A Guide to the World of the Baritone Guitar

Should You Play a Baritone or a Seven String Guitar?

Although seven-string guitars seem to be a bit more popular than baritone guitars, my experience is that it is much easier for most players of standard guitars to adapt to the baritone, because the seven-string's wider neck is difficult to handle. In addition, the baritone allows standard guitar players the ability to use familiar chord shapes. With the seven-string, the player needs to determine how to work with the additional string. The bottom line is that if you feel that six strings are not enough for you, then a seven-string may be for you. If you only want to play a guitar with a lower pitch, then the baritone is probably your best choice.

Guitar maker Jim Soloway put it this way: "The advantage of a baritone is that there is no learning curve. You just pick it up and play just like you always have but you're automatically transposed down. The disadvantages are that 1) everything is now in a different key and 2) you lose the high end range of the instrument."

The advantages of a 7-string is that 1) everything remains in the same key; 2) you increase the low end range of the instrument; and 3) You maintain the high end range of the instrument. The disadvantage is that there is a very real learning curve to really take advantage of the added range of the instrument.

So which is a better option probably depends on your purpose and your level of commitment. If you want an instant payoff without a big investment in learning, then buy a baritone. If you want to make a greater commitment and you're willing to do some serious work, then get a 7-string."

In my experience, transposing keys is easy if you have a basic understanding of music theory. Although I agree that seven string guitar is more difficult, I think the two instruments are equally rewarding with some serious work. It should be your goals, not your level of commitment, that should determine which type of guitar is right for you.

Your feedback and questions will guide the future of this site.
Mike 064 Freeman

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