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View Full Version : Tuning a Tenor guitar like a Tenor Uke



bvh
05-29-2015, 04:02 AM
Is it possible, to tune a Tenor guitar the same as a tenor uke, by swapping out strings? The tenor guitar that I'm lookig at has strings ranging from .010-.030. Thanks for any information

SteveZ
05-29-2015, 04:53 AM
Have never tuned my steel-string tenor guitar GCEA, but if I wanted to, I'd probably do it this way:

Start off with two sets of standard tenor guitar CGDA strings.

Low-G tuning - With a standard tenor guitar CGDA string set, the G-D-A would fit in the 4-3-1 spots with the D detuned to C. Take the D string from the second package of CGDA strings and put in the 2 spot, uptuning to E.

High-G tuning - With a standard tenor guitar CGDA string set, the D-A would fit in the 3-1 spots with the D detuned to C. Take the D string from the second package of CGDA strings and put in the 2 spot, uptuning to E. Take the A string from the second package of CGDA strings and put it in the 4 spot, detuning to G.

Getting the CGDA strings for a tenor guitar is easy, as any decent string supplier will have them. By using this string combination, there should be no over/under tensioning.

There are probably more precise gauges available, but this should work and sound okay. Also, having a few extra spare strings never hurts.

PhilUSAFRet
08-03-2015, 04:56 AM
gCEA or GCEA are perfectly acceptable alternate tunings for tenor guitars and 4 string tenor banjo's...mostly the 17 or 19 fret ones. This chart, by Ry Cooder, has been shared many times on UU: http://rycooder.nl/pages/tenor_gauges.htm There's likely a gCEA tuned tenor guitar in my future.

sharpedge
11-28-2016, 09:56 AM
Tuned mine GCEA (with low G) using 32W, 20, 14, 10. The sound isn't quite what I want yet - may try a 9 and a 13 (think its a little too much from those strings in the balance). Stringtension pro is a great help for these experiments!

mds725
11-28-2016, 02:16 PM
I'm also thinking of tuning a tenor guitar GCEA (with low G), but an octave lower than tenor ukulele. I'll have to check out Ry Cooder's chart.

GregT
11-28-2016, 04:53 PM
I guess it's possible, but why??

Booli
11-28-2016, 10:12 PM
On a 22-23" scale, to get an octave below with steel strings, you are looking at at-least 3 wound strings of something like 0.052", 0.042" 0.032" and a plain 0.022" in order to have the approx 22 lbs of string tension (per string) required in order to have ANYTHING close to decent intonation (similar to the D'Addario EJ80 octave mando strings), and then you are also likely going to need to look at compensating your saddle LONGER any way because the thicker strings will still have intonation about 15 cents sharp, and then is the struggle of recutting your nut slots for the thicker strings, and then fussing with the truss rod to eliminate string buzz and to compensate for the approx 80-90 lbs of string tension, which is actually more than the ~60 lbs of string tension with CGDA or DGBE tuning with using the D'Addario J66 strings...

If it was using classical guitar strings, they will definitely all be wound, and something like 0.060", 0.052", 0.044" and 0.038" for octave uke tuning on 22-23" scale, and still only about 65-70 lbs of tension, but maybe not so much saddle compensation required as with the steel strings. La Bella makes a set of 'Contra Bass' classical strings meant for 27" scale length spanish guitars meant to be tuned like a piccolo bass E-A-D-G, that might work if you cannot get singles.

Strings By Mail has both of these D'Addario sets I mentioned, and also the La Bella sets, but Strings And Beyond will not have these 'Contra Bass' strings but do carry the D'Addario sets too.

Both were having 15-20% off on their sales for Black Friday/CyberMonday but I'm not sure if the sales are still running now.

Rllink
12-04-2016, 10:09 AM
I guess it's possible, but why??

I wonder that about a lot of things.

Booli
12-04-2016, 03:57 PM
I guess it's possible, but why??


I wonder that about a lot of things.


"Idle hands are the Devil's playground"

OTOH, some folks just like to tinker or do something special, just 'because'. :)

Robin Harrison
12-06-2016, 03:12 PM
I guess it's possible, but why??
Curiosity is the main reason, probably.
Out of curiosity, I tuned my Pono Nui Tenor guitar (Pono call it a baritone) to gCEA and was, well.............underwhelmed.
It didn't sound like a guitar and I thought my tenor ukes sounded better and I don't ( currently !) have a baritone uke to compare it with.
It sounds much better to my ears as DGBE.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4_SbDgHIrxc

PhilUSAFRet
12-24-2016, 08:30 AM
Why not??? What sounds great to one set of ears is just "Meh" to another. It is what it is. Doesn't have to compare favorably to another tuning. Not hard to figure out why a uker wants to get as much of a tenor guitar sound as he can with that tuning. It's sufficient that he wants to.

LimousinLil
01-11-2017, 08:27 PM
Curiosity is the main reason, probably.
Out of curiosity, I tuned my Pono Nui Tenor guitar (Pono call it a baritone) to gCEA and was, well.............underwhelmed.
It didn't sound like a guitar and I thought my tenor ukes sounded better and I don't ( currently !) have a baritone uke to compare it with.
It sounds much better to my ears as DGBE.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4_SbDgHIrxc

As a matter of interest, is it the Pono Nui "Big Baritone" that you own. I am thinking of getting one, since, having investigated tenor guitars, I think I would feel much happier sticking with nylon uke strings and the Big Baritone seems to cover all bases.

sam_the_uke
02-22-2018, 09:42 AM
Inspired by this thread and various bits of information on the Internet I purchased a Vintage Viaten to retune in GCEA. The short story is that you need to move the G3 string and buy an 019 string to make the C4, tune the D4 up to make an E4 and keep the A4 as it is. The long story is as follows. My motivation was wanting something louder than a uke and with a steel string sound but without learning any new chord patterns. I started by assuming that the Viaten strings were the same as the D’addario J66 and so I had a plan to swap them around a bit and retune to make GCEA. Standard tenor J66 is C3 G3 D4 A4, so I planned to swap the C and the G and then tune the D up to an E and keep the A. The E and the A were fine, but the C string was too short to reach the second string tuning peg and the C3 was always going to sound a bit low. So I had to buy a new 020 string to make the C4, this sounded great and I played it like this for a year or so. I also tried one recommendation to use an 042 string to have a very low G2 but this did not sound right at all. I decided to re string when I broke the A, as I had purchased a new set of strings based on my initial findings, but this time using an 020 for the C4 resulted in a high string tension, not sure why, so I changed it for an 019 and all was OK again. I have also tried a wound 022 and a non wound 022 for the G3, the wound sounds and feels better to me. The Viaten is really nice, it sounds great and always generates interest, I don’t really play anything else anymore. After I started playing it I soon found the need for amplification as I usually play with a very loud piano, the Viaten has a small sound hole meaning most easy guitar solutions don’t work. In the end I got an I rig acoustic stage which is a really good bit of kit, the one problem with it is the silly long fragile cable from the processor to the mike, so I have made up a short lead inside the body going to a jack socket fitted into the body, then I use a short lead to connect neatly to the processor clipped to my strap. I also remade the saddle because I found the action a little high.