There are many reasons for wanting a baritone guitar. Lower metal riffs, deeper blues riffs, more supportive wide-ranging chords... maybe the music in your head just lives a little lower and you need a non-standard guitar to access it. A baritone has a longer neck and appropriately wider-spaced frets and a further- back bridge to accommodate lower tunings with heavier strings. PRS has released a few baritones over the years and this one is quite the looker.
HOW LOW CAN YOU GO?
PRS states that this particular model is designed for heavier, more aggressive playing styles, but with a bit of extra versatility worked in. It has a mahogany body with a maple top. The neck is maple with a rosewood fingerboard and 22 frets, with classic PRS bird inlays and the Wide Fat neck profile. The scale length is 27.7”, compared to typical PRS 25”, and the tuners are a PRS design. The electronics consist of a pair of Tone Furnace pickups, a master volume, a master tone with a coil split (which operates on both pickups) and a three-way pickup selector.
All in all it’s a pretty simple guitar but for the fact that it’s a bit bigger than usual and the frets are further apart, which can take some getting used to. You might also find you need to whack the strings a little harder than usual to get the same amount of bounce out of them. But these are all things you’ll adjust to.
DOWN AND DIRTY
Surprisingly for a guitar with a stated goal of sounding great for heavy material, I found the Tone Furnace pickups to sound best when running medium levels of gain; more ‘crunch’ than ‘kill.’ The bridge pickup has a warm but punchy character with tight low end and clear highs, making it great for palm-muted riffage or for ringing open chords. And the neck pickup has an almost SG-like quality to it, a little juicy, a little round, and with great note separation within dense chords. And the single coil sounds are great: clear and ringing, a little punch in the bridge pickup, a little grit in the neck pickup. Almost Strat-like, which is hard to achieve with this particular wood combination and construction method.
TO LOW-B OR NOT TO LOW-B
If you play really, really extreme metal, you might want to consider the SE 277 Baritone and a pickup swap. If you play broader styles of metal, rock, blues or alternative and you need something that gets low, real low, this is a really killer instrument.
Hits and Misses
Longer neck is pretty easy to adapt to
Great sounding pickups
Awesome single coil mode
Pickups aren’t great for extreme metal