Baritone guitar

Last updated
Baritone guitar
Clifton Hyde with Mustapick Acoustic Baritone Guitar; Brooklyn, New York City 2007
String instrument
Classification String instrument
Hornbostel–Sachs classification 321.322
(Composite chordophone)
Playing range
Range guitar.svg
(a standard tuned guitar)
Related instruments

The baritone guitar is a guitar with a longer scale length, typically a larger body, and heavier internal bracing, so it can be tuned to a lower pitch. Gretsch, Fender, Gibson, Ibanez, ESP Guitars, PRS Guitars, Music Man, Danelectro, Schecter, Jerry Jones Guitars, Burns London and many other companies have produced electric baritone guitars since the 1960s, although always in small numbers due to low popularity. [1] Tacoma, Santa Cruz, Taylor, Martin, Alvarez Guitars and others have made acoustic baritone guitars.



The baritone-tuned guitar was uncommon until the Danelectro Company introduced an electric baritone guitar in the late 1950s. The electric baritone found some popularity in surf music and film scores, particularly "spaghetti Westerns."[ citation needed ] "Tic-tac bass" is a method of playing, in which a muted baritone guitar doubles the part played by the bass guitar or double bass. The method is commonly used in country music. [2] [3]

Tuning and string gauges

A standard guitar's standard tuning (from lowest–pitched string to highest) is E2–A2–D3–G3–B3–E4. While no standard tuning has been established for baritone guitars, popular tunings for the instrument are: a perfect fourth lower than a standard guitar (B1–E2–A2–D3–F3–B3), a perfect fifth lower (A1–D2–G2–C3–E3–A3), or a major third lower (C2–F2–B2–E3–G3–C4). Typically strung with 13 gauge (.013–.062), or 14 gauge (.014–.068) baritone guitar strings. 12 gauge (.012–.060) guitar strings can also be used.

Baritone acoustic guitars typically have larger bodies than standard guitars, and have longer scale lengths so the strings can be tuned lower while remaining at normal tension. On a standard guitar, the scale length (the distance from the nut to the saddle on the bridge) is typically 24.75 to 25.5 inches (629 to 648 mm). The most common scale lengths on a baritone range from 27 to 30.5 inches (690 to 770 mm). [1]

Baritone guitarists

1960s early adopters

In the 1960s, it was often tuned an octave down from standard guitar tuning; therefore, these recordings used a returned baritone guitar as a six-string bass. The Danelectro baritone was used by guitarist Duane Eddy in numerous recordings, including "Bonnie Came Back", "Because They're Young", "Kommotion", "My Blue Heaven", "Deep in the Heart of Texas", and "The Son of Rebel Rouser". The instrument was used almost exclusively on his best-selling 1960 album "The Twang's the Thang" and appears regularly on singles and albums throughout his career. The "twangy" sound of his guitars (which include Duane Eddy custom-builts by Guild, Gretsch and Gibson) augmented the even deeper twangy sound made by the Danelectro baritone. Eddy used the familiar black model and an unusual gray "Longhorn" model.

Brian Wilson often included baritone guitars in his arrangements for The Beach Boys records, such as in "Dance, Dance, Dance" (1964) or "Caroline, No" (1966).

Singer Jimmie Rodgers also favored the baritone guitar, which can be heard in the opening bars of his recording of "Woman from Liberia" (1960).

Singer Glen Campbell used a baritone electric guitar on several of his big hit songs, most notably "Wichita Lineman" and "Galveston", where he played a distinctive baritone solo following the melody in both songs.

In heavy metal

Baritone guitars became popular in heavy metal music during the late 1980s, as it became increasingly popular to employ lower guitar tunings and dropped tunings. Early examples include Carcass (using B standard) and Bolt Thrower (using A standard on Realm of Chaos ).

In other rock

Rock guitarists also use down-tuned guitars. Benjamin Burnley, the guitarist/singer from Breaking Benjamin, uses custom-built PRS [4] and ESP baritone guitars for their songs in Drop A tuning. Ko Melina of The Dirtbombs plays a Fender Jaguar Baritone Custom. Teppei Teranishi of Thrice plays a baritone on the "Fire" disc of The Alchemy Index and Major/Minor . Ian Mackaye plays a baritone guitar when playing with his band The Evens. Aerosmith's Joe Perry plays a six-string Fender VI bass tuned in G (which was later stolen) on "Back in the Saddle" on the 1976 Rocks album, and currently uses a Music Man Silo Baritone.

Eddie Van Halen used a baritone guitar on the songs "Spanked" And "Runaround" from Van Halen's 1991 album For Unlawful Carnal Knowledge . His specific guitar was a double-necked Ernie Ball EVH Music Man (the top neck being the baritone), which can be seen in music videos and live performances.

Pete Loeffler, the guitarist/singer from Chevelle, uses a custom built PRS baritone and Fender Sub-Sonic baritone guitar for their songs in drop B tuning[ citation needed ].

Mike Mushok of the band Staind has a signature model baritone guitar manufactured by PRS Guitars. [5] Prior to his PRS signature model, Mushok had a signature baritone guitar produced by Ibanez called the MMM1, and had a custom built fanned-fret baritone made by Novax called the Expression.

Dave Matthews plays a baritone on certain songs such as "The Space Between" and "Some Devil". Parker Lauzon of Evans Blue uses an Ibanez [ citation needed ].

Irish blues rock artist Hozier utilizes a baritone guitar in the song 'Jackie and Wilson' and on the hit single 'Take Me To Church' [6]

Robert Smith of The Cure has made the baritone guitar a major component of his dark and atmospheric tone since 1989's Disintegration. Schecter guitars have produced a Robert Smith signature model baritone guitar. [7]

English musician Alex Turner of the band Arctic Monkeys has played the baritone guitar on their song "If You Were There, Beware", most songs from their sixth album, Tranquility Base Hotel & Casino , and a number of songs in concert with The Last Shadow Puppets [ citation needed ].

Pat Smear has played baritone guitar since 2011 with the Foo Fighters. Andy Moor and Terrie Hessels of The Ex have traded off between baritone guitar and guitar since 2005, when the last bass player left their band. [8]

Emma Ruth Rundle uses a Fender Jaguar Baritone. [9]

Jesse Hughes of Eagles of Death Metal opted for a baritone guitar on many of the songs on their 2015 album Zipper Down . [10]

In jazz

Jazz guitarist Pat Metheny used baritone guitars made by Linda Manzer on his 2003 solo album One Quiet Night and his 2011 solo album What's It All About. Ani DiFranco often plays a baritone guitar, including those by Alvarez, frequently employing alternate tunings. Clifton Hyde has had his acoustic baritone guitar featured in the music of Sigur Rós, Gato Loco, and Pape Armond Boye. Bob Lanzetti, guitarist for the modern fusion band Snarky Puppy, frequently employs an electric baritone guitar as well. Allan Holdsworth used baritone guitars built by luthier Bill DeLap.

Mark Lettieri, solo artist and guitarist with Snarky Puppy, released a funk/fusion album centered around the baritone guitar, entitled Deep: The Baritone Sessions in 2019. [11] [12] Lettieri also utilizes a baritone guitar with Vulfpeck side project, The Fearless Flyers. [13]

Fingerstyle players and others

Numerous fingerstyle guitarists use baritone guitars, including Andy McKee, Don Ross, Martin Simpson, Sergio Altamura, Iain Micah Weigert, and Dave Amato. Don Ross plays a baritone by Canadian Luthier Marc Beneteau, and Simpson has played baritones made by English luthier Ralph Bown. Andy McKee plays a baritone guitar made by another Canadian Luthier Michael Greenfield. Brian Setzer played the Gretsch/TV Jones Spectra-Sonic baritone on the song "Mystery Train" during the Brian Setzer Orchestra tour[ citation needed ].

Blues band MonkeyJunk features a baritone guitar instead of a bass guitar[ citation needed ].

Australian musician Stu Thomas plays a Barracuda [14] baritone guitar by Burns London, tuned an octave lower than a regular guitar. He uses it as a bass when playing with Dave Graney & The mistLY, and as a "regular" guitar when he accompanies himself solo as The Stu Thomas Paradox.

Dave Gonzalez started playing a baritone with The Hacienda Brothers, consisting of a Fender Bass VI neck on a Fender Jazzmaster. [15]

YouTube guitarist Sungha Jung plays original and cover instrumentals on Lakewood Acoustic Baritone Guitars[ citation needed ].

Guitarist Brian Patrick Carroll aka Buckethead plays a baritone signature model Gibson Les Paul [ citation needed ].

Phoebe Bridgers plays a Danelectro baritone model[ citation needed ].

Producer and multi-instrumentalist Bibio has utilised baritone guitars[ citation needed ].

See also

Related Research Articles

Ibanez is a Japanese guitar brand owned by Hoshino Gakki. Based in Nagoya, Aichi, Japan, Hoshino Gakki were one of the first Japanese musical instrument companies to gain a significant foothold in import guitar sales in the United States and Europe, as well as the first brand of guitars to mass-produce the seven-string guitar and eight-string guitar. Ibanez manufactures effects, accessories, amps, and instruments in Japan, China, Indonesia and in the United States. As of 2017 they marketed nearly 165 models of bass guitar, 130 acoustic guitars, and more than 300 electric guitars.

Brad Delson American musician and record producer

Bradford Phillip Delson is an American musician and record producer, best known as the lead guitarist and one of the founding members of the American rock band Linkin Park.

Dave Navarro American musician

David Michael Navarro is an American guitarist, singer, songwriter, actor, and television personality. He is a member of rock band Jane's Addiction and a former member of the Red Hot Chili Peppers. He also released one solo album Trust No One (2001). Navarro has also been a member of the Jane's Addiction spin-off bands, Deconstruction and The Panic Channel.

Acoustic bass guitar Type of acoustic instrument

The acoustic bass guitar is a bass instrument with a hollow wooden body similar to, though usually larger than a steel-string acoustic guitar. Like the traditional electric bass guitar and the double bass, the acoustic bass guitar commonly has four strings, which are normally tuned E-A-D-G, an octave below the lowest four strings of the 6-string guitar, which is the same tuning pitch as an electric bass guitar.

Seven-string guitar

The seven-string guitar adds one additional string to the more common six-string guitar, commonly used to extend the bass range or also to extend the treble range.

Mike Rutherford English guitarist, bassist, songwriter, and singer

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Eight-string guitar

An eight-string guitar is a guitar with two more strings than the usual six, or one more than the Russian guitar's seven. Eight-string guitars are less common than six- and seven-string guitars, but they are used by a few classical, jazz, and metal guitarists. The eight-string guitar allows a wider tonal range, or non-standard tunings, or both.

Paul Landers

Paul Landers is a German musician, notable as the guitarist for the Neue Deutsche Härte band Rammstein, and the punk rock band Feeling B.

ESP Guitars

ESP Company, Limited is a Japanese guitar manufacturer, primarily focused on the production of electric guitars and basses. They are based in both Tokyo and Los Angeles, with distinct product lines for each market. ESP Company manufactures instruments under several names, including "ESP Standard", "ESP Custom Shop", "LTD Guitars and Basses", "Navigator", "Edwards Guitars and Basses", and "Grassroots". Their products range from Japanese-built custom shop instruments to lower end mass-production Korean, Indonesian and Chinese made instruments.

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Mike Mushok American musician

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Tenor guitar Four-stringed guitar

The tenor guitar or four-string guitar is a slightly smaller, four-string relative of the steel-string acoustic guitar or electric guitar. The instrument was initially developed in its acoustic form by Gibson and C.F. Martin so that players of the four-string tenor banjo could double on guitar.

Outline of guitars Overview of and topical guide to guitars

The following outline is provided as an overview of and topical guide to guitars:

Headstock Part of the guitar which houses the pegs

A headstock or peghead is part of a guitar or similar stringed instrument such as a lute, mandolin, banjo, ukulele and others of the lute lineage. The main function of a headstock is to house the pegs or mechanism that holds the strings at the "head" of the instrument. At the "tail" of the instrument the strings are usually held by a tailpiece or bridge. Machine heads on the headstock are commonly used to tune the instrument by adjusting the tension of strings and, consequentially, the pitch of sound they produce.

The musical equipment used by the members of Rush have changed many times over the years. The following is a catalog of the gear they have used or are currently using.

Nine-string guitar

A nine-string guitar is a guitar with nine strings instead of the commonly used six strings. Such guitars are not as common as the six-string variety, but are used by guitarists to modify the sound or expand the range of their instrument.


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