If you’re curious about 27-inch scale guitars (AKA baritone guitars), you’ve come to the right post!
What Is Scale Length on a Guitar?
If you’re familiar with guitar specs, you’ve probably come across scale length. So let’s get more into details of what this spec actually means.
In a practical sense, the scale length is the length of the string that vibrates. It’s the usable part of every individual string. It’s roughly the length from the nut to the bridge.
However, it’s not exactly that simple. As you may already know, saddles on the bridge are in different positions. So each string technically has a different scale length. The best way to measure the precise scale length on a guitar is to go from nut to the 12th fret and then double the value.
A scale length ultimately contributes to the performance and sonic properties of an instrument. One of the most important parameters that it affects is the string tension. With that also comes the instrument’s intended tuning. But we’ll get to that.
Standard Scale Lengths
There isn’t one standardized accepted scale length for guitars. However, there’s a rough span of scale lengths that we can refer to as a standard.
When it comes to acoustic guitars, standard scale length is usually between 24.75 and 25.5 inches. In fact, what many consider to be a standard is an even narrower scope, 25 to 25.5 inches.
We have somewhat of a similar situation with electric guitars. Gibson and Gibson-style guitars usually have scale lengths of 24.75 inches. Fender and Fender-style guitars usually come with 25.5 inches.
However, anything between 24 and 25.5 is the standard for electric guitar. Sure, 24 inches is a bit shorter than usual. But these still feel and sound like what you’d expect from electric guitars.
Fender Jaguar and Mustang models come with 24-inch scale lengths. There are even some Mustangs with 22.5-inch scale lengths, but they’re not your standard electric guitars.
Baritone Guitar Scale Lengths
If you find something with a scale length over 25.5 inches, it’s usually a baritone guitar. Baritone guitars are typically at least 26.5 inches. However, you may find some more rare scale lengths between 25.5 and 26.5 inches.
Technically, there’s also no standard scale length for baritone guitars. But the most common one seems to be 27 inches. In some cases, the scale length goes up to 30 inches.
There’s also no standard tuning for baritone guitars. However, you usually go with B standard with 6-string guitars. And for 7-string guitars that have longer scale lengths, the bottom string is F#. (You can learn more about this in the baritone guitar tuning article on this blog.)
Additionally, it’s a bit hard to precisely define a baritone guitar. That said, most consider it a standard guitar with a longer scale to support lower tunings while retaining the tuning stability, tension, and tone quality of a standard guitar. And these are 6- or 7-string guitars that have longer scales.
If you were to take a regular guitar and tune it to something like B standard, it would feel weird. Sure, you could use a thicker string gauge, something like 13s or 12s. However, the strings would steel have relatively low tension.
A longer scale gets you covered for this. If you go with 30 inches, you can even down tune a whole octave below the E standard. The first guitar model for this purpose was Fender’s Bass VI. Technically, it’s what we’d call a baritone guitar. But it can functionally serve as a bass in some cases. Check out the baritone guitar vs six-string bass article on this blog to learn more about this.
You should also know that baritone guitars come with more or less standard guitar pickups. This means that they pick up the frequency range that makes the tone closer to regular guitars. If you were to plug them into bass amps, they wouldn’t sound like bass guitars.
27-Inch Scale Guitars Explained
As I mentioned previously, 27 inches is the most common scale length among baritone guitars. This is just about enough to have tuning stability in B standard. In my experience, it even worked well for both higher and lower tunings. Essentially, anything between C standard and A standard.
The pickups on these guitars are also just a little bit different. In their essence, you have the same construction, be it single-coil or humbuckers. However, they’re adapted to lower frequencies.
It’s not like with bass guitars. But they are better at retaining guitar-like qualities, even if you cover that lower register. Additionally, if you play with your distortion on, lower notes won’t sound too muddy.
Other than their elongated necks and slightly different pickups, baritone guitars have standard electric guitar features. Their hardware is usually the same as any other 6- or 7-string guitar. They also have the same body and neck construction.
Some Great 27-Inch Guitar Models
ESP’s sub-brand LTD has some interesting baritone guitar options. But my absolute favorite is their BB-600, the signature model of Breaking Benjamin’s Ben Burnley.
Here we have a single-cutaway mahogany body with a quilted maple top. There’s a maple neck that forms a very ergonomic heel with the body. What’s more, it’s a neck-through construction, which puts this guitar into pro-level territories.
What’s really exciting is the inclusion of a piezo pickup with a separate output jack. But its main powerhouse is a pair of Seymour Duncan humbuckers. We have a ’59 in the neck and JB in the bridge position.
ESP E-II T-B7
Within ESP’s main arsenal, we have E-II T-B7. This is a Telecaster-shape 7-string guitar with a scale length of 27 inches. It comes with an alder body, maple neck, neck-through design, and 24 extra-jumbo frets.
There’s also a standard tune-o-matic bridge with strings going through the body. And although a Tele-style guitar, it’s a real mean metal machine. It’s packed with EMG 70 and 81-7 active pickups. This is a pretty simple yet very effective metal guitar.
For the lover of vintage-inspired and budget-friendly stuff, I’d recommend Squier’s Cabronita Baritone Telecaster. It’s a pretty simple and affordable guitar.
Some would call it a great choice for surf-rock stuff. However, it’s packed with two Alnico Soapbar humbucker, inspired by Gibson’s P90s. These can get some pretty interesting tones even in high-gain settings. So I’d say it’s pretty versatile for its price category.
Other than that, we have a pretty simple Telecaster. It has a poplar body, maple neck, and a laurel fingerboard with 22 frets. It’s equipped with a regular 6-saddle hardtail bridge. But other than that, we have a fairly straightforward instrument. Nonetheless, this guitar can handle a lot of stuff. You can get twangy tones, as well as some thick heavy sounds.
I hope this article has helped you understand what sets apart guitars with this scale length!
And as usual, feel free to leave a message in the comments below if you have questions about this or another guitar-related topic!