Baritone Guitar

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The baritone guitar is a six-string chordophone instrument of the guitar family. It typically has a larger body than the common acoustic guitar and, while there are many different tunings, it is usually tuned a perfect fourth lower than standard tuning of a guitar. Baritone guitars are rare but they are most popular in the heavy metal, rock and jazz styles of music.
History of the Baritone Guitar
The baritone guitar’s history is relatively short, as guitarists did not require an instrument in that range before the 20th century and it proved difficult to produce on an acoustic instrument. In the early 1900s, the tenor guitar was developed and instrument makers began experimenting with what could be achieved using a guitar body. One of the earliest electric baritone guitars was released by Daneelectro Company during the 1950s which appeared in film scores for some of the Hollywood Spaghetti Westerns of that era. Experimental pop musicians of the 1960s such as The Beach Boys’ Brian Wilson and Aretha Franklin began to use these Daneelectro baritone guitars. The sound, that is a full fourth below a standard guitar, proved to be popular for artists looking for a deeper and more resonant tone on their recordings. The baritone guitar proved to be instrumental in the development of heavy metal music during the late 1980s that usually required guitarists to down tune their instrument. A baritone guitar became a key ingredient on heavy metal recordings by Metallica, Deftones and the Eagles of Death Metal, as the larger instruments created a powerful low sound with the risk of slack strings. The baritone guitar is still a popular guitar today in heavy metal, rock, indie and jazz.
Inventor: Unknown

Where to Buy

$300 - $1,500

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How to Play

A type of guitar with a longer scale length and a lower tuning than standard guitars. Often used in rock music.

In Popular Music

The baritone guitar’s deep low tones have been heard on tracks such as ‘The Space Between’ from 2001 by American rock band Dave Matthews Band. The B52’s also used the deep baritone guitar for their 1978 song ‘Rock Lobster’

Famous Players

John Cale, Robert Smith, Bill Frisell

Close Relations

Guitar, Electric Guitar
Video Credit: Mary Spender
Understanding the Baritone Guitar
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