View Full Version : Optimal tenor for cuatro tuning?

Jim Hanks
08-21-2016, 05:49 PM
I'm liking the Eb cuatro tuning on my Ohana thinline. If you aren't familiar with it it starts out linearly with Bb Eb G but then the top string drops back to C just a step above the low Bb.

It strikes me that maybe the thinline isn't the best choice for the tuning. On the one hand, you'd think all those "low" strings would need a deep body, maybe even a "jumbo" to get the best resonance. On the other hand, the total range is only a step below standard gCEA tuning, so it ought not sound drastically different on any tenor body.

If you were going to dedicate a tenor to this tuning, what instrument would you choose?

08-22-2016, 09:09 AM
Hello Jim!

There aren’t any notes deep enough to cause problems with clarity on a standard Tenor in an E flat tuning, and I’d guess your Thinline isn’t thin enough to change that. But you can look at Cuatros as a really well-conceived design to create an auditory illusion.

That “auditory illusion” is to create a tuning that sounds deep, yet permits the use of plain strings. One part of the formula is to use relatively high tunings to get decent plain string response, and then make the 1st string reentrant – an octave down. You now have two deep notes, and though only one functions as a true bass note, still both are in that range (the 1st “reinforces” the 4th and at the same time takes away the brightness of a Linear 1st).

However, the second part of that illusion relies on bodies that, proportionally, are substantially deeper than those on Ukuleles. Thin bodies will generally accentuate trebles – the response is quicker – the sound “gets out of the box” in a hurry. Deep bodies hold onto the sound; I don’t want to say “echo” or “reverb” but the effect is to add to that illusion of depth.

So on the one hand, what you are doing won’t give the traditional sound profile, but if you like the “quicker, brighter” flavor, there’s no reason you have to be traditional about things.

08-22-2016, 11:28 AM
I play my Rubin Thin line tenor in re-entrant G and had expected that it might sound 'funny' but surprisingly it does resonate well and it's 44 mm depth gives it some volume. Of course my 'standard size tenor, 66mm deep, also dGBE, has more volume. But that was also true in Linear C tuning. I also play my bari re-entrant G and it has much more depth to it's resonance at 88 mm.