A Brief Survey of Six Baritone Guitars

by British guitarist and collector Paul Day, June 2006

Burns Barracuda Baritone
Like the upmarket UK model, this Korean-made equivalent comes strung and tuned as an old-style six-string bass, contradicting the baritone title. It can be converted to match, although the 30in scale means sourcing suitably long strings and the neck is a bit beefier than some. The split scratchplates are typically Burns, unlike the Tune-o-Matic type bridge and through-body stringing. The three Tri-Sonic single-coils put in a powerful performance, while controls provide virtually all possible pickup permutations.
£399, Sutherland Trading 02920 887333, www.burnsguitars.com

Danelectro Longhorn Baritone
Somewhat surprisingly, Danelectroís earlier reissue range never included this characterful re-creation. The US original was a six-string bass, but this updated interpretation comes as a proper baritone. It still employs Masonite (hardboard) on ply, semi-solid construction, which keeps the kilos down, while the bolt-on neck carries 24 frets, spread over a 30in scale. Linked to simple circuitry, twin lipstick single-coils deliver suitably twangy tones and a modern six-saddle bridge offers accurate intonation.
£439, JHS 01132 865381, www.danelectro.com

ESP Ltd HB-300 Baritone
This one is ready-made for tuned-down heavy riffs and chords. The 27in scale, 24-fret maple through-neck is mated to a carved-top maple body boasting twin Duncan Designed humbuckers, through-body stringing and active boost. The ESP range is regularly revised and the HB-300 has recently been replaced by the essentially similar MHB-400 (£699), the only major differences being a single-sided headstock and active EMG humbuckers. Examples of the HB-300 should still be around though, possibly for less money.
£599, Selectron 01795 419460, www.espguitars.co.uk

Fender Jaguar Bass VI Custom
This Japanese-made model was formerly (and inaccurately) entitled the Jaguar Baritone Custom. Itís still officially intended as an E-tuned, old-style six-string bass, but can easily be converted into a baritone via suitable re-stringing and tuning. This role makes better use of the twin single-coils, while a 28.5in scale length and nicely shaped neck provide easy playability. Those wanting a modern alternative should check out the companion Jaguar Baritone HH, toting twin humbuckers and simplified circuitry.
£599, Fender GBI 01342 331700, www.fender.co.uk

Music Man Silhouette Bass
This features the same compact body as the standard Silhouette, likewise the six-saddle bridge. Body-mounted electrics comprise twin DiMarzio humbuckers, governed by master volume and tone, plus a five-way selector and rotary series/parallel switch. Music Manís trademark 4/2 headstock tops a bolt-on maple neck that employs a scale length just short of 30in and this model is equally effective as a baritone or an old-style six-string bass, when strung accordingly and tuned all the way down to E.
£1565, Strings & Things 01273 440442, www.stringsandthings.co.uk

Schecter Diamond Series Hellcat VI Baritone
From the Korean-sourced Diamond Series, this is the baritone version of the standard Hellcat six-string, featuring the same retro-flavoured styling. Like Burnsí Barracuda, itís supplied as an old-style six-string bass, but easily becomes a proper baritone, although again the 30in scale means seeking some lengthy strings. The bolt-on, maple neck partners an alder body carrying three humbuckers plus a TonePros locking bridge and tailpiece, while circuitry spans a five-way selector plus master volume and tone (with coil switch).
£399, Sound Control 08700 67 2922, www.schecterguitars.com


We know there must be a lot more baritone players out there. We're especially interested in indentifying players who use the baritone as their primary instrument. Your feedback, info and questions will guide the future of this site. -Mike 064 Freeman
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