This month, the VG Product Advisory Council received a pair of Baker guitars, a B1H and a BJH, from new-kid-on-the-block Gene Baker, in California.
Both guitars are mid-sized semi-hollow designs that offer a lot of eye candy, not the least of which is beautifully matched deep flame-maple tops. Our testers had sunburst finishes, but others are available. Other visual amenities include cream binding on the bodies, necks, and in the saber-tooth soundholes, cool art-deco step-block inlays on the top of the rosewood fretboards, and flawless gloss back finish on the backs, sides, and necks.
For hardware, both have Schaller Rotomatics tuners and straplocks, nickel finish TonePros stoptail pieces and Tone-o-matic bridges.
Electronics on the B1H include two Seymour Duncan Seth Lover humbuckers, two volume knobs, master tone, and a three-way toggle switch. The BJH has two custom-wound Di Marzio P-90 copies, two volume, master tone, and a three-way.
The B1H has a mahogany body and neck with a maple top and a 12″ radius rosewood board. The neck has a very comfortable rounded shape that measures 1.687″ wide at the nut, and 2.250″ wide at the body end, and 24.625″ scale length (also available in 25″).
The BJH has the optional Korina ($750) body and neck with a maple top and rosewood board. The neck was very similar to the B1H in size, scale, and feel. And both are equipped with the Buzz Feiten tuning system, for truer intonation as one travels up the neck.
Although both guitars had nicely finished frets, straight necks, and tremendous playability, we noticed that both of our test models had action set as low as the bridges (and pickup rings on the B1H) would allow. It was set reasonably, and as we said, was very playable, but it did remove any flexibility. Turns out the company was aware of this, and Gene Baker assured us it had been corrected on production models. The only other gripe was due to a small hump from the body to the binding in the upper cutaway of the B1H (again, fixable).
With these technical issues aside, the guitars are smooth players, both in terms of feel and the straightforward component functionality. The Duncan-equipped B1H sounds incredibly fat and full, with good note definition and sustain offered through our ’70s 50-watt Marshall head and Celestion greenback-equipped cab. The combination of the semi hollowbody mahogany/maple and the Duncans proves this guitar to be the ultimate in tone. It goes well beyond vintage vibe.
The DiMarzio-equipped BJH also sounds smooth and solid, with very tight mids and superb note definition. Its semi-hollow design seemed to smooth out the harsh edge often delivered by P-90s.
We love both guitars’ sound, looks, and feel. Yes, they are expensive, but undoubtedly, Bakers are worth the bread!
Baker B1H and BJH
Type of Guitar: Semi-hollow electrics with carved top (B1H) and flat-top (BJH) designs.
Features: Mahogany body standard, other woods available, including Korina, and flame-maple tops, custom transluscent finishes. Numerous pickup/hardware options, Buzz Feiten tuning system, hardshell cases.
Price: $3,750 (B1H), $3,160 (BJH).
Contact: Baker Guitars U.S.A., (805) 739-8990, www.bakerguitars.com.
This article originally appeared in VG‘s April ’01 issue. All copyrights are by the author and Vintage Guitar magazine. Unauthorized replication or use is strictly prohibited.