For some, baritone guitars are just a cool novelty, but there is a growing community (myself included) who live by these fantastic instruments to tune low and push the limits of what they can do on a guitar. Over the years Fender has made some awesome baritones, and today I want to take a quick look at the different models they have released throughout the years.
I will not be including Custom Shop instruments in this list, only standard production model instruments.
Fender Bass VI 1961-1975
Photo via Reverb.com
In 1961 Fender released the Bass VI, while some do not consider these baritones, they have now become a staple in heavy music and are frequently used as baritone guitars rather than 6 string basses. These feature a 30" scale and 3 Jaguar style single coil pickups. These proper vintage Fender's have now soared to become five-figure instruments, but you can still acquire a faithful recreation from Custom Shop.
Fender Bass VI MIJ 1995
Photo via Reverb.com
In 1995, Fender would make a small run of Bass VI's again, this time as part of their highly acclaimed Japan line. These stayed fairly true to the original run, aside from using a poly finish rather than nitro, as well as more modern hardware.
Fender American Subsonic Stratocaster 2000
The first proper Fender Baritone guitar would come in 2000 with their American Subsonic Stratocaster. These guitars are quite rare. They came in Hot Rod Red, Lake Placid Blue, and Black. They featured a 27" scale length, HSS pickups, and a string-through hardtail bridge.
Squier Sub-sonic 2001
This might be the rarest one on the list. In 2001 Squier made a very small run of Subsonic guitars. These featured a 27" scale length, set neck construction, two humbucker pickups, and a string through hardtail bridge.
Fender Baritone Jaguar Custom 2004-2006
One of my personal favorites, in 2004 Fender Japan released a Jaguar Custom, if the Bass VI was a Jazzmaster, this was supposed to be the Jaguar equivalent, with a 28.5" scale, which could be strung like a Bass VI and have lower tension. These have two single coil jaguar style pickups.
Fender Bottom Master / Baritone Special 2004-2007
In 2004 Fender Japan made another baritone that would be suitable for heavy music right out of the box. These feature a 27" scale with two humbucker pickups, and a fixed bridge. These sometimes referred to as Fender Baritone Specials, as well as Bottom Masters, these are the same instruments, with very minor differences in text on the headstock.
Fender Blacktop Baritone Telecaster 2011-2013
One of the most recognizable Fender Baritones, the Blacktop Baritone Telecaster was first produced in 2011, and discontinued in 2013. Oddly enough, these were not very popular while in production, but have now become one of the most sought after Mexico made Fender guitars.
Fender Pawn Shop Series Bass VI 2013-2014
Another quite rare one Fender produced in Mexico was their Pawn Shop Series Bass VI. These featured a Jazzmaster bridge pickup as well as two Jaguar style single coils. They feature the same 30" scale length used across all Bass VI instruments.
Squier Vintage Modified Bass VI 2014-2018
Around the time the Pawn Shop Bass VI's started to disappear from the new market, Fender released the Squier Vintage Modified Bass VI. These were modeled after the original vintage Fender Bass VI's, while still having some modern touches. They retain the 30" scale length, and 3 Jaguar style single coil pickups.
Squier Vintage Modified Baritone Jazzmaster 2014-2019
These guitars have garnered quite a bit of attention in the last few years! In 2014, Fender released the Squier Vintage Modified Baritone Jazzmaster. These have a 30" scale as you would see on a Bass VI, but set up more like a Jazzmaster. These where loaded with two Duncan Designed Jazzmaster pickups. These now go for many time more than they originally sold for new, and seems to increase in price every few months on the used market.
Squier Classic Vibe Bass VI 2019-2022
When the Squier Vintage Modified Bass VI was discontinued, they released the Classic Vibe Bass VI. These are fairly similar to the Vintage Modified Bass VI's, but with a different body wood and Mustang style bridge. They still feature a 30" scale and 3 Jaguar style single coil pickups.
Squier Paranomal Baritone Cabronita Telecaster 2020-2022
In 2020 Fender put out a short run of black Squier Paranormal Baritone Cabronita Telecaster guitars. These have a 27" scale, and 2 P90 pickups. Later in 2021 they where released in Surf Green, and Sunburst. In 2022, a small run of these was made in Oxblood.
Squier Classic VIbe Baritone Telecaster 2022
In early 2022, Fender released a more traditional style Baritone Telecaster under the Squier Classic Vibe line. These feature a 27" scale length, and two traditional Telecaster single coils. They originally released with a Sunburst, or Black finish.
Photo via Thomann.de
Custom Baritone Guitars
While never officially a model produced by Fender, we have put together a selection of baritone Stratocasters and Telecasters made with all Fender Parts. If you want to check out our current availability, click here.
I hope some found this helpful! While running the shop for the cast 6 years at this point, I have been fortunate enough to play an example of almost every instrument on this list. The world of Fender guitars is a lot of fun to dive into, and I highly recommend getting your hands on one if you haven't already!
Written by Alex Budnick
Owner and Operator of A Flash Flood of Gear