View Full Version : Short-Scale Tenor Guitar Wanted

Jan-04-2009, 11:43pm
I'm hoping that there are folks out there "in-the-know" about where to get a short-scale tenor guitar. Specifically I'm looking for one that has a 19-21" scale length that has a typical guitar body shape or possibly a larger F-style mandolin shape, sender (octave mandolin) neck (1 1/4 to 1 1/2" wide). The longer scale lengths of 22 3/4 to 25" make it a big uncomfortable stretch for chord positions. With a shortened left index finger, the shorter scale length is preferred. Does anyone know of who makes them or luthiers who might make one if asked? I'm also looking to keep it under $1000.
Thanks! jsmandolin

Martin Jonas
Jan-05-2009, 5:08am
Get the Ozark tenor guitar from Eagle Music (http://www.eaglemusicshop.com/details3.asp/ProductID/5462/sid/386/name/ozark-tenor-guitar.htm). It's a small-bodied tenor with a 21.25" scale and a solid top. I have one, and it's a really nicely-made instrument with good playability and good strong tone.

It's pretty cheap too, although you'd have to add overseas shipping from the UK -- it's a Chinese-made instrument, but I'm not aware of any US distributor and as far as I know it's only on sale in the UK.


Brad Weiss
Jan-05-2009, 7:24am
You could probably get a very nice baritone uke for under 1k and tune it as you wish.

Jan-05-2009, 12:26pm
Above your stated budget but Fletcher Instruments is worth checking out:

Elderly has one of their guitars in stock, or you can order from Jody directly. I almost did that, but decided on an old Martin O-18T instead. May still get a Fletcher someday.

(No financial interest on my part).

*-- Asha

Jan-05-2009, 3:36pm
JS - I vote for getting a Baritone Ukulele. I got a few of these for a song some years ago, and found they are a delight to play for jazz, celtic, folk etc. These weren't too fashionable or even remotely desirable a few years ago and the prices were down right silly.

Today - there are a few series of instruments being imported from the east which are good introductions to the instrument and very reasonably priced. Elderly has a fairly extensive assortment from about 150 to 1500 dollars. http://elderly.com/search/elderly?terms=Baritone+Ukulele&x=8&y=10

There are a few ways of stringing one of these instruments up to get into Gdae tuning ... the easiest is probably to get a set of classical guitar strings and use the top four strings. I'd look for one which minimally has a solid top. These are much brighter and louder than the laminated top versions. For a person with a limited reach on one finger, these will feel as if you are playing an instrument made with you in mind. I hope this helps - Dion

PS If you want to try a Mandola tuning ... use the middle four strings from a classical guitar and tune CGda ... kind of makes it even more versatile. Oh yes - the scale on these runs from 19 to about 20.5 inches.

Mar-17-2011, 6:31pm
You may wish to take a look at one of the instruments I make.
This is a 20 1/8" scale length. Originally intended as a baritone ukulele, though it has steel strings on this version. Currently tuned GCEA, but performers have retuned it to octave mando GDAE, and even a banjo tuning.
My design utilizes a 16th fret neck joint, a 10"-16"compound radius fretboard, and a tuned side sound port. It sings. Sustains for about fifteen seconds.
Most models in this body shape and scale length utilize a glued on bridge instead of a free-bridge and tailpiece configuration. This version would not go for $1,000, but a more utilitarian players model without all the whistles and bells would be less than the $3,000 price of this model.



Charles E.
Mar-17-2011, 7:04pm
I would recomend Fletcher instruments, I have played them and they are nice. Short scale tenors that show up on eBay often are Martin 5-17's, Regals and SS Stewarts.
Mark, that is a great looking tenor!

Mar-21-2011, 11:36am
You will not find a luthier-built-to-order, guitar-shaped or florentine-shaped tenor guitar for $1000, I don't think.

A couple options I can think of would be:
Older Regal or SS Stewart small-body, short scale flattop tenor. I think these had ~21" scales. These come and go on ebay fairly regularly- an old Regal tenor answering to this description sold on ebay ~2 wks ago. Many are not in the greatest shape. I think they are cool, but they typically have a small, boxy sound.

Beat-up size 5 Martin tenor (5-15T or 5-17T). You could probably sneak in under $1000 if you are patient.

Or you could adapt one of the several nearly identical 20.5" scale imported octave mandolins (Trinity College, GoldTone, Johnson) to a tenor guitar.

Richard Singleton
Mar-21-2011, 11:04pm
There is an old Regal tenor on ebay now that would have the shorter scale, and is well below your price ceiling. There are also 3 of the smaller Martin tenors but they are all over $1,500.


Richard Singleton
Mar-26-2011, 6:33pm
The Regal I mentioned above sold for $380.

May-21-2011, 2:07am
-Does anyone happen to make a 16-18" scale tenor guitar?

I know that is pretty much in the tenor/bari uke range, but uke string spacing is much wider apart then on guitar/mando I find, and I'm hoping for metal strings if possible.

I guess ideally this is really more like an acoustic 4-string mandola, or a extra-small scale tenor guitar... anyone know anything like this?

Cheers :)

May-22-2011, 9:57am
I typically make instruments in the ukulele family, and several as steel strings. The majority of these are in the 18" and 20" scale length.
String spacing is not an issue, and typically I find out what neck shapes and string spacing clients prefer.
You can see some examples of my work here:
If you have questions contact me.


Brent Hutto
May-22-2011, 1:19pm

You do interesting work. That lap-slide-uke is quite something.

And I'll bet the redwood soundboard on the tenor from a few months ago worked out well. The ebony binding works a treat.

May-23-2011, 12:57am
Hi Brent,
Thanks. The lap slide uke was a hit at Fretboard Journals Anniversary party. Made a lot of fans.
Yes, the Sinker Redwood makes an awesome sound board on just about anything. One of my favorites.

Brent Hutto
May-23-2011, 5:40am
I don't think it was Sinker but I played a mandolin (briefly) once with a Redwood top. I'd have thought that an odd combination but I loved the sound as far as I could tell in five minutes of noodling around. It was particularly balanced and even as I worked my way up the neck with a fat and warm tone I liked a lot.

So you may be right, a good piece of Redwood is more widely useful than most of us might think. I had it mentally pegged as something for a fingerstyle guitar or maybe a tenor or baritone uke but if it can make a good mandolin, well that says a lot...

Eddie Sheehy
May-31-2011, 9:03pm
Check out the Blueridge BR-40T Tenor Guitar. I played one a few week sand was pleasantly surprised at their affordability... NFI.

Blueridge has re-introduced the classic O-sized tenor guitar and has perfectly reproduced this popular model down to the last detail. Originally coming to prominence in the late 1920’s, the tenor guitar was designed as an instrument that would allow the tenor banjoist to double on guitar. As the six-string guitar gradually replaced the banjo in the Big Bands, the four-string tenor guitar found its way into Dixieland, Western Swing and country fiddle bands. Just like the classic original, our tenor features a solid spruce top, mahogany back and sides and a mahogany neck that joins the body at the 14th fret. An entire new generation of musicians will thrill to the bright, ringing sound of the tenor guitar and it will surely be in the forefront of new styles of folk music yet to be invented! The tenor guitar is easy to carry around and easy to learn, and the Blueridge name guarantees the highest quality at the most affordable price.

Blueridge BR-40T Acoustic Tenor Guitar:

Select, solid Sitka spruce top with hand-carved parabolic braces in the authentic X-pattern
Mahogany back and sides
Natural high-gloss finish
Multi-ply tortoise body binding (T/W/T/W/T/W)
Carved mahogany, low profile
neck with dot position markers
East Indian rosewood fingerboard and bridge
Dovetail neck/body joint
Blueridge logo in m-o-p with ornate m-o-p and abalone peghead inlay
Bone nut and saddle
Black pickguard
Vintage-style, 14:1 ratio, nickel-plated open-back tuners with butterbean-style buttons
Nut width: 1 9/32"
Scale length: 22 7/8"