AVP Case Study Baritone Guitar

Day 140 Week 21 Q2 Sunday, May 21, 2023

Actionable Vantage Points can be deceptive. A guitar is just a guitar, right?  Well, no, it is not. They come in many sizes, shapes, and colors at different prices. And there are bass guitars, baritone guitars, steel string guitars, nylon string guitars, acoustic guitars, electric guitars, double-neck guitars and guitars with different numbers of strings, including 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, and 12 strings. And they all not only utilize but even require different playing techniques.

So, no, a guitar is not just a guitar. Most people and things also fall into this category of not being just one thing. Is a screwdriver just a screwdriver? Or a bus driver, just a bus driver? But I will stick today to just the baritone guitar because although they look and operate pretty much the same as conventional normal six-string guitars, they are a completely different animal in the right hands. 

Timbre, pronounced tambor, as in tambourine, is the quality of sound that makes a voice distinct. In vocal terms,  baritones are known to have a deeper, honeyed timbre and tenors a lighter, brighter one. For a string analogy, think of the baritone timbre as a cello: the deep richness of a bass instrument with a singing-like quality on the upper range.  Most guitarists have never thought about baritone guitar, much as most flute players have never given much thought to alto flutes.  Both provide a darker tone than their more normal instrumental colleagues. 

A cello is hard to confuse with a violin, for to get these deep tones, it is much larger, but although a baritone guitar is the cello of the guitar family, they are the same size as regular guitars and therefore look the same but boy do they sound different. Think spaghetti western soundtracks or surf music.

The point here is although something may look and operate nominally the same as what is the norm and what is expected, it may, in fact, be very different. This is usually the case with creative outliers. We may not look very different, but we are quite different, and I like to think in the same way as a baritone guitar; we are darker and richer.

Just as there is more energy and power in deeper notes, there is also more energy and power running in the veins of creative outliers who were unwilling to become so completely socialized as to be indistinguishable from the bell curve definition of normal.  

Assuming all humans are born creative and adaptable, eventually becoming less so, why do creative outliers not succumb to society’s socialization program? We often sound those involuntary contradictions in ways that can sound darker because change is bad right? And sopranos are more popular than altos, and tenors are more popular than baritones. Still, to my mind, the alto flute, baritone guitar, cello and creative outlier all sound richer, deeper, darker and maybe even a little more dangerous than their counterparts of the flute, tenor, violin and normal person.