What Is A Baritone Guitar?

If you’ve ever heard the term “Baritone Guitar” and you didn’t know what it meant, you’re in luck. In this article, we’re going to tell you what a baritone guitar is, along with some reasons why you definitely should think about picking up one for yourself. 

ESP LTD BB-600 Baritone Signature Series Ben Burnley Electric Guitar with Case, See Thru Black Sunburst Satin

What Is A Baritone Guitar?

In simplest terms, a baritone guitar is a guitar that’s tuned to a lower pitch. While a standard guitar is tuned E A D G B E, baritone guitars are tuned in two ways. 

They are either tuned a fifth lower than the standard tuning, which brings them to (A D G C E A) or more popularly, they are tuned to a fourth lower than the standard tuning. A fourth lower brings the baritone guitar to a B E A D F# B, tuning. 

Now, we’re sure the question on your mind is:

“Why can’t I just tune my good old Stratocaster a fourth lower and call it a Baritone guitar”

Well, technically, you can. However, what you would find is that the strings won’t have enough tension. So, they won’t be able to produce good enough sound. 

How does the baritone guitar fix this string tension? It has a longer neck and makes use of slightly heavier strings. Or to say it more professionally, it has a longer scale length. Which brings us to the next point. 

What Is A Scale Length?

A scale length is basically the distance between the bridge and the nut of your guitar. That is the length of the suspended string on the guitar. Most traditional electric guitars have a scale length between 24 ¾ inches and 25 ½ inches. 

Also, these traditional electric guitars come with a set of 10-46 gauge strings which are tuned to the standard E-E. 

At the opposite end of the spectrum, most bass guitars have a scale length of around 34 inches. They make use of strings between the 45-100 range. 

Baritone guitars sit somewhere in the middle. They usually have a scale length between 27 and 28 inches. Also, they make use of 13-62 strings, which are a tad bit heavier than electric guitar strings, but not as heavy as bass strings. 

If you still don’t understand what we’re talking about, then watch this very quick explanation below:

Why You Should Consider A Baritone Guitar

The best thing about these guitars is that a good electric guitarist wouldn’t need to learn anything when he first picks this up. The guitar is tuned to the same pattern but is only a fourth lower. So, whatever chord pattern you play would be the same, whether on an electric or a baritone guitar. With the only difference being the key.

Optimism aside, we realize that the baritone guitar is much more a niche guitar, rather than a generally appealing one. So, if you’re a jazz or country player, you definitely want to check out baritone guitars. 

However, even if you’re more of a rock or metal player, you might still enjoy using this guitar, who knows? Watch the video below to find out if these guitars can play metal and if it can, how well it can. 

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And that’s about done concerning Baritone guitars. They sound beastly, they sound meaty, and you definitely should try them out. 

If you’re shopping for a Baritone guitar, then we suggest you check out this list of Best Baritone Guitars right now. 

What is a Baritone Guitar? – Frequently Asked Questions

What is the difference between baritone guitars and regular guitars?

A baritone guitar is larger and size and has a longer neck than a standard guitar. It is normally tuned to a B-standard or A-standard. A B-standard has the notes B-E-A-D-F# on the strings and is known as baritone tuning. An A standard is a tone lower than the B standard with notes of A-D-G-C-E-A on its strings. The baritone guitar is either a 4th or 5th lower than the standard guitar. 

Can you play a baritone guitar in standard tuning?

Baritone guitars are normally tuned to a standard 4th or 5th lower than a standard guitar tuning. It is standard advice that baritone guitars are not tuned to pitches higher than their intended range. Tuning a baritone guitar to standard guitar tuning will increase the tension in the guitar strings. This could result in a broken guitar neck. Some experts say that a baritone guitar can be played with standard guitar tuning however, it will require technical expertise and suitable strings. 

Can baritone guitar replace bass?

Some baritone have relatively long scales. Some are as long as 30.5 inches. This places them somewhere between electric guitars and an electric bass. It explains why some musicians and rock bands have been known to use a baritone as a replacement for a bass instrument. Baritone guitars feature strongly with metal bands who either use it as an accompanying instrument or as a replacement for bass. 

Can you tune a 6-string bass like a guitar?

Some guitarists have been known to tune their 6-string bass like they would a regular guitar for some of the strings. Usually, they retain the standard tuning for a bass guitar but with a higher B and E on the last two strings. Interestingly, basses like the Fender Bass VI are designed with this type of tuning. Other bass models that have adopted this type of tuning have been made by Danelectro, Schecter, Guild etc. It should be noted that timing a 6-bass like a standard guitar will require purchasing a new nut. 

Can you tune a baritone guitar to drop C?

Yes, baritone guitars can be tuned to drop C. Baritone guitars are great for drop tuning even to low B and beyond. This is possible due to the longer scale lengths which make the strings feel better and sound better. Baritone guitars can be drop tuned to drop Ds, B standard, drop A or even F# standard with some great amount of skill and expertise. Tuning a baritone to a drop C will therefore be no problem.

Who uses baritone guitars?

Baritone guitars are used often in country Western music to accompany baritone voices of singers like Johnny Cash and Merle Haggard. Rock music has also embraced baritones. Pat Smear of Fro Fighters has been known to use baritones since 2011. Baritones are most commonly used in heavier music. Bands that have been known to use baritones frequently or occasionally include Deftones, Metallica, Machine Head, Stained, Coleed & Cambria and Cannibal Corpse. It has also been used by The Beach Boys, Dave Matthews and Buckethead, highlighting the range of the instrument.

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