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GrumpyCoyote
02-03-2010, 08:00 AM
Heya folks -

I've been thinking about a tenor guitar latley - Particularly because I can string it in 4ths for baritone uke duty or slap it into 5ths to match my octave mandolin fingerings and such... Seems like a pretty versatile solution. Easier to play than an OM, and can fake itís way as a baritone ukeÖ

1) Anyone play tenor guitar? If so - whaddya have?
2) Any thoughts on the current crop of new tenors out there (Blueridge, Martin, etc...)

Swampy Steve
02-05-2010, 03:59 AM
Coyote, that sounds interesting. If I ranacross a tenor guitar I would sure be tempted. I have thought about taking my kids yamaha kid size guitar and stringing it up gcea, wondering if there would be enough tension to drive that plywood.
Id like to hear you when you get one
Steve

buddhuu
03-08-2010, 02:24 AM
I used to have an Ozark tenor guitar. It would have been great if it had been a decent one, but it was a piece of junk.

The principle of the tenor guitar is great though. I may get another.

GrumpyCoyote
03-09-2010, 09:16 AM
I'm officially in love with 'em now. I lucked in to an old Harmony archtop tenor that was gathering dust in a friend's basement. They are even better for a uke player like me than expected.
Already thinking about my next one.


Here's a couple of songs... Tuned like a baritone uke.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JIvYIj7x2bk
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xH5PREAJ7VM

dentuke
03-09-2010, 05:22 PM
I have a Lark In The Morning, as well as a 1962 Gibson and a Epiphone Caballero (kalamazoo)........

GrumpyCoyote
03-10-2010, 08:38 AM
....as well as a 1962 Gibson...

Drool.

I take it you play tenor often ;) Ive found myself in "chicago" (DGBE) 4ths tuning rather than 5ths - but I'm think of a second TG to keep in 5ths. Since I play a little mando and OM too, both seems like the way to go. How about you?

dentuke
03-12-2010, 01:49 PM
Chicago tuned is my prefference but I also like open tunings so I can do slide blues........ The old Harmonys and Regals had very high actions that led themselves to slide work.... The Gibson has sweet low action and the sound is full........

The new Martin is a 4 string tenor based on the Baby Martin body not a full sized one like the Gibson or even the lark........

On an interesting side note..... My daughter plays Tenor guitar rather well....... she is 10 yrs old.....

okto
03-19-2010, 06:43 PM
i've been looking at tenors

is there an actual decent ~$500 tenor, currently being manufactured?

GrumpyCoyote
03-20-2010, 09:40 AM
Yep.

The Gold Tone is about $475US

http://elderly.com/images/new_instruments/80N/TG18_front.jpg

Keep in mind, Elderly claims they "perform best" in 5ths, CGDA. I bet with the right strings it would be just fine in 4ths.

Blue Ridge makes one for about $345US
http://elderly.com/images/new_instruments/80N/BR40T_front.jpg

Basically, a Martin knock-off. Since Martin only makes one tenor now, it's the only way to get that style new.

The afore mentioned Martin is just a tenor version of the little LXM. The MDF travel guitar. Runs $449US
http://elderly.com/images/new_instruments/80N/LXMTEN_front.jpg


For me, I'd stay away from formica instruments. The Blueridge is pretty high on my want list. That is if I don't just say to hell with it and pony up the $1800US for a Breedlove Revival.
http://elderly.com/images/new_instruments/80N/BROMT_front.jpg

Robster
03-20-2010, 11:45 AM
Breedlove tenor = drool.

I, myself, have been thinking about acquiring a tenor guitar. Then again, cash is tight.

dentuke
03-21-2010, 01:53 AM
The lark in the morning is a wonderfull tenor guitar .... It has the same shape as my gibson.......

You just have to look on Ebay

augustsalbert
03-23-2010, 12:00 AM
Most of the tenor guitars I've seen are tuned CDGA and are generally picked like a mandolin. It seemed too foreign, so I never wanted to pick one up..

GrumpyCoyote
05-16-2010, 08:24 PM
Yep.

The Gold Tone is about $475US

http://elderly.com/images/new_instruments/80N/TG18_front.jpg

Keep in mind, Elderly claims they "perform best" in 5ths, CGDA. I bet with the right strings it would be just fine in 4ths.

Blue Ridge makes one for about $345US
http://elderly.com/images/new_instruments/80N/BR40T_front.jpg

Basically, a Martin knock-off. Since Martin only makes one tenor now, it's the only way to get that style new.

The afore mentioned Martin is just a tenor version of the little LXM. The MDF travel guitar. Runs $449US
http://elderly.com/images/new_instruments/80N/LXMTEN_front.jpg


For me, I'd stay away from formica instruments. The Blueridge is pretty high on my want list. That is if I don't just say to hell with it and pony up the $1800US for a Breedlove Revival.
http://elderly.com/images/new_instruments/80N/BROMT_front.jpg

Update:

I pulled the trigger on the Blueridge - MUCH better than I though for the price. Damn fine tenor.

A folk song I wrote on it today. Nothing special on the musical front, just strumming in C - but you can get the idea of the tone.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7UIzPG3nuhk

luvdat
05-17-2010, 08:39 AM
This is a great thread!!! Are baritones the entry drug to tenor guitars? Who cares? I've crossed the line into being into tonal and playing options...

And great tune GrumpyC!

PoisonDart
05-20-2010, 08:52 AM
I've been playing my bari a lot and have been thinking about getting a tenor guitar...

How much of a difference is there, do you think? Also, what's the deal with fifths tuning chord shapes (in terms of difficulty) compared to top four of a guitar tuning?
Harder? Easier? Just plain different?

GrumpyCoyote
05-20-2010, 09:34 AM
I've been playing my bari a lot and have been thinking about getting a tenor guitar...

How much of a difference is there, do you think? Also, what's the deal with fifths tuning chord shapes (in terms of difficulty) compared to top four of a guitar tuning?
Harder? Easier? Just plain different?

Mechanicaly the fundamental difference is size, scale length, and string type. Bari's are smaller (usually), both body and scale and use nylon strings. Tenor guitars tend to be larger and use steel strings. There are many varieties of tenor guitar, including the original Regals wich are very close to baritone ukes in size and scale (but about 20 years before baritones were invented). I have both a large body arch-top and a flat-top size "0" martin style... Each tottaly different in construction, tone, and role - they come in all flavors.

As far as 5th goes - I find chord shapes to be somewhat harder in general, with the exception of the "home key" of the instrument. Playing in C on a 5th tuned tenor guitar is easy, just like playing in G on a mandolin is easy - two fingers, no worries. Other keys can be signifigantly harder to pull off the chord shapes. In addition, if you are a mando player who likes "4 finger" chord styles, some of them are pretty much impossible on a tenor guitar/ octave mandolin in my opinion. You adapt.

That said, I find scales to be very easy in 5ths - so leads come a bit simpler. Some things become very hard, others become pretty easy.

I keep one tg tuned in 4ths (my Harmony archtop) and now one tuned in 5ths (the Blueridge) and swap back and fourth depending on what sound I want. In a straight up I,IV,V jam - it's six of 1 and 1/2 dozen of the other. In fancy keys and with lots of chord changes I tend to go back to 4ths.

One thing about both of them - I can fake other instrument sounds/roles pretty well. With a capo on 5 my 4ths tuned axe does a passable low G uke impression. Likewise, dropping a capo on 7 allows me to chop a bit like a mandolin on the 5ths tuned box. Very handy for sitting in when everyone else is playing guitar - in both cases.

miles.milburn
06-23-2010, 12:28 AM
All Apologies by Nirvana, lots of chords, easy singing, and its acoustic. Pretty much anything from their Unplugged session works.

Ukulele Jim
06-23-2010, 05:49 AM
I have an old Stella Harmony tenor guitar that I keep tuned DGBE so I can play it like a bari uke. Unfortunately, it's a piece of crap. I can only put nylon strings on it... if I put on steel strings, the tension causes the neck to bow. Bleah.

I really want a Blue Ridge. I wonder what it would sound like tuned DGBE. GrumpyCoyote?

GrumpyCoyote
06-23-2010, 07:45 AM
I have an old Stella Harmony tenor guitar that I keep tuned DGBE so I can play it like a bari uke. Unfortunately, it's a piece of crap. I can only put nylon strings on it... if I put on steel strings, the tension causes the neck to bow. Bleah.

I really want a Blue Ridge. I wonder what it would sound like tuned DGBE. GrumpyCoyote?

Shame about that Stella... Try 5ths tunings with light strings. That should keep the neck in good shape.

As for the BR in 4ths - I suspect it would be fantastic. It's well built and could easily take some light guitar strings for 4ths. Since it's expressive and loud with the super light 5ths on there I suspect the larger strings for 4ths tuning would really drive that top - in a good way.

Dusepo
06-23-2010, 07:48 AM
I have played a tenor guitar in the past, and I have my baritone uke tuned to tenor guitar/mandola tuning (CGDA). I love the sound of 5th tunings, and I find the chord shapes easier than guitar and other 4th tuned instruments. It's probably due to my familiarity with mandolin.

PoisonDart
06-23-2010, 10:18 AM
How did you string your bari to get that?

Ukulele Jim
06-23-2010, 10:50 AM
I don't want to tune mine in 5ths because, well, I don't know those chord shapes. I'm lazy like that. :)

Dusepo
06-23-2010, 10:01 PM
How did you string your bari to get that?

Aquila sell sets of 5ths strings - GDAE for soprano and concert, and CGDA for tenor and baritone.

Wanderhoot
07-07-2010, 11:18 PM
Has any body tried to using a half size acoustic guitar, removing 2 strings and tuning it to mimic a baritone uke? I was wondering if it would work or not...

GrumpyCoyote
07-08-2010, 06:04 AM
Has any body tried to using a half size acoustic guitar, removing 2 strings and tuning it to mimic a baritone uke? I was wondering if it would work or not...
You certainly could... but there's no need to remove the strings. Baritones are tuned like guitars anyway, so a decent student sized (or smaller) nylon string is essentially a baritone guitalele. :)

buddhuu
07-09-2010, 03:58 AM
Update: I mentioned earlier in the thread that I had an Ozark tenor guitar that was junk. Seems I was just unlucky. I played another Ozark tenor, same as my old one, the other day and it was great! Also tried an Ashbury one in a Hobgoblin store a few weeks ago and that was fine too.

I don't personally see the point of tuning a tenor in Chicago style. The traditional tuning for a tenor is ascending 5ths, CGDA, same as tenor banjo. There is such a lot of great stuff to be played in that tuning - and in the more recent "Irish" GDAE 5ths tuning that I never felt the urge to change from the default tenor tuning. YMMV.

GrumpyCoyote
07-09-2010, 09:53 PM
I don't personally see the point of tuning a tenor in Chicago style. The traditional tuning for a tenor is ascending 5ths, CGDA, same as tenor banjo. There is such a lot of great stuff to be played in that tuning - and in the more recent "Irish" GDAE 5ths tuning that I never felt the urge to change from the default tenor tuning. YMMV.

I like 4ths for blues, rock, and to "reuse" my uke and guitar tricks. But I keep one TG in 4ths, and one in 5ths (two in 5ths if you count the octave mandolin, which is essentially an 8 string tenor guitar). I love the feel of 5ths, but some chord shapes are just horrible depending on the key - I find 4ths to be less acrobatic in the more obscure keys, especially when playing rhythm with others. That has more to do with my lack of skill in 5ths than it does with a particular benefit of 4ths, but that's why I keep both handy.

I admit that lately I've been playing in 5ths more often than not. I even keep a uke tuned GDAE :)

Pippin
07-11-2010, 12:27 PM
I really like the BlueRidge tenor git. I might have to add that to my want list.

icuker
07-16-2010, 02:26 PM
I had a Tacoma Parlor guitar for awhile and decided to string it up as a Tenor guitar in fifths, but due to string tension problems I got a set of strings and tuned it down 3 steps. (sounds complicated, I know, but all I had to do was put a capo on the third fret and I had my GDAE tuning). Anyway, it sounded really, really good. It had that lonesome sound I associate with Irish music played slow. I went online and got a few chord ideas and adapted the best I could to the longer guitar scale. It was real fun, and it gave me the courage to buy a mandolin, which I have not regretted, it is a lot of fun. the other thing with using the guitar that way, I could take the capo off and it played like a Baritone Tenor Guitar, and it sounded real good that way too.

Now, without realizing it I made the whole deal more complicated than it needed to be. On the website EZ Folk, Richard explained how I could do the same thing just by moving a few strings around. I had sold the guitar so I didn't get to try it but that seemed easy to accomplish.

I do like the idea of getting a set of strings from Aquila to tune one of my sopranos in fifths.


Rus

GylesHall
09-16-2010, 12:22 AM
Why not try asking a bunch of your friends what song they'd like to hear? Then just pick which one you'd feel most comfortable with from the list of songs they give you. By doing this you're not necessarily trying way too hard to be a crowd-pleaser because you're still picking the song yourself, and you're also giving part of your audience a chance to voice their opinions.

Ukecansam
09-16-2010, 06:07 AM
Can you tune the Tenor to (D) tuning ADF#B? Also can you use nylon strings?

GrumpyCoyote
09-16-2010, 04:44 PM
You can tune a tenor any way you like. The trick is finding the right gauge strings for what you want to do.

I've never seen a nylon string tenor guitar - but keep in mind that the baritone ukulele is essentially a nylon string tenor. When the tenor is tuned "chicago" they are identical.

Ukecansam
09-20-2010, 12:51 AM
Thanks Grumpy Coyote, I have a Harmony tenor that I am having some work done. when I get it back I will put nylon strings on it and I will tune chicago (DGBE). I will let you know how it works.

GrumpyCoyote
09-20-2010, 08:05 AM
Nylon strings on a guitar designed for steel rarely work well. That said, it's certainly cheap and easy to try... Good luck!

Ukulele Jim
10-30-2010, 06:03 PM
We're talking about guitars here, not saxophones.

ichadwick
10-31-2010, 02:24 AM
Tenor guitars - also known in the past as "parlour" guitars" - are basially just four-string guitars. That maintain the same scale length - 23" on average - as a regular guitar. I can't see any real advantage over a baritone uke, which has a shorter scale for the same tuning. There are a few short-scale six-string guitars out (Kala and Yamaha are among the various makers) that offer six strings on a baritone scale, which might be interesting than tenor guitars.

Ukulele Jim
10-31-2010, 07:37 AM
ichadwick, have you ever played a tenor guitar? I used to think they were a glorified bari ukulele until I played a Martin. The difference is that a tenor guitar sounds like a GUITAR, whereas a baritone uke sounds close but never quite pulls it off. A tenor guitar appeals to me because I can play it like a uke but I'm sounding like I'm playing a real guitar.

By the way, which Kala is a six-string baritone? I don't think I've seen that one. I'd imagine it'd still sound like a baritone uke and not a guitar.

Ukujazzy
01-05-2011, 05:43 PM
Hi There - This is my first post to the forum.

I have a Lark in the Morning tenor. I put a B-band pick-up in it and performed with it in my trad-jazz band for awhile until I scored an Epiphone Triumph tenor on Ebay, which already had a nice vintage aftermarket pick-up. I love that guitar - it has a jumbo body which really gives it a full sound and more volume than most tenor guitars. I tune it DGBD.

Ukulele Jim
01-05-2011, 07:09 PM
I have a Lark in the Morning tenor. I put a B-band pick-up in it and performed with it in my trad-jazz band for awhile until I scored an Epiphone Triumph tenor on Ebay, which already had a nice vintage aftermarket pick-up. I love that guitar - it has a jumbo body which really gives it a full sound and more volume than most tenor guitars. I tune it DGBD.

Welcome to the forum!

Do you still play your Lark in the Morning guitar, or are you looking to part with it cheap to someone who'd give it a loving home? (hint hint) :)

Ukujazzy
01-06-2011, 11:21 AM
Thanks!

I do still play it occasionally as a campfire guitar. I am not ready to part with it yet. I may transfer the pick-up at some point to a baritone uke. I have an OK bari uke right now, but have been looking for a nicer baritone uke that I would like to add the pick-up to and would consider trading my tenor guitar for a decent bari.

Jnobianchi
01-06-2011, 12:41 PM
I used to have a Martin 0-17T from the 30's. I'm still kicking myself for having sold it, but at the time, I wasn't playing it. I tuned both in fifths as a tenor banjo, and also in Chicago tuning. I preferred tuning in fifths, but there was something very satisfying about tuning it like a big, steel string ukulele. :)

Eventually, I gave up on playing instruments tuned in fifths, and sold the Martin and a Vega tenor banjo, but kept my Grandad's Marwin (Harmony) mandolin for sentimental reasons.

If I was going to go back into it, I couldn't afford that Martin, which only cost about $150 in 1981. Grrrrrr. I honestly don't know what I'd look at now.

EDW
01-06-2011, 01:34 PM
You can tune a tenor any way you like. The trick is finding the right gauge strings for what you want to do.

Here is a great resource

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

Garfed
04-07-2011, 02:36 PM
Prefference Chicago is my adaptation, but I also want to open it, so can the old blues slide ........ Regals with harmonies and high-action, leading to their own work... Gibson's movie slide quietly is sweet and full of action ...