If you’re looking for a Baritone guitar but are unsure as to which one to choose, this guide will hopefully help as we delve into detail on some of the best baritone guitars currently found on the market.
Baritone guitars are certainly not for everyone. Their scale is long and their bodies larger and heavier, which means that it is more demanding to master your playing skills on them.
On the other hand, some of their qualities simply can’t be substituted by any other instrument.
Unlike traditional guitars, baritone guitars are relatively rare and their offer is often limited. If you’re willing to get one, you’re usually looking at a relatively small range of models that might not completely satisfy your needs and expectations.
That’s why we’ve decided to dig through the market and bring you a representative selection of instruments that are definitely worth considering.
We’ve tried to cover different brands, various features, and at various price points to meet all budgets.
Let’s start with a brief summary of the instruments we’ll be discussing in this guide:
5 Best Baritone Guitars – an Overview
|Alvarez ABT60 Artist Series||41.90 x 4.80 x 17.30 inches/6 pounds||Acoustic||Jumbo||$|
|Danelectro 56′ Baritone||34 x 14.5 x 4.25 inches/9.35 pounds||Electric||Semi-hollow||$$|
|Schecter C-1 EX Apocalypse Baritone||48.0 x 19.0 x 5.0 inches/7.29 pounds||Electric||Solid-body||$$$|
|Ibanez Iron Label RGIB21||43.31 x 5.91 x 17.72 inches/13 pounds||Electric||Solid-body||$$|
|Gretsch G5260T Electromatic Jet Electric Guitar||46 x 17 x 5 inches/12 pounds||Electric||Solid-body||$$|
What are The Main Advantages of Baritone Guitars?
Baritone guitars first appeared on the market in the late 1950s. They come in both electric and acoustic variations, and you can find them in catalogs of all major guitar producers including the likes of Fender, Gibson, Danelectro, or Ibanez.
Although they certainly found their target group and have thousands of happy users all around the world, baritone guitars always were and probably always will be kind of a minor matter.
The reasons for this are quite simple – it’s a non-standard instrument that requires real enthusiasm, curiosity, and patience to explore and master.
What are the main differences between a normal and baritone guitar?
- Normal guitars are tuned E to E, whereas baritone guitars are usually tuned B to B
- Baritone guitars can have lower pitch due to their extended necks
These differences can be beneficial in various settings. Let’s break baritone guitars’ advantages down in detail one by one.
Clarity in lower tones
Yes, you can reach most of the tones that are, so to say, characteristic of baritone guitars with a standard instrument too. But it would be inconvenient and technically demanding, and you most likely won’t be able to reach the clarity and articulation provided by a baritone guitar.
While lower pitch may automatically indicate baritone guitar’s predestination for darker genres like metal and hard rock, the truth is that these guitars are perfectly versatile.
You can hear them in all styles and genres including country, jazz, or classic rock. Just for inspiration, some famous baritone guitar players included Eddie Van Halen, James Hetfield, and Ian McKaye.
Want to stand out in the crowd? Baritone guitar certainly attracts curious gazes due to its larger presence and distinctive style.
Whether you’re trying to distinguish yourself from some other solo artists, or you’re looking for more diversity within your own band, baritone guitar is a new element that can help you look and sound fresh.
Must-have in studio settings
You’d be probably surprised to learn how many songs and albums were recorded with the use of baritone guitars. Studios usually consider this instrument an absolute must-have – it’s great for filling the record with expressive sound full of depth and clarity.
Improving your skills
If you feel like you came to the point where you’re a bit stuck or uninspired to move on with your guitar skills, a baritone guitar can be that good reason to try a bit harder, learn some new tricks, and eventually grow as a musician.
Many guitarists indeed get themselves a baritone guitar just for the sake of a new experience – and they hardly ever get rid of it later.
What to Look For With Baritone Guitar?
Choosing the best baritone guitar is not much different from choosing any other guitar. These instruments come in various sizes, colors, styles, and body shapes, so you have many options to consider.
Here’s a short rundown of things you might want to check or rethink before making the purchase:
Instrument should always fit your own proportions. If it’s too big or heavy, the playability of your guitar will be significantly reduced.
This is especially important for a beginner – struggling with way too big instruments can effectively discourage you from pursuing your dream.
Keep in mind that baritone guitar is naturally larger and longer, so choosing the right size is even more important.
Of course, this totally depends on your habits and style. Baritone guitars are commonly available in both versions, and you can also occasionally come across an electracoustic hybrid.
Again, this applies to any guitar you’re planning to buy: Make sure that you check and reconsider all features and functions your instrument of choice has before making the purchase.
This includes pickups, tremolo, tuning, controls, and several more important details that hugely contribute to your overall experience.
Although design might not be the most important quality of any musical instrument, most musicians would probably agree that building a lifelong relationship with your guitar is somewhat easier and more intense if you genuinely love how it looks.
Just like standard guitars, baritone guitars come in many distinctive designs, colors, and styles.
Baritone guitars are available in all price ranges from beginner/economy class through mid-range all the way to exclusive pieces for the most demanding customers.
We’ve tried to cover all the different categories in our 5 Best Baritone Guitars selection below.
5 of The Best Baritone Guitars on the Market
Alvarez ABT60 Artist Series Guitar – Perfect Acoustic Solution
Let’s begin with one of the best baritone acoustic guitars – beautiful and impressively punchy Alvarez ABT60. This lovely instrument can surely surprise you with its stunningly clear sound and great built – especially given its affordable price.
This guitar sports a solid and sturdy spruce top, mahogany back and neck, rosewood bridge and fretboard, bone nut and saddle, and ivory ABS.
It feels totally right in your hands and you definitely wouldn’t guess its price just by how solid and reliable its construction is.
Just make sure to check how big this guitar really is – it’s a real jumbo size with a lower bout length of more than 17 inches!
When it comes to sound, this baritone guitar is able to fulfill even your most ambitious expectations. Its voice is clear and warm, ABT60 is perfectly toned and also highly responsive.
The only downside is the occasional necessity to use your truss rod and adjust the setup here and here to remove some out-of-the-box buzzing and other small imperfections.
Great news for those who’d like to have even more versatile instruments: This guitar is also available in electro-acoustic version as Alvarez ABT60E!
- 41.90 x 4.80 x 17.30 inches
- Weight: 6 pounds
- 6-string baritone acoustic guitar
- Great value for money
- Solid construction
- Beautifully clear voice
- Large body probably won’t fit smaller players
- Needs some adjusting out-of-the-box
Danelectro ’56 Baritone – Bestseller with character and great price
Danelectro was the very first brand on the market that dared to produce and sell baritone electric guitars. Following the presumption that when something is good it stays good, the producer still offers one of his very first models from this category – Danelectro ’56 Baritone. Its decent price will probably surprise you just like its beautiful sound full of character.
Model ’56 is Danelectro’s all-time bestselling baritone guitar. The reason behind its popularity is simple – it’s intriguing, fun, and user-friendly.
It brings you the classic Danelectro sound with slightly darker and lower twists. Moreover, it won’t cost you a fortune.
When you hold it in your hands, this guitar feels really light since it’s semi-hollow. Considering that all baritone guitars are bigger and harder to manipulate with, Danelectro ’56’s 29.75-inch scale will surprise you with its comfortability thanks to the thoughtful shape and reasonable thickness of its neck.
Some weaker points can be seen in this guitar’s durability and overall construction qualities. Some users report broken or stuck components and strings popping out of the saddle during a bit more energetic jam sessions.
- Size: 48.2 x 16.75 x 4 inches
- Weight: 9.35 pounds
- 6-string baritone semi-hollow electric guitar
- Classic Danelectro sound
- Vintage character
- Easy to manipulate with
- Decent price
- Construction quality is mediocre
Schecter C-1 EX Apocalypse Baritone – Excellent solid-body all-rounder
Schecter’s baritone Apocalypse sounds just like it looks – rough, meaty, aggressive, yet perfectly articulated.
This high-end beauty is ready to satisfy even the pickiest players with its robust voice, sturdy solid-body construction, and cool design. Moreover, this guitar is also surprisingly playable and user-friendly.
Apocalypse sports an ultra-thin C-shape neck that fits into the hand perfectly and enables fast pace and intuitive improvisations.
The hard-tail bridge is highly responsive and very stable which means that the intonation is always great. You can also expect to get wonderful sustain and clean harmonies.
Schecter C-1 EX Apocalypse has a string-through design with a classy and distinctive presence. It has two humbucking pickups, a swamp ash body with an industrially looking rusty grey finish, and an ebony fretboard.
Nevertheless, some of the (very few) complaints on this guitar are related to its looks: Apparently, there’s a large number of B-Stock articles with irregularly washed and unappealing stained finish on the market, so you should be careful where you’re ordering yours.
- Size: 48.0 x 19.0 x 5.0 inches
- Weight: 7.29 pounds
- 6-string electric solid-body guitar
- Robust aggressive sound
- Unique design
- Comfortable neck
- Perfect sustain
- Finish can have visual imperfections
- The price for this guitar is quite steep
Ibanez Iron Label RG Baritone – Crispy full-bodied sound for rock and metal
If you don’t like to make any compromises, this mid-range baritone guitar excels in both design and quality.
Promoted mostly as the no.1 choice for metal and rock players, Ibanez Iron Label RG Baritone boasts a heavy-weight yet fresh and creamy sound that will complement your style and add its own character to your music.
This instrument is made of a combination of swamp ash, basswood, maple, and Bubinga wood, and it feels very firm and reliable.
You will also probably love its design – nothing flashy, just a simple yet incredibly sleek glass-like shiny black finish. Sometimes that’s all it takes, right?
Moreover, this baritone guitar also has some unique features worth mentioning like a “kill switch” – a toggle switch used to eliminate the output of your guitar completely in a second.
This powerful effect is highly addictive and inspiring. Besides that, there’s also a standard volume knob plus a three-way selector.
Is there anything this guitar lacks? It would probably be fair to note that there’s no tone knob, which might be a dealbreaker for some. This guitar also doesn’t have any fret markers, so it might not be the best choice for a total beginner.
- Size: 43.31 x 5.91 x 17.72 inches
- Weight: 13 pounds
- 6-string electric baritone guitar
- Great features
- Neat black design
- Unbeatable sound for metal and rock
- Good value for money
- There’s no Tone knob
- Missing fret markers may discourage some players
Gretsch G5260T Electromatic Jet Baritone – A bass stuck in the guitar body
Gretsch G5260T Electromatic Jet Baritone guitar has a 29.75-inch scale, a beautiful shiny body made mostly of mahogany, and numerous other qualities that make it one of the most interesting baritone guitars you can currently find on the market.
When you hold this instrument for the very first time, you quickly realize that it feels very different from most of the other guitars – it feels like a bass guitar, and at times, it also sounds like one.
Nevertheless, when it comes to control and electronic features, it is perfectly conventional and simple, so your learning curve should be pretty shallow.
This guitar has a long and lean neck made of mahogany in the shape of a thin, shallow “C” which hosts 22 mid-jumbo frets. It also has a classic volume/tone/3-way toggle switch combination of controls for a traditional feel and experience.
How does it sound? Beautifully old fashioned. Gretsch G5260T has a full-bodied, perfectly clear, and confident 50s voice that will instantly remind you of the good old rock’n’roll and big beat. Nevertheless, this guitar is just as impressive if you throw it in the middle of a rock, country, or metal composition.
One weaker point: Gretsch usually utilizes its own pickups, and this guitar is no different – it has a set of two small mini-humbuckers.
However, these often face criticism for sounding too generic, so many players end up replacing them with some more articulate pickups.
- Size: 46 x 17 x 5 inches
- Weight: 12 pounds
- 6-string electric solid-body guitar
- Beautiful design
- Great vintage sound
- Traditional controls
- Unique bass-like character
- Old school style might not be suitable for everyone
- Gretsch mini-humbuckers are criticized for generic sound
Frequently Asked Questions
These are some of the commonly asked questions about baritone guitars:
A baritone guitar is probably not for everyone. However, if you consider yourself an experienced guitarist and look for a new challenge, getting yourself a baritone guitar makes perfect sense. This instrument provides you with wider options and new creative inspiration. It’s mostly used in rock and metal genres, but it can also be found in any professional recording studio.
Baritone guitars are used by many famous and successful professional guitarists. Some use them just occasionally, others have them around all the time. Some of the famous bands that are known to be using baritone guitars frequently include Dream Theatre, Metallica, The Cure, Korn, and Deftones.
Baritone guitars really differ from traditional guitars only in their tuning and length of scale. They are usually tuned B E A D F♯ B (a fourth lower) or A D G C E A (a fifth lower). This means that they basically sound just like any other standard guitar but lower and deeper.
Conclusion: Which Baritone Guitar is the Best?
Our selection of the best baritone guitars covers all sorts of instruments from classic acoustic baritones to standard electric guitars at a decent price, to exclusive high-end beauty for the pickiest players. Since they differ in many key features and parameters, deciding which one is the best is not easy.
The best way to pick your own winner is to consider your personal needs, level of experience, and budget. But if you’re looking for a golden mean, I’d suggest you to go with Ibanez Iron Label RG Baritone, because its value for money ratio is truly impressive.
This instrument is also highly versatile and able to keep you satisfied for longer, keeping up with your own progress and growth.
Jodie is a trained classical guitarist. She is also a full-time blogger and loves to write about different types of guitars. Just give her 60 seconds of your time, and she’ll tell you all that you need to know about any guitar of your choice.