Tuning a Tenor guitar like a Tenor Uke

bvh

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Is it possible, to tune a Tenor guitar the same as a tenor uke, by swapping out strings? The tenor guitar that I'm lookig at has strings ranging from .010-.030. Thanks for any information
 

SteveZ

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Have never tuned my steel-string tenor guitar GCEA, but if I wanted to, I'd probably do it this way:

Start off with two sets of standard tenor guitar CGDA strings.

Low-G tuning - With a standard tenor guitar CGDA string set, the G-D-A would fit in the 4-3-1 spots with the D detuned to C. Take the D string from the second package of CGDA strings and put in the 2 spot, uptuning to E.

High-G tuning - With a standard tenor guitar CGDA string set, the D-A would fit in the 3-1 spots with the D detuned to C. Take the D string from the second package of CGDA strings and put in the 2 spot, uptuning to E. Take the A string from the second package of CGDA strings and put it in the 4 spot, detuning to G.

Getting the CGDA strings for a tenor guitar is easy, as any decent string supplier will have them. By using this string combination, there should be no over/under tensioning.

There are probably more precise gauges available, but this should work and sound okay. Also, having a few extra spare strings never hurts.
 
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PhilUSAFRet

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gCEA or GCEA are perfectly acceptable alternate tunings for tenor guitars and 4 string tenor banjo's...mostly the 17 or 19 fret ones. This chart, by Ry Cooder, has been shared many times on UU: http://rycooder.nl/pages/tenor_gauges.htm There's likely a gCEA tuned tenor guitar in my future.
 

sharpedge

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Tuned mine GCEA (with low G) using 32W, 20, 14, 10. The sound isn't quite what I want yet - may try a 9 and a 13 (think its a little too much from those strings in the balance). Stringtension pro is a great help for these experiments!
 

mds725

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I'm also thinking of tuning a tenor guitar GCEA (with low G), but an octave lower than tenor ukulele. I'll have to check out Ry Cooder's chart.
 

Booli

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On a 22-23" scale, to get an octave below with steel strings, you are looking at at-least 3 wound strings of something like 0.052", 0.042" 0.032" and a plain 0.022" in order to have the approx 22 lbs of string tension (per string) required in order to have ANYTHING close to decent intonation (similar to the D'Addario EJ80 octave mando strings), and then you are also likely going to need to look at compensating your saddle LONGER any way because the thicker strings will still have intonation about 15 cents sharp, and then is the struggle of recutting your nut slots for the thicker strings, and then fussing with the truss rod to eliminate string buzz and to compensate for the approx 80-90 lbs of string tension, which is actually more than the ~60 lbs of string tension with CGDA or DGBE tuning with using the D'Addario J66 strings...

If it was using classical guitar strings, they will definitely all be wound, and something like 0.060", 0.052", 0.044" and 0.038" for octave uke tuning on 22-23" scale, and still only about 65-70 lbs of tension, but maybe not so much saddle compensation required as with the steel strings. La Bella makes a set of 'Contra Bass' classical strings meant for 27" scale length spanish guitars meant to be tuned like a piccolo bass E-A-D-G, that might work if you cannot get singles.

Strings By Mail has both of these D'Addario sets I mentioned, and also the La Bella sets, but Strings And Beyond will not have these 'Contra Bass' strings but do carry the D'Addario sets too.

Both were having 15-20% off on their sales for Black Friday/CyberMonday but I'm not sure if the sales are still running now.
 
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I guess it's possible, but why??
Curiosity is the main reason, probably.
Out of curiosity, I tuned my Pono Nui Tenor guitar (Pono call it a baritone) to gCEA and was, well.............underwhelmed.
It didn't sound like a guitar and I thought my tenor ukes sounded better and I don't ( currently !) have a baritone uke to compare it with.
It sounds much better to my ears as DGBE.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4_SbDgHIrxc
 

PhilUSAFRet

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Why not??? What sounds great to one set of ears is just "Meh" to another. It is what it is. Doesn't have to compare favorably to another tuning. Not hard to figure out why a uker wants to get as much of a tenor guitar sound as he can with that tuning. It's sufficient that he wants to.
 

LimousinLil

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Curiosity is the main reason, probably.
Out of curiosity, I tuned my Pono Nui Tenor guitar (Pono call it a baritone) to gCEA and was, well.............underwhelmed.
It didn't sound like a guitar and I thought my tenor ukes sounded better and I don't ( currently !) have a baritone uke to compare it with.
It sounds much better to my ears as DGBE.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4_SbDgHIrxc

As a matter of interest, is it the Pono Nui "Big Baritone" that you own. I am thinking of getting one, since, having investigated tenor guitars, I think I would feel much happier sticking with nylon uke strings and the Big Baritone seems to cover all bases.
 

sam_the_uke

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Inspired by this thread and various bits of information on the Internet I purchased a Vintage Viaten to retune in GCEA. The short story is that you need to move the G3 string and buy an 019 string to make the C4, tune the D4 up to make an E4 and keep the A4 as it is. The long story is as follows. My motivation was wanting something louder than a uke and with a steel string sound but without learning any new chord patterns. I started by assuming that the Viaten strings were the same as the D’addario J66 and so I had a plan to swap them around a bit and retune to make GCEA. Standard tenor J66 is C3 G3 D4 A4, so I planned to swap the C and the G and then tune the D up to an E and keep the A. The E and the A were fine, but the C string was too short to reach the second string tuning peg and the C3 was always going to sound a bit low. So I had to buy a new 020 string to make the C4, this sounded great and I played it like this for a year or so. I also tried one recommendation to use an 042 string to have a very low G2 but this did not sound right at all. I decided to re string when I broke the A, as I had purchased a new set of strings based on my initial findings, but this time using an 020 for the C4 resulted in a high string tension, not sure why, so I changed it for an 019 and all was OK again. I have also tried a wound 022 and a non wound 022 for the G3, the wound sounds and feels better to me. The Viaten is really nice, it sounds great and always generates interest, I don’t really play anything else anymore. After I started playing it I soon found the need for amplification as I usually play with a very loud piano, the Viaten has a small sound hole meaning most easy guitar solutions don’t work. In the end I got an I rig acoustic stage which is a really good bit of kit, the one problem with it is the silly long fragile cable from the processor to the mike, so I have made up a short lead inside the body going to a jack socket fitted into the body, then I use a short lead to connect neatly to the processor clipped to my strap. I also remade the saddle because I found the action a little high.
 
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gbisaga

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Inspired by this thread and various bits of information on the Internet I purchased a Vintage Viaten to retune in GCEA.

I’ve been using ukulele like tunings on my tenor since I got it. Not really because I don’t want to learn new fingerings, but because I feel for the kind of music I play (jazz/swing) an open minor 7th tuning like the uke's works great. (For example: Minor 7, major 7, 9ths, m7b5's etc are slight modifications on barre chords and so are all movable.) I’ve been tuning it tenor uke style (gCEA) all along, but recently I have been wanting a little more power and not as close spacing.

So, on my new tenor (blueridge br-70t) I'm trying CGEA - just raised the D string one step. (I.e. C is the lowest note... I refuse to enumerate the strings in the other direction like a lot of tenor players do.) Still getting used to it, but initial indications are really good. It still keeps the wide range, tenor guitar sound - almost bouzouki like - but maintains the open minor 7th tuning I've grown to love. If I get bold I might actually try my bouzouki in GDBE (I normally play it in GDAD) but I fear the finger stretches will be too large there.

The thread goes on...
 

LarryS

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I don't see why not. It would just be a steel string uke, and early ukes, or at least their ancestors, had steel strings.
 

Maarten

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the solution....

:) I tuned my tenor banjo to G3C4E4A4 with steel strings: 0.018 0.014 0.010 0.007 and it is a wonderfull sound and I can go straight from my banjolele to the tenorbanjo (fret 0 to bridge is 57,5 cm)
:D:cool:
I don't see why not. It would just be a steel string uke, and early ukes, or at least their ancestors, had steel strings.
 

gbisaga

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I agree, G3C4E4A4 is a good tuning. I’ve been using it for the better part of a year. So far I’m very happy with the new one (C3G3E4A4). The fact that the chording isn’t much different is a definite plus.
 

Down Up Dick

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My Gold Tone “Cripple Creek” travel banjo was already tuned to cGCEG, but I didn’t like it that way. I tuned it to gDGBD with different strings, but didn’t like that either. So, since I have other banjos, I had the 5th string removed and retuned it to Lo G CEA and now have a steel stringed uke. The low G booms, but I don’t strum much with it.

It plays pretty good, though I don’t play it much.
 
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SteveZ

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When I went from acoustic guitar to mandolin a few years ago I found the fifths chords (GDAE) quite comfortable. So, I kept every future four-string-based instrument tuned fifths, including ukes. It made transition from one to another easier and reinforced what little skill I have. I always believed that one should not be a slave to convention and that tools (including instruments) must accommodate the human, not the other way around.
 

EDW

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When I went from acoustic guitar to mandolin a few years ago I found the fifths chords (GDAE) quite comfortable. So, I kept every future four-string-based instrument tuned fifths, including ukes. It made transition from one to another easier and reinforced what little skill I have. I always believed that one should not be a slave to convention and that tools (including instruments) must accommodate the human, not the other way around.

Many years ago I read an interview with studio legend Tommy Tedesco https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tommy_Tedesco

I recall that he said he basically tuned all of the various strings instruments he played to guitar tuning to make the transition and facility easier. I would say do what works. It is about the music.