As down-tuning continues to be de rigueur for contemporary metal, the baritone guitar renaissance has shown no signs of slowing down, with the likes of PRS, ESP and Ibanez all seeking to satisfy demand for B-to-B-tuned chug and twang. But one brand that seems reluctant to take part is Fender.
Sure, you can get a Squier Classic Vibe Baritone Custom Telecaster. Or maybe one of those new Vintera II Bass VI models if you want something down a whole octave. Heck, if you wanted to put the work in, you could bolt a Sub-Sonic neck on there. But if you’re looking for off-the-shelf Fender baritone thrills, you’re out of luck.
Wind the clock back to 2012, however, and you could stroll into your local Guitar Center and walk out with a Fender Blacktop Telecaster Baritone for $699 or thereabouts.
A 27” scale bruiser designed for B-to-B or A-to-A tunings, complete with a punchy bridge humbucker, the Blacktop was a mid-priced gateway to heavier realms. And with no other Fender baritone models currently available, guitarists still want them: sold prices over the past two years range anywhere from $600 to $1,200 depending on condition, according to Reverb.
Enter Schecter, whose newly launched PT EX looks, well, pretty similar to Fender’s lost Tele. You’ve got the 27” scale length, a grey finish and, most tellingly, ‘witch hat’ control knobs – the Blacktop series’ trademark.
But Schecter has overhauled the design, too, chiefly by appointing a pair of humbuckers rather than the Blacktop’s HSS arrangement: a mellow Schecter USA SuperRock Vintage in the neck and more aggressive Schecter USA Pasadena Plus in the bridge.
In fact, the whole spec sheet has been supercharged. There’s a set of Schecter locking tuners, and a carbon fiber-reinforced hard rock maple Thin C neck with 14”-radius ebony fingerboard. That’s kitted out with pearloid block inlays and 22 X-Jumbo stainless steel frets, plus a Graph Tech XL Black Tusq nut. And gosh dang, that black binding sure looks classy.
A string-through-body hardtail bridge is onboard, which – assuming it’s been positioned correctly – should overcome the old Baritone Tele’s number one downfall: the inability to intonate the guitar without seriously heavy-gauge strings (take it from this writer and his mauled fingertips).
OK, so there’s no Tele control plate, and the Dorian Grey-finished nyatoh body isn’t a dead-ringer for Fender’s old Ghost Silver look, but this solidbody should satisfy that mid-priced Baritone Tele itch – it’s made that much more desirable by the appearance of Schecter’s script logo on the matching headstock, rather than the ever-so-noughties gothic alternative (which unfortunately still crops up on the neck plate). We’re intrigued to hear what tonal combinations that five-way pickup selector offers, too.
The PT EX is available now for $999 – see Schecter Guitars for more info.