The Ultimate Guide to Finding the Best Baritone Guitar


If you’re a guitarist looking to add a new dimension to your music, then look no further than the baritone guitar. With its deeper, richer tones and extended range, the baritone guitar is a versatile instrument that can take your playing to the next level. In this ultimate guide, we’ll explore everything you need to know about finding the best baritone guitar for your needs. From the type of woods used to the scale length and tuning options, we’ll walk you through all the essential factors to consider. Whether you’re a seasoned player or just starting out, this guide will help you navigate the world of baritone guitars and make an informed choice. So, let’s dive in and discover the perfect baritone guitar that suits your style.

The Ultimate Guide to Finding the Best Baritone Guitar

Understanding Baritone Guitars

What is a Baritone Guitar?

A baritone guitar is a type of guitar that is designed to have a lower pitch range compared to a standard guitar. It features a longer scale length and thicker strings, enabling it to produce deep and rich tones. Baritone guitars are often used in various genres of music such as jazz, rock, metal, and even country. They offer a unique sonic flavor that adds depth and power to your sound.

Differentiating Baritone Guitars from Standard Guitars

The main difference between a baritone guitar and a standard guitar is the scale length and tuning. While standard guitars usually have a scale length of around 25.5 inches, baritone guitars typically have a longer scale length of 27 inches or more. This longer scale length allows for lower string tension and facilitates the use of thicker strings, which are essential for achieving the desired low-end tones.

In terms of tuning, baritone guitars are typically tuned lower than standard guitars. The most common tuning for a baritone guitar is B to B, which means the strings are tuned to B E A D F# B. This lower tuning allows for a deeper tonal range and creates a distinct character that sets baritone guitars apart from their standard counterparts.

Advantages of Using a Baritone Guitar

Using a baritone guitar offers several advantages for musicians. Firstly, the extended scale length and lower tuning provide you with a wider tonal range, allowing you to explore new musical ideas and create unique sounds. The deeper, richer tones produced by a baritone guitar can add depth and intensity to your playing, making it ideal for rhythm parts and heavy riffs.

Additionally, baritone guitars are excellent for accompanying other instruments or vocals in a band setting. Their lower register can fill out the sonic spectrum and add a solid foundation to the music. Furthermore, baritone guitars are highly versatile and can be utilized in various musical genres, ranging from blues and rock to metal and jazz.

Choosing the Right Baritone Guitar

Determining the Purpose and Style

Before diving into the world of baritone guitars, it’s important to consider your musical style and the purpose you have in mind for the instrument. Are you primarily a rhythm player looking for a guitar to add depth to your sound? Or are you someone who wants to explore the lower tonal range for lead playing? Understanding your playing style and goals will help you make the right choice when selecting a baritone guitar.

Considerations for Beginner or Intermediate Players

If you are a beginner or intermediate player, it might be wise to start with a more affordable option before investing in a high-end baritone guitar. There are many budget-friendly models available that offer great value for the price. These guitars can allow you to experiment with the baritone range without breaking the bank. As you progress and gain more experience, you can consider upgrading to a higher quality instrument.

Price Range and Budget

Baritone guitars are available at varying price points to suit different budgets. It’s important to determine how much you are willing to spend on a baritone guitar before making a purchase. Consider factors such as the quality of materials, brand reputation, and overall craftsmanship when determining your price range. Investing in a well-built guitar with high-quality components will ensure a better playing experience and longevity in the instrument’s lifespan.

The Ultimate Guide to Finding the Best Baritone Guitar

Key Features to Evaluate

When choosing a baritone guitar, there are several key features to evaluate that will greatly impact the instrument’s playability, sound, and overall feel.

Scale Length

The scale length of a baritone guitar determines the tension and feel of the strings. Longer scale lengths typically result in looser string tension and better intonation. However, a longer scale length can also make the guitar feel larger and may require some adjustment to your playing technique. It’s essential to consider your comfort level and playing style when selecting a guitar with the appropriate scale length.

String Gauges

The gauge of the strings used on a baritone guitar also plays a significant role in the instrument’s sound and playability. Thicker strings produce a fuller and richer tone, but they may require more finger strength to play. Lighter gauge strings, on the other hand, are easier to play but may sacrifice some of the low-end depth. Finding the right balance between playability and tone is crucial when selecting the right string gauges for your baritone guitar.

Pickup Configuration

The pickup configuration of a baritone guitar contributes to its overall sound and versatility. Common pickup configurations include single-coil, humbucker, or a combination of both. Single-coil pickups tend to offer a brighter and clearer tone, while humbuckers provide a thicker and more powerful sound. Some baritone guitars feature multiple pickups and pickup switching options, allowing for a wide range of tonal possibilities.

Body Wood

The choice of body wood can significantly impact the tonal characteristics of a baritone guitar. Different woods have distinct sonic properties, such as warmth, brightness, or resonance. Mahogany is a popular choice for baritone guitars as it offers a warm and rich tone. Alder provides a balanced and versatile sound, while maple offers brightness and clarity. Consider your preferred tonal qualities when selecting a baritone guitar with the appropriate body wood.

Neck Profile

The neck profile refers to the shape and contour of the guitar’s neck. Baritone guitars come in various neck profiles, such as C-shape, V-shape, or U-shape. The choice of neck profile depends on your personal preference and comfort. Some players may prefer a slimmer neck for faster playing, while others may prefer a chunkier neck for added stability and grip. Trying out different neck profiles is crucial to finding the right fit for your playing style.

Bridge Type

The bridge of a baritone guitar affects its playability, intonation, and tuning stability. Common bridge types include fixed bridges, tremolo bridges, and hardtail bridges. Fixed bridges offer excellent tuning stability and sustain but lack the ability for vibrato effects. Tremolo bridges allow for pitch bends and vibrato but may require more frequent tuning adjustments. Consider the type of playing you will be doing and your preferences when choosing the bridge type for your baritone guitar.

Tuning Stability

Tuning stability is crucial for a baritone guitar, especially when using lower tunings. The construction quality of the guitar, the type of tuners it has, and the nut material can all affect tuning stability. Look for guitars with high-quality tuners and a well-cut nut to ensure reliable tuning stability throughout your playing sessions.


Intonation refers to the accuracy of the pitch on each fret of the guitar. A baritone guitar with good intonation will ensure that each note rings true and in tune across the entire fretboard. Checking the intonation of a potential instrument is important to ensure that it will produce accurate and harmonious sounds in different positions on the neck.

Top Baritone Guitar Brands

When it comes to baritone guitars, several brands have established themselves as leaders in the industry. These brands consistently deliver high-quality instruments with exceptional craftsmanship and sound. Consider the following top baritone guitar brands when searching for the perfect instrument:


Gibson is renowned for its iconic electric guitars, and they also offer exceptional baritone guitar models. Their instruments are known for their craftsmanship, attention to detail, and rich tonal qualities. Gibson baritone guitars are widely used by professionals in various genres.


Fender has a long history of producing quality guitars, and their baritone guitar offerings are no exception. Fender baritone guitars are known for their versatility, playability, and iconic Fender tone. Whether you’re a fan of Stratocasters or Telecasters, Fender offers baritone versions of these classic models.


Paul Reed Smith (PRS) is known for combining innovation with traditional craftsmanship. PRS baritone guitars feature top-notch build quality, stunning aesthetics, and versatile tonal options. These guitars are popular among professional musicians seeking a high-end instrument.


ESP is renowned for its exceptional electric guitars, particularly in the heavy metal genre. ESP baritone guitars are built with high-performance specifications, providing players with powerful tones and extended range capabilities. They are favored by many metal and rock guitarists around the world.


Ibanez is recognized for its wide range of guitars designed for different playing styles. Ibanez baritone guitars are known for their modern features, sleek designs, and affordability. They offer a diverse selection of models that cater to various genres and player preferences.


Schecter guitars are often associated with heavy metal due to their powerful sound and aggressive styling. Schecter baritone guitars are built for players who crave deep, dark, and heavy tones. With features like high-output pickups and extended scale lengths, Schecter guitars excel in delivering heavy and crushing sounds.


Jackson guitars are highly regarded in the world of rock and metal music. Jackson baritone guitars are built for speed and precision, featuring slim neck profiles and sleek designs. These guitars are favorites among guitarists who play fast-paced and technical music.


Known for their distinctive hollow and semi-hollow body guitars, Gretsch also offers baritone guitar models. Gretsch baritone guitars bring a unique tonal flavor to the table, combining the resonant qualities of their classic designs with the lower register of a baritone guitar.


Epiphone is a subsidiary of Gibson and offers more affordable versions of their renowned instruments. Epiphone baritone guitars provide players with the opportunity to experience the quality and sound of Gibson at a more accessible price point. These guitars are perfect for players on a budget who still want to enjoy the benefits of a baritone guitar.


Suhr is known for their high-end electric guitars that are meticulously handcrafted. Suhr baritone guitars exemplify craftsmanship and attention to detail, providing players with premium build quality and exceptional tonal capabilities. These guitars are favored by discerning professionals seeking the highest quality instruments.

The Ultimate Guide to Finding the Best Baritone Guitar

Popular Baritone Guitar Models

Here are some popular baritone guitar models from various brands to consider:

Gibson Les Paul Studio Baritone

The Gibson Les Paul Studio Baritone offers the iconic Les Paul design with a baritone twist. It features a mahogany body, a set-in mahogany neck, and powerful humbucker pickups. It delivers deep and rich tones with enhanced sustain, making it ideal for players who want a classic look and powerful sound.

Fender American Ultra Baritone Jazzmaster

The Fender American Ultra Baritone Jazzmaster combines the versatility of a Jazzmaster with extended range capabilities. It features an alder body, a maple neck, and upgraded Ultra Noiseless pickups. With its sleek design and modern features, this guitar is perfect for players looking to explore the baritone range while maintaining Fender’s iconic sound.

PRS SE 277 Semi-Hollow Baritone

The PRS SE 277 Semi-Hollow Baritone offers a unique combination of a semi-hollow body design and extended range capabilities. It features a mahogany body with a maple top, a set-in mahogany neck, and dual humbucker pickups. The semi-hollow construction adds warmth and resonance to the baritone range, making it a versatile option for various musical styles.

ESP LTD Snakebyte Baritone

The ESP LTD Snakebyte Baritone is a signature model designed for Metallica’s James Hetfield. It features a mahogany body, a set-in mahogany neck, and powerful EMG pickups. With its aggressive styling and heavy tones, this guitar is a favorite among metal guitarists who need a baritone guitar that can handle high-gain and low tunings.

Ibanez RGIB21 Iron Label Baritone

The Ibanez RGIB21 Iron Label Baritone is a high-performance guitar built for players who crave extended range capabilities. It features a basswood body, a maple neck, and powerful DiMarzio pickups. With its fast-playing neck and heavy tones, this guitar is perfect for players looking to explore the depths of low tunings and heavy riffs.

Schecter Omen Extreme-6 Baritone

The Schecter Omen Extreme-6 Baritone offers a combination of sleek aesthetics and powerful tones. It features a mahogany body with a quilted maple top, a set-in mahogany neck, and high-output Schecter pickups. This guitar is perfect for players looking for a visually striking baritone model that can handle a wide range of musical styles.

Jackson X Series Soloist SLXQ Baritone

The Jackson X Series Soloist SLXQ Baritone is built for speed and precision. It features a basswood body, a maple neck, and high-output Jackson pickups. With its slim neck profile and extended range capabilities, this guitar is perfect for players who want to explore the lower register with lightning-fast playing.

Gretsch G5260 Jet Baritone

The Gretsch G5260 Jet Baritone brings the classic Gretsch sound to the baritone range. It features a mahogany body, a set-in mahogany neck, and Gretsch Filter’Tron pickups. With its hollow body construction and unique tonal characteristics, this guitar is an excellent choice for players who seek a vintage sound with baritone capabilities.

Epiphone Les Paul SL Baritone

The Epiphone Les Paul SL Baritone offers an affordable option for players who want to dive into the baritone realm. It features a poplar body, a bolt-on mahogany neck, and Epiphone-designed humbucker pickups. Despite its budget-friendly price, this guitar delivers solid performance and versatile tones, making it an excellent choice for beginners or players on a budget.

Suhr Modern Baritone

The Suhr Modern Baritone is a top-of-the-line instrument built with precision and craftsmanship. It offers an alder body, a maple neck, and Suhr’s own SSV and SSH+ pickups. With its versatility, impeccable build quality, and exceptional tonal capabilities, this guitar is geared towards professional players who demand the best.

Baritone Guitar Amplification

Choosing the Right Amp

When it comes to amplifying your baritone guitar, it’s important to choose an amp that can handle the low frequencies and provide the desired tonal characteristics. As baritone guitars are often used for heavier styles of music, amps with higher wattage and larger speakers are commonly preferred. Look for amps that offer a clean and tight low end, as well as the ability to dial in different tones to suit your playing style.

Effects and Pedals for Baritone Guitars

Adding effects and pedals to your baritone guitar setup can further enhance your tone and expand your sonic possibilities. Common effects used with baritone guitars include overdrive/distortion pedals, modulation effects like chorus or phaser, delay/reverb pedals for adding ambience, and EQ pedals for fine-tuning your tone. Experimenting with different effects can help you create your own unique sound.

Tips for Optimal Sound

To ensure optimal sound quality when amplifying your baritone guitar, consider the following tips:

  • Experiment with different amp settings and EQ adjustments to find the best tone for your playing style and the genre of music you’re performing.
  • Avoid excessive gain or distortion, as it can muddy the low frequencies and result in a less defined and articulate sound.
  • Consider using a compressor pedal to even out the dynamics and add sustain to your baritone guitar’s sound.
  • If playing in a band setting, communicate with your bandmates to find the right balance of volume and tonal frequencies to avoid overcrowding the mix.
  • Regularly clean and maintain your amp to ensure optimal performance and prevent any unwanted noise or interference.

The Ultimate Guide to Finding the Best Baritone Guitar

Baritone Guitar Playing Techniques

Alternate Tunings for Baritone Guitars

While the standard tuning for a baritone guitar is B to B (B E A D F# B), one of the advantages of baritone guitars is the ability to experiment with alternate tunings. Tunings like A to A or C to C can provide different tonal possibilities and open up new musical ideas. Some popular alternate tunings for baritone guitars include Drop A (A E A D F# B), Drop B (B F# B E G# C#), and Open A (A E A C# E A). Explore different tunings to find the ones that best suit your playing style and musical preferences.

Sliding and Bending Techniques

Due to the lower tuning and thicker strings, baritone guitars offer unique opportunities to incorporate sliding and bending techniques into your playing. Slides can be used to transition between notes smoothly and add a vocal-like quality to your playing. Bending notes on a baritone guitar can be a bit more challenging due to the increased string tension, but it can be incredibly impactful when executed properly. Experiment with different sliding and bending techniques to add expressiveness and character to your baritone guitar playing.

Chord Voicings and Inversions

Baritone guitars offer a different sonic palette when it comes to chord voicings and inversions. Due to the lower tuning, certain chord shapes may need to be adapted or modified to fit the instrument’s range. Baritone guitars often excel in delivering powerful and rich-sounding chords, particularly when using open or partial voicings. Experiment with different chord shapes, inversions, and voicings to take advantage of the baritone guitar’s unique sonic capabilities.

Maintenance and Care

String Maintenance

Proper string maintenance is crucial for the optimal performance and longevity of your baritone guitar. Regularly clean your strings with a soft cloth after playing to remove any debris or sweat that may accumulate. In addition, it’s advisable to change your strings regularly, as the thicker strings used on a baritone guitar will naturally wear out over time. Follow the manufacturer’s recommendations for string changing intervals and consider using string lubricants to prolong the life of your strings.

Cleaning and Polishing the Guitar

Keeping your baritone guitar clean and polished is important both for its appearance and overall condition. Use a soft cloth to wipe away any smudges or fingerprints on the body and neck of the guitar. Avoid using harsh chemicals or abrasive cleaners, as they can damage the finish. Polishing the guitar periodically using a suitable guitar polish will help maintain its shine and protect the wood.

Adjusting the Truss Rod

The truss rod is a crucial component of your baritone guitar that helps to maintain the correct neck relief and prevent issues such as excessive bowing or backbow. If you notice any changes in the neck’s curvature or experience fret buzzing, it may be necessary to adjust the truss rod. However, truss rod adjustments should be performed by a trained professional to avoid potential damage to the guitar. Consult with a qualified guitar technician if you encounter any truss rod-related issues.

Regular Setup and Maintenance

Regular setup and maintenance are essential to ensure that your baritone guitar performs optimally. This can include tasks such as adjusting the action (string height) to your desired preference, setting the intonation, and checking the electronics for any issues. Regularly inspect the hardware, such as the bridge, tuners, and pickups, to ensure they are functioning properly and tighten any loose screws or parts as necessary. Consider taking your baritone guitar to a professional guitar technician for an annual setup or whenever you notice any specific issues that require attention.

The Ultimate Guide to Finding the Best Baritone Guitar


Baritone guitars offer a unique tonal range and sonic characteristics that can greatly enhance your musical journey. Understanding the different features, brands, and models available will help you make an informed decision when choosing the right baritone guitar for your playing style and musical goals. By considering factors such as scale length, string gauges, pickup configuration, and price range, you can find a baritone guitar that suits your needs and preferences. Whether you’re a rhythm player looking for depth and richness or an adventurous guitarist wanting to explore new tonal territories, a baritone guitar is a valuable addition to any musician’s arsenal. Invest in a quality instrument, maintain it properly, experiment with different playing techniques, and unlock the immense musical possibilities that a baritone guitar offers.