Baritones produce deep and dreamy tones and have done so since the 1950s. Baritone guitars are larger and heavier than regular guitars. They may not be for everyone but for those who need a creative boost and are inquisitive about extending their musical ability, these extraordinary guitars don’t disappoint. Baritones just can’t be substituted by any other instrument and promise to be a friend for life. Choosing a baritone requires similar considerations to choosing a regular guitar. Not only is the size and weight important but deciding whether an acoustic or electric option is the best fit for you also needs to be thought through. We’ve listed some of the best baritone guitars in 2021 to help you match up specs and suitability. You definitely won’t be lacking inspiration for your next finger-strutting riff with one of these.
Baritone guitars made their first appearance in the late 1950s. They’ve been somewhat of a novelty and slowly gained popularity with their larger appearance and distinctive style. If you’ve reached a creative slump, a baritone guitar can be just the thing to get you inspired, learning new skills, and growing as a musician. Here’s what you need to know when choosing the best baritone guitar for inspiring and versatile sounds.
What Makes Baritone Guitars Different?
Baritone guitars come in electric and acoustic variations and are found in the catalogs of all major guitar producers. Being non-standard instruments, they require enthusiasm, a sense of curiosity, and patience to master.
Regular guitars are tuned E to E, whereas baritone guitars have a lower pitch and are usually tuned B to B. The 6-stringed, long-scale guitar has heavier and longer strings with a larger body to accommodate the lower range of notes. Scales and chords are identical to other guitars, however, it is the pitch that changes. A common baritone guitar has a scale of 28.5 inches which is 3 inches longer than a regular guitar.
Baritone guitars essentially allow guitar players to explore a new sonic range with familiar chord and scale combinations. They are versatile across genres from metal and pop to jazz.
Things to Consider When Buying a Baritone Guitar
A guitar should always fit your own proportions, especially if you are a beginner. If your instrument is too big or heavy, the ease of playing your guitar will be significantly reduced. Not only will it be uncomfortable, but it’s also pretty discouraging. Baritone guitars are even larger and longer than regular guitars so it's even more important to make sure you get one that fits you well and that you can play with comfort.
The main decision you will need to make is whether you want to get an acoustic or electric guitar. This depends on your own style, skills, and preference, Baritones are available in both types and less commonly you can also get your hands on an electroacoustic hybrid.
This will include attributes like pickups, tuning, controls, and tremolo. These details will impact your overall playing experience and may also be subjective to your style and preference.
Baritone guitars are available in a variety of remarkable designs, styles, and colors. Although this may not be the most important feature when looking for an instrument, most musicians will probably agree that the look of your guitar is partly what solidifies the bond you have with your guitar.
Tips for Buying a Baritone Guitar
Baritone guitars are not as commonly available as other guitar types. This means that your options might not be as broad as you hope, but it can also make choosing the right one a little easier. Many models need to be purchased on backorder, so you might need to wait a little longer before you can start playing.
Baritone guitars use higher gauge strings than standard guitars. Regular guitars generally come strung with .010 and .046 strings while electric baritones will come strung with .013 to .062 strings and acoustic baritones feature gauges between .016 and .070.
You may need to adjust your technique when switching to playing a baritone guitar. Acoustic baritones react poorly to fast and explosive strumming. Your fingers and hands may feel tender after the first few sessions, but you will get used to it quickly with consistent practice.
Initial guitar setup may be required before you get going. This includes modifying intonation and adjusting the truss rod. Make slow incremental changes as this adjustment alters neck relief, which affects the string action. If you aren’t sure you have the right tools for the job, rather get a professional to do it.
Best Baritone Guitar FAQ
Q: Will chords be different on a baritone guitar?
A: Scales, chords, and tuning are identical on a baritone and any other guitar, it is just the actual pitch that is different. A baritone guitar generally has a scale of 28.5″, which is 3 inches longer than a typical guitar.
Q: Can a baritone be tuned to drop C?
A: Baritone guitars are ideal for drop tuning due to their longer scale lengths which make the strings sound, feel, and intonate better.
Q: Are 7-string guitars baritone?
A: Seven-string guitars are not baritone guitars, they are referred to as extended range guitars since they are tuned to standard (EADGBE) with the additional string tuned to a B below the low E.
Q: Can you use a baritone guitar as a bass?
A: To some extent you can use a baritone guitar as a bass, however, it will have some pitfalls and its effectiveness will largely depend on string tension and amp optimization.
Jack has been a touring guitarist for almost 20 years, playing in a number of country music and rock bands. Jack loves the road and defines himself as a never-ending student of the guitar and other important instruments or tools that make a musician.