View Full Version : Tenor Guitar Lust

Apr-15-2004, 4:45pm
Hi Mando Folks,
# I have MIAS (Musical Instrument Aquisition Syndrome). #I have 3 mandos, 3 guitars, a banjo/mando, dulcimer and harmonicas. #Now I think I want a Tenor guitar. #Can any one give me reasons to pursue a tenor or (maybe better yet) not pursue a tenor? # http://www.mandolincafe.net/iB_html/non-cgi/emoticons/rock.gif

Ted Eschliman
Apr-15-2004, 5:03pm
I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but T.G.A.S. is chronic. There simply is no cure.
A good one is not easy to find, but you MUST have one.
Now start looking...

Hubert Angaiak
Apr-15-2004, 5:10pm
I bought a Epi Tenor guitar and have it tuned like an octave mandolin. Actually I thought about turning it into an actual octave mandolin, but decided just keep is. Oh yeah, get one its a good diversion. I'm in recovery, but try to be smart and get a good one or rather something you will enjoy playing. good luck!

Dennis Gordon
Apr-15-2004, 5:10pm
It was good enough for Eddie Condon, Scatman Caruthers and that little guy in the Kingston Trio... why not?

Coy Wylie
Apr-15-2004, 6:16pm
Check the classifieds... a cool looking vintage Gibson just popped up.

Jim M.
Apr-15-2004, 9:32pm
You gotta get one; they are very cool. I sold mine to mandohack and now I'm thinking of getting another to replace it. They really are a unique voice, distinct from mando and OM

Apr-15-2004, 11:12pm
I have three tenor guitars and I love them. I play them more than the Mando. I do small gigs and partys and It works just fine. I tune mine dgbe same as the botton four on a six string. The only problemI have had is playing in some jams with fellows who play real loud and the tenor is not able to be heard then.

Apr-16-2004, 7:54am
Thank you all. I guess I DO need a tenor. I will try to follow your advice and wait until I can find a good player. http://www.mandolincafe.net/iB_html/non-cgi/emoticons/mandosmiley.gif

Bob DeVellis
Apr-16-2004, 8:24am
If rhythm's your thing, a tenor is great. They have a fuller sound than an OM and much more sustain (at least mine does). Strumming chords with lots of open strings just sounds glorious on my '45 Martin T-17. The 23" scale length is a bit of a stretch for melody when it's tuned like an octave mandolin, which mine is. Because I play essentially melody only, this is something of a barrier. I might try retuning mine like the top 4 of a guitar if I end up becoming more enamored of the ukulele. It'd then be like a steel-string baritone uke, I guess. The argument against this is, why not just play a 6-string guitar at that point?

Bottom line for me, if you're looking for an instrument that you can tune like a mandolin and use for a fuller, more sustained rhythm accompaniment, a tenor is a very nice option. I agree that getting a good one is worth the cost and effort. If you wouldn't have much regard for the 6-string equivalent, there's little reason to accept that level of quality in a tenor.

Apr-16-2004, 9:23am
I own a "Papoose" by Tacoma, which isn't the same thing, it's tuned to A, like a guitar at the 5th fret, but it's nice to have something that sounds different and can blend in with other instruments in a group situation. It adds another layer. Long live MAS!!! http://www.mandolincafe.net/iB_html/non-cgi/emoticons/tounge.gif

Apr-16-2004, 9:37am
Steve Parks is an amazing tenor builder, they sound awesome! My grand father Jerry Thomasson plays one of his, there is actually a Jerry Thomasson sig model on his sight.
Josh pinkham

Apr-16-2004, 10:29am
Get one...you won't regret it!http://www.mandolincafe.net/iB_html/non-cgi/emoticons/cool.gif

Apr-16-2004, 10:40am
Get one - without a doubt. I have a Regal Tenor Resonator from the mid thirties and - once I put a Quarterman cone it - it became a marvelously annoying instrument. I also have a tiny Regal from the late twenties which is built on / like a Parlor guitar. Once I get the time to take the sharp edges off the frets it should be a singing little thing.

It seems that much like the debate in Octave Mandolins, Tenor guitars come in (at least) two scale ranges. The longer ones, with a 22.5 inch scale or more, seem to work better in the guitar type tuning, the shorter ones, respond and work really well as a GDAe or CGDa instrument. There is a very vague description of "Plectrum" guitars (like plectrum) banjos which are not tuned in fifths ... I think this is most likely due to scale length difficulties.

They are out there and even the modest Stellas and Harmonies are a lot of fun to sail on.

Listen to some Ink Spots recordings to hear what's possible on one of these little brothers. Get one quick!

Apr-16-2004, 11:43am
I had one and sold it and now I wish I had it back! They don't seem to show up much around here. I looked for years before I found a good used one. I have no idea why I sold it. It was a "modest Harmony," but played and sounded great. Go for it if you have the urge. G.B.

Richard Singleton
Apr-16-2004, 7:23pm
I bought a Stella Harmony tenor guitar on ebay recently, great conition, reasonable price, and it sounds and plays great! Though I would love to try a Martin! The Stella filled out my Stella Harmony collection that I kind of inadvertantly started last year, when I bought my daughter a Stella Harmony mandolin on ebay to learn on, and as a beater when I didn't want to camp with my Weber. Properly set up it sounds decent, so I cruised ebay for a year to get the tenor. A month before I finally got it I ran across a six string Stella Harmony at a flea market and sprang for it (though I hardly can play a few chords on the 6 string being fifths oriented)so at least my friends who visit and forget their guitars have something to mess with. The tenor seems more solidly constucted than its 6 string sibling and has a better tone, though a guitarist friend who is very good played some blues licks on it that sounded pretty good. I'm keeping the CGDA tuning because I want to have at least one instument tuned that way to play, as my Gretsch tenor banjo is GDAE tuned. I don't have a mandola..yet... but sometimes will capo up my octave mando to try out the CGDA scales. When I figure out posting a picture I'll post the "family" picture of the 3 matching instruments or mama, papa, and baby bear as my daughter calls them, total cost for all 3 combined about the same as an entry level Kentucky! There are usually two or three Stella Harmony tenors on ebay a month in varying conditions of couse, closing for 70 to 150 bucks on average.

Apr-16-2004, 8:43pm
Thanks Richard. I have been looking at a pretty Stella tenor guitar on E-bay. It sounds like you like your Stellas and I know lots of people like and collect them.
I've played Stella guitars and thought they were cute and had neat old time stye, but sounded kind of 'boxy' - not too lively.. Any more ideas on Stellas? I may bid ont the one on E-bay.

Bob A
Apr-16-2004, 9:21pm
If I really wanted a tenor, I'd snatch at that L7TC obn the classifieds. It's got it all - the rarity factor, the great Gibson sound from a good period in their history, really sharp looking, and better built than Stella ever dreamed of.
And if you choose to sell it, it shouldn't be hard to get your money out of it. (No personal interest here - I just think it's a great opportunity to get a unique instrument).

Apr-17-2004, 1:15am
I thought the same thing but came up 3 grand short...

mando bandage
Apr-17-2004, 6:40am
When I saw Hot Tuna with Barry Mitterhof a coupla months ago, Barry fished out the tenor for several numbers. Jorma's express advice to the crowd was, "if you ever see one of these things, a tenor guitar, buy it." Since then, I have been watching vigilantly.

So, follow the Captain's orders: buy one.


Michael Wolf
Apr-17-2004, 7:49am
I play an Resophonic Tenor for a while now and became addicted to it. My tuning is GDAE/D. I'm playing mostly irish tunes, but this instrument is very versatile, because it has a rock/blues-tone too.
What I like in a single strung instrument, in comparison to OMs/zouks, is the clearness in both, single notes and chords. You can play tenorbanjo-like lines and use the sustain for droning basenotes. On the other hand you can play accompaniment in zouk-style. Jazz-chords are sounding jazzy, which I always found to muddy and slightly out of tune on OM/zouk. And then there is the extra slim neck, that I find very comfortable and fast.

All the best

Ted Eschliman
Apr-17-2004, 8:42am
Don't mean to hijack the thread, but I'm curious as to the consenses of string gauges, particularly those that use the tradition tenor CGDA tuning...
There aren't a lot of choices out there, so I settled on the following custom gauges:
011, 015, 026w, 039w
I ended up purchasing the above in D'addario EXP series guitar singles, and have been quite happy with them. I'm considering selling these in packages on my website (like the custom flatwound Mandobird sets), but how close is this to what everyone else is using for Tenor?

Apr-17-2004, 8:55pm
The Stella Tenor I was watching on E-bay is going for more than I want to spend for it. I will keep watching for a good deal on a good player.
Tenor players, my heart still wants a tenor, but my head keeps saying, "What can it do that I can't do on mando or 6 string guitar?"
http://www.mandolincafe.net/iB_html/non-cgi/emoticons/smile.gif Jack

Apr-17-2004, 10:51pm
I purchased an 018T Martin on eBay a little over a year ago for $795. #It was a mid'90's model, mint, new condition. #Played it very little and eventually sold it on eBay lat last year for $1450, I think that was the price. #

Now I wish I'd have never sold it! #Go figure.

Apr-23-2004, 10:15am
This thread was a revelation! After reading it, I rummaged through my "big" closet (the one that can hold instrument cases standing up) and found my old Harmony tenor that I have had since around 1967. I bought it new and since I seldom played it.....it still is!

This was acutally one of the first instruments I bought because of the Kingston Trio (that "little" guy is Nick Reynolds). The other was the Vega Long Neck folk banjo.. and I still have that one also.

I guess it's time to re-string it and see how it sounds. My thanks to this thread. I had forgotten I even had it!

Apr-23-2004, 1:03pm
Mandolin cafe: bringing old friends back together. (where's my hanky:D )