View Full Version : Risa LP Tenor Questions

10-15-2016, 03:52 AM
Hi All,

1) Has anybody out there got experience of retuning one of these down to DGBE to turn it into a mini 4 string electric guitar ? I'm thinking of using the middle four strings of a light set (0.010") of electric guitar strings rather than the top four strings that are advised for standard GCEA tuning. Indeed the already fitted G, C & E strings simply need repositioning and the C string detuned a semi-tone, so the only uncertainty is how the instrument would handle a wound guitar A string tuned up to D ...

Anybody done this already ? I'm assuming the pickups are not optimised in some way for a higher tuning and that the solid body will not suffer from any resonance issues as when tuning down an acoustic Tenor to this degree.

2) Has anybody used the string tensioners at the bridge to adjust string tension when using different string sets on this instrument ? Hopefully no issues ?

Many thanks for any replies.


Croaky Keith
10-15-2016, 04:33 AM
An interesting question. :)
On an ordinary tenor, you can just down tune a low G string set to DGBE, & also use concert low G strings for DGBE on a tenor.
Have you tried just down tuning your steel strings?

10-15-2016, 04:54 AM
I wouldn't like the existing strings detuned to such a degree so need to restring the instrument.

Without wishing to divert the discussion as I hope to get some answers, I don't like to detune any of my acoustic Tenors too far as they develop a boom close to resonance. Low G is too low for me so Low D would be way too low. In my experience some Tenors can just about handle a Low A and the rest a Low Bb but it is very instrument / manufacturer specific.

Please keep the answers coming.


10-15-2016, 10:51 AM
Those individual saddles at the bridge are used for adjusting intonation. If you put on heavier strings you should be able to tune down and also adjust intonation at those saddles if needed, but check the tuning after the strings have settled in. I put lighter gauge strings on mine to get a sparkly GCEA, but it came from the previous owner with heavy wound on it for DGBE. If the A seems like the next logical progression I'd just try it. Pups are pups. If the resonance isn't natural to the body size as you noted you'll hear it, but there are tenors and concerts carrying a DGBE tuning and baritones in GCEA. Whatever your ears and fingers like.

10-15-2016, 12:23 PM
Here's string info provided by RISA and D'Addario for a Risa tenor scale:

I have a Risa tenor, here are Risa's and D'Addario's recommndations:

heavy gauge (about 20 lbs tension):
high g - .014"
low-G = 0.030" wound
C = 0.023" wound or 0.020" plain
E = 0.016" plain
A = 0.012" plain

light gauge (about 15 lbs tension):
high g = .012
low-G = 0.026" wound
C = 0.017" plain
E = 0.014" plain
A = 0.010" plain

A 0.018" for C is is okay. You can buy a standard electric guitar string
set 0.010" and take the first four strings of this set.

With kind regards
RISA Musical Instruments

And D'Addario's Recommendations:

Unit Weight Scale Length Frequency Gauge Tension
(Lb/in) (in) (Hz) (in) (Lb)
.00001601 19.00 466.20 A# = PL0085 13.00
.00001794 19.00 440.00 A = PL009 12.98
.00003190 19.00 329.60 E = PL012 12.95
.00004984 19.00 261.60 C = PL015 12.75
.00009184 19.00 196.00 G = NW022 13.18
.00001999 17.00 466.20 A# = PL0095 13.00
.00002215 17.00 440.00 A = PL010 12.83
.00004037 17.00 329.60 E = PL0125 13.12
.00006402 17.00 261.60 C = PL017 13.11
.00010857 17.00 196.00 G = NW024 12.48

10-15-2016, 01:27 PM
I do use the middle 4 strings from a 10-46 set on my 16" scale electric ukulele. I tune them to E,A,C#,F# which is 3 semitones lower than standard. I doubt you could get it to go all the way down to D,G,B,E.

Steel strings aren't re-uasable as the bends in them from the previous installation remain and affect intonation. You are going to have to adjust the saddles when you install the heavier strings as stiffer strings need more saddle compensation(move the saddle further away from the nut) to intonate correctly.

Jonathan Mann makes some beautiful 19 and 20" scale electric baritone ukuleles that play well at D,G,B,E but I doubt that a 17" instrument is going to quite get there.


10-16-2016, 02:35 AM
Thanks for all the replies.

Anthony, I have read your comments with great interest and wonder why you say that a 17" instrument will struggle to get down to DGBE ? I guess I had been assuming that a solid body instrument would have none of the issues with resonance that an acoustic instrument has when detuned. But maybe I am wrong ? Is this your reason for making your comment ?

Also thanks for the tip about adjusting the saddle compensation to get the intonation spot on.

Maybe my best option might be to stick with detuning down to EAC#F# or FBbDG but with the top four strings of a thicker gauge set to keep the tension reasonable and leave it at that. But if possible I would like to try it down to DGBE if the small body allows.

10-16-2016, 12:01 PM
String tension is a factor and you have stated that yourself. Steel strings also don't intonate as well as classic strings and they can be really temperamental at low tensions. As you fit larger gauge strings to maintain string tension your intonation is going to be messed up too.

Give it a try yourself. I don't think it will perform well at D,G,B,E. Classical stringed 17" tenors don't perform that well at D,G,B,E and they are FAR less temperamental than steel stringed instruments.


10-16-2016, 10:47 PM
Phil, you ROCK! Thanks for that info!

10-23-2016, 02:31 PM
This is an interesting thread. I have decided to go entirely with baritone tuning and am using it for both baritones as well as for my tenors. However I haven't made the switch yet with my Risa LP. I would think you would be able to do this in the same way I've been doing it on my other 17" scales which is to use the middle four strings of a regular tension guitar set so you tune the B to E, the G to B, the D to G and the A to D. I'm going to go try it right now!

10-23-2016, 03:19 PM
Give it a go and tell us what you think. I suspect that you won't be happy with the intonation. Steel strings are less flexible than classical strings and therefore are much more temperamental when not used as specified.


10-23-2016, 03:53 PM
So I just did it. Seems good. I took the middle four strings of the Galli Jazz Flat JF1046 Extra Light strings that I had been using (10, 13, 17, 26, 36, 46) and tuned them to DGBE. I had to widen the nut slot for the bottom string. I'm very happy the Risa LP has a zero fret. I do find these extra light gauge strings a little too thick and sloppy for my liking and am tempted to try a thicker gauge.

I had planned to just move up the three bottom strings and then add the bottom string but I found the used strings very hard to re-install with the string-through body so I ended up using fresh strings.

10-23-2016, 04:26 PM
I just realized that shifting the strings over to 13, 17, 26, 36 basically equates to the first four strings of a typical medium gauge guitar set.

10-23-2016, 04:38 PM
I just realized that shifting the strings over to 13, 17, 26, 36 basically equates to the first four strings of a typical medium gauge guitar set.

You can go either way. Just keep in mind that you do WANT a wound third string. A plain 26 gauge string will be temperamental in the extreme on a short scale instrument. I did buy myself a heavier gauge set with a wound third (26) but then I thought that I should compare it to the middle 4 of a 10-46 set and found the gauges were identical. Using the middle 4 from a 10-46 set is the easiest way to go.