Going from ukulele to tenor guitar

Mike $

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So I guess you would object to all those banjo players in the early 20th century who took up a new instrument (guitar, with only four strings) but imported their own tuning instead of learning the tuning of the top four strings of a guitar. I just find it odd that you would chastise as being lazy someone who tuned in a certain way an instrument that was specifically designed to allow banjo players to be lazy by not having to learn a tuning other than the one they already knew. That's why, to me at least, understanding how and why the tenor guitar was developed isn't "unnecessary information."
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No, I don't object. They made a new instrument tuned to 5ths. It's not a guitar with 4 strings, it's a tenor guitar. The tone is like the guitar, but the chord voicings are very different. It plays like a tenor banjo. What I would object to is taking the tenor guitar and tuning it like a baritone ukulele. It's a cop out. A lazy mans approach to mastering a new instrument, as I said before. I am not against alternate tunings at all, but to use one alternate tuning as a permanent crutch is only worthy of those who fear change and learning new things.
 
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mds725

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No, I don't object. They made a new instrument tuned to 5ths. It's not a guitar with 4 strings, it's a tenor guitar. The tone is like the guitar, but the chord voicings are very different. It plays like a tenor banjo. What I would object to is taking the tenor guitar and tuning it like a baritone ukulele. It's a cop out. A lazy mans approach to mastering a new instrument, as I said before. I am not against alternate tunings at all, but to use one alternate tuning as a permanent crutch is only worthy of those who fear change and learning new things.

That's precisely what the banjo players who developed the tenor guitar did. They created an instrument that allowed them to produce a guitar sound while being too lazy (according to you) to learn guitar tunings.
 

Down Up Dick

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It’s so nice that there are still debates on the UU.
 
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Mike $

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That's precisely what the banjo players who developed the tenor guitar did. They created an instrument that allowed them to produce a guitar sound while being too lazy (according to you) to learn guitar tunings.
I could see your point if banjo players took the 6-string and tuned it in 5ths. I certainly wouldn't call someone playing baritone uke lazy because he's only using the first 4 strings of a classical guitar. I am pretty sure banjo players didn't even create the tenor uke. A guitar company made these instruments to be tuned in 5ths. Lazy guitarists tuned it like a guitar. I don't know how much clearer I can be.
 

mds725

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I could see your point if banjo players took the 6-string and tuned it in 5ths. I certainly wouldn't call someone playing baritone uke lazy because he's only using the first 4 strings of a classical guitar. I am pretty sure banjo players didn't even create the tenor uke. A guitar company made these instruments to be tuned in 5ths. Lazy guitarists tuned it like a guitar. I don't know how much clearer I can be.

The one thing that's completely clear is your judgmental distain for people who tune tenor guitars DGBE, and the only reason you can supply for that judgmental disdain is that the first tenor guitars were tuned in fifths. I don't know how much clearer I can be: The only reason tenor guitars were originally tuned to 5ths in the first place is the laziness (by your definition) of banjo players, who wanted to play an instrument that sounded like a guitar but couldn't bring themselves to learn how to play a six-string guitar and instead gravitated to an instrument that sounded like a guitar but allowed them to avoid learning any tuning other than the one they already knew. I can't believe that you can't see the irony.
 

DownUpDave

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The Kingston Trio played tenor guitar tuned DGBE. What a bunch of “Mook”, professional, successful, well loved musicians they were.

DGBE tuning is as legit to tenor guitars as is 5, 6 and 8 string ukuleles are to the “standard” 4 string lay out. What about low G is that being a guitar want-a-be tuning. Oh wait that is very traditionally Hawaiian as well
 

Jim Yates

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Who cares how a tenor guitar (or ukulele or mandolin or banjo. . .) is tuned? Does it sound good? That's what's important.

If it sounds good, it is good!
 

Jim Yates

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One of my steel string baritones was built by Rick Turner. When I joked that it was basically a short scale tenor guitar tuned in Chicago tuning, he objected. There are so many "hybrid" instruments these days, he said, that he defined a stringed instrument by the way it was tuned, not by other characteristics like scale or the type of strings it had on it. To him, because the instrument was tuned DGBE, it was a baritone ukulele, regardless of its scale length or the fact that it had steel strings. I thought about this later, when I bought an 8-string Pono Octave Mandola, which is basically a tenor guitar scale instrument with four courses of strings. Tune it like a mandolin, and it IS an octave mandola, but tune it DGBE, like mine is, and, according to Rick Turner, it's an 8-string steel string long-scale baritone ukulele.

Standard tuning for a mandola is the same as standard tuning for a viola: CGDA, so an "octave mandola" would be tuned CGDA, an octave lower than a mandola. If you tune it like a mandolin, but an octave lower, it would be an "octave mandolin". I chose to be a "mook" and tune my octave mandolin GDAD to avoid the stretches. The 3257 G chord is relatively easy on the mandolin, but with the longer scale length on the octave mandolin, it becomes quite a stretch.

There were (there still are some) mandolin orchestras and string quartets that used music written for bowed stringed instruments. The mandolin players took the violin parts, the mandolas took the viola parts, the mando-cellos took the violin-cello parts and the mando-basses took the bass violin parts.

couch mandos.jpg
My octave mandolin, surrounded by two regular mandolins.

Mandolin & mandola.jpg
The mandolin GDAE and the mandola CGDA.
 
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Knows Picker

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This thread had me thinking about tenor guitar alternate tunings.

What about "mook" tuning - GCEA ?? What would be some good string gauges to try if the scale is 23 inches nut to bridge?

I've done that with a few tenor banjos and the outcome was great, but it might be a bit "chimey" for the guitar.

What about "octave mook" ? that might even be better??

Throw out some ideas...
 

Three Tenors

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Well, we're getting a bit off topic here, but...
How to build calluses:
Play the Mandola 20 minutes a day!
 

drbekken

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You may tune a stringed instrument any which way you please. No tuning is more true than another. Everything is down to what you want to play, and how you want to express yourself.
 

merlin666

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Almost INSTANTLY the fine folks at Eastwood Guitars responded to my random question with a PDF file.

Great chart that covers lots of possible iterations, very handy reference for those who like to mess around.

Link to the chart is on this page:

https://eastwoodguitars.com/blogs/news/warren-ellis-series-alternate-tunings-string-guide
Thank you. This is very useful after the veering discussion earlier. Good to see that there is a standard way to tune that probably reflects most of the learning resources for tenor guitar. And there are also many alternatives for those who are more creative and want to go beyond the standard way.
 

jnorris235

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Similar thoughts to you but I bought a superb Guitalele from Noah in the UK. Chord shapes are exactly the same as the uke but you have two extra strings to add if and when you choose and some lovely extra deeper sounds. Very easy.