View Full Version : 5 string electric tenor?

Cliff D
Jul-19-2008, 10:59am
Chief assures me that once you have tried 5 strings there is no going back. I'm not entirely convinced, but a 5 string electric tenor guitar (provided with an adequate ranging bridge compensation!) could be one versatile little instrument. Potentially it could be tuned in 5ths, or ADGBE (as I believe Keef Richards prefers [he of the Rolling Rocks, or some such]). So are there any in the great out-there skulking in shadows, & if not would some bold builder chance his arm at one - or is there some snag that makes it not such a good idea?

Martin Jonas
Jul-19-2008, 7:02pm
Well, the infamous Ron Oates made a 5-string electric octave mandolin for Michael Kang of String Cheese Incident a few years ago, and that's pretty much what you're looking for. Of course, ordering from Ron Oates is not really an option now (see long-running thread in the e-mando section).

A quick Google search shows that Steve Ryder (http://sjryder.com/EOM-40.htm) offers a nice-looking five-string electric with a choice of scale lengths of either 20" or 22", and you can call them 5-string tenor guitars or 5-string octave mandolin according to personal preference. $1230 base price.


Cliff D
Jul-20-2008, 9:18am
Martin, as ever you seem to have your finger well on the pulse. They sure look very tasty; I see they do pick ups as well, although the pole pieces are not independently adjustable. The electric mando playing fraternity seems not overly bothered about this particular facility, but my experiences to date with the Risa tenor uke cause me to climb aboard this particular hobby horse (& almost the first observation Chief had to make of his Soares'y was the initial uneven string output). Independently adjustable slugs make life a lot easier.

I did read (with increasing disbelief) pretty much the whole of the Rono thread: when I was told the Risa would take a month to dispatch I thought of the long wait some guys had to endure & considered myself fortunate! One element of the Rono thread did particularly bother me: some contributors seemed to be advancing the suggestion that genius has the immutable right to give the rest of humanity a hard time. Funny, but I can't buy into that one!

Jul-20-2008, 10:02am
Try Earnest Instruments e.g: Tenorcaster (http://www.earnestinstruments.com/tenorcaster.html)

Jul-20-2008, 11:07am
The TenorCaster 5-string looks very interesting, but at 23" I think scale would prohibit GDAEB tuning. #It's hard enough to squeeze out a G at 24.75" using a .008" gauge string. #Anybody tried it at GDAEB? Or even FCGDA?

Martin Jonas
Jul-21-2008, 4:13am
I suspect a five-string tenor with a scale of 20" to 23" would best be tuned FCGDA, i.e. a fifth below a typical five-string e-mando. That is standard tenor guitar tuning plus a low F string. Another alternative for the 23" instrument might be CGDAE, i.e. octave mando plus low C, giving the range of a mandocello. However, that would need a fairly massive bass string.


Jul-22-2008, 6:50am
I have built several 5 string tenor guitars, usually tuned FCGDA. GDAEB would be possible with a shorter scale length, 21" or so. joel

Jul-22-2008, 8:28am
Joel - The long scale 5-string Tenorcaster in ash with Armstrongs tuned to CGDAE looks mighty interesting... Something to start saving up the pennies for... Thanks.

Nov-16-2008, 2:44am
I have a Ryder EOM-35 (1st of its kind!) and I adore it! It plays, sounds, and looks unbelievable! My only issue is the stretch in 1st and 2nd position (but that's due to the nature of the instrument and doesn't reflect the builder). I'd highly recommend getting one of his instruments!

Nov-16-2008, 5:24am
I have a sobell 10-string @21" tuned GDAEA, and a Chanticleer tenor 5-string at 21" that does GDAEA or FCGDA just as happily.

From what I've seen in the world of 5-course instruments (these two are my 5th, and 6th respectively!), the resonator is the only one that can pull off balance with everything in 5ths. The sobell won't quite stretch to an F on the low or a b on the high course without one of them sounding not right.

An electric should be the same story as a reso- the technology is getting around wood-based resonance limits, so that should work out great.

The compensation on the resonator is pretty simple too, I'd add.

Colin James Mitchell
Apr-30-2009, 12:22pm
I just had a 5 string octave mandolin made. Yes tuning is an issue! My instrument is acoustic with a scale length of 21 inches. It is tuned GCGDA. I use a capo a lot. I have a fishman pickup under the saddle, and fully independent string scale length adustment. It also has a small pre amp built in. I am really a mando player....who needs to warm up and lower his sound sometimes.