HOW TO CONVERT YOUR
AXE TO A BARITONE
Although converting to a bari is a job just about any player
can handle, there’s a lot more to it than just swapping the existing
neck with a long-scale replacement. Here, ace Nashville repairman
John LeVan walks you step-by-step through making yours
sound spectacular and play like butter.
BY JOHN LEVAN
PHOTOS BY ARIEL ELLIS
It’s always exciting when an unusual project lands on my bench. Recently, a
client brought in a Tele Thinline he wanted
to convert into a baritone, and I saw this as
a great opportunity to turn an off-the-shelf
guitar into a customized instrument.
Having done baritone conversions in the
past, I knew it’d be easy for things to go
wrong, so I suggested we document the
process to help others avoid a train wreck
if they were to make their own bari. Before
we dive into the details, let’s review what
we’re dealing with here.
What’s a Baritone?
A baritone guitar has a longer scale length
and uses heavier strings to enable you to
tune lower—usually a fourth (B-B) or fifth
(A-A)—than a standard guitar. Because the
intervals remain the same between the strings,
fingerings for all your favorite chord forms,