Are you having trouble deciding between a baritone guitar and a standard guitar? You may be asking yourself which type of guitar is better.
Baritone guitars go much lower in pitch than standard guitars, whereas standard guitars go way higher.
Of course, chord progressions, picking, and shredding can be done with either of these types of guitars, but you may feel more comfortable performing these techniques while playing a specific type.
Below, we’ll explore the differences between these two kinds of guitars so you can decide which one suits your needs.
The baritone guitar has a completely different timbre and rocks out a completely different vibe, even if you play the same notes and chord progressions that you would play with a standard guitar.
The baritone guitar has a darker and fuller sound, while the standard guitar has a brighter sound. Some things sound better with a baritone, especially if you want to play in a very low tuning. At the same time, the bright sound of a standard guitar appeals to a huge group of guitarists.
The dark ambiance isn’t the only thing that the baritone guitar offers. These instruments can also produce sounds with good amounts of twang, often used by western-style musicians such as Duane Eddy.
If you want a sparkier sound, the standard guitar is for you. The standard guitar was made to use lighter string gauges. Therefore, the sound you get out of it most of the time is full of energy.
The standard electric guitar normally uses a lighter gauge, so it can easily reach very high-pitched tunings. On the other hand, baritone guitars use much thicker string gauges and are capable of going very low, almost matching the tone of a bass VI.
Standard guitars can easily hold up to a C standard and can go high enough to play F standard, but any lower tuning could sound sloppy. This happens due to the string gauge that’s normally used with a standard guitar. You can replace this, but that won’t ensure it will sound as good as if you were playing a baritone.
Baritone guitars follow the same theory. Depending on your string gauge, your guitar will perform better or worse at tunings such as B standard, drop B, A standard, and so on.
If you own a 30-inch scale guitar, you could even drop the tuning to E1 standard, having a very similar sound to a bass VI. There are a bunch of baritone guitar tunings that you can check out here!
Even though you could try some standard guitar tunings on your baritone, remember that the string tension isn’t the same, and most of them could sound sloppy. The same goes for guitar players who want to try some standard tunings on their baritone guitar.
The baritone guitar and the standard guitar have different scale lengths. Therefore, to create the right string tension, we need different gauges for the low and high tunings that we can play with these guitars.
Normally, standard electric guitars would use lighter string gauges. The most common is 0.10 to 0.46 gauge. This gauge works perfectly with E standard tuning and could even be dropped a few steps to drop C without sounding messy. Any tuning lower than that could be problematic.
On the other hand, baritone electric guitars rock heavier gauges depending on how low you want the tuning to be. Since baritone guitars have a broader variety of scale lengths, you could tune it down even to E1 standard, but this isn’t usual.
Typically, baritone guitarists would use 0.13 to 0.62 or 0.14 to 0.68 string gauges. Baritone guitar strings could vary a lot depending on the player and the genre, but for common tunings such as B standard, C standard, and A standard, these gauges work perfectly.
Since the baritone guitars are sort of rare, they cost much more than regular guitars. A good electric baritone guitar such as the PRS SE 227 can cost around $800. Meanwhile, a good standard such as the Fender Stratocaster can cost around $400 and $500.
Budget guitars such as the Danelectro 56 could be found at around $500. On the other hand, there are budget standard guitar brands such as Squier and Epiphone that produce fair quality guitars at prices around $200.
Baritone guitars will always be way more expensive than standard guitars due to their rarity. A great line of baritone guitars such as the ESP LTD, which will last a lifetime, can be found at $1,500.
When it comes to acoustic guitars, standard ones are the most common - by far. There are very few artists who play acoustic baritone guitars. One of the most known who does is Andy Mckee.
The same rules apply to the acoustic versions of the standard and the baritone, standard guitars have a brighter and sparkier sound, and baritones are darker and heavier.
Another interesting difference between the baritone acoustic guitar and the standard one is that the baritone acoustic guitar has a warmer sound. The “low e” string has a special voicing that can’t be copied with a standard.
If you want to learn more about acoustic baritone guitars, click here!
Taking into consideration all the differences mentioned before, you should get the guitar that works for you the most. You should make music with the instrument that makes you feel most comfortable, and that choice will depend on your taste and technique.
Both the standard guitar and the baritone guitar are great instruments that can do many incredible things. Maybe you want to get closer to the sound of a bass guitar, or maybe you want to create heavy riffs. Maybe you want to perform amazing sparky solos that you can only perform on a standard.
The important thing is that you make music with what you like and with what you can afford.