PDA

View Full Version : Tenor guitar?



whistleman123
09-20-2015, 07:58 AM
I just came across some auction listings for tenor guitars. The seller offers an option for ukulele c tuning with low g. Is this a legit ukulele? Do these use steel or poly strings? Is anyone on UU playing one?

The Big Kahuna
09-20-2015, 08:00 AM
It's a tenor guitar, not a ukulele.

Cornfield
09-20-2015, 09:06 AM
Tenor guitars are cool. Some use steel strings some use other.
They can be tuned like a baritone ukulele (Chicago tuning ) .
They can also be tuned in fifths like a mandala. They can be set in open tuning. Lots of uses.

Doc_J
09-20-2015, 09:19 AM
I've got an Ibanez tenor guitar with a solid spruce top. It's in Chicago tuning (read baritone ukulele tuning DGBE).
Yes, it has steel strings. But it's not much of different feel, I don't use a pick. If you like the baritone uke sound but want a metal guitar string sound on it, the tenor is it. Caution: Most tenor guitars have a very narrow neck and closer string spacing. So, it's a bit cramped on the fretboard, compared to most ukes.

Fleacia
09-21-2015, 07:52 AM
It's not a uke. I don't know the seller so won't speculate aloud on their motivation. But generally, tenor guitars are built to use steel strings, and that's what players use, regardless of tuning. If the instrument in question was built as a tenor guitar, it may not sound good with nylon (or other) uke strings. Ask questions and find out as much as you can from the seller, so you know what you're really getting if decide to buy one.

PhilUSAFRet
09-21-2015, 09:48 AM
Uke tunings on a tenor guitar are perfectly legitimate alternate tunings. Here's the definitive chart on tunings and strings for them:

http://rycooder.nl/pages/tenor_gauges.htm

I'm wondering if what you saw is that Baritone uke on ebay that the seller is trying to market as a tenor guitar?

SteveZ
09-21-2015, 01:41 PM
It's not a uke. I don't know the seller so won't speculate aloud on their motivation. But generally, tenor guitars are built to use steel strings, and that's what players use, regardless of tuning. If the instrument in question was built as a tenor guitar, it may not sound good with nylon (or other) uke strings. Ask questions and find out as much as you can from the seller, so you know what you're really getting if decide to buy one.

The points above are good ones. Instruments designed for steel strings are braced quite differently than instruments designed for nylon strings. As a result, nylon strings don't cause a steel-string-designed instrument to respond properly; and steel strings (which require much higher tensiin) put in a nylon-string-designed instrument could cause breakage at tuners and/or saddle, resulting in a broken instrument and possible personal injury.

bird's eye view of my ukelele
09-21-2015, 06:03 PM
i have a tenor guitar tuned dgbe, i love it, i play it like a baritone uke, but the steel strings give it a whole different and very lovely sound.

i personally don't find it very different to play in terms of string spacing and fret finger-stretch, than my baritone, i don't find there is much adjustment to be made when i switch between the two instruments, the main thing at first was the steel strings were much tougher on my fingers when i first started with it but you very quickly fix that with harder skin!

i enter vids on the seasons, the weekly uke challenges here on UU, i don't take the tenor to the seasons, well uh i think i did once! if the host allows, you can, but the general consensus is, a tenor guitar doesn't quite count - so i started a new seasons thread, "seasonistas play other instruments"! i can take the tenor guitar there and other seasonistas being geeeeeeeeeeetars and keyboards and all sorts of fab stuff!

i do have a solid body electric baritone uke, a jupiter creek, that i can take freely to the seasons, although the difference between a solid body electric baritone uke, and a solid body electric tenor guitar, is well i dunno really! not much!

mds725
09-21-2015, 06:42 PM
Without seeing the listing itself, I don't see how I could have any opinion on what's being sold in the auction you saw.

I have a couple of tenor guitars that I tune DGBE, like a baritone ukulele. I also have a steel string baritone ukulele tuned DGBE. How are they different? For one thing, the scale on the baritone is shorter (approximately 21 inches vs. 23+ inches). The neck on a tenor guitar is also typically thinner, although the two custom tenor guitars I have were built with what is essentially ukulele string spacing. Rick Turner, who built my steel string baritone ukulele, declines to refer to it as a tenor guitar because he likes to name instruments by their tuning, and for him, a tenor guitar is tuned CGDA, which was the original tuning of tenor guitars (which were, when they were developed, tuned like tenor banjos so that banjo players could get guitar work without having to learn new chord shapes). Under that reasoning, I suppose a tenor guitar tuned DGBE could be considered a really big steel string baritone ukulele.

Patrick Madsen
09-21-2015, 09:55 PM
I seriously considered a tenor guitar before I ordered my last baritone. I wanted the steel string sound but still have the shorter scale length and smaller body. Rick Turner said he'd build one for me but I found the Chennell archtop baritone. Toby Chennell said he built my bari so it could take a light gauge steel string so am on the hunt for a set to try. I may try a nickel flat wound much like what the old jazz guitarists used.

In hindsight I wish I had gone with a tenor guitar. Especially after seeing the Kinnard sunburst that was shown here not too long ago. Perhaps I'll sell my Webber baritone and buy or trade for a good tenor guitar or as Mark says, a really big steel string baritone ukulele.

Camsuke
09-21-2015, 10:32 PM
John Lawlor is one of my favourites;

http://youtu.be/aTjm60tm2WY

mds725
09-21-2015, 11:46 PM
I seriously considered a tenor guitar before I ordered my last baritone. I wanted the steel string sound but still have the shorter scale length and smaller body. Rick Turner said he'd build one for me but I found the Chennell archtop baritone. Toby Chennell said he built my bari so it could take a light gauge steel string so am on the hunt for a set to try. I may try a nickel flat wound much like what the old jazz guitarists used.

In hindsight I wish I had gone with a tenor guitar. Especially after seeing the Kinnard sunburst that was shown here not too long ago. Perhaps I'll sell my Webber baritone and buy or trade for a good tenor guitar or as Mark says, a really big steel string baritone ukulele.

If you'd like to make an inexpensive foray into the world of tenor guitars, I can recommend the Blueridge BR-40T. It has a longer-than-baritone scale (22.9 inches) and the fretboard is narrower than that of a baritone ukulele neck, but it sounds great for an instrument with back and side laminate (the soundboard is solid Sitka spruce). You might also try contacting Rick Turner again. After a bunch of lousy luck (which included losing his then-main luthier to two broken arms that had to be rebroken and reset because they had healed improperly) his shop is running smoothly.

SteveZ
09-22-2015, 02:22 AM
If you'd like to make an inexpensive foray into the world of tenor guitars, I can recommend the Blueridge BR-40T. It has a longer-than-baritone scale (22.9 inches) and the neck is thinner than a baritone ukulele neck, but it sounds great for an instrument with back and side laminate (the soundboard is solid Sitka spruce). You might also try contacting Rick Turner again. After a bunch of lousy luck (which included losing his then-main luthier to two broken arms that had to be rebroken and reset because they had healed improperly) his shop is running smoothly.

Concur with the Blueridge BR40T recommendation. Got mine in a trade for a mandolin a while back and couldn't be happier. It's one of a select few in the stable that's a forever-keeper.

Ukulele Eddie
09-22-2015, 02:30 AM
John Kinnard offers an amazing tenor ukulele (and has done tenor uke/tenor guitar matching sets) and I was fortunate enough to play one. If Kevin Beddoe, the frontman for Kinnard Ukes, wasn't a good foot taller than I am, he might not have gotten back. ;-)

http://www.kinnardukes.com/tenor-uke--tenor-guitar.html

whistleman123
09-22-2015, 08:25 AM
What tuning is Mr. Lawlor using in the above video? Anybody know?

mds725
09-22-2015, 09:01 AM
I'm going to guess that it's CGDA, which is traditional tuning, but I don't know for sure.

lakesideglenn
09-22-2015, 09:33 AM
Ive got an old Martin tenor guitar, or as I often call it, a "super baritone" uke. I believe John Lawlor tunes his like a traditional tenor banjo, not Chigago tuning.

southcoastukes
09-22-2015, 05:19 PM
John Lawlor is one of my favourites;


Mine too!


What tuning is Mr. Lawlor using in the above video? Anybody know?


I'm going to guess that it's CGDA, which is traditional tuning, but I don't know for sure.


Ive got an old Martin tenor guitar, or as I often call it, a "super baritone" uke. I believe John Lawlor tunes his like a traditional tenor banjo, not Chigago tuning.

mds / glenn, you're on the money. His tuning is generally c g d' a', but he also has a really nice video posted using Eddie Freeman Special tuning (works much better as a 5ths tuning if you've got a 23" scale instrument designed for classical strings instead of steel).

That one is c g d a.

seonachan
09-23-2015, 09:43 AM
John Lawlor actually tunes down a full step to Bb-F-C-G, because his guitar is a converted 6-string with a 25" scale, too long for tuning that high string to A for all practical purposes. I love that tuning too - it's a little darker and fuller sounding than CGDA - plus you can capo the 2nd fret and get CGDA at a shorter scale length.

southcoastukes
09-23-2015, 04:02 PM
John Lawlor actually tunes down a full step to Bb-F-C-G, because his guitar is a converted 6-string with a 25" scale, too long for tuning that high string to A for all practical purposes. I love that tuning too - it's a little darker and fuller sounding than CGDA - plus you can capo the 2nd fret and get CGDA at a shorter scale length.

Good observation! He does appear to be tuning down. But to my ear, in Cam's video he might be tuning down below that. Sounds like it could be even a step lower - down to A e b f' tuning?

On the other hand, here's the Eddie Freeman tuning video:


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KdGWxzkL82o#t=100

You can see it's a different guitar, and though an EFS tuning always "sounds" lower, I think he's actually tuned up to B f c g (with 1st & 2nd an octave down) on this one. Of course with an EFS tuning you no longer worry about a thin 1st string, and like a lot of good solo players, you simply tune different instruments, different tunings, different strings, to where they sound best.

southcoastukes
09-23-2015, 05:23 PM
O.K., this has very little to do with this thread, but listening to John Lawlor again brought back memories of a mentor and one of my dearest friends, the late great Jimmy Foster. I know we're talking 4 strings, not 7, but the kind of music Jimmy loved was the same sort of thing Lawlor seems to love as well. Jimmy's site is still online, a tribute of sorts:

http://www.fosterguitars.com/

He was one of a kind, in that he built some of the finest guitars in the world, and was a truly fine player as well. The video is a great reflection of the kind of guy he was, and the dedication he had for his craft; the music below is smooth and restrained. Anyone who likes Lawlor's playing should get a lot of enjoyment from this as well.

I miss my old friend sometimes.

Booli
09-24-2015, 01:21 PM
Please forgive me if this is obvious to everyone else, but is a tenor guitar usually tuned LINEAR?

(as opposed to a uke that can also have a re-entrant tuning)

I get confused sometimes with all the different ways that folks notate the pitches for different tunings.

Thanks!

southcoastukes
09-24-2015, 01:42 PM
Please forgive me if this is obvious to everyone else, but is a tenor guitar usually tuned LINEAR?
(as opposed to a uke that can also have a re-entrant tuning)
Thanks!

Overwhelmingly, but not exclusively Linear. But with 5ths there's the EFS tuning (reentrant) in the last video, and no reason you can't do the Ukulele reentrant form, like Eddie Kamae did, as well.



I get confused sometimes with all the different ways that folks notate the pitches for different tunings.
Thanks!

You get confused! Ha! Everyone seems to invent their own way of doing things. It's may be perfectly logical to the inventor but not often to anyone else. We have to send a lot of correspondence back and forth just to figure out what people are asking us. The minute you assume, you end up sending someone the wrong thing.

We stick to standard notation because it's, well, standard. Scientific notation works too. Everything else is open to misinterpretation and misunderstanding.

Booli
09-24-2015, 02:00 PM
Dirk, thanks for the great reply.

I try to use Scientific notation, since I don't yet feel comfortable with the 'standard notation' and sometime almost feel like I just want to use a picture of a music staff, since that is more absolute, but then again, now I am assuming everyone reads the music sheet the same, or can read sheet music at all...so as you said dialogue is necessary for clarification. I have a headache now. :(

Ukulelerick9255
09-24-2015, 05:04 PM
I have a tenor guitar it sounds like crap in gcea it needs to be in dgbe and it needs still strings it's not a uke.

k0k0peli
09-24-2015, 08:15 PM
Generally we may tune an instrument however the hell we wish. Doesn't mean we can play with anyone else, of course. How antisocial are you? ;) I try to treat my 'Irish' CGdg tuned mandola like an 8-string tenor guitar. I could slack that to 'Sawmill' CGcg for slide playing and power chording.

My baritone 'uke started in 'Chicago' DGBe tuning but is now set in CGBd like a plectrum banjo. A trad or 5-string played moving to tenor guitar might use that tuning or its FCEg counterpart, or anything else with 5-3-3 intervals at a pitch point that sounds good. IMHO stringing and tuning a tenor guitar-like-object depends on the sounds you like and want.

Beau Hannam Ukuleles
09-25-2015, 09:51 AM
http://www.beauhannamguitars.com/Tenor-Guitar.html

mds725
09-25-2015, 09:09 PM
http://www.beauhannamguitars.com/Tenor-Guitar.html

I can speak very highly of this tenor guitar from personal experience.