of the instrument is made of rosewood, which adds a tinge more of thickness to the bass tones of the guitar. The colour contrast created by the wood is also very nice to look at.
The nut and saddle are synthetic and do an okay job at limiting buzz on the guitar. A better material would’ve done better justice to the 12 strings, but the choice of material here is not the worst.
The tuners could definitely be better. It is not fun to re-tune 12 strings every few days and this makes the guitar feel like a bit more of an annoyance than it should be.
The sound of the guitar is rather warm and pleasant. When playing a slow and mellow melody the guitar seems to be at its best. Warm, slow and pleasant. The faster the playing gets, the more noisey and less discernible the tones get. Add a little bit of buzz and you realize that fast playing is not this guitar’s strong suit. At least the projection is powerful and pleasant.
Overall, this guitar is exactly what you would expect of the price it has on it. Not the best guitar, but definitely the best 12 string guitar in its price bracket. It delivers what it promises – a warm sound that gets a little noisy when you play too fast. It should be fine for beginners and people looking to play slow melodies on their 12 string guitar.