Posted on

Questions: Nylon String Baritone Guitar

Questions: Nylon String Baritone Guitar

by Graham Caldersmith

Originally published in American Lutherie #102, 2010

Len Laviolette from San Diego, California asks:

I have been asked by a prominent local guitarist to build a nylon-string baritone guitar. I am intrigued, but I don’t know anything about baritone guitars. I have seen some steel strings, but never a nylon string. My questions are about scale length, top thickness (for cedar), and body size; also the availability of nylon strings in heavier gauges. Should it have a 12-fret neck?

Graham Caldersmith from Comboye, Australia responds:

I have made fifteen classical baritones since 1980 and have found that the carbon fiber/balsa lattice suits the needs of the baritone range better than traditional bracing designs. The baritone is particularly effective as an ensemble instrument where it plays the cello part of string quartets, a standard guitar plays the viola part, and treble guitars play the violin parts. Some musicians, including Slava Grigoryan and Ralph Towner, use their baritones as solo instruments, particularly for the Bach cello suites.

Become A Member to Continue Reading This Article

This article is part of our premium web content offered to Guild members. To view this and other web articles, join the Guild of American Luthiers. Members also receive 4 annual issues of American Lutherie and get discounts on products. For details, visit the membership page.

If you are already a member, login for access or contact us to setup your account.