I’ve faked the baritone guitar sound in the past (“If You Knew”, plus a couple of upcoming tracks on the new album). I’ve even used a Variax guitar live and programmed a patch with each string detuned by a fifth. But when I stumbled across a baritone stratocaster neck on ebay at the right price, I figured it was time to try building the real thing.
The baritone neck, with a scale lenth of 27.78″, is longer than standard guitar necks. Despite being a Fender-licensed neck however, the heel width turned out to be slightly larger than normal, which meant some irreversible work was required to make it fit a standard body.
I already had a spare body earmarked for the project, so I took the plunge and sanded both sides of the neck pocket evenly until the neck fit snugly. Clamping the neck in place, I marked the screw holes, removed the neck, and drilled four holes of no return.
Things became more complicated then as guitar was strung – and restrung – and the neck removed many times for truss rod adjustion, followed by nut shenanigans, adding a string tree, and then bridge adjustments for action and tremelo spring tension. I’m using 5 springs on the tremelo for greater tuning stability.
But it all worked out in the end, and I actually might be turning into a fan of this 12″ fretboard radius after all my 7.5″ years..
For anyone particularly interested, the pickups are Bill Lawrence L-280’s, and the bottom tone control is actually a rotary switch which activates the neck pickup in parallel with the bridge pickup. I’m using 500k volume and tone pots, and I’m fairly happy with a 0.001uF tone capacitor.