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  1. #1

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    I came across this article which describes how to change the setup of a regular classical guitar into a bartione. I wonder if anyone has experience using the same principle but with steel strings on a archtop.
    ===>
    Going baritone on a standard CG is indeed very easy and I did it successfully on one of my spare guitar. Take any regular set from A* to B and install it from 5th to 1st string. Just put an extra low-B as a 6th string, et voilà : you come up with a guitar tuned B-E-A-D-F#-B. Various brands carry extra low strings, including Savarez, but their low B is quite thick and may ask for filing the nut slot of the sixth string (be aware to file only the sides of the slot; and not in depth to avoid buzzing issue). So I recommend Hannabach for low strings; they come in a vast array of tensions and are thinner, while being stiffer and more resonant than Savarez).
    <==

    * i believe the original author meant E to B

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  3. #2

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    That can work but there are some issues with that method. Using a thicker string without increasing the string length increases rigidity as well as tension. That causes a steeper angle when you fret a note which will tend to cause the pitch to go sharp. Having done a lot of this, both playing a 7-string with a low A and down tuning a six string with a common scale length, my belief is that the two most effective solutions are to either use a longer scale length or, alternately, become accustomed to playing with a lower level of tension which allows the use of lighter strings.

  4. #3

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    Quote Originally Posted by Jim Soloway
    ....... or, alternately, become accustomed to playing with a lower level of tension which allows the use of lighter strings.
    Thanks Jim!
    What exactly would be your recommendations in terms of lower level of tension?
    What string gauges would you recommend for a B-E-A-D-F#-B tuning?

  5. #4

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    Quote Originally Posted by JazzNote
    Thanks Jim!
    What exactly would be your recommendations in terms of lower level of tension?
    What string gauges would you recommend for a B-E-A-D-F#-B tuning?
    What's the guitar/scale length?

  6. #5

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    Being a baritone guitar appreciator, I tried baritone tunings - A to A and B to B - on a restrung solid body guitar. Using baritone string gauges. Did not work at all. The wound strings were floppy. Almost unplayable. And would not intonate properly when fretted.

    It wasn't an archtop, but I kind of doubt the results would be better with an archtop.

    I did own one of Jim S.' 27 inch scale guitars for quite awhile. And there was an interesting approach. In which you take a near baritone scale, but don't necessarily tune it lower. I used mine at standard pitch, with lighter strings than I normally would. 10s instead of 11s. The clarity and note separation - on the bass strings especially - was impressive. That guitar could have handled B to B with heavier strings, though I did not try it.

  7. #6

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    Quote Originally Posted by Jim Soloway
    What's the guitar/scale length?
    25.5 inches

  8. #7

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    Quote Originally Posted by JazzNote
    25.5 inches
    Bear in mind that I play with a very light touch so you may have to adjust upward accordingly but that said, I use Chrome XL 10's do tune to C#. For B, I would probably use Chrome 11's. If you want a bit more tension then 12's would definitely get you there. And I probably wouldn't consider Thomastik Infelds for a set up like this. They're softer and with a low tension setup the low strings have trouble intonating.

  9. #8

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    I had the same experience as mad dog with a baritone set on a Strat. However, Tim Lerch has a YT vid where he's playing a Tele tuned down a minor 3rd strung something like 14-60 with no appreciable intonation probs. Don't know what voodoo is involved there. Worth checking out the video as he's such a wonderful player.

  10. #9

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    Quote Originally Posted by Peter C
    I had the same experience as mad dog with a baritone set on a Strat. However, Tim Lerch has a YT vid where he's playing a Tele tuned down a minor 3rd strung something like 14-60 with no appreciable intonation probs. Don't know what voodoo is involved there. Worth checking out the video as he's such a wonderful player.
    No voodoo required, especially for C#. Just don't beat on it.

  11. #10

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    you may want to look into what the metal gentlemen are doing. lots of guy tune way the hell down, on both gibson and fender scale lengths. delicate balance between setup, string gauge, and attack. given your neck isn't getting any longer, you'll just have to experiment and see how low you and your guitar can agree upon.

    i have a baritone flattop (nearly 30" scale) and i just slapped the only set of strings i could find on them; dadarrios in .14-.68. i settled on a tuning based on what the guitar seemed to want (it's finicky). i like really high tension because i love overtones and a wide dynamic range, though i have decent touch. it generally wanders between b and c, as needs dictate. any higher and the guitar gets angry, any lower and it's too floppy for my liking. i'd probably like more tension so i can keep it lower, but it sounds good and i never found other string options (aside from ordering bunch of singles piecemeal) so i just let it ride.

  12. #11

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    I’ve played 7 strings (for metal) tuned B or A to E with a scale as short as 24.75”. The key has always been to use a heavy enough gauge to get the needed tension.

  13. #12

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    Quote Originally Posted by ThatRhythmMan
    I’ve played 7 strings (for metal) tuned B or A to E with a scale as short as 24.75”. The key has always been to use a heavy enough gauge to get the needed tension.
    Exactly. San Francisco guitarist Ned Boynton tunes down on all of his guitars, two of which are 24.75 scale. But he uses very heavy strings to make it all work.

    I would be very careful on a classical guitar with using strings that may be too heavy. Without a truss rod, one could encounter neck issues.

  14. #13

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    Quote Originally Posted by ThatRhythmMan
    I’ve played 7 strings (for metal) tuned B or A to E with a scale as short as 24.75”. The key has always been to use a heavy enough gauge to get the needed tension.
    The problem with using really heavy strings to get into a lower register on a relatively short scale guitar is that the bottom string tends to go sharp when you fret neat the bottom of the neck.

  15. #14

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    Quote Originally Posted by Jim Soloway
    The problem with using really heavy strings to get into a lower register on a relatively short scale guitar is that the bottom string tends to go sharp when you fret neat the bottom of the neck.
    as a guy who keeps a casino dropped to b flat, i can confirm that this is a thing. you need to make some adjustments with you fretting hand. and heaven help you if you use a capo when tuned to b flat, especially if you play against open strings. you either tune for the open string and play lightly or tune for the fretted notes and avoid the open string.

  16. #15

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    Quote Originally Posted by Jim Soloway
    The problem with using really heavy strings to get into a lower register on a relatively short scale guitar is that the bottom string tends to go sharp when you fret neat the bottom of the neck.
    Maybe you can help me with that. I never noticed an issue with that and I don’t understand the physics of why that would be.

  17. #16

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    Quote Originally Posted by ThatRhythmMan
    Maybe you can help me with that. I never noticed an issue with that and I don’t understand the physics of why that would be.
    The shorter the string length, the steeper the angle of the bend in the string. Bending a string downward will always actually raise the pitch (just like bending to the side). The longer the string being bent, the smaller the error relative to the length. That's why guitars with very short scale lengths are more difficult to tune accurately.

  18. #17

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    Quote Originally Posted by Jim Soloway
    No voodoo required, especially for C#. Just don't beat on it.
    You said yourself that a thicker string will tend to go sharp. There's no way I could personally play a standard, let's say 12 guage, set tuned down; I don't exactly beat on my guitar buy I do ask any unplayed one if it's over 18.

    Metal players use so much distortion it likely doesn't matter too much

    Please post a link to a non-metal player apart from Tim Lerch who has had success; I'd be very interested.

  19. #18

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    Quote Originally Posted by Jim Soloway
    The shorter the string length, the steeper the angle of the bend in the string. Bending a string downward will always actually raise the pitch (just like bending to the side). The longer the string being bent, the smaller the error relative to the length. That's why guitars with very short scale lengths are more difficult to tune accurately.
    Quote Originally Posted by Peter C
    You said yourself that a thicker string will tend to go sharp. There's no way I could personally play a standard, let's say 12 guage, set tuned down; I don't exactly beat on my guitar buy I do ask any unplayed one if it's over 18.

    Metal players use so much distortion it likely doesn't matter too much

    Please post a link to a non-metal player apart from Tim Lerch who has had success; I'd be very interested.

    I don’t think it’s the distortion as much as it may be the action. My metal guitars certainly have much lower action than my acoustic guitars. Maybe I’m mistaken, but I always thought intonation helped provide a relative compensation for the action height.

    I understand that the more a string is deflected, the more the pitch will raise, but why would a larger diameter necessitate the string to bend farther to be fretted?

  20. #19

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    Quote Originally Posted by Peter C
    You said yourself that a thicker string will tend to go sharp. There's no way I could personally play a standard, let's say 12 guage, set tuned down; I don't exactly beat on my guitar buy I do ask any unplayed one if it's over 18.

    Metal players use so much distortion it likely doesn't matter too much

    Please post a link to a non-metal player apart from Tim Lerch who has had success; I'd be very interested.
    This is tuned down 3 semi-tones with a 25.5" scale length. It was a while ago but I think it was on a set of 11's. Certainly not more than 12's because I've never used anything heavier than that for anything.



    This is tuned down 3 semi-tones with a set of Thomastik Swing Series 12-53 on a 24.75" scale length (I had the foresight to put it in the video comments).


    And these were done with a 25.5" scale length tuned down 3 semi-tones strung with a set of D'Addario Chrome 10's

  21. #20

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  22. #21

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    Quote Originally Posted by ThatRhythmMan
    I don’t think it’s the distortion as much as it may be the action. My metal guitars certainly have much lower action than my acoustic guitars. Maybe I’m mistaken, but I always thought intonation helped provide a relative compensation for the action height.

    I understand that the more a string is deflected, the more the pitch will raise, but why would a larger diameter necessitate the string to bend farther to be fretted?
    It's not the larger diameter. It's the shorter string length. The larger diameter is producing more stiffness. If you tune down with a lighter string you have less stiffness. If you tune down with a longer scale length you have both less stiffness (because of the lighter string) and a longer string length.

  23. #22

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    Quote Originally Posted by Jim Soloway
    It's not the larger diameter. It's the shorter string length. The larger diameter is producing more stiffness. If you tune down with a lighter string you have less stiffness. If you tune down with a longer scale length you have both less stiffness (because of the lighter string) and a longer string length.
    So it isn’t the diameter, but it is? Appropriately sized strings downtuned would have approximately the same tension as the smaller diameter strings at standard tuning, no? The larger diameter string should only have more tension tuned up, correct? It’s a function of tension, mass and length most importantly. Again, I’m definitely not a physicist. The stiffness of a guitar string is dependent on the material and the diameter of the core string and will change based on those variables. Am I off here?

  24. #23

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    Quote Originally Posted by ThatRhythmMan
    So it isn’t the diameter, but it is? Appropriately sized strings downtuned would have approximately the same tension as the smaller diameter strings at standard tuning, no? The larger diameter string should only have more tension tuned up, correct? It’s a function of tension, mass and length most importantly. Again, I’m definitely not a physicist. The stiffness of a guitar string is dependent on the material and the diameter of the core string and will change based on those variables. Am I off here?
    Your last sentence i right on the money "The stiffness of a guitar string is dependent on the material and the diameter of the core string and will change based on those variables". By going to much heavier strings to try to tune down, you have increased the diameter of the core string. Now bend it over a short string span and it goes sharp.

  25. #24

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    Jim, I'm glad tuning down 11s or 12s works for you. Would be great to see somebody making bigger strings work on a standard scale length.

    I have now kind of intuitively understood that bigger strings need to be longer and why Fender Bass VI had to be a 30" scale.