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Thread: tenor or new standard tuning

  1. #1
    Registered User fentonjames's Avatar
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    Default tenor or new standard tuning

    i've been a guitarist for, oh, 40 years. since starting the mandolin and fiddle a few years ago, guitar is less and less of an interest to me.

    since it's in fifths, i'm considering a tenor guitar.

    my situation doesn't allow, well lets just say money is extremely tight and i'd have to sell my guitar to get the tenor. it's a really nice guild.

    but, then i thought about tuning it in fifths and found out that a lot of people do that and call it 'new standard tuning' cgdaeb.

    my question is, has anyone done this? does it work well? (ok, that was two questions) changing strings to gauges that would handle that is inexpensive. should i give that tuning a try, or just get a tenor and sell this one? (yes, another question)

    thank you in advance,

    jim


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    Late 1800's Unbranded German fiddle

  2. #2
    mandolin slinger Steve Ostrander's Avatar
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    Default Re: tenor or new standard tuning

    I don't know what you're budget is, but I bought a new Blueridge BR40T for less than $400. I tuned it GDAE (mandolin) and had it set up after changing strings. It's fun to play but it doesn't replace the mandolin.
    Living’ in the Mitten

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    Innocent Bystander JeffD's Avatar
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    Default Re: tenor or new standard tuning

    I think what you will find is that it becomes very difficult to play like a tenor.

    A guitar is tuned in forths, making one finger per fret convenient in that the next string is about a hand span away. Tuning in fifths will really mess with this.

    My tenor guitar did not have frets spaced as far apart as a standard guitar, and so I could use diatonic fingering (one finger for two frets as on a mandolin), which makes sense for fifth tuned instruments, in that the next string is roughly a hand span away.

    Of course if you predominantly play chords I guess this doesn't matter as much.

    This is separate from the string tensions and other technical matters that others are more qualified to address.
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    Registered User fentonjames's Avatar
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    Default Re: tenor or new standard tuning

    not looking to replace the mandolin. looking for a way to keep myself interested in playing guitar.


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    Registered User Seonachan's Avatar
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    Default Re: tenor or new standard tuning

    Before I bought a tenor, I put new strings with appropriate gauges on the middle 4 courses of my 6-string to tune GDAE. It's not the same as a tenor guitar in terms of feel, playability, etc. but it does give a sense of how you'd take to it. You can also capo at the 2nd fret to more accurately reflect the 23" scale.

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    '`'`'`'`'`'`'`'`'`'`' Jacob's Avatar
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    Default Re: tenor or new standard tuning

    New standard tuning is ususally C-G-D-A-E-G. If your guitar is standard scale length, around 25.5 inches, high B on the 1st string is pretty much impossible. Even very thin strings will break before reaching that pitch. The practical pitch limit for the 1st string is most probably high G, as on a twelve string guitar.

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  9. #7
    Registered User fentonjames's Avatar
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    Default Re: tenor or new standard tuning

    Quote Originally Posted by Jacob View Post
    New standard tuning is ususally C-G-D-A-E-G. If your guitar is standard scale length, around 25.5 inches, high B on the 1st string is pretty much impossible. Even very thin strings will break before reaching that pitch. The practical pitch limit for the 1st string is most probably high G, as on a twelve string guitar.
    you are quite correct. typo on my part.


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  11. #8
    Registered User fox's Avatar
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    Default Re: tenor or new standard tuning

    It is difficult to keep up with the amount of tenor guitars available and their prices, although the blueridge is most peoples favourite there are cheaper tenor guitars around. In the UK you can buy a 23 or 21" scale tenor for around £130.
    The other option might be a baritone ukulele tuned GDAE with three wound and one plain nylon string .. they sound fantastic!
    There lots of 6 string, fithts tuned, threads on the site = not a easy option to get working well.
    Trying to play fast melody on 23" scale is difficult enough for me!
    Last edited by fox; May-25-2016 at 12:49pm.

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    Registered User DavidKOS's Avatar
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    Default Re: tenor or new standard tuning

    Quote Originally Posted by Jacob View Post
    New standard tuning is ususally C-G-D-A-E-G..

    And that high G is the one part of the tuning that bothered me! All 5ths and one weird minor 3rd? What was Fripp thinking?

  13. #10
    Registered User fentonjames's Avatar
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    Default Re: tenor or new standard tuning

    i'm going for the least expensive option, switching strings on the guitar and do the cgdaeg thing.


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    Default Re: tenor or new standard tuning

    Quote Originally Posted by fentonjames View Post
    I'd have to sell my guitar to get the tenor. it's a really nice guild.
    That would be a shame to have to sell an istrument just to try out another.
    I recently bought a used Blueridge BR-40TCE for $280 and turned it into an Octave Mandolin.
    http://www.mandolincafe.com/forum/sh...-OM-conversion
    I liked it as a tenor, but like it even more as an OM.
    I live in West County, about 20 min drive from Fenton. You're welcome to come check it out sometime.
    Re tight budget, Ibanez is making a bunch of low priced tenors. I think the consensus around the mandolincafe is that the Blueridge tenors are better, but they are also more expensive.
    You can pickup the Ibanez Performance PFT2 for $180
    You can buy this one and have it shipped to the Crestwood, MO store and check it out. If it is not to your liking, you can return it within 30 days:
    http://www.guitarcenter.com/Ibanez/P...15030762280.gc

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    Still a mandolin fighter Mandophyte's Avatar
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    Default Re: tenor or new standard tuning

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    Registered User Nathan Kellstadt's Avatar
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    Default Re: tenor or new standard tuning

    Quote Originally Posted by DavidKOS View Post
    And that high G is the one part of the tuning that bothered me! All 5ths and one weird minor 3rd? What was Fripp thinking?
    That always got me as well.

    From the humble Wikipedia.

    The original version of NST was all fifths tuning. However, in the 1980s, Fripp never attained the all fifth's high B. While he could attain A, the string's lifetime distribution was too short. Experimenting with a G string, Fripp succeeded. "Originally, seen in 5ths. all the way, the top string would not go to B. so, as on a tenor banjo, I adopted an A on the first string. These kept breaking, so G was adopted."

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    Registered User Freddyfingers's Avatar
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    Default Re: tenor or new standard tuning

    Keep the guitar. I dove head first into mandolin and almost stopped playing the guitar, except for gigs that were on the books. Over the last two years I have made advances that took me many years to make on the guitar , and that is my primary instrument until now. That being said, the guitar and mandolin are two different beasts. When first trying a mandolin I foolishly approached it like a backwards guitar. That made it ruff. Eventually, with the help of a bacon and day banjo, I discovered the wonderful world of fifths. But quickly learned that they are suited to the scale and size of their proper instruments. Many have tuned a mandolin like a guitar, dgbe. So they wouldn't have to learn the proper scales and chords. It's doable, but I quickly found I could not play the mandolin like the guitar. Felt off. I am guessing the same would hold true for tuning a guitar into fifths. The neck length and distance between the strings would throw me off. At times I wish my blue ridge br40t had slightly closer string spacing so I can pull off some easier one finger two sittings chords.

    Anyway, the guitar will haunt you if you sell it as you will want to pick it up again one day. Hind site 20 20. Save for the tenor you want and be patient. Gas will kill.
    Its not a backwards guitar.

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  22. #15
    Registered User fentonjames's Avatar
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    Default Re: tenor or new standard tuning

    freddyfingers, i actually think i've owned more than 500 guitars. i change them all the time, so if i got rid of it, it wouldn't be that big of a deal to me. there's always another.

    colorado al, $ is tight, i know i have car repairs on the horizon. we may have to hook up sometime!


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    Default Re: tenor or new standard tuning

    I'm getting the sense that no matter the particulars of the instrument, even getting 5 strings tuned in 5ths to sound good and have consistent tension is very difficult unless you go with fanned frets. Particularly if it is a primarily acoustic instrument, since a pickup with adjustable polepieces can compensate for a quiet lowest string.

    I like tenor guitar a lot, but before selling an instrument to jump over to it I would strongly recommend at least trying some different scale lengths on a tenor. I have 23" and 21" scale tenors and if I was doing a lot of single note melodic stuff I would always pick up the 21". On the other hand the 23" is louder and clearer (as you would expect) and there are lots of possibilities in that tuning as well.

    As a side note I play guitar exclusively in all fourths tuning and find that to help me relate to strings in fifths, both because of familiarity of intervals on the C string, and because of the symmetry. You could try that, without spending a dime; just throwing that out there.

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  26. #17
    Registered User fentonjames's Avatar
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    Default Re: tenor or new standard tuning

    got her strung up and played it for about an hour. i DIG IT!


    1935 Gibson A-1 Wide mandolin
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    Registered User fox's Avatar
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    Default Re: tenor or new standard tuning

    That's great Jim, what gauge strings did you find to work for you?

  28. #19
    Registered User Mandobart's Avatar
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    Default Re: tenor or new standard tuning

    Glad you didn't let the naysayers get you down. Fanned frets a necessity? NO! I have a 26" 10 string mandocello tuned C-G-D-A-E and it plays great. I tuned my old 6 stringer F-C-G-D-A-E. I used the heaviest guitar string I could find at my local shop, I think its a .077? Still too floppy. I really like the sound of the rest of the strings though. I don't remember the gages, but probably same as my 'cello:
    C- .074, G - .048, D - .034, A - .022, E - .010

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    Registered User fentonjames's Avatar
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    Default Re: tenor or new standard tuning

    fox- 11 13 24 32 46 56

    mandobart- i thought the same about the fanned frets.


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  31. #21

    Default Re: tenor or new standard tuning

    I second the advice to string a standard 6-string as a 4-string tenor as the fastest and cheapest avenue to a tenor. I bought an Epiphone Wildkat specifically for that purpose - nice P-90's and a Bigsby are hard to come by on a tenor. I have it tuned to Bb-F-C-G and capo at the second fret to get C-G-D-A. That also gives me a 21" scale, which I prefer.

    Another off-the-shelf option is to mod an Epiphone Les Paul PeeWee. I've done 2 of them and they work great. They have a full-size 6-string Les Paul neck done to a 19" scale. All the electronics and hardware are standard Les Paul, so swapping stuff out is super-easy. I have mine string to Eb-Bb-F-C-G-D so when I capo at the second I get F-C-G-D-A-E - which I call extended range tenor. And it's all in 5th's!

    PeeWee's can be had for under $100 all day long because people bought them for kids. Most never got setup, so they never got played and become Craigslist fodder. It's a super cheap way to go if you want a 6-string all in 5th's.
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    Registered User zoukboy's Avatar
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    Default Re: tenor or new standard tuning

    I have tried various tunings on a 3/4 scale Cordoba travel guitar. The shorter 23.5"/59.7cm scale allows either a high A4 or B4.

    Here are the tunings I have tried:

    C2 G2 D3 A3 E4 B4

    D2 G2 D3 A3 E4 A4

    D2 G2 D3 A3 D4 A4

    D2 G2 D3 G3 D4 G4

    and they all work pretty well.

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  35. #23

    Default Re: tenor or new standard tuning

    I've picked up a set of the John Pearse New Standard Tuning strings, but couldn't get the high string up to G without popping it

  36. #24
    coprolite mandroid's Avatar
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    Default Re: tenor or new standard tuning

    Brian Oberlin and Evan Marshall @ TGG 7 did another knock it out of the park Sunday concert,

    Brian saying, again "I ought to get one of these" as he ripped out his part of a duet,
    playing a loaned fan fret 4 string Tenor.
    think it was Octave down ITB tuning ..
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    Default Re: tenor or new standard tuning

    Quote Originally Posted by mandroid View Post
    Brian Oberlin and Evan Marshall @ TGG 7 did another knock it out of the park Sunday concert,

    Brian saying, again "I ought to get one of these" as he ripped out his part of a duet,
    playing a loaned fan fret 4 string Tenor.
    think it was Octave down ITB tuning ..
    Dang! My flight out was Sunday afternoon...

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