Here’s what you can’t do.
You can’t put regular guitar strings on a baritone guitar.
Both acoustic baritone guitar strings and electric baritone guitar strings need to be thicker and longer.
Otherwise they won’t fit and they could easily snap if you up-tune your guitar.
That presents a new problem.
Most brands make strings meant specifically for the baritone guitar. But not all are good.
Which ones are? Keep reading to find out.
We’re going to take a closer look at the top three strings for acoustic baritone guitar, followed by the top three for the electric versions. Before that, we’ll show you all six strings summarized in a brief table.
Table of Contents
- 1 Best Baritone Guitar Strings Summarized
- 2 Acoustic Baritone Guitar Strings
- 3 Electric Baritone Guitar Strings
- 4 Baritone Guitar Strings Buying Guide
- 5 Baritone Guitar Strings: Final Thoughts
Best Baritone Guitar Strings Summarized
The first three strings listed in the table below are for acoustic baritone guitars and the last three are for electric ones.
Acoustic Baritone Guitar Strings
The following three are the best strings for acoustic baritone guitars. All three are great, but they all give you slightly different feel and sound. I listed them in the order of my preference, but you may have a different order. Your best bet is to give all three a try and see which one works best for you.
Elixir Strings Bronze Acoustic Guitar Strings 16-70
Elixir Strings are widely renowned for their almost unparalleled sturdiness. Even though it’s not particularly wise to use the same set for more than a couple of months, you could actually play on the 16-70s for years, if you wanted to.
These strings are made of quality copper and zinc, which helps make your instrument sound smoother and brighter than usual. I was very surprised when I played them for the first time, thinking that such big and heavy strings couldn’t sound so warm and feel so smooth.
As a guitarist who’s just as fond of acoustic guitars as I love playing a Baritone, the transition to the burly 16-70s was quick and simple. Elixir’s proprietary Nanoweb coating and their unique manufacturing process give these strings a bit more sheen than other models.
These strings practically can’t go out of tune, but there is just one small drawback you should know about: they’re ultra-thick, even by Baritone string standards. At times, you may feel like you’re playing a 6-stringed bass.
Ernie Ball Earthwood Medium Acoustic Guitar Strings 13-56
Ernie Ball is famous for creating strings that “fill the gaps” in the guitars they are attached to. Earthwood Medium in particular is capable of “brightening” the dark tones of Baritones, giving the tone a bit of extra presence, and ensuring that you could play any song in virtually any tuning.
These Baritone strings are made from the same materials as the Elixir strings (and feature the same ratio, 80 to 20). However, they do not have the same sheen.
Although I have had many unpleasant experiences with copper strings, this Earthwood set is among the most reliable I have ever tried. On top of being exceptionally sturdy, these strings also hold the tune well, which is especially important if you’re frequently switching between Baritone and “regular” guitar tunings.
The heavy emphasis on treble and bass frequencies can be hugely advantageous for acoustic Baritone players who are into grunge, rock, and other types of somewhat heavier music. Playing pop, soul, or R&B on Earthwood will inevitably “metalize” your songs a bit, because of the beefy tone these strings produce.
D’Addario Guitar Strings EJ18 14-59
If the Earthwood 13-56 strings are too meaty and Elixir’s 16-70 are too heavy for your taste, I can almost guarantee you’ll find the perfect Baritone acoustic string set in D’Addario’s EJ18.
Gauge-wise, they’re right in the golden middle between the aforementioned two, offering a more balanced option for tone, feel, and playability.
What sets the EJ18 strings apart from the previous two models is the phosphorous-bronze construction. This combination of string materials accentuates the highs rather than mids and lows and is considerably “warmer” than copper and zinc.
Given that Baritone guitars are naturally quite dark and deep-sounding, equipping these strings on your instrument will make it sonically close to an acoustic guitar.
Even though D’Addario’s EJ18 strings are quite big and heavy, they’re very smooth. You’ll truly feel the difference when playing single notes and simple licks. Accurately fretting and strumming these strings is a breeze, even though they’re dubbed “heavy”.
So, are the EJ18 perfect? These strings are ideal for beginning Baritone players, especially musicians who have some experience playing traditional acoustic guitars, but they lack the idiosyncratic elements of Earthwood and the refined texture of Elixir’s 16-70. Even so, these strings are super-cheap, durable, and more versatile than you’d expect.
Electric Baritone Guitar Strings
The three sets of strings below are the best strings for electric baritone guitars. Again, the order below is my preference, but might not be yours. Trying all three strings is never a bad idea. That way you know for sure which one feels and sounds best for your guitar model and playing style.
D’Addario Guitar Strings NYXL 12-38
The electric string section of D’Addario’s catalog is best defined by its flagship NYXL series. Each model is as robust as the next, and each string is plated with premium-quality nickel to boost frequency response across the board.
NYXL 12-38 strings are best described as hybrid electric Baritone guitar strings. The first three are thick, heavy, and pumped with bass while the last three strings are almost as thin as acoustic guitar strings.
Normal strings would pop in a flash if you tuned to Standard B (Baritone tuning), but D’Addario uses special steel-core wiring to substantially increase the sturdiness of NYXL.
The D’Addario NYXL 12-38 Baritone strings are perfect for rock and metal. The heavy-gauge bottoms can withstand any riff or chord while the delicate high strings will help you find sounds you didn’t know your instrument could pull off. In other words, they allow you to make the most of both the benefits and drawbacks of baritone guitars.
Stringjoy BAL14B Baritone Signatures Nickel Electric Guitar Strings 14-64
Stringjoy’s BAL14B should be the industry standard for pitch-perfect intonation. They may not be as robust as the D’Addario NYXL strings, and they may not be as versatile as the “Not Even Slinky” (which we will cover below), but they’re uncontested in the realm of dependability.
Starting with the string gauge, the low B is 0.014 inches thick while the high B is 0.064 inches thick, meaning that each string is neither too large nor too small.
You probably won’t notice an immediate difference between BAL14B and your first set of baritone strings. However, you’ll stay in tune for weeks or even months, depending on how often (and aggressively) you play.
These strings are a lifesaver for touring musicians. You’ll never have to worry about your strings popping, dead notes, or falling out of tune in the middle of a song with these beauties on your baritone guitar.
The “Regular Slinky” (in all of its glorious variants) is renowned for its ultra-smooth texture and game-changing features that can make any steel-strung plank playable.
“Not Even Slinky” is, in fact, very slinky, but since they are considerably thicker and heavier than usual, Ernie Ball named than the way they did. With a custom string gauge, cobalt alloy build, and tin-plated wiring, Not Even Slinky is everything but a standard set of strings.
You’ll probably need a bit of time to get accustomed to the difference in size and thickness in each string, and I’m almost certain that your baritone won’t sound like it used to.
Certain pitches will be much crispier, almost chirpy. Some notes will be even darker. That’s why I love Ernie Ball strings – they enable you to find unique ways to express yourself.
Baritone Guitar Strings Buying Guide
This brief buying guide will help you find the best baritone guitar strings for your need. I will go over the most important features you need to focus on when choosing strings for your electric or acoustic baritone guitar. As you might expect, the string gauge and material are the most important factors.
Baritone Guitar String Gauge
The string gauge determines the dimensions of guitar strings (mainly thickness). When choosing baritone strings, acoustic or electric, it’s important to find the right gauge that fits your tuning preferences, playing style, and sonic needs.
Baritone guitars are typically tuned to B Standard, which is two and a half semitones below the Standard E tuning. Regular strings would dangle from a baritone guitar’s neck. If you wanted to up-tune your Baritone to Standard E, you’d need strings that can endure the extra tension.
To ensure that your Baritone sounds good, plays well, and remains in tune regardless of which tuning you are in, I recommend string sets featuring low Bs that are at least 0.012 inches thick.
Texture And Feel Of The Strings
Playability is one of the most important attributes of any guitar. It is influenced by a host of factors, including the texture and feel of the equipped strings.
This is even more important for baritone guitar strings since they’re wider than normal strings. Even the smallest of bumps in the windings can make you sluggish and inaccurate.
The best way to determine how each string set feels is to actually play the guitar with the strings on it. When that’s not possible, look for strings with special coatings that promote better playability, like Elixir’s 16-70s.
String Material Material
Steel, nickel, zinc, brass, copper, bronze, phosphorous, and many other materials are typically used to manufacture Baritone guitar strings.
Each of these materials features unique tonal characteristics and textures, and it’s fairly common for brands to mix and match two (or more) of these components, favoring sturdier metals in the ratio (e.g. Earthwood is 80% copper & 20% zinc).
Brass metal types (like copper-zinc) tend to favor higher frequencies more than steel types, which tend to produce much deeper bass and treble frequencies. Steel strings are, however, much sturdier. If you don’t have a habit of changing your strings too often, go for steel string variants.
Baritone Guitar String Cost
The average cost of a Baritone string set is around $10. Many models are a mere $5. Many other packs cost well above $20.
You’re probably thinking that even the most expensive boutique string sets are cheap, but remember, you’re supposed to re-string your Baritone after approximately a hundred practice hours.
The best way to save some money on buying high-quality strings is to purchase from renowned brands (like D’Addario, Ernie Ball, or Elixir). They usually offer bundles comprised of 2, 3, 4, and 5 packs of the same model at a reduced price.
Baritone Guitar Strings: Final Thoughts
All six strings listed above are great. Any one of them could be considered the best baritone guitar strings available. I had to put them in some order, so I listed them in the order of my preference.
However, as mentioned, this may be different for you. It depends on many factors, like the guitar you are using, the genre you play in, your playing style, and, of course, the tuning you favor and how many different tunings you tend to use.
My advice is to try all three baritone electric guitar strings or baritone acoustic guitar strings, depending on which type of guitar you have. Strings are not all that expensive and you need to replace them relative often anyway. Get them all and see which one suits you best.