Baritone Vs. Bass Guitar

by Michael Black, Demand Media

    Bass guitars and baritone guitars are two specific types of guitars. Although they are similar in a lot of ways, they have different purposes. Which one you choose depends on what you want to accomplish as a musician.

    Bass Guitar

    The main purpose of a bass guitar is to provide deep notes to thicken the bottom end of a piece of music. Although the bass guitar can be used as a lead instrument, it is generally regarded as a rhythm instrument. A standard four-string bass guitar is meant to be tuned one octave lower than the bottom four strings on a standard six-string guitar (E, A, D, and G). In order to play these deep notes, basses use thicker strings, which can be painful for a novice guitarist to fret.

    Baritone Guitars

    A baritone guitar is designed to have a tonal range between that of a regular guitar and a bass guitar. In general, baritone guitars have six strings, like a regular guitar. These guitars allow you to play bass-type riffs in conjunction with regular guitar rhythm parts. Because of the lack of high strings on a baritone guitar, they are not often used as lead instruments. Although there is no one standard baritone guitar tuning, both B, E, A, D, F#, B (a perfect fourth below standard tuning) and A, D, G, C, E, A (a perfect fifth below standard tuning) are commonly used. Baritone guitars tend to be longer than regular guitars but not as long as a bass guitar.

    Which Is Better for You?

    Several things should be considered when deciding which instrument to play. Bass guitars are larger than baritone guitar, so if you are small, you may want to choose the baritone guitar. Listen to several sound clips of each instrument being played to determine which you prefer. Visit a music store and play a few bass and baritone guitars to determine which feels and sounds better to you.

    Variations

    Many types of basses and baritone guitars are on the market. While most basses have only four strings, some have five (usually a deeper string) or even six (generally a deeper and a higher string). Taylor Guitars produces an eight-string acoustic baritone guitar in which the middle two strings are doubled with thinner strings meant to be tuned an octave above the regular strings. Seven-string guitars, while not technically baritone guitars, tend to have the same bass range as a baritone guitar, but they also have an extra high string, enabling them to play regular guitar parts as well as baritone parts.

    About the Author

    Michael Black has been a freelance writer based in South Central Pennsylvania since 2010. He graduated from York College of Pennsylvania with a Bachelor of Arts degree in professional writing. He has written music- and writing-related articles for various websites.

    Photo Credits

    • Jupiterimages/Photos.com/Getty Images