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Thread: Tenor guitar on a budget

  1. #1

    Default Tenor guitar on a budget

    Hello everyone! While currently in search for an actual tenor guitar, rather than a baritone ukulele conversion - and trying to stay within my budget to maintain a happy household, I have come across three: a used but mint Martin LXM Tenor, the Ibanez AVT1 parlor tenor, and the Gold Tone TG-10. The three are all in the same price range. I would like to up my budget to the Blueridge BR-40T, but just can't do it. Of the three mentioned, is there a bad choice in the mix? One better than the others? Perhaps all three are apples to oranges? Maybe I should just continue my mandolin search, lol. Thanks!

  2. #2
    Registered User Cary Fagan's Avatar
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    Default Re: Tenor guitar on a budget

    Hi, I didn't much like the Martin LXM when I tried one years ago. I think it's the same body as the LX1 travel guitar which my son has and I don't think it sounds great, either. The others would be a better choice. Or finding a vintage. You can find vintage harmonys for not too much (sometimes they're overpriced, so look out). I bought a 1940s tenor for $200 that I love.

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    Registered User spufman's Avatar
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    Default Re: Tenor guitar on a budget

    I bought a used Ibanez AVT1 and am quite happy with it. Very well made, plays super nicely and has a sweet tone. I think for finger picking, the string spacing could be a touch wider, but itís manageable. The Roadrunner Boulevard small acoustic bag works nicely for it, by the way.

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    Registered User Charles E.'s Avatar
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    Default Re: Tenor guitar on a budget

    Have you considered the Kala..........

    https://kalabrand.com/products/tenor-guitar

    I would choose it over the others.
    Charley

    A bunch of stuff with four strings

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    Default Re: Tenor guitar on a budget

    I have a '52 Harmony 1215-T (which as far as I know is the same as a 950 w/o binding) and a '42 Harmony-built Orpheum, which is the same design but has spruce top rosewood with inlaid (not painted as on the 1215) fret markers on face and side. The top and back are bound with herring bone marquetry on top and the tailpiece is a hinged trapeze.
    The 1215 was my first, to see if I'd like tenor. The Orpheum is very wonderful. Both have qualities the other doesn't. The 1215 would be a great campfire/beach guitar, if I camped or went to the beach.

  6. #6

    Default Re: Tenor guitar on a budget

    Thanks for the replies and suggestions! I feel leery about going vintage because I won't be able to play it first. No local place around me has such tenor guitars. I've bought some vintage guitars in the past unplayed and have regretted it, unfortunately. I do agree there are some great instruments out there.

    So, the LXM Tenor is not well liked I assume. Actually, the LX1 has a solid top whereas the LXM is all laminate / formica. This may explain the very good price I found on the used, mint one for $300.

    I actually forgot about the Kala, but isn't that a shorter scale than the more standard 23"? I thought I read that it was more like 21"-ish?

    The AVT1 just might be the lead at the moment. I do like the parlor body.

    So, is the Blueridge BR-40T that much better than the others? Should I try to sweet talk the boss more?.....

    Thanks to all!!

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    Default Re: Tenor guitar on a budget

    My little Regal has a 21" scale and is a joy.

  8. #8
    plectrist
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    Default Re: Tenor guitar on a budget

    Quote Originally Posted by bsfloyd View Post
    So, is the Blueridge BR-40T that much better than the others? Should I try to sweet talk the boss more?.....

    Thanks to all!!
    Yes ... Roses work really well.

    Ryk
    mandolin ~ guitar ~ banjo

    "I'm convinced that playing well is not so much a technique as it is a decision. It's a commitment to do the work, strive for concentration, get strategic about advancing by steps, and push patiently forward toward the goal." Dan Crary

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    Default Re: Tenor guitar on a budget

    I just bought my Ibanez Tenor AVT1 from my local guitar center for $200 used, and it was worth every penny of it. First thing I did when I got home was put a set of D'addario Bari Uke strings on it, though. I love the sound of it with the nylons. Mine is currently tuned GDAE. The tone is unbeatable at that price, at least IMO.

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    Registered User fox's Avatar
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    Default Re: Tenor guitar on a budget

    21” scale is nice for cgda, Blueridge is a nice full size tenor guitar.

  11. #11

    Default Re: Tenor guitar on a budget

    Of the three listed the Ibanez AVT1 is the only one with a solid wood top. You want a guitar with a solid wood top, so buy the Ibanez AVT1. I love my Blueridge BR-60T, but I would never pay $895.00 for one (current price at Musicians Friend). I paid $375.00 many years ago at Musicians Friend for my BR-60T, and at that price it is worth every penny.

    If you can get a used BR-40T for around $350.00 I think it would be worth the extra $50.00. If you don't want to wait, then buy the Ibanez AVT1.
    Blueridge BR-60T Tenor Guitar
    Eastwood Warren Ellis 2P Tenor Guitar

  12. #12

    Default Re: Tenor guitar on a budget

    Timely update: A Gold Tone TG-18 was just advertised in the Mandolin Cafe classifieds for $325 including gig bag. The TG-18 has a solid wood top. I have no financial interest, but for $325 I would buy the TG-18 instead of the AVT1.
    Blueridge BR-60T Tenor Guitar
    Eastwood Warren Ellis 2P Tenor Guitar

  13. #13

    Default Re: Tenor guitar on a budget

    Thanks for the added replies. I will look up that TG-18, thanks for the tip.

    I don't want to buy a guitar just because it has a solid top. I have played quite a few laminate tops that are built well and sound great. The old Yamahas come to mind, as do some of the all laminate Godin products. And, I have played some solid top guitars that just sounded like poo due to overly built construction. Now, I have not played an AVT1 so it could very well be the better guitar in the bunch, but I don't want to buy it over the others just because it has a solid top - I would like to buy it because of the three it sounds the best.... which of course is purely subjectable

  14. #14

    Default Re: Tenor guitar on a budget

    I seen the ad for the TG-18, but I couldn't find how to contact the seller. I must be blind....

    Edit - Nevermind, I found it - I am blind.

  15. #15

    Default Re: Tenor guitar on a budget

    Good luck with your search. Buying a guitar is a very personal decision. The "right" guitar for one person may not be the right guitar for someone else. I started with laminate top guitars but once I switched to solid top guitars I could never go back to laminate. I hear a much more complex tone from the solid top guitars than I ever heard from the guitars with laminate tops.

    Since it is unlikely we can actually play a tenor guitar before purchase, the next best thing is to listen to YouTube videos of each guitar. It's not perfect since sometimes the videos use effects, but it's better than a totally blind purchase. Enjoy the search, and I hope you find the "right" guitar for you.
    Blueridge BR-60T Tenor Guitar
    Eastwood Warren Ellis 2P Tenor Guitar

  16. #16
    Registered User fox's Avatar
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    Default Re: Tenor guitar on a budget

    I agree that lamented tops can sound great but, I must say that I also agree with Chip in that solid wood tops seen to add something you canít find in a ply or plastic top.
    I built a carbon top six string, it was loud and sharp but after the novelty wore off I went back to playing my wood top.
    Not to say the carbon top guitar was not nice sounding but, I felt the wood was warmer with much more depth and complexity.
    However I am talking about playing in my house, unaccompanied in a situation where you would be more in tune with the instruments finer qualities
    I donít know how much I would notice any preference in sound if I were playing with a group?

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    Default Re: Tenor guitar on a budget

    I'm feeling slow so I need help. Are there existing threads on bari'uke-to-tenor conversions? Yes, I would love a real tenor guitar, but budget. Yes, I own a cheap 19-inch bari'uke that wouldn't survive steel strings. I'd not thought of converting it to a tenor till I saw this thread. Are there any nylon/composite or silk-n-steel tenor GDAE string sets for 19-inch scales? Inexpensive, because budget.

  19. #18
    Registered User fox's Avatar
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    Default Re: Tenor guitar on a budget

    Yes to all those, just google what you want adding ‘mandolin Cafe’ you will get much better results than useing the search button.

  20. #19

    Default Re: Tenor guitar on a budget

    Thanks for the replies, everyone!

    Yes, there is a fifths tuning nylon set from Aquila that can be used on a baritone ukulele - Aquila 31U. This is packaged for Concert scale CGDA, but also work well on baritone tuned down to GDAE - octave mandolin tuning. I do not know of a silk and steel set, but also might not trust them on a ukulele.

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  22. #20

    Default Re: Tenor guitar on a budget

    I should have added that I still did not decide on a tenor, but I am favoring the AVT1 at the moment. I was able to find a pretty nice deal on a new one.

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    Default Re: Tenor guitar on a budget

    Quote Originally Posted by bsfloyd View Post
    Yes, there is a fifths tuning nylon set from Aquila that can be used on a baritone ukulele - Aquila 31U. This is packaged for Concert scale CGDA, but also work well on baritone tuned down to GDAE - octave mandolin tuning. I do not know of a silk and steel set, but also might not trust them on a ukulele.
    Thanks! I'm familiar with the Aquila 31U set. I restrung a cheap Dolphin 8-string taropatch 17-inch tenor 'uke with two sets of 31U's to turn it into a tenor mandola or mand'uke, not too loud, great for queit playing at home. I'd not thought to put 31U's on the bari'uke. Thanks for the tip!

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