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Thread: Tenor advise again...

  1. #1

    Default Tenor advise again...

    I have been learning the mandolin for the past year with great enjoyment. I bought a TC bouzouki last summer to augment the mandolin, but found the scale length difficult. Last month I went to guitar C and traded the bouzouki for a yamaha 3/4 size guitar.
    A nice instrument with a nut width of 1 11/16" and although playing notes( very strange fingering coming from mandolin and a mental shifting of gears) works well, playing chords is difficult/painful. I know that there is a learning curve, but the pain in my hand formimg a simple "C" chord bothers me.
    Would the narrower nut/neck width and the shorter scale of the tenor be less painful for my old, tired, and short fingers?

  2. #2
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    Default Re: Tenor advise again...

    Not sure. A C chord would be better, but some of the others have big stretches -you go more 'up and down' rather than across on the tenor. I would try one of the 21" tenors, before buying if possible, maybe more in hope than expectation.
    - Jeremy

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  3. #3
    Registered User Tim N's Avatar
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    Default Re: Tenor advise again...

    I wonder what's causing the pain in your hand? If it's the stretch, then the above advice about trying a short scale tenor may be helpful. Of course, there are often different finger shapes for the same chord, and if you like the open modal sound (I simply mean where the chords sound more ambiguous, regarding major or minor etc) then you can find some very simple fingerings in GDAE or GDAD (or the higher GGDA or CGDG equivalent) which may not be in the standard basic chord charts. You may just need to play around a bit. I realised from carefully watching Steve Knightley playing, both mandocello and tenor, that although he moves his left hand around a lot, he doesn't stretch a lot, and does some very simple fingering, but he sounds good.
    Another thought: could it be you've got a touch of arthritis? There are various natural remedies that may help.
    "What's that funny guitar thing..?"

  4. #4
    Registered User WillFly's Avatar
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    Default Re: Tenor advise again...

    I also wondered about the pain caused by stretching. There's a condition called Dupuytren's Contracture which can affect stringed instrument players, in which the palm muscles make the hand contract and unable to open up for, say, barred chords. It's not uncommon and also curable. Probably not your condition, but worth a check with a doctor in any case.

    As to scale lengths, there's no question in my mind that a tenor with, say, a 22" scale or a 21.5" scale requires a stretch on many chords. Mandolin players can get by quite a lot with just using the first 3 fingers of the fretting hand, but the tenor in CGDA - played properly - really gets the 4th finger working hard. It may not be your best bet, but try out various instruments if you can and see what suits.

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