What Is A Baritone Guitar?

A lot of beginner guitarists cannot tell what a baritone guitar is. This is because it isn’t very popular. This article contains everything you need to know about baritone guitars, and why you might need one.

Overview

Baritone electric guitars started showing up since the mid-1950s starting with Danelectro. Before this time, the acoustic baritone guitars were already existent in classical styles. 

However, as at the time of release, the electric baritone did not find it easy breaking into the market. This was because the need for a lower tuned guitar was not popular at the time. Few years down the line, baritones finally made it into different recordings.

As a result of the nature of the tone created by the baritone guitars, it is somewhat difficult to say what its actual tone is. Most of the time, baritones are used as the layering instruments in a piece of music, you would hardly find them standing out. 

The sound of the baritone is usually mistaken for the higher neck area of the bass guitar to an inexperienced listener. However, if you have listened to a baritone before the difference is quite clear.

In recent times, you can now find baritone guitars used in genres like metal and hard rock.

The Design

The first thing that makes the baritone guitar peculiar is its design. The design of the baritone guitar is what gives the ability to play the tones it does.

Based on what we said earlier, we know that your thoughts now might be to just tune your standard guitars lower. Unfortunately, it doesn’t work that way.

Your standard guitar is designed for the tone it plays. Trying to tune it any lower than it is designed for will only result in sagging strings and an unplayable guitar.

The baritone guitars have a larger body size, a longer neck, and make use of larger strings. This makes it possible for it to be tuned to the lower tones.

The longer neck of the guitar allows for use of 27-inch scale length. This important because it is what allows the proper delivery of the lower notes. It also keeps it tight enough to stay in tune.

Tuning And Playing

The most popular Baritone tuning system is a B standard tuning (B-E-A-D-F#-B). Baritone guitars can also be tuned a tone lower to an A standard, which is A-D-G-C-E-A. This basically explains that the baritone guitar can be tuned to a 4th or 5th lower than the standard guitar.

One interesting thing is that if you already play the standard guitar, then you can become a pro at the baritone guitar in a very short time. The chords and scales for baritone and standard guitars are one and the same, just lower on the baritone.

Need To Know What The Baritone Guitar Sounds Like?

If you really need to know what the baritone guitar sounds like, there is no way we can properly explain it in words. However, the best way to get it is to listen to musicians who actually used the baritone guitar in their recordings.

One notable band that continuously made use of the baritone guitar a number of times is the beach boys. In a lot of riffs and intros, you can pick out the unique sound of the baritone guitar.

Another artist who used the baritone guitar for solos was Glen Campbell. He used the baritone guitar in a lot of his hit songs. Examples of such are Galveston (1969) and Wichita Lineman (1997).

Few years down the line, the Twin Peaks Tv show uses a baritone guitar played by Angelo Badalamenti as its theme song.

You will also find the baritone guitar continuously used in a lot of Hollywood movies of the 60s. Most of these action movies would have felt empty without the “twang” effect of the baritone guitar.

The last and definitely not the least is from a musician popularly referred to as the “twang lord”. Duane Eddy is one of the most prominent baritone guitar players in history. In most of the western and surf music of the 60s, Duane Eddy played the baritone guitar.

So, if you want to be sure of the baritone guitar sound, you can look at any of the options listed above to get the right idea.

Why You Might Want To Get A Baritone Guitar

We have already mentioned that baritone isn’t very popular, so, why would you want to get one? Well, there are various answers to that.

The most prominent advantage of the baritone guitar is its frequency range. The baritone has a frequency that is somewhere between the frequency of the bass guitar and that of the standard guitar.

If you are playing with a band or doing a recording with other instruments, the baritone will give the music a thicker sound. So altogether, you can get your music to sound a lot fuller with the baritone guitar.

Some guitarists get different guitars for in other to get different tones. If you want to have a lot of tones, then, you don’t want to leave out the distinctive low tones of the baritone guitar.

If You Want To Get One

In case you are convinced that you should get a baritone of your own, then there are some recommended options we have to offer.

The Danelectro Vintage Baritone

Danelectro was one of the companies that pioneered the baritone movement at the beginning. Even now, you can still get some great baritone guitars from the brand at very affordable rates.

They are durable and certain to serve you the sound that you are hoping to achieve with the baritone guitar.

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The PRS SE

PRS is a company that has quite a history when it comes to the baritone. This assures you that you can be sure to get a good value on their guitars. Their most notable model is the SE series.

The SE series offers quite a variety of baritones. The SE 277 semi-hollow is one of the best selling of this series. It offers a very unique sound as a result of the semi-hollow design and the soap bar pickups.

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The ESP LTD Viper

If you need a guitar that isn’t for the “faint of heart”, then this one will surely deliver on that desire.

Starting with the EMG’s it is packed with, this baritone guitar is sure to produce the rip you want. This guitar also has a rugged design that adds to the style for the sound it produces. It has pointed horns and blacked-out aesthetic that gives it this feel.

Well, these three are our basic recommendations for you. You cant get it wrong with any of these.

Conclusion

By now, we believe that if you are ever faced with this topic, you would know how to answer it like a professional.

With everything in this article, you have now seen everything about the baritone from past to present. Whatever you decide to do, you can’t go wrong by going for a baritone guitar. It will definitely add a special effect to your music in a very significant manner.

If you’re a beginner, we suggest starting with a standard electric guitar. However, if you are skilled with that already, then trying your hands out on something different isn’t a bad idea.