Updated by Bobby
Updated on January 31st, 2022
Added the ESP LTD M-7 HT and the PRS SE 277 (replaced the Soapbar version) baritone model. Also made changes to copy and product links to reflect new guitars added.
Parent article: Best Cheap Electric Guitars
Baritone guitars use a really low tuning and strings that are gauged to accommodate.
In this roundup, we'll look at four of the best baritone electric guitars that give you the most value for what you pay.
If you want a more broad list to pick from, checkout Guitar Chalk's roundup of the best cheap electric guitars.
Best Baritone Guitars (top four picks)
ESP LTD M-7 HT
ESP LTD BB-600 Baritone Ben Burnley
PRS SE 277 Baritone
Ibanez Iron Label Baritone
1. ESP LTD M-7 HT
This is a distinctly metal-focused guitar that produces a lot of sustain and is decidedly more aggressive than the others in this list.
If you're looking for a baritone electric that can handle metal, high-gain, and extremely low tunings, this is probably the best option at the $1000 price point, perhaps even a better choice than the Iron Label which is a bit cheaper (more on that guitar later).
The guitar ships with a Seymour Duncan Black Winter pickup installed at the bridge position (the only pickup in the guitar), which is responsible for most of the guitar's edgy tone and aggression.
As I mentioned, it has a lot of sustain, but it's also punchy and rhythmic, even on lower gain settings.
While a lot of the tone will depend on the gear you put around it (amps, pedals, etc.) the M-7 HT is designed for high gain and heavy power chord progressions.
Think hardcore metal, modern rock, and not much else.
- Pickups: Seymour Duncan Black Winter Bridge pickup
- Scale length: 27"
- Bridge: Hipshot String-thru
- Finish: Satin
IDEAL FOR: Heavy rock, recording, performing, and low tunings
2. ESP LTD BB-600 Baritone Ben Burnley
This Ben Burnley signature baritone is loaded with features, including Seymour Duncan pickups and Grover tuners. Though compared to the ESP LTD M-7, it's significantly more expensive sitting at $1500 as opposed to just $1000 for the M-7.
To be fair, it's an excellent baritone electric, giving you most of the perks you could want in this price range.
Though it also has a quilted maple top piece over a mahogany body.
When electric guitars have a top piece over the body like this, it almost always drives the price of the guitar higher, as it's considered a major quality feature and costs more to produce. Tone and looks alike are improved when a separate top piece is used.
Just note that it drives up the price.
So if you want the bargain, downshift to the ESP baritone.
But if you want the more versatile instrument with all the high-end features, the BB-600 is one of the nicer baritone electrics on the market that still falls under the $2000 price point.
- Pickups: Seymour Duncan pickups at neck and bridge (JB and '59)
- Nut Width: 1.653"
- Tuners: Grover
- Top Piece: Quilted Maple
IDEAL FOR: Heavy metal, intermediate to advanced players and those wanting a little more versatility than the ESP or Ibanez baritones
3. PRS SE 277 Baritone
The neck is 27.7 inches long, right around the standard baritone scale.
Other features are familiar PRS SE stat lines, like the stock PRS humbuckers, a string-thru bridge design and the "bird" fret inlays.
PRS has always done a fantastic job with their SE series and make some of the absolute best economy guitars in the business. At $800 retail, the 277 is a professional-grade guitar that falls well under four-figure territory.
The Maple top and Mahogany body is a common tonewood combination that gives you a nice balance of both highs and lows in the guitar's EQ. Many of the more expensive PRS Core models, like the "Floyd" Custom 24, use the same tonewood mix (thought perhaps with better wood grades). It's also going to produce a more punchy tone, ideal for thicker power chords and percussive playing.
Overall the tone of this guitar is distinctly deep and heavy, even without distortion.
When higher gain is added, you're going to get a thick, metal-friendly sound that's perfect for modern rock and its sub-genres.
As with any baritone, music style needs should have the final say. Note too, that this guitar can handle anything from a beginner to pro-level players and everything in between.
- Pickups: PRS stock humbuckers
- Scale: 27.7"
- Bridge: Fixed string-thru
- Top Piece: Quilted maple
IDEAL FOR: Those looking for versatility, all skill levels, and a percussive tone profile.
4. Ibanez RGIB6 Iron Label RG Baritone
This is one of the few baritone guitars I've seen that offers a bridge with any kind of tremolo functionality. It's not the Edge Zero tremolo system that you see in a lot of Ibanez guitars, but it still gives you a little more flexibility than the fixed bridges we're used to seeing in other baritone models. The most attractive feature of this guitar would have to be the EMG pickups that are set at the neck and bridge position.
The EMG 60 is at the neck while the EMG 81 is at the bridge, giving you a distinctly modern tone. As you might have guessed, especially considering the EMGs, this guitar's tone is distinctly metal and designed for those that play heavier, more modern-sounding genres of music. Thus, you'll have a lot less versatility.
Then again, if you're exclusively interested in a baritone guitar for metal music, this is a more focused and specialized option.
The neck is scaled 28 inches, and is the Ibanez Nitro-Wizard design, with the following dimensions:
- Scale Length: 27"
- Nut width: 1.771"
- Radius: 15.7"
1.771" at the first fret is a bit wide, making the RGIB6 a good candidate for the lead guitarist who plays with a lot of speed but also wants the heaviness and power of the baritone strings. Other features include a three-way pickup selector that gives you the following selections:
I'd have a hard time recommending this guitar to anyone who isn't entirely committed to heavy rock or metal. In general, Ibanez guitars are geared towards heavy playing, so their baritone model only amplifies that bend. At less than $700, it's a great mid-range model that can handle any skill level.
If you're committed to lower tunings and heavy music, it's your most targeted and niche-specific fit, simply because of how well it caters to metal fans and aggressive playing styles.
- Pickups: EMG 60 and 81 humbuckers
- Scale: 28"
- Bridge: Gibraltar Standard II
- Finish: Flat black
IDEAL FOR: Budgets, and anyone completely committed to hard rock and lower tunings
Do you need a special guitar for using baritone strings?
Technically, yes. But practically, no. You can buy a set of baritone guitar strings (or even a 7-string set) and put them on a regular six-string guitar with similar benefits. So, why buy a baritone guitar? Baritone guitars are specially designed to handle the lower tunings with longer scale neck lengths (usually 27 inches), and electronics that are designed to handle the low tonal range.
In the world of rock and metal guitars, they’ve found a modest amount of popularity since a lot of artists like to have a guitar that can take full advantage of the lower tunings. If that’s you, it might be an instrument you would want to invest in.
That means we want guitars with a good reputation and quality parts at a decent price, that will also suit your specific situation.
There are plenty of guitars out there, and these posts are about narrowing down those options and highlighting where we can get the best value. These are baritone electric guitars that we trust based on their brand, reputation, and our own first hand experience. Hopefully the list has given you an idea of what to look for.
If you have questions about our best baritone guitar selections, feel free to drop them in the comments section below. I'll have an easier time answering directly there, as opposed to email.