Finding the best baritone guitars can be difficult when there are literally thousands of options available on the market today.
In this article, we’ll be reviewing 7 of the best baritone guitars on the market. We’ll be looking at guitars from all different price ranges and discussing the overall features, sound, music style, and overall value of the guitar to help determine which baritone guitar is right for you.
Let’s get started!
Here are the 7 best baritone guitars on the market:
- PRS Paul Reed Smith SE 277 Baritone Electric Guitar
- Gretsch G5265 Electromatic Jet Baritone Electric Guitar
- Danelectro ’56 Baritone Electric Guitar
- Schecter HELLRAISER C-VI Baritone Electric Guitar
- Ibanez RGIB6 Iron Label RG Baritone Series Electric Guitar
- ESP LTD Viper-201B Baritone Electric Guitar
- ESP LTD SCT-607 Baritone Signature Series Stephen Carpenter Electric Guitar
The 7 Best Baritone Guitars in 2020
PRS Paul Reed Smith SE 277 Baritone Electric Guitar
Paul Reed Smith starts off the list with their SE 277. There are a lot of things I like about PRS guitars, once of which is their distinct design.
You can immediately tell this is a classic PRS at a glance. From the body shape and cut-away to their signature bird inlays on the neck. Everything about this guitar is true to their style.
This guitar features PRS 85/15 S pickups for a very versatile range of sounds. The string-thru bridge helps gives you extra sustain for those heavy songs, or for any style of music.
Like most PRS guitars, you’ll get a mahogany body with a maple top. The thin and fast neck is maple with a rosewood fretboard, giving you a warm and full tone.
I love how this guitar is great at heavy and aggressive music but can play pretty much any style of music you want to play on it. This may be the most versatile of all the guitars in this review.
Although it feels like a pro-level guitar, since this particular PRS guitar is made in Indonesia, you can get it at a budget price. PRS did a great job providing a lot of value for the money on this one.
If you like classic PRS styling, need a lot of versatility and have a limited budget, this guitar is a great choice for you!
Gretsch G5265 Electromatic Jet Baritone Electric Guitar
I’ve never owned a Gretsch, but have always liked them. Every time I pick one up, I ask myself why I haven’t bought one already. This guitar is no different.
With this guitar, you’ll get a baritone range but with a mellower tone. The mini-humbucker can give you a very clean, crisp sound.
The body is a classic Gretsch shape, with a cool sparkle finish. So you’ll have a little “flash” but won’t look too gaudy either.
A bolt-on maple neck gives you options for adjustment and replacement if needed. The rosewood fretboard mellows out the tone of the maple and mixes well with the mini-humbuckers.
You’ll love the retro Bigsby bridge, a favorite among Gretsch fans. Although not good for aggressive tremolo use or dive bombs, you can still get some very subtle accents with this bridge.
Other than the sparkle finish and Bigsby bridge, this is a clean and simple guitar. Basic features, with a little extra glimmer.
Priced at a great budget level, this guitar would be great for someone that wants a baritone, doesn’t plan to play heavy music, or use the bridge for aggressive tremolo antics.
If you’ve always wanted a Gretsch, I think this very cool Jet Baritone model could be the one makes you buy one.
Danelectro ’56 Baritone Electric Guitar
I’ve always considered Danelectro to be a maker of interesting, retro-glamour guitars at a budget price. I feel this guitar is another example of that.
With their typical retro look, single-cutaway body, and chrome lipstick pickups, this baritone keeps true to the Danelectro style.
You’ll like the simple yet subtle styling of this baritone guitar, which seems like much more of a guitar then the price you paid for it.
The fixed bridge will help keep you in tune, whether you tune to standard pitch or try alternate tunings.
The single-coil lipstick pickups have a subtle but bright tone to them. You will like the clean sound you get from this guitar and the sleek neck.
This budget-priced guitar would be a great choice for you if you like simple yet slightly flashy, like cleaner tones and want something a little “artsy” and unique.
If I had this guitar, I would use it for very clean tones, maybe slightly dirty gain. This would be great in a studio to enhance other tracks, to play the main guitar track, or to use for live performances.
Schecter HELLRAISER C-VI Baritone Electric Guitar
I don’t ever think I’ve seen or played a Schecter I haven’t liked. Not only are they good values, but great playing and beautiful guitars.
On paper, I would think that a Schecter baritone might be the ultimate baritone guitar. I wasn’t wrong.
Just some great points to this guitar:
- Beautiful body styling
- Subtle finish
- Premium styling
- A custom shop Pearloid body binding
- Pearloid neck inlay
And these are just what you see at a glance. The best part of all this? It’s such a good value for the money!
Playing low, heavy music requires you to stay in tune and not have to fuss with it. The fixed bridge makes sure your guitar stays in tune through any play from light and poppy to heavy and aggressive.
If you want to keep with the heavy music vibe, the active EMG pickups won’t let you down and will stand up to any level of high gain you throw at them.
This guitar would be a great choice for you if you want a subtle but beautiful guitar, plan on playing very heavy and aggressive music, and like a fixed bridge.
Ibanez RGIB6 Iron Label RG Baritone Series Electric Guitar
I can’t help but love almost every Ibanez I’ve played. If you own one or have played one, you’ll know what I’m talking about.
They have a certain feel, a vibe. They are sleek, they play easy and they play fast. Easily the most effortless guitars to play for many guitarists.
Having this Ibanez vibe in a baritone guitar is a perfect combination. I like the ease of play, which lets you get ideas out much more effortlessly.
This guitar gives you the classic Ibanez RG body style that has been popular for decades. A deep double-cutaway body and unique style make this subtle, but also makes it a guitar with its own style like no other.
Simple is the keyword for this guitar, this is a minimalist’s dream guitar. With a clean look, and no fretboard inlays you will appreciate the no-frills features of this guitar.
If you love heavy music or just like an active tone, you will love the active EMG 81/60 pickups that this guitar has.
Heavy music? Bring it on! Anything else? This guitar can do that, too. It will be hard to find a more versatile guitar than this RG baritone.
If you already like Ibanez, you know how and why they’re so popular with heavy music. When you pick this up and play it, you’ll wonder why you don’t already own it.
Do yourself a big favor, and play this guitar. Better yet, at this price, you can just buy it and know you’ll be happy with it!
ESP LTD Viper-201B Baritone Electric Guitar
ESP makes great guitars and has for decades. Their budget LTD line isn’t far from the premium ESP guitars in terms of features and styling.
At first, you’ll notice a Gibson SG type of guitar. After a closer look, you’ll see what makes this unique.
The inlays are very well done, especially on a guitar in this price range. You’ll get a nice high-end look at a budget price. Who doesn’t want that?
Want to play a variety of music? Two humbuckers can take care of pretty much all your tone needs. Clean and chimey, or dirty and obnoxious, this guitar does it all.
Body wood can make a big difference on some guitars. The mahogany body on this will give you the warmer tone of the SG type of guitars. This fits in very nicely with the dual humbuckers.
The neck features a maple construction to ensure strength and stability. The jatoba fretboard gives you a nice feel, a good look, and a smooth surface that won’t hinder your playing.
The tone of ebony can be somewhere between rosewood and maple, which makes it a nice balance between the two.
If you like a warmer tone, the SG look, and simple styling, all at a price that won’t break the bank, you should look into this ESP LTD Viper.
On a side note, I’ve always thought SG style guitars are some of the easiest playing guitars around. This baritone is just what I expected.
ESP LTD SCT-607 Baritone Signature Series Stephen Carpenter Electric Guitar
ESP makes a lot of different styles of guitars. This Stephen Carpenter signature model might be the most unique from them, in my opinion.
This is a premium guitar all the way, in stylings, features, quality, and price. You also get what you pay for on this guitar.
The Tele-style body is a classic look for many styles of music. The single-cutaway allows easy access to the upper frets.
Alder is a popular tonewood for Telecaster and Stratocasters. It has great sustain and a perfect balance of tones for many styles of music. This alder on this guitar helps keep that diversity of tone available to you.
The sparkle finish is subtly eye-catching, but give it a professional look without seeming cheap and overdone.
Also similar to a Telecaster, the maple neck balances the tone out. However, the clean ebony fretboard with no inlays gives this a very modern, unique look.
Ebony necks are also extremely fast and smooth to play on. ESP made sure this was a top-notch guitar in every detail.
The active alnico pickups have a great vintage tone to them. This will give you a lot of classic rock and early country sounds.
Even more unique is the look of these pickups and the layout. There is no neck pickup, but you do have a bridge ad a middle.
I don’t think I’ve ever seen that combination on any guitar before. This makes it a guitar I would like to spend more time with and in various situations.
If you’re looking for a very unique baritone guitar at a premium trim level, this is your guitar. It’s hard not to love this artistic and unique creation.
The Best Baritone Guitar Buying Guide
If you’re new to baritone guitars, it can be difficult finding the best baritone guitar that will suit your specific needs as a player.
Depending on what type of music you’ll be playing, it could make a huge difference in terms of the features and specifications that you’ll want.
Here are some of the most common questions that most players have about baritone guitars. This will help you identify which is the best baritone guitar for you.
What’s The Difference Between a Baritone Guitar and Normal Guitar?
If you’re in the market for a new baritone guitar, it definitely makes sense to understand the differences between a baritone guitar and a regular guitar.
Baritone guitars are definitely a niche type of guitar and not necessarily suited for everyone. So, before you buy one, you should know exactly what you’re getting yourself into.
The main differences between a baritone guitar and normal guitar are the scale length, size, tuning, and strings.
Baritone guitars will typically have a longer scale length than a normal guitar. Typically, a baritone guitar will have a scale length anywhere from 27 to 30.5 inches (690 to 770 mm).
This is significantly longer than the scale length of a normal guitar which ranges from 24.75 to 25.5 inches (625 to 654 mm)
The scale length is determined by measuring the distance from the nut to the saddle on the bridge. A longer scale length means having a longer guitar neck, which typically results in a baritone guitar being larger than a normal guitar.
Having a longer scale length on a guitar allows you to tune the guitar to a much lower pitch than a normal guitar. Because of this, Baritone guitars have a much lower, darker sound than a normal guitar.
Since baritone guitars and be tuned lower, this usually means that you’ll use a much thicker string gauge. This allows you to get a low tuning while maintaining proper tension on the guitar. Having thicker string gauges help give a fuller, darker tone. However, one thing to consider is that since the strings require more force to press down on the frets, baritone guitars can be more difficult to play.
What Are Baritone Guitars Good For?
As previously mentioned, baritone guitars are suited for lower tunings. A common tuning for a baritone guitar would be a fifth lower (A D G C E A), or a fourth lower (B E A D F♯ B) than standard E tuning.
Due to the lower tuning, baritone guitars excel in darker styles of music. While they have seen success in multiple genres including rock, jazz, and even country, nowadays they seemed to have gained the most popularity in heavy metal music (obviously we’re talking about baritone electric guitars here).
What to Look for in a Baritone Guitar?
If you’re in the market for a new baritone guitar, it can be difficult knowing exactly what to look for.
Here are some of the main features that you should be looking for when picking out a baritone guitar.
Tuning Stability – If you’re new to playing guitar, then tuning stability should be a priority, especially if you’re looking for a beginner guitar. If you’re going to be buying a beginner-level guitar, then tuning stability is a common issue due to the lack of locking tuners, cheap nut, and poorly filed frets. If you’re going to be purchasing an entry-level guitar, this is something that you need to be careful of.
Playability – Overall comfort and playability is an absolute priority when you’re buying a baritone guitar. Since baritone guitars are naturally bigger than normal guitars, you’ll need to make sure the body shape and neck profile is comfortable to you. Otherwise, you’ll have a difficult time handling your guitar and it will inhibit your playing ability.
Active vs Passive Pickups – The types of pickups in your guitar will have the greatest impact on the overall impact on your tone. As a result, this should be one of your main considerations when you’re looking for the best baritone guitar for you. Depending on the style of music you want to play, you will need to select a guitar with pickups that suit that particular style. If you plan on playing heavy metal and rock music that requires a lot of high gains, then you might want a guitar with active pickups, like the Schecter HELLRAISER C-VI. If you want something more versatile for clean tones, but also capable of playing some high gain, then I’d recommend a guitar passive pickups, such as the PRS SE Custom 277.
Related: Be sure to check out my full guide comparing the differences between active and passive guitar pickups.
Price – The price of the guitar will obviously always be a factor when purchasing a guitar. The price of the guitar typically correlates to the overall quality. Finding the best baritone guitar for your budget can be difficult. It’s basically a balancing act between finding a guitar that satisfies all of your needs without going over your budget. In general, baritone guitars are niche, and therefore, will cost more than a normal guitar with similar quality. Look to spend at least $250 -$350 on a budget baritone guitar. If you’re an experienced player, you’ll probably want something in the $500 -$800 range because the quality will be better and it will last longer. Anything $1000+ is a high-end guitar and will pretty much never need to be replaced as long as you take good care of it. Be sure to check out my post on electric guitar cost for more information regarding guitar pricing.
Aesthetics – How the guitar looks is more of a subjective factor, but one that should not be overlooked. You want to make sure the guitar looks good to YOU. If you like the way your guitar looks, then you’ll be inspired to play it. This makes a world of difference. If you’re excited to pick up your guitar, then you’ll be more likely to put in the hours of practice required to get good at the guitar.
Which is the Best Baritone Guitar for You?
To wrap up this buyer’s guide to finding the best baritone guitar, here are my specific recommendations for guitars based on the type of player you are and what type of music you want to play.
Best Baritone Guitar Overall: PRS Paul Reed Smith SE 277
My overall pick for the best baritone guitar is the PRS SE 277.
Out of every guitar on in this list, I feel that it is the most versatile.
The 85/15 S pickups have excellent clarity whether you’re playing clean tones or high-gain.
In terms of overall quality and consistency, PRS can’t be matched. I’ve played dozens of PRS guitars from all different lines and I can honestly say I’ve never played a bad PRS guitar. Their quality control is best in class, even among their budget line of guitars.
If you want to explore many different genres of music, or you just want a guitar that’s the best baritone guitar for the money, then you can go wrong with the PRS SE 277.
Best Baritone Guitar for Metal: Schecter HELLRAISER C-VI
If you’re someone who mainly players metal music, then my pick for the best baritone guitar for metal is the Schecter HELLRAISER C-VI.
Schecter has a great reputation in the metal community for making incredible guitars at an affordable price.
The overall build quality, playability, and sound are excellent. It comes with actual EMG active pickups which everyone knows are meant for high-gain heavy music.
If you’re going to be playing hard rock, metal, and djent music, then you can’t go wrong with the Schecter.
It’ll handle all of your detuned chugs with ease ?
Best Baritone Guitar for Blues and Jazz: Gretsch G5265 Electromatic Jet
My pick for the best baritone guitar for Blues and Jazz is the Gretsch G5265 Electromatic Jet.
This guitar has the classic Gretsch design that we all have come to know and love.
The Gretsch G5265 excels when it comes to low-gain music, making it my go-to when it comes to blues and jazz music. The pickups offer excellent clarity and have a nice crisp sound to them.
In addition, the overall build quality of the guitar is very good. While it is an import guitar, I didn’t notice any quality control issues at all. The guitar has good tuning stability, frets, and hardware. The setup was also solid right out of the box.
For the price, you really can’t beat it.
I hope you enjoyed reading this post. Hopefully, you have a better idea of the best baritone guitars on the market and which ones fit your preferences as a player.
Remember, when it comes to guitars, it’s not “one size fits all.” Be sure to do your research and consider going to a local guitar shop to try it out first.
Good luck playing 🙂