Is 26.5 as good as 27 scale? Is it baritone territory?

Discussion in 'Extended Range Guitars' started by lucasreis, May 8, 2012.

  1. DudeManBrother

    DudeManBrother did everybody get in my room?

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    May 3, 2014
    I have some interesting sentiments regarding what constitutes a baritone guitar; but I’m going to save them for the next necrobumb in 2020
  2. EverDream

    EverDream Regular

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    May 21, 2005
    California, US
    To me baritone is a term which describes an instrument that has it's lowest tuned note approximately right between the bass and tenor instruments in pitch, of any given instrument family. Since I consider a standard 6-string guitar tuned to E tuning (E2 lowest note) the tenor of the guitar family, and a standard 4-string bass guitar tuned to E tuning an octave lower (E1 lowest note) the bass of the family, a baritone in this case would be a guitar that is tuned to A# (A#1 lowest note). Additionally the scale length should also be right between standard lengths (34" for bass guitar, and 25.5" for guitar), using the geometric mean (sqrt(34*25.5)), so in this case approximately 29.4" should be the scale length.

    However the scale length is more important, and thus the dictator of what the instrument should be called, and not the tuning, but the tuning can influence what you may want to call it if it is between guitar and baritone (or baritone and bass). I'll explain. So a Baritone Guitar would refer to an instrument with a scale length of approximately 29.4", so I'd say any guitar that is between 27.4" and 31.6" is a baritone guitar, a guitar between 31.6" and 34" is a short scale bass or a long scale baritone guitar, and a guitar between 25.5" and 27.4" is a long scale guitar or a short scale baritone guitar.

    So if you have a baritone guitar tuned to standard E guitar tuning for example, I'd call that a high tuned baritone guitar, and if you have a regular scale length guitar tuned to A#, I would call that a low tuned guitar and NOT a baritone guitar. If you had a 26.5" or 27" guitar tuned to C# or higher I'd call it a long scale guitar, but if you have it tuned to C or lower I'd call it a short scale baritone.

    So what I'm saying is that the scale length really affects the tonal characteristics, and the term baritone is something which should be referring to tonal characteristics that sound between guitar and bass guitar, and not simply the pitches. The longer the scale length, the lower the voicing of the tone, the more suited to lower pitches it becomes. So as scale length increases, the guitar tuning should also get lower to match. So a longer scale instrument is designed and optimized for a lower tuning, and if you tune low on a shorter scale, it's still a guitar, just a low tuned one, but tonally sounds like a guitar and not a baritone. If you tune higher on a longer scale, it's still a baritone, just a high tuned one, but tonally sounds like a baritone guitar still. So the scale length really dictates what kind of guitar it is, but ideally the tuning should be matched to the scale length.

    Sorry, I know this is a very convoluted explanation, I'm not that good at being concise, lol. Anyway that's my personal view on what a "baritone guitar" is, lol. :)
    jwade likes this.
  3. BetterOffShred

    BetterOffShred Regular

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    Apr 6, 2014
    Eastern Washington, USA
    I have an RG852 and it's a 27" scale. I have an 80 for the low E, and I feel it's more than adequate. I'd think a 26.5" would be fine for f# .. It's really more of a product of your technique and playing style. I've made 42's down to C sound good in a pinch.

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