Other Guitars

Baritone Tuning

1

I'm looking at a Warmoth Baritone conversion neck (28 5/8 inch Scale) - what are the pros and cons of the various baritone tunings A-a, B-b, C-c? Which would work best for that scale length? What gauge strings would be needed?

2

All pretty subjective, and a function of what you're looking for. I don't have specific experience with that scale length; I have a Dano Longhorn at 30" and an Alvarez Villette acoustic baritone (scale unknown).

I've experimented with tunings on the Dano and found A a bit flappy (probably fixable with slightly heavier strings). I tune it from B to B, which has several virtues for me: as another 4th straight down from low E, it's musically logical for me; I like the overall tonality of the range - twang shifted down, never sounding like a bass; and it feels right on the guitar.

I think my strings are a standard 11-50 set, save the high E in my spares, and order a separate .064 for the low B.

I would certainly retune to a different root, however, to make a part sit better in a song, if I liked the way certain chord voicings played against other instruments played in standard tuning, or I wanted to capo to get a particular sonority in a particular key.

The Alvarez is shorter scale and would be silly-slappy-flappy in A. B is where it's at on that guitar too. Songs in Bm sound like holy apocalypse, and I love that. It's an instrument of prophecy and doom, and perfectly suits the lugubrious mahogany range of my "singing" voice. It's all portent and declamation. I fancy it lends a certain sonorous dignity to my pompous pretense.

(Oddly, singing with the electric bari doesn't work at all.)

I haven't tried C. TV Jones flat knows what he's all about, though, and if he voiced his baritone in C, it was probably for a very good reason - probably related to exactly the sonority he thought strings on that scale instrument produced at that tension and in that frequency range.

The only cons of C-tuning for me would be trying to do the mental gymnastics in my head to transpose while playing with other people.

As always, such observations and advice make it all sound more analytical and intentional than it really is. Bottom line: try stuff and see what sounds or feels best to you. That's the best answer.

3

Its kind of a pick your poison proposition, but I go with A-A. Cant really advise on string gauge or tuning.

4

with the slightly longer Dano scale, you can easily go A-A, but with that 28 5/8 scale it'll feel more natural (string tension, playability, etc..) with a B or a C tuning. D'Addario baritone strings should work, there's a regular and a lighter set.

5

with the slightly longer Dano scale, you can easily go A-A, but with that 28 5/8 scale it'll feel more natural (string tension, playability, etc..) with a B or a C tuning. D'Addario baritone strings should work, there's a regular and a lighter set.

– WB

Thanks Walter and everyone!

6

I built my own baritone using a NOS Gretsch Corvette body and a short scale Japanese bass neck. I ended up tuning it C to C because that sounded and played best.....but yes it's a pain to transpose.

7

I believe that my Danelectro Dead On '67 baritone is a 27.75" scale length. I tune it B to b as well as it suits that scale length perfectly. Also, for the reason that Proteus mentioned that it is far easier to transpose when tuned in that manner. But, I agree with Walter that, with the additional length of that neck, you should be able to easily tune A to a.

8

Hey, Doc- Try this: A, D, G^, C^, E, A. Longer scale length is better, but it works with any. Gives you some options.

This is the baritone "half-nashville" tuning that Metheny uses and sounds incredible and unique vs "standard" baritone tunings. I use it 85% of the time, especially for solo stuff. Adds brightness and w i d t h! Best of all it plays nice with others

Heres a good overview:

And...

Good luck experimenting!

9

But, I agree with Walter that, with the additional length of that neck, you should be able to easily tune A to a.

That's not what I said. 28.5 is on the shorter side for a Baritone, and I recommend B or C tuning for that length. (I have a tele with that scale, and a 30" scale Jazzmaster baritone I keep in A, Jerry Jones dano longhorn replica, 30" scale tunes as a six string bass).

IIt's not that you can't tune it to A, but A tuning string tension/playabillity wise feels more natural on a 30" scale guitar.

10

Hey, Doc- Try this: A, D, G^, C^, E, A. Longer scale length is better, but it works with any. Gives you some options.

This is the baritone "half-nashville" tuning that Metheny uses and sounds incredible and unique vs "standard" baritone tunings. I use it 85% of the time, especially for solo stuff. Adds brightness and w i d t h! Best of all it plays nice with others

Heres a good overview:

And...

Good luck experimenting!

– gretschman36

Hmmm, I think I'm going to try that. Cheers!

11

Sure...

Now, to have some "real" fun, combine the baritone with a high strung / nashville tuned small body guitar and it's... WOW! Just a total wall of sound.

Below is a nice example of a well played nashville tuned guitar. Can ya hear them in your head together?

When recording, I often pan them hard L/R and it's magical. Leaves room for a "lead" instrument of your choice right up the center ( cello, fiddle, even an electric guitar - possibilities are endless). And in 5.1 or 7.1, it's like you're standing in the center of a guitar orchestra.

12

But, I agree with Walter that, with the additional length of that neck, you should be able to easily tune A to a.

That's not what I said. 28.5 is on the shorter side for a Baritone, and I recommend B or C tuning for that length. (I have a tele with that scale, and a 30" scale Jazzmaster baritone I keep in A, Jerry Jones dano longhorn replica, 30" scale tunes as a six string bass).

IIt's not that you can't tune it to A, but A tuning string tension/playabillity wise feels more natural on a 30" scale guitar.

– WB

My bad, Walter. I had not checked back up to reread Doc's post for his scale length and had somehow remembered it as being a 30" scale length. At 28.75", I think that the B to b tuning is ideal.

Sorry for creating some unnecessary confusion.

13

Is there anyone here who plays a 30" scale guitar E-to-E one octave down from normal guitar? I just bought a used 30" scale Schecter Hellcat VI that I really want to be in E, but not with the enormous gauge strings that are presently on it. I know that the bottom strings can get sloppy - if you want to hear that, listen to John Lennon's isolated Bass VI playing on Helter Skelter - Link. I guess I'm looking for advice on the strings more than anything. LaBella makes a set 26-94, D'Adarrio 24-84 and Ernie Ball 20-90 with the LaBellas on the expensive end. I know that I can go with singles, but like the idea of buying a set. Any opinions?

I briefly owned a baritone Jaguar, but just didn't get the deep tone I wanted with B or A tunings.

14

Is there anyone here who plays a 30" scale guitar E-to-E one octave down from normal guitar?

Yes. None of the usual, bigger brands have a set that's great for six-string bass, or as Billy Zoom likes to call it "bass guitar". Almost all of them are too light on the bottom, floppy spaghetti E strings you can't really play with a pick. Smaller makers and brands - if you're in the U.S., these guys look good : https://www.stringjoy.com/g...

The Tenorio string company has a bass VI set that makes sense, gauge wise, but expect to pay boutique/hipster prices.

I know of a guy in the UK who sells a set that really works, but it would probably end up costing too much to get them to the US.

15

Thanks WB. The Stringjoy set looks just right and the price is good. I will be ordering some right away.

You were right about the Tenorios - $75!

17

Speaking of baritones, I ran across this Glen Campbell version of Galveston, featuring Steve Wariner on Dano Baritone. Very fine solo by Mr. Campbell too!

18

I have a set of LaBellas on my Bass VI that have a good bit of tension on them. No sloppiness on the low E string.

19

Speaking of baritones, I ran across this Glen Campbell version of Galveston, featuring Steve Wariner on Dano Baritone. Very fine solo by Mr. Campbell too!

– drmilktruck

Don't mean to pick nits, but that's actually a Jerry Jones - reason I mention this is JJ was one of the first guys to make the distinction between Baritones and six-string basses, and he made both : his baritones were something like 28 1/2" scale, six string basses the classic close to 30" scale. And the Baritones were meant to be tuned somewhere around B, with the shorter scale allowing two plain strings on top, and some more bend-a-bility and lower string tension.

20

Don't mean to pick nits, but that's actually a Jerry Jones - reason I mention this is JJ was one of the first guys to make the distinction between Baritones and six-string basses, and he made both : his baritones were something like 28 1/2" scale, six string basses the classic close to 30" scale. And the Baritones were meant to be tuned somewhere around B, with the shorter scale allowing two plain strings on top, and some more bend-a-bility and lower string tension.

– WB

Thanks for the correction, Walter. Sad that nobody picked up the JJ business when he died.

21

You would think that someone would see the value in his IP and carry on with the name and designs.

23

Thanks for the correction, Walter. Sad that nobody picked up the JJ business when he died.

– drmilktruck

As far as I know, he didn’t die, he retired

24

As far as I know, he didn’t die, he retired

– Johnny_Atomic

As of April 2011, Jerry Jones is retired and the Nashville factory is now closed. Most all the tools, parts, and machinery were sold at auction last spring. There is no remaining inventory, but If you are interested, there may still be a few instruments available though the dealers

25

Yes, he retired and closed the factory in 2011 but IIRC he passed away but can't find any info on that. There's an article that TVJ wrote about baritones from 2014 that quotes JJ, so if he passed, it's after that.

https://www.premierguitar.c...


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