Welcome to Our New Website!

Welcome to the newly redesigned Well Strung Guitars website! We implemented a slew of design changes to make browsing and enjoying our selection easier than ever before! We wanted to take this opportunity to walk you through some of those changes. 

Firstly, we’ve listed an additional 50 or so guitars we’ve never had on our website, and we plan on keeping the new listings coming, so check back every week! Be sure to let us know if you have any questions using our contact form, and at the bottom of that page add your email to our newsletter to get alerts when new guitars are uploaded. Each guitar now features a comprehensive Specifications summary, which makes finding important details such as weight, nut width, and pickup readings as easy as possible. 

What to Expect on Each Listing

Diving into the “Spec” summary a little further, you can see we have added a categorical “Condition” rating to the finish and hardware sections, and a numerical “Overall Condition” rating at the end of each listing. Some might be very familiar with the Mint, Excellent, Very Good, etc. metric that many selling platforms use, and some might be used to a simple 1-10 scale. We have adapted both styles to fit our inventory of 30+ year old vintage guitars, and provide easy references for both new and old school. Of course, condition is always subjective, but we use our years of experience dealing with hundreds of instruments to describe each piece to the best of our ability.

Let’s look at the “Finish Details” section of our listings. Some elements of age are hard to avoid, such as finish checking or yellowing of the clear, and this is taken into account when assigning a condition to an instrument. In that same vein, we also have a new “Hardware” section. One word we throw out quite a bit is “patina”. This is a thin layer of oxidation that can occur on metal components due to hand oils or even the air. We’ll note the presence of patina in this section, and if there’s any patina bordering on corrosion. Below we have provided a quick cheat sheet about the way we interpret our condition ratings for the utmost clarity.

MintEssentially new, like it just came out of the factory!
Near MintAlmost brand new, Could have very light swirling, very light weather checking, or a couple of small marks
ExcellentVery clean, Could have a few areas of light wear, light weather checking, or a few marks
GreatThe standard amount we expect a our vintage inventory to age, Could have some finish wear, some weather checking, a handful of marks, some patina, or just general play wear
GoodPlayed in look and feel, Could have fading/yellowing throughout, wear spots throughout finish (such as very visible buckle rash), weather checking throughout, marks throughout, or patina throughout
FairHeavily played in look and feel, Could have wear across the entire instrument, heavy fading/yellowing, areas of finish worn to bare wood, heavy weather checking, heavy marks, or heavy patina

Another area we’d like to expand on is the neck profile section. We got our hands on each guitar and assigned a neck profile that we felt matched. We can measure any neck in the store more thoroughly, so if you’d like more information please don’t hesitate to give us a shout! 

The remaining sections of the Specifications summary (such as nut width, weight, etc.) are pretty straightforward. The last “Includes” section lists any case candy and the type of case each guitar comes in.

We truly hope you all like our website’s new look and enjoy the changes. If there’s anything we haven’t answered for you here, please don’t hesitate to let us know! 

Fender Electric XII

Fender’s Electric XII

In the early 1960s, there was a clamor to capture the jangly, bright and unique sound produced by a relatively new invention; the electric twelve string guitar. Acoustic twelve string guitars were heard accompanying folk and blues music in the 1920s and 1930s, but were seen as little more than novelties until the early 1960s, when George Harrison put his brand new twelve string Rickenbacker 360/12 to good use. George was given one of the first two prototypes made by Rickenbacker, and was immediately taken with the new tones he was able to achieve. He was given the guitar in February of 1964 in New York City, a day before their legendary performance on “The Ed Sullivan Show.” Harrison’s new guitar was immediately put to use in the studio, laying out the legendary opening of “A Hard Day’s Night,” and often following this smash hit.

This meteoric popularity caught Fender by surprise, and they quickly began planning their own design to compete with the likes of Rickenbacker and others. Using the offset designs of the Jazzmaster, Jaguar and Mustang as a baseline, a new headstock design was needed to accommodate six extra strings. The resulting headstock came to be referred to as the “hockey stick” headstock; a clunky departure from the sleek lines and curves the company was known for.

Fender Electric XII Head Stock

The Electric XII featured two split single coil pickups, a single volume and tone control, and a four-way rotary switch. This switch allowed the player to use either each pickup by itself, both pickups together, or both pickups together but out of phase. Where the Electric XII really stands out lies with it’s unique bridge design. While many other twelve string electric guitars had just six saddles for twelve strings, Fender had a slightly different approach. As one of Leo Fender’s last designs with the company he started, the bridge features twelve individual saddles to perfect the instrument’s intonation. The string through body design also helped enhance the overall sound and sustain, since many others were stringed through a top mounted tailpiece.

Fender Electric XII Print Ad
Fender Electric XII body detail

By the summer of 1965, The Byrds were dominating the charts with their hit, “Mr. Tambourine Man,” and were scheduled to appear on several television variety shows to promote it, thanks to their record label CBS. Coincidentally, CBS had also just purchased Fender, and had Gene Clark play a Firemist Gold Electric XII opposite to Jim McGuinn’s Rickenbacker 360/12 on The Byrd’s second television appearance on Hullabaloo in May of 1965. When the Fender Electric XII was released in June of 1965, the standard sunburst finish with white pearloid pickguard was offered for $349.50. Soon after it’s initial release, a faux tortoise shell pickguard replaced the white pearloid guard, and later in the same year white binding was added to the fretboard. Many Electric XIIs featured pearl dot inlays, besides a small amount of them featuring block position markers. In an effort to boost sales, a fair percentage of guitars were finished in an array of custom colors in the first few years to have a guitar for anyone’s taste.

Fender Electric XII

The Electric XII quickly became a studio favorite, with the likes of the Beach Boys, Pete Townshend, and Bob Dylan relying on the Electric XII, and even Elvis Presley was seen sporting a 1966 Electric XII in Lake Placid Blue. Arguably the most famous recording of an Electric XII is featured on Led Zeppelin’s legendary epic, “Stairway to Heaven,” recorded in late 1970, and released in 1971. Jimmy Page opted to use his sunburst 1965 Fender Electric XII to capture the mystical, shimmering tone featured on the track.

Fender Electric XII

Despite the popularity in the studio, musicians were not seen playing Electric XIIs on stage, which starved the model of the star power needed to sell them. By the end of the decade, popularity of the twelve string and its unique sound was waning, and in 1969 into 1970 the Electric XII was scrapped from the Fender line up entirely. After the Electric XII, the Coronado XII was the only twelve-string Fender offered until the end of 1970. Twelve strings would be unavailable from Fender until nearly 20 years later; when the Japanese-made Strat XII was introduced.

Fender Electric XII

The Fender Electric XII was certainly one of the last remaining bastion of the Golden Age of Fender guitars, and endures as one of the most comfortable, ergonomic and well-pitched twelve strings ever available on the market.

Fender Electric XII

Works Cited

Babiuk, Andy, et al. Beatles Gear : All the Fab Four’s Instruments from Stage to Studio. Montclair, Nj, Backbeat Books, 2015.

Kelly, Martin, et al. Fender : The Golden Age. London, Cassell Illustrated, 2011.

Owens, Jeff. “Ring True: A History of Fender 12-String Electric Guitars.” www.fender.com, www.fender.com/articles/gear/ring-true-a-history-of-fender-12-string-electric-guitars.