View Full Version : Do you prefer CGDA or GDAE tuning for your tenor guitar,and why ?

Sep-21-2010, 9:38pm
My new Blueridge tenor guitar is tuned CGDA. I am curious about the GDAE tuning but, before changing string gauge and adjusting the nut slots, I'd like to know from other forum members what they think about this tuning ? Is it better than CGDA, and why ?

F-2 Dave
Sep-21-2010, 10:01pm
I like GDAE 1) because everything i can transfer from mandolin stays in the same key and B) CGDA just seems like it's wound up too tight. CGDA seems to be the most popular tuning, so it must have something going for it. I believe most who back up Texas style fiddlers use CGDA.

Sep-21-2010, 10:16pm
Would be a GDAE octave down.. a rather thick G etc. like ITB string sets, and neck may move ,
as there is no T rod or reinforcing in it (as I read here..) where CGDA with that scale length,
are tenor banjo like and considerably thinner..

[have a mandola, a CGDA short scale modified A50, and a 5 string electric.. short scale too.
considering I have it an octave down GDAEB ..

Sep-21-2010, 11:18pm
Choosing the right string gauge, the neck should not move because the overall string tension would remain the same.
My question about CGDA and GDAE is more related to the tone/ sound. Which, in your mind, is the more pleasant sound ?
I play just by myself therefore this is my only concern.

Bernie Daniel
Sep-22-2010, 8:09am
Just FYI.

Its a good question. I have played around with my tenor guitar strings. I have a '35 Gibson TG-1 (scale length ~23.25 in.) and a Weber Octave mandolin (scale length = 22.75 in.) so I took half a set of Octave strings and put them on the Tenor and it seems to work OK. But its 6 of one and half dozen of another.

Before when I learned a tune on the Mandola I could go directly to the Tenor for another "flavor" and same key. Now my Mandolin, Octave and Tenor are all in GDAE tuning -- maybe that is overkill? So I'm probably going to go back to the standard tuning for the guitar eventually. Or get another Tenor!!! :))

Just one story...........:mandosmiley:

Charles E.
Sep-22-2010, 5:31pm
Traditional C-G-D-A. The octave tuning has always sounded a bit muddy ( esp. the low 'G' ) to my ears. I like that the 'C' tuning fills in the space between the fiddle's and the guitar. It is also better for me when in a swing or jugband session.

Sep-25-2010, 7:32am
The best things that have happened to me, musically, over the past 2 years are:- electronic tuners and Tenor Guitar. I tune mine CGBD, the same as my 5 sting banjo (minus thumb string). Same chord shapes for me with a mellow sound. I sometimes tune it as my mandolin GDAE.

Oct-10-2010, 12:11am
I tune my Tenortone tenor guitar (made by Fletcher Instruments in Ithaca, NY) to G-D-A-E, since it has a shorter scale length: ~21" and I mostly play mandolin and not so much mandola. I can still play the 4 finger chords. We have a mandocello which is tuned C-G-D-A, and 4 finger chords are not possible on it's longer scale length. Melody lines can be played easily on the tenor guitar, whereas bass lines and bass runs work well on the mandocello. So I would consider the way I play the instrument to help determine which tuning.

Richard Singleton
Oct-10-2010, 5:00pm
Since I don't have a mandola (yet) I keep my Stella Harmony tenor tuned CGDA,gives me a chance to get used to this tuning and also try capo at 2nd fret for ITM. I like the sound of the Stella, have a feeling it wouldn't bear octave mando tuning, and I do have my Flatiron 3k octave and an octave tuned tenor banjo for the lower range.

Eddie Sheehy
Oct-10-2010, 5:04pm
I used to have my tenor guitar tuned CGDA but the A strings always felt a "bit tight". I dropped it to GDAE (using bouzouki strings) and it feels fine. Having said that, I'll probably go back to CGDA next string change just for variety. I haven't bothered messing with the nut or bridge. I should mention that my TG is a 23" Scale full-bodied Archtop/Archback guitar body.

Oct-11-2010, 7:09am
As a builder of tenor guitars, I get asked to put them in a variety of tunings, CGDA, GDAE, DGBE, CGBD and others. I also play tenor guitar, tenor banjo, mando, and uke so I've experimented with several tunings as well. I like to find the tuning that brings out the best in an instrument. The biggest request I get from customers is that they want a TG that is loud, and not "thin" sounding. With that in mind, I think that GDAE tuning on many tenor guitars works better than the traditional CGDA. The body resonance/air cavity responds better in that tuning and brings out a fuller, fatter tone. Archtop tenors have more chunk, flat top tenors respond well to the lower tuning. With correct strings, the tension is very similar to CGDA tuning, and you don't get the string breakage problem on the A string. Historically, tenor guitars were created for tenor banjo players as jazz moved from dixieland to swing, but it never really succeeded in that function, largely do to the fact that it wasn't loud enough to be heard in a swing band. Eddie Freeman compensated by dropping the D an A strings an octave, but that solution does not work well for solo playing. I have found that GDAE tuning works well in string jazz settings and with horn sections as well. CGDA is more of an alto/mandola voicing, GDAE is a true "tenor" voice, and the octave CGDA cello tuning is the baritone. My suggestion is...try it, you'll like it. Joel Eckhaus, Earnest Instruments

Oct-13-2010, 7:14pm
What string gauges would you suggest for GDAE tuning on a Blueridge tenor guitar please? Also, with the change in gauges, would any modification be necessary on the nut slots or bridge? Thanks

Pete Martin
Oct-15-2010, 10:00am
I like CGDA for the same reason as Charles, how the instrument fits in the ensemble.

Nov-03-2010, 11:29pm
I just received a Soares'y Archtop Tenor and have already blown up 2 A strings. Any tips on strings choice for CGDA and GDAE tuning? Brand and gauges. OK, make that 3 A strings :-((

Eddie Sheehy
Nov-04-2010, 11:41am
Surely you're not blowing the A in GDAE tuning? Try .012, .022, .032, .044 (GHS Octave Mandolin strings)