- select spruce top
- mahogany body
- full scale fretboard
- Active MET-A07 Preamp with digital tuner
The Oscar Schmidt OD312CE takes us to the world of 12-string acoustic guitars. Their necks are wider and slightly more challenging to play.
This is so because one has to fret one note with two strings. However, the coupled octave strings account for a richer tone.
Read on to learn more about the OD312CE’s tone and build quality, playability, and user rating with my in-depth review on this acoustic guitar.
The Oscar Schmidt OD312CE features a classic dreadnought shape. The presence of a cutaway and an adjustable action make up for some of the challenges that the doubled number of strings may present to the fingerpicker.
Connect the Barcus Berry Preamp/Tuner to experience the full lushness and chime of the OD312CE’s complex tone. It works well with any PA or amp.
- Body shape: Dreadnaught
- Cutaway: Yes
- Top material: laminate spruce
- Back & Sides Material: Mahogany
- Body finish: Gloss
- Soundhole binding: traditional “rope” pattern
- Body Binding: triple purfling edges with white binding
- Neck Material: Mahogany
- Neck profile: C-shaped
- Number of frets: 20
- Fretboard material: Engineered rosewood
- Fretboard inlay: White dots
Nut & Saddle
- Nut width: 1.89 inches
- Nut material: Nu Bone
- Saddle material: Nu Bone
- Number of strings: 12
- Strings Type: D’Addario XL
- Strings material: Nylon
- Tuners: Die-cast chrome
- Case: No
- Pickguard: No
- Electronics: Barcus Berry EQ4T pickup & preamp system
How It Sounds
The Oscar Schmidt OD312CE sounds quite good for an entry-level 12-string acoustic guitar. When unplugged, the guitar still maintains some tone depth thanks to its laminated mahogany back and sides.
Understandably, the laminated spruce top does not provide as much crispness and articulation as a solid one would do. The guitar’s tone goes quite thin and muffled when you plug it in, and the bottom end is barely heard.
On the plus side, the Oscar Schmidt OD312CE does not wreak havoc at the top end, as is the case with the majority of budget 12-string guitars.
With its full and complex tone, this 12-string dreadnought lends itself quite well to folk and blues playing.
Check out the OD312CE in action in the YouTube video below:
Unlike most budget 12-string guitars, the Oscar Schmidt OD312CE does not have any issues with unnecessary string tension that may affect the bridge and the top.
The C-shaped neck allows the fretting hand to exercise sufficient pressure on the bar chords. The shape of the neck also allows for some fine-tuning of the action. As a result, the OD312CE isn’t as challenging to play past the fifth fret as most of its 12-string siblings.
Since its establishment in 1871, the Oscar Schmidt Company has been known for its affordable and reliable stringed instruments.
In this respect, the OD312CE has been made of the best possible materials within its price tag of less than $300.
The white purfling along the body and around the soundhole gives this 12-string acoustic guitar a classy look, while the laminated spruce top is less susceptible to adverse weather conditions.
The back and sides are made of laminated mahogany, while the fretboard is made of processed rosewood.
The nut and the saddle are made of NuBone, not plastic, while the basic die-cast chrome tuners keep the nylon strings in tune for the most part.
Pros and Cons
Pickup & Preamp
The Barcus Berry EQ4T pickup with a piezo crystal is pretty basic, but it has controls for the volume, treble, bass, and the mid-range.
The amp system is hard to set up because the buttons are stiff, and the tiny knobs turn with a significant effort.
There is an output jack for a direct line connection to a soundboard/mixer. All in all, this guitar sounds better unplugged.
Quality Control Issues
The biggest construction issue of the OD312CE is that the frets need to be filed down before you can start playing. Also, many guitars arrive with manufacturing defects which speaks of low-quality control.
What Others Are Saying
The OD312CE’s user rating on Amazon.com is currently 4.4 out of 5. Sixty-four percent of the users are happy with the guitar’s build quality, playability, and sound and give it five stars. However, there also are some recurring issues that I’d like to highlight.
As long as you stick to the open chords, the guitar sounds OK. However, its intonation becomes flimsy above the 5th fret.
Users have shared that a couple of tuners got stuck and would not turn at all. On top of that, the rest that do turn are so sharp that they cut the nylon strings. Additionally, some strings would pop out and would not tune correctly.
May Arrive Damaged or Broken
Most 1-star reviews are from users who have received their Oscar Schmidt OD312CE damaged or broken. Even more worrying is the fact that the replacement they asked for also arrived with many serious manufacturing flaws.
The Preamp & Pickups System Just Eats the Batteries
Users say that the preamp’s battery will go dead after a single-use. There may be some power calibration error, or the preamp just fails to recognize the nine-volt battery inside. Unfortunately, removing and reinserting the battery does not appear to solve the problem.
Is the OD312CE Beginner-Friendly?
Keeping in mind how affordable this 12-string guitar is, I think it makes a reasonable first guitar choice.
As a rule, 12-string dreadnaughts are more expensive and more challenging to play than their six-string siblings, but the Oscar Schmidt OD312CE is a pleasant exception!
On the whole, the Oscar Schmidt OD312CE is the best twelve-string dreadnought you can buy within the $200-$300 price range if, of course, you are lucky enough to get one without production flaws.
That said, the guitar has some underlying issues to watch out for. The frets are pretty sharp, and getting them into the right shape may take up to three hours of filing.
Also, the tuning machines are so sharp that they cut the nylon strings if tightened too much. If you leave them a bit loose, at least two of the twelve strings will pop out.
Thanks for checking out my review on the Oscar Schmidt OD312CE.
Until next time!
Alex is a man of many talents. He’s been playing music since he was young, and has been the main content writer at Tone Start for the past few years. Alex loves to play around with different styles of music and enjoys listening to anything from country to classical.