Tenor guitar tuning


Well-known member
Aug 2, 2014
Reaction score
Can anyone tell me the difference in terms of sound or tone between traditional CDGA tuning vs DGBE. I recently purchased a Blueridge BR-40TCE. I play in DGBE and I'm curious what traditional tuning sounds like. I play folk, classic rock and I sing so I'm wondering which tuning is best for my needs. Thanks for any help
With steel (not classical), 5ths tuning is pretty nice. You can see from the notes of the tuning, the wider spacing gives both a deeper bass and higher treble. And with that wider spacing, on a 23" scale you'll often stretch a bit when playing chords. I had a music teacher friend describe the sound once as "vaguely medieval". But best you listen for yourself. Mark Josephs heads up the Tenor Guitar Foundation:

I've had both on my tenor guitar. CDGA sounded nice to me and banjo-like. I didn't like the amount of tension in the A string though. The A also breaks very easily with that high tension and the thin steel string is tough on your fingers (and my fingers are pretty calloused). I like the sound of DGBE ala Skatman Cruthers, more bluesy and much more comfortable under my fingers.
Have gone back-and-forth between CGDA and GDAE, and CGDA is now on everything (except mandolin). GDAE is higher pitched snd a favorite for folk who do a lot of Irish Traditiinal Music. As someone who does a lot of "Gulf & Western," some country rock and a little folk, CGDA is very comfortable. I'm not a fan of GDAE because of E string snapping (very thin string).

One advantage of CGDA is the ability to capo down two frets and do key-of-D stuff easier, using the same chord fingerings.
Top Bottom