The commercially available baritone guitar has woven its way through nearly seven decades of music, adding resonance and low-end to a lot of great tracks over the years. Here is part one of our BaritoneGuitar.org list of essential baritone tracks.
Songs listed are not considered essential because they represent the high water mark for a particular genre or generation of baritone players. Songs have been selected because they typify a particular genre or common use of the baritone guitar.
" Kommotion" by Duane Eddy, 1960
Duane Eddy's work often featured Danelectro's original "56" style baritone (check out our review) or the Danelectro Long Horn baritone model. On Duane Eddy tracks, the baritone can be heard both up front, in the form of rhythm and lead lines, and in the back, in the form of "tic-tac" palm-muted bass lines.
"Back in the Saddle" by Aerosmith, 1976
The inclusion of this track will be controversial. In researching this project, some sources have stated that "Back in the Saddle" was recorded using a baritone electric. Others have said the track's swaggering verse hook was played on a Fender Bass VI (check out our review), an instrument that is marketed by fender as a bass guitar, not a baritone. I think of the Fender Bass VI as a hybrid baritone guitar/bass, so I am fine including this track. Have opinion on this mater? Make it known in the comments section of this post.
"The Space Between" by Dave Matthews Band, 2001
The humble $400 Danelectro 56 Baritone is front and center in this Dave Matthews tune. It's hard to imagine the tack without the extended range of the Danelectro 56 providing a gripping opening hook to the verse.
"These Walls" by Dream Theater, 2005
On the Dream Theater track "These Walls" John Petrucci uses his Music Man JP6 Baritone, a limited-run signature model axe that is now out of production. The baritone can be heard throughout the track, but it comes out most distinctly in the hard-hitting intro and outro of this progressive metal tune. Also, be sure to check out the baritone guitar solo that starts 4:45.
"Blue Liquid" by Andy Mckee, 2010
Andy McKee is a virtuoso guitarist and an exceptional composer. He also happens to be a champion of the baritone guitar, particularly in its acoustic form. This track is an excellent example of the growing number of solo artists using the acoustic baritone to create engaging and distinctive work.
Well, there you have it. The first of our two-part series on essential baritone tracks. In part two, we will explore the baritone's use in styles ranging from Jazz to surf ruck to country and beyond. If you have enjoyed this article, you might want to check out our full list of acoustic baritone reviews or our full list of electric baritone reviews. Or, if you are new to baritone guitar, check out our Start Here page to learn more about the baritone.
As always, we welcome your social shares and ecourage you to scroll down and check out the comments and feedback. Thank you.
8/22/2017 08:27:06 am
If you watch the Aerosmith video on YouTube ( https://youtu.be/BJDPCTT9txA ) you will see the 6 string lead guitar is a Gretch and the 4 string bass guitar is a MusicMan and the 6 string Baratone guitar is a MusicMan.
11/23/2018 07:39:25 pm
Big A’smith and DMB fan. All I’ve seen regarding “Back in the Saddle” refers to the Bass VI on the original, a custom Music Man 6-string Bass live in recent years. Also heard it may have been tuned up to G, not E to E. A bari could certainly cut it.
3/31/2021 11:21:17 pm
Joe Perry actually had the Bass VI tuned down a half-step (Eb-Eb). You technically could do it on a baritone but you'd have to restring it with Bass VI strings for this tuning to sound right. Also, the scale length should be at or near 30".
8/26/2019 09:55:11 pm
"Slipping Away", a 1983 Dave Edmunds song written and produced by Jeff Lynne features a Danelectro Longhorn Baritone and the video is on YouTube. It's a song that I would like to learn. (I just got my first Bari delivered today.) Does anyone know how Edmunds' Baritone was tuned?
8/27/2019 09:14:09 am
"Slipping Away", a 1983 Dave Edmunds song written and produced by Jeff Lynne features a Danelectro Baritone and the video is on YouTube. It's a song that I would like to learn. (I just got my first Bari delivered today.) Does anyone know how it was tuned?
2/27/2020 10:48:01 am
This list is not complete without the theme from Twin Peaks or “Falling” by Julee Cruise, which is just the theme with lyrics.
2/27/2020 10:52:02 am
Also, I’d have to say Phoebe Bridgers has some great baritone sounds on her album, Stranger in the Alps. Especially songs like “Smoke Singals”.
8/18/2020 04:22:28 pm
i'll get a baritone tomorrow
12/6/2020 08:47:32 pm
I leave my guitars out as well–either hanging on the wall or on guitar stands. If I didn’t keep them out and visible, I probably wouldn’t play them. So, I’ll be buying a room humidifier soon. I live in Arizona… so we have a very similar issue. It’s extremely dry here, then on top of that we run either the A/C or heater year-round. Both suck moisture out of the air.
2/18/2021 12:16:17 pm
So, I like the Baritone (Sidejack). The rub is "I play guitar" but am not a guitarists. I love the deep tones and the way my voice interacts however, I just tuned up to D so I could Capo the second fret for a standard tuning with the baritone strings. I was afraid to tune to standard "E". Wonderin' Am I gonna screw up this guitar?
3/31/2021 11:17:13 pm
You'd be at greater risk of destroying the strings than the guitar. Ideally you should be using lighter strings if you want to tune your baritone to standard guitar tuning. You should go even lighter than you would for a regular scale guitar because the longer neck of the baritone adds tension to the strings. 8-38 would probably be about right unless you like a little extra tension in the strings, in which case try 9-42.
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