The baritone guitar: the tale of the unsung guitar hero – Happy Mag


Even though you might not recognise the baritone guitar by its look, you will know that low, distinctive sound. Let’s look into this trailblazing guitar.

The baritone guitar is a mystical instrument with its in-between bass and guitar tuning, often twangy, surf rock sound, and its more than useful application as a melodic instrument. Residing somewhere in the musical nether realm, it has an instantly recognisable, yet versatile character.

Let’s look at how the baritone got its voice and why musicians such as Robert Smith, David Lynch, Phoebe Bridgers, Aretha Franklin, The B-52s and James Hetfield use this across their music.

How did it come about?

The first electric 6 string baritone guitar was unintentionally made by Danelectro in 1956, as it was originally sold as a 6 string bass. That design morphed and along with it came many reproductions by other companies, whether that be classified as a baritone guitar or a 6 string bass.

It quickly took off in the recording studio, with a technique dubbed the ‘Tic Tac Sound’ or ‘Tic
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