Categories
Uncategorized

Baritone Guitar Vs 8 String Guitar: What’s the Difference?

If you’re curious about the difference between the baritone guitar vs 8 string, this post is for you!

For context, I’ve played guitar since 2003 and have messed around with all sorts of instruments since then.

From guitar hybrids to pianos, basses, and more, I’m a multi-instrumentalist with some experience in this domain.

I don’t have it all figured out when it comes to the baritone guitar and 8 string guitar, but I’m happy to share my research on these instruments.

Many people are curious about the relationship between the baritone and the 8 string guitar because these instruments theoretically have some overlap in tonal range.

To understand these instruments better, check out the table below.

Quality
Baritone Guitar
8 String Guitar
Acoustic or Electric
Acoustic or electric
Exclusively electric
Standard Tuning
Doesn’t have a standard tuning but the most common tunings include ADGCEA, BEADG♭B, or CFB♭E♭GC (in the same intervals as a guitar but pitched down)
F#BEADGBE
Scale Length
26.5 – 30.5 inches
27-29.5 inches
String Gauge
Heavier
Heavier additional strings and standard gauge for the remaining 6 strings
Sound
Guitar-like in a lower tonal range (closer to a bass’s) with a lot of versatility
guitar-like with added depth from the bass-strings typically used in metal
Price
$400+
$400+
Learning Materials
More
Fewer

I’ll discuss these differences more in the following sections.

Baritone Guitar Vs 8 String: Acoustic or Electric?

A baritone guitar is often electric.

For instance, Ibanez and Gretsch make electric baritone guitars available for purchase on Amazon.

That said, even though electric baritone guitars are more common, you can still find acoustic baritone guitars like Orangewood.

Its baritone acoustic guitar, sounds beautiful as you can tell in the video below.

Alvarez also makes a popular baritone guitar.

On the other hand, there aren’t any commercially available 8 string acoustic guitars as far as I can tell.

However, there are luthiers who can make you an 8 string acoustic like this one.

In other words, the only commercially available 8 strings are electric like Ibanez’s popular model.

And, in fact, if you search for acoustic 8 string guitars, you will sometimes find a baritone guitar with octave string pairs for what are normally strings 4 and 3 like on Alvarez’s model.

These guitars are a sort of cross between a 12-string (because of its octave pairs) and a baritone, and in my opinion, are mislabeled as 8 string guitars and should be called 8 string baritone guitars.

Baritone Guitar Vs 8 String: Tuning

Although it has no standard tuning, the baritone guitar is tuned in the same intervals as a guitar often from A to A (one octave below standard guitalele or piccolo guitar tuning), B to B, or C to C.

Another way to think about this is that you would have to capo on fret seven to get back to standard guitar tuning if tuned from A to A, fret five if tuned from B to B, and fret four if tuned from C to C.

I seem to see more baritone guitars tuned B to B by the manufacturer.

That said, I’d be tempted to try the A to A tuning to have this tuned one octave lower than my guitalele.

Jamming with another instrument tuned one octave higher or lower than your own can be a really fun and simple way to produce a unique sound.

The 8 string guitar’s first six strings have the exact same standard tuning as the standard guitar.

Its additional two strings allow you to move more deeply into the tonal range of lower range instruments like the bass or baritone guitar.

Thus, the 8 string and baritone guitar have some overlap in tonal range.

But the baritone guitar has a lower range closer to a bass’s range.

Comparing Scale Length

You can better understand the scale length of the baritone guitar vs 8 string and how they compare with each other and other instruments with some examples.

Instrument
Scale Length (Inches)
29.75
27
27
25.5
24.6

Obviously, the instruments above are just examples and any one instrument may not follow these generalizations.

However, the scale length (and overall instrument size) tends to follow this pattern:

electric baritone guitar > electric 8 string guitar > acoustic baritone guitar > standard acoustic guitar > standard electric guitar.

Baritone Guitar Vs 8 String: Strings

The electric baritone guitar has very heavy strings relative to most guitars.

You can compare the baritone guitar’s string gauges to other closely related instruments in the table below.

Strings for Instrument Type
1st String Gauge (Inches)
2nd String Gauge
(Inches)
3rd String Gauge (Inches)
4th String Gauge (Inches)
5th String Gauge (Inches)
6th String Gauge (Inches)
.013
.017
.026
.036
.046
.062
.01
.013
.017
.026
.036
.046
.016
.022
.029
.048
.06
.07
.01
.014
.023
.03
.039
.047

These string gauges are only examples and not representative of all instruments’ string gauges in their given category.

That said, most strings will be at least close in gauge to these string gauges for their given category.

The 8 string guitar has the same string gauges as a standard electric 6 string guitar for its first six strings.

Ernie Ball’s top heavy strings have gauges of .064 and .08 for strings 7 and 8 respectively.

Sound Comparison

Playing a baritone guitar involves using standard guitar techniques in a tonal range closer to that of a bass guitar.

You can this concept in action coming from an electric baritone guitar in the following video.

And here’s a video to get a sense of the acoustic baritone guitar’s sound.

Those beautiful low notes from the acoustic baritone are really unique.

And although this larger instrument with heavier strings is more difficult to maneuver than a standard six-string, it’s a great alternative to add to someone’s guitar collection.

An 8 string guitar’s sound is potentially less versatile.

Theoretically more strings can add more versatility to an instrument.

But the 8 string simply isn’t very common in genres outside of metal and sometimes jazz.

Thus, the sound you typically hear from an 8 string is more like this:

Price

Novelty instruments like the baritone and 8 string guitar often skip the low-range, entry-level price point since they aren’t for beginners.

This has its pros and cons.

The pros are that you have greater odds of receiving a high-quality instrument when purchasing a specialty instrument you haven’t test played.

But the obvious downside is that there are fewer lower-cost options.

These pros and cons hold true for both the 8 string and baritone guitar.

In short, you will likely find both both instruments in the $400 to $600+ range.

Baritone Guitar Vs 8 String: Learning Materials

Neither the baritone guitar nor 8 string guitar will have as many learning materials available as a standard six-string guitar.

That said, there are some books available for these instruments.

The prolific Hal Leonard even has a book for the baritone guitar.

And there are a handful of books available for learning the 8 string guitar too.

Also, if you search YouTube for tutorials on either instrument, you should find some helpful videos.

However, I’d say there are slightly more and better learning materials for the baritone guitar than the 8 string.

Which instrument should you pursue?

So, which instrument should you pursue? Check out this table to find out:

You might pursue the baritone guitar if several of the following are true.
You might pursue the 8 string guitar if several of the following are true.
You already play the standard guitar and would like to play in a lower tonal range.
You already play the electric guitar and would like to play in a lower tonal range.
You are willing to pay a premium to add a specialty instrument to your collection.
You like the metal genre and want to use this instrument to play in it.
You are willing to learn this twist on your instrument with few dedicated learning materials.
You are willing to learn this twist on your instrument with few dedicated learning materials.

Baritone Guitar Vs 8 String: Conclusion

I hope this article helped you learn more about the baritone and 8 string guitar!

As usual, let me know in the comments if you have any further questions!

I can’t guarantee I can help.

But I’d love to try!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *