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I posted this in "Acoustic Newb", and only got a reply from Edward Sparks wondering the same things.  So, there are at least 2 of us that would like to know if the following is true:


I had a question about the Baritone guitar, and I thought, "What better place to post this question than here?"  If I don't know, maybe some others don't as well...

Anyway, the Baritone guitar is tuned 5 steps lower than standard - instead of E A D G B E, the strings are tuned to B E A D F# B.  So, if one were to get one of these (not likely in the near future for me, but I want to understand how it works), how does one play it?  For example, obviously for a ukulele or tenor guitar (4 strings), one uses different chord forms than for a six string.  And, if one is using "open E tuning" (or any open tuning), one varies the chord played by moving the index finger barre up and down the fretboard.

But, with a Baritone, what does one do, especially if playing with someone who is playing a "normal" guitar? 

Are these statements accurate?

In a "normal" guitar, the open strings are in the key of "C".  So, on a Baritone, are the open strings in the key of "G"?

Is it true, for example, that when you fret a "normal" G chord form on a Baritone, you're playing a D?  And, if you fret a "normal" D, it would be an A on a Baritone?  If so, then, if one has a Baritone guitar, one just uses the normal chord forms, realizing that you have to play a shape 5 steps lower on a Baritone than your friend is playing on a "normal" guitar in order to be playing the same chord?  Is this how it works?  Or am I confused?

This is how it would work out (with my possibly confused understanding):

If "normal" guitarist plays:                    Baritone guitarist plays:

A   chord form                                       E    chord form

B   chord form                                       F#  chord form

C   chord form                                       G   chord form

D   chord form                                       A   chord form

E   chord form                                       B   chord form

F   chord form                                       C   chord form

G   chord form                                       D   chord form


Can anyone tell me if this is correct, or, if wrong, how it does work?  Thanks!


Baritone group - can you help? :-)

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Replies to This Discussion

Alas - no one knows the answer to my pressing question... ;-(

See above...

Hello FloridaGull;

The chart is backwards...  swap the columns under the headers...  Think about the chord form and its root note.  The E form (normal guitar) has the sixth string (E) for a root.  The Baritone player plays the E chord with finger positions using the fifth string (E) as its root -- yep, the "A" chord form.  I look over at the other guy and see his key (I) and I play the (V) form.

Simply put, if your buddies are playing a song in the key of E, you will play it as if it were in the key of A.  They are playing in D, you pretend it is in G.

It is very simple, the strings are in the same relationship as any other guitar.  You are right about EADGBE becoming BEADF#B -- or DADGAD becoming AEADEA.  

But be prepared for some real world differences... the fretboard scale is longer so your fingers must stretch farther to make some chords.  Be prepared for higher gauge strings that feel different and take different pressures to make effects.  Bends and tremolo are easier since the string is longer.  Personally, I hate the F# (second) string being unwound at .20 so I replace the unwound one with a wound one -- much smoother for finger style.

Did he say finger style?  Yes!  It is luscious!  It is delicious!  It takes a lot of practice before you stop making string squeaks, fret buzz, and fat finger frigups.  But once you get it right, it is SOOOOO right...!

I play the Martin baritone and love it.  I like its neck better than the Taylor Baritone (six string) that I played -- but perhaps it was set up with the action too low.  Matt Mustapick builds one of the finest I've ever played.  Kathy Wingert builds the very finest one I've ever played -- her neck is absolutely perfect, her tone sublime, her art work is amazing.



Thanks! So I just flip my headers, and it is right? Cool...

I guess I should make this correct here as well:

Baritone guitarist plays:                         If "normal" guitarist plays: 

A   chord form                                       E    chord

B   chord form                                       F#  chord

C   chord form                                       G   chord

D   chord form                                       A   chord

E   chord form                                       B   chord

F   chord form                                       C   chord

G   chord form                                       D   chord

Thanks to HenryM from awhile ago...


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