Seth Baccus Argonaut Classic and Argonaut Classic Baritone review – not another boutique Fender bender, but a fresh shot at an original offset design

It’s been a long time coming, but Seth Baccus’s Argonaut is finally here and sets a new level for offset design. Guitar‑making rarely gets better than this!

Seth Baccus Argonaut
(Image: © Future / Phil Barker)

Guitar World Verdict

Seth Baccus shoots for original design, rather than just a pimped and reliced ‘Fender’, and both guitars here mix up the influences in an intriguing and musically inspiring fashion. Ultimate quality, style, playability and character all combine to create a pair of instruments that are a lot more than just the sum of their parts

Pros

  • +

    What can we say? Another superb build from Seth Baccus.

  • +

    You’d struggle to find better at this price range.

  • +

    Tones off the chart.

  • +

    Great looks.

  • +

    An original offset.

Cons

  • -

    Pricey of course.

  • -

    Baritone might be niche for some players.

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As Tom Petty once sang: ‘The waiting is the hardest part” – and we know what he means. Seth Baccus was due to send us his new solidbody electric guitar nearly a year ago and, finally, not one but two perfectly packaged boxes arrived. 

Inside was a pair of brand-new beauties that do that time‑warp thing of looking like they were crafted decades ago. But these aren’t reliced; they’re too classy for that. 

Here, the illusion of age comes with the lightly cracked body finish with its low-gloss sheen, lightly aged hardware, the de-glossed scratchplates and then tastefully opulent, deep amber coloration of the vividly figured roasted maple necks. 

This treble horn, of course, is a tribute to Seth’s stepfather and luthier Andy Manson’s Bluebird

With a similar size to the offset inspiration of the Jazzmaster, however, these are big birds that we’re pulling from their hard cases, and yet the standard Fender-scale hardtail weighs just 3.23kg (7.1lb), with the longer 728mm (28.65-inch) scale baritone guitar only a touch heavier at 3.32kg (7.3lb). 

Like Seth’s other designs, the Nautilus and Shoreline, the Argonaut can be crafted into whatever you can imagine via a long list of options – which also includes a third, shorter 610mm (24-inch) scale length. The only things that really stay the same are the body and headstock outlines. 

There’s perhaps a nod to Philip Kubicki’s Ex Factor bass design with that flat treble horn, while the point to the relatively short upper horn – mirrored on the base next to the strap button – references the shaping of the Nautilus and Shoreline’s treble horn. This treble horn, of course, is a tribute to Seth’s stepfather and luthier Andy Manson’s Bluebird, the original inspiration for the Nautilus and Shoreline shapes.

Seth Baccus Argonaut Classic

(Image credit: Future / Phil Barker)

Both our Argonauts use the same-thickness obeche body, and – as we’ve previously reported – Seth has introduced this lightweight wood to many other UK makers, not least PJD and Cream T Guitars.

In today’s social media world, inspiration travels very fast. Stuck for a finish idea? Head over to Instagram and you’ll encounter thousands of them in a few minutes. Of the aged Ocean Jade Metallic on our standard scale model, Seth notes: 

“I originally mixed this custom colour and named it about five years ago, despite both the name and the colour seemingly being adopted by other brands these days.”

While it might be harder to find the first maker who used this kind of figured roasted maple for their necks, we’re sure Seth’s bolt-on Shoreline and now the Argonaut haven’t dulled its popularity. As ever, the hand-rubbed oil-and-waxed necks not only feel superb, they look it, too, while adding to the non-precious vibe of the guitars. These are no case queens.

Seth Baccus Argonaut Baritone

(Image credit: Future / Phil Barker)

The different hardware illustrates some of the choices you have, too. Seth offers either of the offset vibratos from Mastery or, as here on our baritone, the Descendent vibrato, which is paired with another superb piece of contemporary engineering, the KMS offset bridge. 

Our standard‑scale model goes for a more regular ABM bell-brass tune-o-matic and Tone Pros’ lightweight aluminium locking tailpiece. Tuners are another industry standard, vintage-style split-post Gotohs, and we find ourselves marvelling at the superbly crafted bone nut.

Seth Baccus Argonaut Classic

(Image credit: Future / Phil Barker)

Seth has long used Bare Knuckle pickups, which go back to his days working at Mansons Guitar Shop, and a pair of Nantucket P-90s grace our baritone, while our standard-scale Argonaut shows off a beautifully aged set of humbucking-sized, dual-coil Gold Foils from Mojo.

Both our models also feature that distinctive aged aluminium control plate, although you could go for a more modern style with back-mounted controls and just leave that central scratchplate or ask for the full-face ’plate from a wide choice of plastics.

Feel & Sounds

Seth Baccus Argonaut Baritone

(Image credit: Future / Phil Barker)

Despite the different scale lengths, both necks use Seth’s ‘custom medium’ profile that feels full in the hand with relaxed shoulders and similar depths of just over 21mm at the 1st frets and 24mm by the 12th. 

Aside from the super-smooth oil‑and-wax finish, the fingerboard edges are lightly incurving and the top edges are rolled, creating a feel that the guitars have already been on a few world tours.

Stick a gritty fuzz into your signal chain and the baritone is thunk-adelic – and with some high gain you’ll be an absolute riff monster

The standard-scale Classic, loaded with 10s, has a fair bit of ‘air’ to the setup (1.5mm on the treble, 1.8mm on the bass side), which seems to help with the inherent ring of the instrument. Tuned B-to-B, the baritone obviously uses bigger strings, 0.013 to 0.062 but with a pretty similar action height of 1.5mm on both the treble and bass sides. Fretwork is exemplary on both from a medium/high gauge that measures approximately 2.52mm by 1.32mm.

The unplugged resonant ring means that both guitars feel very alive, but they avoid sounding a little thin, like some other ultra-lightweight creations we’ve auditioned. In fact, if we were told both used alder then we wouldn’t be surprised; there’s certainly a good body to the sound of each. 

There’s no lack of depth to the standard-scale model and certainly not from the baritone – even with a pretty clean amp, the baritone sounds huge from the off.

Seth Baccus Argonaut Baritone

(Image credit: Future / Phil Barker)

But these guitars sound very different and it’s not just the obvious scale, tuning and strings. The Gold Foils are complex-sounding – in humbucking mode they exhibit quite a dirty midrange growl with a little grit from your amp. 

But there’s a sparkle to the highs, which is enhanced in more crystalline fashion with the pickup splits (which voice the inner coils of both) adding a nicely scooped detailed jangle in the mix position, for example. 

It’s almost as though they sound like a mix of underwound PAF and good Strat, yet it’s very much its own thing. They’re not overpotted, if at all, sounding quite cinematic played clean with big reverbs. Unconventional, characterful, this Argonaut is anything but ordinary.

Seth Baccus Argonaut Classic

(Image credit: Future / Phil Barker)

And then there’s the baritone. It’s only five steps down from standard tuning, but it’s like we’ve entered a parallel universe. The bigger strings give a more bass-guitar-like feel with seemingly much more depth to the voices here, and while that’s pretty blooming obvious, the sounds – and where they take you – certainly aren’t. 

If you need big cleans, this is the beast as the pickup selector becomes a tone switch – big bright, big scooped and big bass. There’s clarity to the voices, but the smoothly voiced tone control can easily be pulled back for less attack. 

It’s far from limited to deep twang – although don’t blame us if you go all Spaghetti Western with the smooth, light feel of the superb vibrato. 

Stick a gritty, squashy fuzz into your signal chain and it’s thunk-adelic, and with some classic high gain you’ll be mosh-pit friendly: an absolute riff monster. The combined sonic range of these guitars is frankly stunning. We might need a sit-down.

Seth Baccus Argonaut Classic

(Image credit: Future / Phil Barker)

Verdict

As the small ’shop ‘boutique’ guitar market seems to expand by the day, there’s no lack of choice for your dream guitar. Unlike many, however, Seth Baccus shoots for original design, rather than just a pimped and reliced ‘Fender’, and both guitars here mix up the influences in an intriguing and musically inspiring fashion.

While other makers aim to create guitars that look old, both of these achieve that aesthetic, but they feel and sound it, too. Throw in the superb craft where nothing gets in the way of the playing experience and there’s not a hair out of place. 

Ultimate quality, style, playability and character all combine to create a pair of instruments that are a lot more than just the sum of their parts.  

Specs

Seth Baccus Argonaut Classic

Seth Baccus Argonaut Classic

(Image credit: Future / Phil Barker)
  • PRICE: £3,999 (inc case)
  • ORIGIN: UK
  • TYPE: Offset double-cutaway solidbody electric
  • BODY: 1-piece obeche
  • NECK: Quarter-sawn roasted flame maple, custom medium profile, bolt-on
  • SCALE LENGTH: 648mm (25.5”)
  • NUT/WIDTH: Bone/41.5mm
  • FINGERBOARD: AAA Indian rosewood, mother-of-pearl dot inlays, 305mm (12”) radius
  • FRETS: 22, medium jumbo (Jescar)
  • HARDWARE: ABM tune-o-matic-style bridge, locking Tone Pros aluminium tailpiece, Gotoh vintage-style tuners – aged nickel-plated
  • STRING SPACING, BRIDGE: 52mm 
  • ELECTRICS: Mojo dual-coil Gold Foil humbuckers, 3-way toggle pickup selector, master volume and 2x tones (with pull switches to split each humbucker) 
  • WEIGHT (kg/lb): 3.23 /7.1
  • OPTIONS: Lots! No-charge options include a choice of scale lengths, neck carves, reverse headstock, stainless steel frets, fret size. KMS, Mastery or Descendant vibrato (+£500), ebony fingerboard (+£89), colour-matched headstock (+£130), Master Grade neck (+£400), block inlays (from £175) and more
  • RANGE OPTIONS: See Argonaut Classic Baritone
  • LEFT-HANDERS: Yes
  • FINISHES: Aged Ocean Jade Metallic (as reviewed) from huge choice – aged gloss nitro (vintage formula) to body and headstock face; oil and wax to neck 

Seth Baccus Argonaut Classic Baritone

Seth Baccus Argonaut Baritone

(Image credit: Future / Phil Barker)
  • PRICE: £4,799 (inc case)
  • ORIGIN: UK
  • TYPE: Offset double-cutaway solidbody electric
  • BODY: 1-piece obeche
  • NECK: Quarter-sawn roasted flame maple, custom medium profile, bolt-on
  • SCALE LENGTH: 728mm (28.65”)
  • NUT/WIDTH: Bone/42.75mm
  • FINGERBOARD: AAA Indian rosewood, mother-of-pearl block inlays, 305mm (12”) radius
  • FRETS: 22, medium jumbo (Jescar)
  • HARDWARE: ABM tune-o-matic-style bridge, locking Tone Pros aluminium tailpiece, Gotoh vintage-style tuners – aged nickel-plated
  • STRING SPACING, BRIDGE: 52mm 
  • ELECTRICS: 2x Bare Knuckle Nantucket 90 P-90 single coils, 3-way lever pickup selector, master volume and tone
  • WEIGHT (kg/lb): 3.32/7.3
  • OPTIONS: See Argonaut Classic
  • RANGE OPTIONS: Shoreline T (from £3,699), Shoreline JM (from £3,899) and Shoreline S (from £3,999).
    The Nautilus Standard starts £4,299 and the Classic from £5,499
  • LEFT-HANDERS: Yes
  • FINISHES: Aged Celestial Copper Gold (as reviewed) from huge choice – aged gloss nitro (vintage formula) to body and headstock face; oil and wax to neck 
  • CONTACT: Seth Baccus Guitars

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Dave Burrluck
Gear Reviews Editor, Guitarist

Dave Burrluck is one of the world’s most experienced guitar journalists, who started writing back in the '80s for International Musician and Recording World, co-founded The Guitar Magazine and has been the Gear Reviews Editor of Guitarist magazine for the past two decades. Along the way, Dave has been the sole author of The PRS Guitar Book and The Player's Guide to Guitar Maintenance as well as contributing to numerous other books on the electric guitar. Dave is an active gigging and recording musician and still finds time to make, repair and mod guitars, not least for Guitarist’s The Mod Squad.