View Full Version : Octave mando/tenor guitar question
Do octave mandolins and a tenor guitars (assuming they're tuned GDAE) have the same range/Is a tenor guitar pitched an octave below a mandolin? Just curious and thought this would be the place to ask. Thanks.
Tenor guitars are normally tuned CGDA only a 5th below a mandolin. Assuming you do tune one GDAE like an OM, they would have the exact same range if they had the same number of useful frets.
Yes, tenor guitars and tenor banjos can both be tuned down to GDAE with usually quite nice results. Some tenor guitars & tenor banjos are shorter of neck (20 or so inches instead of around 23) and those don't work quite as well. In the banjo world, it'd be a 17 fret tenor vs a 19 fret tenor.
The GDAE tuning for tenor banjo is often called "Irish" tuning, due to the use of tenor banjos in OM tuning at Irish/Celtic seisuns. And, despite the need to use heavier strings, Irish tuning players seem to favor the shorter 17-fret necks, since they facilitate mandolin-like single string work. Many dealers advertise the 17-fret tenor banjos as "good for Irish playing" -- Here's (http://bernunzio.com/item.php?sku=0710448)an example at Bernunzio's...
I did a lot of research on this matter recently, and have consistently gotten the response that most tenor players actually prefer the 19 fret, and that the "17 fret is better for Irish," thing is largely a myth. I've heard a number of theories about why this idea continues to spread, but having tried both now (I'm hoping to get a tenor banjo in the near future) I have to agree that the 19 fret sounds better for GDAE. And unless you have short fingers, they are quite playable given a little practice.
As for tenor guitar, I have an old O-18T and it sounds wonderful in GDAE though I am currently debating how heavy I can safely go with the strings, being that the neck is pretty thin and doesn't have a truss rod.
There are a lot more 19-fret tenor banjos out there, so getting a really nice one is easier. I have one of each both tuned GDAE. The 19 fretter is fine tuned down to GDAE with common Tenor Banjo strings. #The 17 fretter needs Irish Tenor banjo strings. My 19-fretter is a better instrument by far, but the shorter scale does make the 17-fretter more fun to goof around with. http://www.mandolincafe.net/iB_html/non-cgi/emoticons/smile.gif