TVR Baritone Acoustic Guitar

The concept of the baritone guitar has been around for a while and has recently had a bit of a revival both with acoustic and electric guitars. What is a baritone? It is quite similar to a normal acoustic guitar but usually tuned a fifth or more below concert pitch - often BEADF#B or ADGCEA. If you tuned a regular acoustic guitar down this low the chances are that the strings would be so slack that it would be unplayable and, at that tension, the tone would be dreadful as the top would not work correctly. So for an effective baritone you need to extend the scale and use thicker strings. The scale length on the TVR Baritone (named after Tim van Roy who ordered the first one from me) is 730mm (28.75") a full 80mm (3.15") longer than standard. This extra length allows for the strings to be at a higher tension and so to produce maximum response from the body. The strings (specially made by Malcolm Newton at Newtone Strings) run from 0.016 to 0.074 and exert more stress on the top than a normal guitar could take so the bracing has to be reinforced - in my case I use a double X bracing. You might wonder why go to all this trouble? Once you play a baritone you will understand. Initially it sounds strange as it is so much deeper than a regular guitar but very soon you get to appreciate the wonderful resonances, richness, and overtones that this tuning produces and you find yourself doing things that don't occur to you on a regular tuning, and particularly for me, simple chord sequences become mesmeric. I have read somewhere that this is the way an acoustic guitar is supposed to sound and that the regular item is too highly strung! This guitar also sustains like no other. You have to try it.

This TVR Baritone body (based on an ASAPJ model) is all khaya mahogany (top, back and sides) with the wood taken from the same board. A red mahogany tint is added to the high gloss finish to add richness to the colour. Bracing is scalloped spruce a little heavier than normal. The silk finished neck is mainly maple but with a centre lamination of mahogany and the fingerboard is ebony. A solid wood rosette of spalted beech and figured maple bindings complete the woodwork. A Highlander IP-2 undersaddle piezo provides the main pickup with a Highlander condenser mic mounted internally on a miniature gooseneck to add as much or as little as the player wants. I fitted Schaller Vintage M6 tuning machines as the lower gearing of these helps with tuning the higher tension strings.

Soundwise it is amazingly crisp in the bass and soft in the trebles with a balanced midrange. It projects remarkably well. Not an instrument for the limp wristed as the higher tension on the strings requires extra pressure and accuracy when fretting (neither of which I have!). Worth the effort though. I look forward to hearing this recorded.