Unfortunately, baritone guitars are still woefully mistaken for niche instruments. Their storied history extends way beyond their present-day popularity as drop-tuned metal guitars. Electric baritones have actually been around since the 1950s, coming not long after the first mass-produced electric guitars.
They have had significant stints in surf, jazz, rock, and down-tuned pop and country music. In the process, they stuck out their long necks for the likes of Devin Townsend, Pat Metheny, Ani DiFranco, Pat Smear, and other legendary guitarists.
To some, they are a must-have addition to a well-rounded guitar collection, while others write them off as gimmicky adventures.
Love ‘em or hate ‘em, electric baritone guitars have outlasted the detractors and sold steadily through the decades.
The long scale length makes these guitars a beast of a different nature. They create full, rounded tones that neither bass nor electric guitars can stake claim to.
In this post, I’ll list eight remarkable baritone electric guitars in the current market. Each of these has the potential to become your primary instrument or an addition to your collection.
What Are The Best Baritone Electric Guitars In 2021?
The Rivolta Mondata VII is our top pick for the best baritone electric guitar among the current crop (the PRS was a close second). It’s raw, versatile, and striking – sonically or otherwise – making it a great instrument for the serious baritone player.
The ESP LTD M-7HT is our recommendation for metal guitarists and the thunderous Gretsch 5260T is our top choice for everything else.
So, here are our top picks for the best baritone electric guitars:
Rivolta Mondata Baritone VII
Chapman ML3 BEA Standard
PRS SE 277
Reverend Descent RA
ESP LTD M-7HT
Gretsch 5260T Electromatic Jet
Danelectro Vintage Baritone
1. Rivolta Mondata Baritone VII
The Love Child of a Gibson Firebird and a Fender Jaguar? It sounds as gorgeous as it looks.
Designed by Dennis Fano for Rivolta Guitars, the Mondata VII is an amalgam of exceptional elements in retro-modern styling.
From the stretched-out aged Pearloid inlays to Kluson-style tuners, to a Golden Plexi Pickguard – this is as exquisite as electric baritones get.
Novanta P-90 (neck) and Brevetto Humbucker (Bridge)
Nashville Tune-o-Matic Bridge
This Korean-made baritone guitar features a chambered mahogany body with a raised center block, offset waist, and a chunky C+ profile neck. The chocolate-brown ebony fingerboard has a 12-inch radius and houses 24 medium-jumbo fret with aged Pearloid inlays.
Greasy, gain-drenched riffs, harmonically rich cleans, atmospheric arpeggios, and mildly boosted chords – there is more to the Rivolta Mondata VII than rock and metal.
The guitar derives its versatility from the P-90 neck pickup and a humbucking bridge pickup. It is a stellar combination that can only disappoint those hankering for humbucking neck pickup tones as well.
The fat neck feels gratifying in the hands and the chocolate-brown ebony fingerboard (12”) is articulate and responsive. The electronics layout offers master volume, tone, phase switches, coil-split, and a 3-way pickup selector.
Between the pickup toggle, phase switch, and coil-split, there are just so many great tones you can wrench out of this do-it-all beast.
The Mondata Baritone is an ace in the hole – a stylish baritone electric with a raw and edgy tonal palette for the stage or studio. And, much to the joy of the southpaws, the Fuoco Burst model is available for left-handers without any upcharge. Who says you can’t please everyone?
2. Chapman ML3 BEA Standard
A no-frills baritone electric guitar built for speed demons in the rock/metal realm.
The ML-3 Modern Series is a tie-up between Rob Chapman and Andertons. It’s a modestly priced baritone guitar built for modern rock players and shredders.
The no-frills guitar is allied to an all-black stripped-down aesthetic.
The ML-3 is reminiscent of a Telecaster with an inverted headstock due to the mahogany slab and Flame Maple Veneer. However, when you look closely, it’s crafted with an arm carve, tummy cut, spoon cut, and all sorts of body contours.
The scale length sits between shorter-scale guitars like the Reverend and PRS and longer-scale baritones like Gretsch and Danelectro.
The 22 jumbo frets, rolled edges of the fretboard, and lower tummy cut adds to the playability of the guitar. The build quality is top-notch and the ML3 sounds satisfying in every way.
The tonal palette spans from clean and glassy to hard-cranked distortion and everything in between. The passive (aggressive) Sonorous Zero double buckers sound tight, crisp, and categorically modern.
The ceramic magnets and coil-split are the MVP in the ML-3’s expansive tone and bite, especially when you want to dial in some Gretsch-like twang (well, almost). You can sense their gravity in the bottomless low end and sustain.
The instrument punches beyond its price tag with the cuts/curves, a self-lubricating Graph Tech nut, and other impressive hardware trinkets.
It ain’t a pro-tier guitar, but in the drop-tuned rock/metal realm, it offers more value than similarly-priced options.
The Chapman ML3 sounds tight, mid-rich, and tuned to the speed of rock guitarists. It’s a modern guitar built for the current generation of (budget-conscious) shredders.
If you upgrade to a Seymour Duncan JB/Jazz set, you’ll end up with a highly versatile baritone and massive value for each dollar spent.
The PRS SE 277 is a humbucker rigged baritone with an inviting “wide-fat” neck and superbly versatile electronics. The non-intimidating scale length and near-standard string tension make it a healthy proposition for first-time baritone players.
For the more experienced guitarist, the SE 277 is as close you can get to a do-all elite model in the sub-$1000 category.
Although the brand touts it as a guitar for heavy genres, the PRS SE 277 is the poster child for versatile baritone electric guitars. Don’t be fooled by the ‘wide fat’ description. The neck is smooth, tapered, and extremely comfortable to handle.
Like the Revered Descent RA (reviewed below), the 27.7” scale is welcoming to a novice lacking previous experience with longer scale instruments. When tuned B-to-B, it feels much like a regular electric guitar in terms of string tension.
Electronics-wise, the PRS SE277 features two mid-rich and low-output PRS Tone Furnace humbuckers. The panel offers a coil-split, a tone knob, and a 3-way pickup selector for immense sonic versatility and charm.
The PRS SE 277 captures the imagination with its sub-sonic fidelity at every level of gain. While it’s not as edgy as other instruments on this list, the real value is in the agreeable tonality, playability, and top-notch build quality.
Plus, it’s rather nice to look at. It’s our top choice for an accompanist, especially if you enjoy alternate open-chord voicings.
4. Reverent Descent RA Baritone Electric Guitar (Best for Beginners)
The Reverend’s shorter scale and rail-buckers are a sermon for every guitar congregation.
The Reverend Descent RA is a shining example of great guitar design. The string tree, pure tone jack, bonetite nut, custom dome knobs, and pin locking tuners speak volumes about the detailing.
It’s a good add-on to a larger guitar collection or a transition instrument for people who wish to experiment with the deep end without the adjustment curve associated with a longer scale.
Generally, a baritone guitar does not suit every style of music, but the Reverend’s petite scale-length and big fat rail-buckers really challenge that notion.
At 26.75-inches, it has the shortest scale length among electric baritone guitars mentioned here. That makes it an ideal ‘transition’ guitar if you’re not yet fully committed to baritones. Plus, you don’t get confused for the bass player (always a bonus).
The electronics are the real MVP when it comes to the Reverend’s tone. The Railhammer Chisel Humbucking pickups and bass contour knob + treble bleed volume control are the secret sauce of its bari-grit-n-growl.
Throw in some spring reverb and a touch of overdrive and it sounds hairy as heck. Spike it with a fuzz pedal of your choice and it goes all out on the low-end grunt.
The more you play it, the more you realize this guitar can unleash a flurry of sounds that work outside the rock/metal realm. Jazz guitarists in particular will appreciate its nimbleness and strong clean tone.
Don’t fret if heaviness is your thing, though. It can handle down-tuned metal just fine. Not ESP fine, but fine.
Reverend Descent RA is comfy, sassy, and versatile. Unlike the suave PRS SE277 or simple-to-control ESP, the guitar resides in a quirky league of its own thanks to the Railhammers and scale length.
If that’s not alluring enough, Revered offers four finish options and a custom string set (sold separately) with a plain 3rd for easy bending. All this at an admirable street price!
5. ESP LTD M-7HT
ESP is the pioneer of metal baritone guitars. They offer a wide range of single and double-cut baritones with 6 or 7 strings including the wildly popular Viper and Stephen Carpenter Signature models.
We picked the all-wicked and all-black ESP M-7HT as the most finely crafted baritone guitar for metal genres.
From fluid sweeps to spikey staccato and palm-muted chugs, the passive Seymour Duncan Black Winter pickup is gut-crushingly gnarly. Whet it with gain and the tone comes belligerently to the forefront, ready to slaughter.
Overall, the guitar hardware build quality, and playability are true brand stuff, even though this is an Indonesian import.
If you hear metal and baritone in the same sentence, ESP is right around the corner.
The M-7HT is a 1-pickup metal spectacle with high output and plenty of grit. The menacing all-black outfit and winning combination of wood and hardware make it a solid buy in our books.
P.S: If you committed to a high-end baritone electric guitar for metal, the ESP E-II T-B7 is a serious step up. We chose not to feature it because of the cost. Similarly, the ESP Viper 400B rules the metal wheelhouse if you prefer SG-like styling and active pickups (85/81).
6. Gretsch 5260T Electromatic Jet Baritone
Bring that exceptional Gretsch twang and resonance to your sub-sonic mayhem!
The G5260T unpacks the iconic Gretsch tone and pairs it with a classic baritone growl. No guitar in this segment can even pretend to do the Nashville twang as a good as a Gretsch can, let alone the sub-sonic version of it.
Now, factor in the mahogany warmth, mini-bucker bite, and a Bigsby wobble and you’re en route to Tennessee tone heaven.
The Gretsch 5260T features a 29 ¾” scale length and bolt-on C-shaped maple neck.
The laurel fingerboard has a 12” radius and houses 22 medium jumbo frets. It also sports a B50 Tailpiece but you can opt for the V-shaped Stoptail bridge if you aren’t into the Bigsby wobble.
The scale length results in some serious low-tuning capabilities while keeping the string tension taut. The only problem is that the massive scale is pretty hardcore. It might alienate smaller guitar players or at the very least, present an adjustment curve.
Aesthetically and tonally, Gretsch finds a great balance between old school and exciting. The tones are rife with sustain and unrestricted lows in every application.
Tone selection is fairly versatile with the 3-way selector and master volume/tone controls.
You buy a Gretsch because it is a Gretsch. What other guitar maker would pair a Bigsby with Mini-buckers and a 29.75-inch scale, and dress it a vintage white suit?
Red and Retro – the lip-stick pickups leave a raunchy imprint as they kiss your rock tones.
Danelectro is the OG of the baritone category, known for a Tele-like sound (on steroids) in a pleasantly retro and ultra-lightweight package. It would be foolish to not include one of their many fine baritone guitars in any roundup of the best baritone electric guitars.
I picked the sharp-dressed scarlet vintage model that sounds the most capable of adding raunchy B to B magic to drop-tuned rock riffs.
It’s also rife with other oddities such as an S-shaped soundhole, Dolphin headstock, an aluminum nut, and lipstick pickups. These elements contribute to its Art Deco identity that we’ve all come to love.
With a massive 29.75″ scale length, the Vintage is capable of going low – real low. The tuning and intonation are rock solid due to the stable neck and fully adjustable bridge.
There is an adjustment curve for guitarists who are accustomed to regular 6-string electrics, but the lightweight build will be helpful in that regard.
Danelectro guitars are tailor-made for low tuning. They are the ultimate choice for guitarists who seek a viciously glassy and aggressive canvas to build upon, with plenty of tweak potential.
The high-octane lipstick pickups render a well-defined tone for rocking out on your amp of choice. In a word, the Danelectro Vintage is heaven for baritone players who love an ever-present twang.
This isn’t one of those regular electric guitars with some added scale length. It’s perfect for beefy rock to Mark Lettieri-inspired tones, the Danelectro Vintage Baritone electric guitar is a retro-rock machine with hefty lows, mid-range bark, and some (rare) top-end zing.
The guitar is perfectly Danelectro, and it sounds and feels every bit like an old-school baritone guitar should.