View Full Version : tenor shopping/tenor vs octave

Jan-19-2010, 9:28pm
So I play a 17 fret tenor banjo but I'm looking to get a Tenor guitar since not everyone in my house likes the sound of a banjo. I'm looking for a moderately short-scale tenor because I just can't do 23" -My banjo is 19 something- 21 would probably be about my limit..

It'd be for playing melody when everyones home, but chords the rest of the time. (I play irish music)
It doesn't HAVE to be playable in GDAE, since I really only use DAE, but it would be nice.

Price range is 200-500, maybe more if I sell some things.

Having said that, should I just buy the shorter scale trinity college octave and take off the four extra strings to quietly practice banjo once or twice a week, while still mostly playing chords with all eight strings instead?

I've been wondering about this for a while but haven't really gotten too far:(

Jan-23-2010, 10:59pm
I was making the same decision you are about a year ago. I ended up getting an Ozark Tenor. They don't sell them in the US so I ordered mine from Eagle Music in the UK:


I had to pay quite a bit ($90) for shipping, but still think the guitar was worth the price...very nice looking/sounding and a short scale. It came tuned CGDA, but I re-tuned it to GDAE without any problems and it sounded great that way. It also comes with a hard case that's not bad.

There are some nice options in the US, but none with the short-scale length (21"), at least none that I could find.


John Flynn
Jan-24-2010, 7:15am
If the requirement is just to practice quietly at a home, I can recommend the banjo mute linked below. It slips over the bridge under the strings. My 17 fret tenor banjo sounds like a very quiet tenor guitar with this mute attached. I'm amazed at how well it works.


If you are looking for something to chord with, I think the Trinity OM is a good idea, but I would leave all 8 strings on. The Trinity scale length should be pretty close to that of a 17 fret tenor, so it would be a nice match up.

Jan-24-2010, 4:58pm
Thanks for the link bretterb, I'll keep that in mind!

The reason i was thinking of taking half the strings off of the om is because switching between the two(like little mando to banjo) would be tough since I always get tangled in the extra strings when playing melody. they'd probably be on though most of the time.

Jan-24-2010, 5:03pm
so far it's between the ozark & goldtone tenors and the short trinity om. still have some saving to do so I won't be buying for another couple of weeks. does anyone have any experience with the goldtone tenor? the tg-18? Thanks again!

Jan-25-2010, 2:49am
A little tip you may already know of, but if your price range ends up limiting you do something with a scale longer than you'd like, you could always tune it to CGDA and then capo at 2 for DAEB. It's an under-rated tuning IMHO, and one I've used with good results on my 17-fret tenor banjo (and no capo required due to the scale length!)

Jan-26-2010, 9:53am
I second the capoing idea (http://www.banjosessions.com/dec09/Keyes.html). It shortens your scale length and puts you in a tuning that is the same as a whistle. In addition you can find several tenor guitars (the Blueridge BR-40T (http://www.elderly.com/new_instruments/items/BR40T.htm), for example) that fit in your price range and have money left over for a capo. :grin:

Mike Keyes

Martin Jonas
Jan-26-2010, 1:09pm
I have one of those Ozarks, and I like it a lot, although with the added overseas postage it may be rather more marginal over the Gold Tone and the Blueridge. It's really well-made and I like the look and feel -- matte finish with wood (not plastic) binding and bridge pins. Comes with a nice hard case.

Like Brett, I have mine retuned GDAE, but have to say that the G string is somewhat marginal for melody playing in that tuning through the combination of short scale and small body. I gather that short-scale "Irish" tenor banjos tend towards a similarly limited low G. Chords are fine, though, and melody playing on the upper three strings is fine, too.

I also have a second short-scale tenor, a one-off single-cone resonator. That one is better on the low G which is really punchy and growling.


Jan-27-2010, 12:18am
Ha! I almost mentioned the capo trick last time i posted! :)) I think that would probably work. So any ideas then for good affordable tenors?

Thanks guys!

Would a banjo/mandolin capo work?

Jan-27-2010, 12:27am
Cruising the Gold Tone site I see a Baritone banjo-uke , check it out.
A somewhat long neck still looks like a pretty small Pot, for practice you could dampen the head
with sponge behind it , I use a piece , or an old wool boot sock to dampen the head of my mandolin banjo, stuffed between the rim stick and the head .

Could still adopt steel strings for similar feel, for pick resistance , or pick out a few classical guitar strings
to make up a GDAE or what set of 5ths tuning combination suits you.

Jan-28-2010, 3:44pm
As an aficionado of different instruments (and owner of a couple of banjo ukes), I thought that looked pretty interesting, too. I especially enjoy banjo ukes as I really like playing nylon strings on banjos--imparts less twang and instead, a nice, mellow growl.

Baron Collins-Hill
Jan-30-2010, 1:33pm
id take a good look at the blueridge tenor guitars. i played one in a shop and it was super sweet. i now have one on order and cant wait to get it.


Jan-31-2010, 7:52pm
i checked out the blueridge, and now its between blueridge and goldtone. does anyone have any experience with the goldtone tenors?

thanks for all of your help!:grin:

J.C. Bryant
Feb-01-2010, 7:36am
I'm curious Montanasteve, what moved you away from considering the Ozark?


Feb-04-2010, 4:07am
I actually just spaced it :sleepy: Sorry about that. I think my price limit is around 450-500 now, so I have money left for shipping and a case.

Do you think the Ozark would be best for my price range J. C. ?

I keep wondering about the Goldtone because my banjo is a goldtone and its worked out really well.

...But the blueridge looks really good too...

Which one do you guys think would be the best for the money?
...kind of afraid of overpaying...

Thanks for all of your help so far though everybody!

Feb-04-2010, 5:37am

My TG-10 is sitting in the closet unplayed. I don't expect to be playing it either as I'm going back to six-string guitar. It's only a laminated top and so not as resonant as solid tops, but otherwise probably identical to the TG-18. I'll let you have it with gigbag for $175 if you want to make the drive over to Missoula. It's virtually brand new.

Feb-05-2010, 8:02pm
Anychance for a soundclip and/or pic?:mandosmiley:

Feb-05-2010, 8:42pm
have any of you ever played the Ashbury tenor from the hobgoblin site?

J.C. Bryant
Feb-06-2010, 3:03pm
Montanasteve, I just aquired an Ozark and it is fantastic. Laminated back and sides, with a pickup and hard case. got it used for a little over 4hundred. I think it is a good buy, if you can find one. I must say, though, that I think I will end lup with and octave mandolin after it is all over with. I got a tenor banjo and now the tenor guitar, I will have to try the OM before I decide where I will end up (for a while).