The first baritone ukuleles were probably built in the 1930s or 40s, but it was when Arthur Godfrey started playing one on his TV show in the 1950s that it became very popular.
The 4-string baritone ukulele is tuned exactly the same as the 4 high strings on a guitar, but the strings are made of nylon and the scale is only 19 or 20 inches, so it is whole lot easier to play than a guitar, especially a steel-string guitar. Its tone, though is as rich and warm as any ukulele, and even some guitars. While it is not as popular as it once was, Mele still makes and sells a lot of top-quality handmade baritones, which are the best one can find anywhere for reasonable prices. Mele also makes 6 and 8-string baritones, which double up 2 or all 4 of the strings, still in DGBE tuning. Also, Mele will soon be adding baritones to our Special Deluxe Limited Edition series, which may be a bit more costly but will rival any other brand on the market for beauty, sound and playability.