Baritone guitars are often associated with electric guitars and heavy genres of music. However, this is not the only application for guitars with a baritone range.
Acoustic baritone guitars can add extra low end to a duo or trio acoustic performance. They are often used in lieu of an acoustic bass in this kind of setting. Although it sounds different from a bass, a baritone guitar is a perfect middle ground. It sounds good while playing single-note runs but can also play chords to provide a huge tonal range.
Acoustic baritone guitars are also great for some solo performers. Some singers will find it easier to sing certain songs in a comfortable key that the baritone guitar allows for. Sure, they could down tune a regular guitar but they would have some seriously floppy strings. These can sound particularly off-putting on acoustic instruments. Loose strings are also unforgiving for any minor mistakes.
If you were to play this guitar when it's properly set up you could think it is a guitar that costs closer to $1000. Therein lies the rub though. This guitar will likely need a little set up from you or a professional.
If you choose to go for a very low action it would be hard to avoid some fret buzz. Yet, the guitar is definitely capable of being set to a workable playing height for most players.
The solid spruce top provides good resonance. A solid top is an awesome inclusion for a sub $500 acoustic guitar whether it is baritone or not. We would not recommend getting a baritone guitar that is not a solid top. The low notes produced require a solid foundation to create luscious tones. That is the primary reason we picked this guitar as our favorite budget baritone acoustic.
This guitar has a few other premium features. These features are normally reserved for much more expensive guitars. It has a bone nut and saddle, scalloped x bracing, and solid binding. The build quality of these guitars is great and made to last. Working musicians will appreciate the solid feel and tone behind these guitars.
This is a jumbo guitar. This style helps to create warm and mellow tones for the bassy notes of a baritone. However, it is not particularly comfortable to play for a smaller person. It also has a wide neck that is not well suited to musicians with small hands.
This guitar is also available with a pickup as the ABT60E. It only costs a little extra and is well worth the investment if you plan to play gigs with this guitar. The included pickup is an Alvarez SYS550. This is an under-saddle pickup with a preamp that includes an XLR out. It is a very good pickup to have in a budget guitar. You could use a third-party pickup, but the extra cost of the E model is likely to be the most cost-effective option.
A standout feature for this guitar is its beautiful fretwork. The inlay is unique with its autumn-inspired wooden vine pattern. The inlay sits atop a Katalox fretboard. This tonewood is not a very common one but it is one of the most durable woods in the world. The dark tones it helps to produce are well suited to baritone notes.
The wood used for the back and sides of this guitar are also not common for acoustic guitar construction. The Okoume wood provides a snappy dynamic range with a fast attack. This helps to prevent low notes from becoming muddy and lost in the mix. This pairs well with the crisp and rich tones of the solid spruce top. You can tell that Ibanez thought hard about which tonewoods to include.
The neck of this guitar has a much thinner C shaped neck than our budget pick. This guitar is, therefore, more suitable for somebody with smaller hands. The thin neck profile should allow for faster movements up and down the neck. Especially with its workable jumbo fretboard.
The bracing on this guitar is strong and accompanied by an abalone/wood soundhole rosette and a bone nut to create a sturdy and durable guitar.
The included pickup in the guitar is magnetic. This may appeal to some but turn others off. Magnetic pickups sound great. They are also much better for using with effects such as delay and chorus than a piezo pickup.
On the other hand, magnetic pickups do increase the risk of feedback. The placement of the pickup on this guitar may make it difficult to use a feedback buster. Difficult but not impossible. You will need to be careful not to damage the pickup when you slide the feedback buster under it.
Looking toward the more premium end of the scale we have the Alvarez YB70. It takes a lot of what we love about the budget-friendly Alvarez ABT60 and adds some premium touches. This guitar plays, sounds, and even looks better than its cheaper brother. But, at more than 3 times the cost may not be enough of a difference for many buyers.
The one-piece mahogany neck has a reasonably slim profile for a baritone acoustic. This makes it easy to play. Coupled with the rosewood fingerboard it also adds a warm yet clean sound to the tone of this guitar. The understated inlay has just one mark on the 12th fret. It is a premium abalone inlay.
This guitar uses an upgraded type of Scalloped X bracing used by Alvarez. It's called FST2M and it provides a solid foundation for tone and resonance. Combine this with its ivoroid binding, dovetail neck joint, and bone saddle and you have a very sturdy guitar.
The tuners that come with this guitar are Gotoh Gold. Gotoh manufactures some of the best tuners available. You won’t have to worry about your guitar coming out of tune as often during your sets. The direct-coupled rosewood bridge assists the quality tuners with this task.
The overall tone of this guitar is warm with long sustain. The AA standard Sitka spruce top also adds brightness to the middle frequencies.
If you have the budget for this guitar it is incredibly nice to play. However, if you’re really pushing to be able to afford this it is hard to justify the extra cost. Our two cheaper top picks are also great choices.
To use this guitar at gigs you would also have to buy a pickup. The cost of a quality pickup could be quite high so it could even be worth spending the extra cash on our premium pick.
We have to start out by saying this is a limited edition guitar so it may be hard to get a hold of. It is worth snapping up if you see one become available or are able to backorder one. Of course, that’s if you have the budget for such an expensive guitar.
If you have played a Taylor before you know that they are quality instruments. In fact, our favorite ¾ sized acoustic is also a Taylor. It is by no coincidence that we have rated their bigger and smaller guitars as some of our top picks. They are a brand held in high regard for their tone, playability, and overall excellence.
The Builders series that this guitar is part of are high end. Yet, they are still on the affordable end of the top price scale. You can expect a very high standard from all the guitars in this series regardless of their cost.
These guitars do come with a hefty price tag for most. Let’s dive deeper to see what you get for your money.
This guitar is beautiful both in its tone and aesthetics. The dark tobacco burst finish lends itself well to the dark characteristics of its tone.
The solid mahogany top and solid blackwood back and sides provide an unparalleled sustain and warm earthy tone.
The mid-range frequencies are clear as daylight and the bass is tight. If you get up to the higher frets, this guitar won't disappoint you with its high-frequency response either.
The V class bracing from Taylor is also extremely solid. This type of bracing also projects volume brilliantly. This makes the 326CE one of the best when played unplugged. You could get enough volume from this guitar to busk with as part of a band in certain situations.
The pickup in this guitar is also of great quality. You can plug in and expect exceptional clarity without any ‘booming’. This is particularly important for acoustic baritone guitars. The lowest notes can sometimes sound a little rubbish through less suitable pickups.
This guitar leaves a lot of the competition in the dust. We can’t recommend it enough for those with a large-ish budget. It is an instrument that will last a lifetime and worth the investment for a serious musician.
The main difference is the scale length. This is the distance between the nut of the guitar and the bridge. Acoustic baritone guitars have a longer scale length than a standard acoustic. This longer scale length allows the strings to tune lower without becoming floppy.
A baritone guitar is normally tuned to A or B standard. B standard would be like playing a regular guitar with a capo on the 6th fret but an octave lower. You could also tune the guitar a little higher or lower without compromising the tension on the strings too much. We would recommend getting the guitar set up again if you choose to do this.
Here is a personal anecdote of why I like the idea of baritone acoustic guitars. I use a capo at gigs. If I am playing a Beyonce song for instance I know I have to capo the 5th or 6th fret for a decent key for me to sing in.
I know, I know, this is cheating. It does make things easier for many working musicians though. Especially if we are doing requests on the fly. Playing open chords with a capo is a lot easier on the hands than playing barre chords for hours on end. However, having a capo so far up the guitar can feel a little cramped. A baritone is normally tuned to A or B standard which would eliminate the need for a capo for such songs.
I actually have a high voice for a man. The applications for someone with a low voice are even broader. Especially if singing an entire octave lower is not possible.
Baritone acoustics are also great for acoustic bands. You can play notes that are normally reserved for electric bass. You can also add some beautiful chord voicings to accompany a standard acoustic.
These are just a couple of examples. Chances are if you have landed on this page you were already considering a baritone acoustic. Whatever reason you have for wanting a baritone, they are likely warranted so don’t be afraid to take the plunge.
Lower tuning on a guitar is often associated with a darker vibe. That doesn’t mean that is all this type of guitar is good for.
The sky's the limit to what you can apply baritone notes too. They can bring out the moodiness of a blues song. They can add some underlying presence to a pop number. They can fill in the missing sonic range in jazz tunes. They are great for any acoustic sections in metal songs.
You have to use your imagination to find a place to fit your baritone’s range.
Baritone acoustic guitars are less common than standard acoustic guitars. This unfortunately means that they also cost more. You will have to spend around $400 for a decent baritone acoustic.
There are also a lot of more expensive options. You will get better inclusions with a more expensive model. These can be anything from better tonewoods, solid wood options, better bracing, pickups, and many other features.
You have to think about if these extra features are worth the extra cost to you.
Our top picks avoid these problems. If you choose to go for the YB70 just make sure you get a pickup that is compatible with a baritone guitar.
Hi, I'm Duncan, the owner, creator, and head writer for InciteMusic.com
I have been a touring cover musician and a teacher for the last 10 years and take helping people to achieve their musical goals very seriously.
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