View Full Version : Tenor Guitar Recommendations

Mar-22-2010, 7:59am
Recently bought a Blueridge tenor guitar. It reminds me just how much I miss the 1930s Martin O-18T I had years ago.

Although I think the Blueridge captures the essence of the Martin and sounds and plays very well, I would like to get something a little nicer (or one with a bit more "mojo").

I don't want something so old that it will need a neck reset or other major repairs within a year or two. Don't have the time/patience for that. That's the main reason I sold my Martin, the action was getting higher than I like.

I've found a few 1950 - 1970 Martin O-18Ts that will work (although at a pretty hefty price), but would like to see what folks think about some other possibilities.

Breedlove tenors like those at Elderly (won't have a chance to play one).
Fletcher Tenor Tone (seems a bit small for what I am looking for, but I'm not sure)
Any other suggestions in new tenor.

Gibson tenors
Other Martin models

I have a mandola, and have owned several octave mandolins. I think I like the sound and playability of the tenor guitars though. Mostly into folk music, finger picking, flat picking, simple chords, single note lines and a lot of beating on the guitar. Prefer CGDA tuning, but could do GDAE too. Will usually do solo vocals and tenor guitar (recording myself for laughs). But do like to jam with others too.

It would be nice to find something around $1500, but I could justify spending up to $2250 or so for something really special and in good shape.

Any help or comments appreciated. Thanks.

Jill McAuley
Mar-22-2010, 8:35am
How about a Fletcher TenorTone tenor guitar? I had the opportunity to play several examples of these last year and thought they were AWESOME. Beautifully made, lovely to play and lovely sounding. They come in within your stated budget as well. I'm definitely going to add one to my herd this year!



Mar-22-2010, 9:12am
Mr. Woody, If you're thinking about vintage mojo you might try Players Vintage Instruments, Lowell Levenger (Banana) often times has some delightfully funky tenors that are in good playing condition. Several years ago I managed to snag an old Gibson TG-50 from High Desert guitars in Santa Fe, NM and it has been a hoot play. Admittedly, when I grab it small animals flee and children start to whimper because they know I'm gonna sing along with the strumming. :)) Good luck in your search.

Pete Martin
Mar-22-2010, 9:43am
The best tenors I have personally played are the Gibsons from the late 20s and 30s and the Martin O18Ts from the 30s and 40s. Chances are they are going for higher prices than you want to pay, but at least play a few before you put money down on something else.

Mar-22-2010, 4:20pm

This one's within your budget. Not sure about the date, but Gryphon doesn't sell bad instruments in my experience.

Mar-22-2010, 6:46pm

I love my Breedlove tenor, but you should note that it is setup to be tuned G-D-A-E versus the traditional tuning C-G-D-A. You can probably use the standard tuning, but that might require different string sizes (according to Breedlove). As I haven't played any old tenors, I can't really comment on the difference in tone, but I can say the Breedlove tenor has a great voice is can cut through fairly well in a jam. Here's a great video of Tim and Dillon Hodges playing Breedlove tenors. Tim May and Dillon Hodges on Breedlove tenors (http://www.google.com/search?q=breedlove+tenor+tim+may&hl=en&client=firefox-a&hs=7WC&rls=org.mozilla:en-US:official&tbs=vid:1&tbo=u&ei=tQCoS7qEPdOWtgfutpzKDQ&sa=X&oi=video_result_group&ct=title&resnum=4&ved=0CCIQqwQwAw)

Good luck in your search :)

Mar-22-2010, 9:57pm
Thanks to all who replied so far.

Good to hear the opinions and recommendations. Sounds like I've got a lot to choose from -- and some I'd never really thought about.

I really appreciate it. Years ago I had a bad case of MAS, and this site was great. I've had a few nice Octaves from recommendations here and they were every bit as good as recommended. I still have a mandola that was recommended here.

Choices, Choices. I may have to buy several tenors after reading all the recommendations.

Randolph, my cat hides whenever I pick up one of my instruments and start singing. Well, sometimes he just stares at me like he wishes I'd stop.

Thanks again.

Jim Garber
Mar-22-2010, 10:17pm
Earnest Instruments (http://www.earnestinstruments.com/guitars.html) makes some excellent ones.