Results 1 to 20 of 20

Thread: Tenor guitar string help

  1. #1

    Default Tenor guitar string help

    Hi all first post here.

    I have a tenor I inherited. My father played this during all my growing up years, with guitar tuning. DGBE, I never watched him string the guitar or paid any attention to what strings he used. I grew up playing guitar so I know it was always tuned that way even tho I rarely played it myself.

    I know he put new strings on it just before he passed because that was one of the last things he told me but that has been 10 years. So the strings are unplayed but 10+ years old.

    Ok, First, I wondered what guitar strings I should order next if I want to freshen them up. (although I've been strumming on it this week and they don't sound bad at all.)

    2nd I think this is my main question - what strings should I use if I want to spend some time playing with a mandolin tuning. I'm seeing the GDAE tuning listed in other threads. That seems too different on the 3 and 4 strings to just retune. Should I purchase a new set for that purpose. Will the first string E be in the same octave as it currently is in the guitar tuning?

    Thank,
    Keith

    Oh, ps I should mention the instrument I don't know if that matters regarding strings but it is an old National Triolian Tenor Metal Body Guitar

  2. #2

    Default Re: Tenor guitar string help

    Hi, Keith!

    Since your father apparently had success with the strings he was using, I recommend using a micrometer to measure the gauges of the last set your father left on the instrument. You'll then be able to exactly duplicate that set for DGBE tuning.

    Knowing what your dad used for DGBE tuning will also then give a tension baseline, and a target tension profile for a string set matching that tension when tuned to DGAE.

    If you don't have a micrometer, most music instrument stores have a micrometer on hand and can help you.

    Once you have the gauges, you can either post them so we can give you string set gauges which are an exact tension match, or you can use the D'Addario String Tension Chart to figure it out.

    I look forward to hearing back from you!

  3. The following members say thank you to Explorer for this post:

    fox 

  4. #3
    Registered User fox's Avatar
    Join Date
    Feb 2014
    Location
    Guernsey... small island just off the coast of France
    Posts
    1,427

    Default Re: Tenor guitar string help

    DGBE seems to be taking over the world! Most of the many Facebook tenor guitar pages, seem dominated by this tuning.
    I am sure DGBE is becoming so popular due to ukulele players changing to tenor guitars.
    The only problem I have with this is all the die hard 5ths players arguing about it!
    Anyway the most common gauges seem to be just taken from a standard 6 sting set ie 13 17 24 32. or 12 15 22 32.
    However as Explorer says you might want to replace like with like as your dad might have found a better combination?
    For GDAE 12 18w 30w 45w is what I prefer but others like a much higher tentsion A & sometimes D but I think that is because most sets come with a 20 or 22 as standard for the A & sometimes a 32 for the D.
    Most music shops will sell you single guitar strings. So you can make your own set.

  5. #4
    Registered User fox's Avatar
    Join Date
    Feb 2014
    Location
    Guernsey... small island just off the coast of France
    Posts
    1,427

    Default Re: Tenor guitar string help

    If you use one of the online tension calculators & change a standard six string set to 23in scale you get this...

    Click image for larger version. 

Name:	2783E671-3423-4676-B4C7-F9883E013FA1.jpeg 
Views:	92 
Size:	223.7 KB 
ID:	166037

    Now you would think that would be perfect considering these gauges work so well on a six string but for me I find the G & D to tight.
    However so much depends on how you play & what you play. I play mainly single note melody & I prefer to have a more equal tension on all the strings.

  6. #5

    Default Re: Tenor guitar string help

    Thanks for getting me started. I saw a store down the block from my tax persons office (in the next town over) this afternoon so went into the store and asked some of the same questions but it wasn't a useful exchange. :-).

    I think I'll go into the store in our little town and take the guitar this time as suggested and see what I can learn there. I don't know the owner but I have seen her playing a mandolin around town, so with the head start from here I think I can ask the right questions this time and get some help with tuning in 5ths

    If I learn anything interesting I'll reply.

  7. #6

    Default Re: Tenor guitar string help

    Quote Originally Posted by nyimbo View Post
    I think I'll go into the store in our little town and take the guitar this time as suggested and see what I can learn there.

    If I learn anything interesting I'll reply.
    All I need to know is what string gauges are currently on the instrument, at which point. I'll give you the correct gauges to convert to CGDA.

    Cheers!


    Quote Originally Posted by fox View Post
    I am sure DGBE is becoming so popular due to ukulele players changing to tenor guitars. The only problem I have with this is all the die hard 5ths players arguing about it!
    Is there actually a large body of CGDA players who continually, and uninvitedly, argue against DGBE tuning on Facebook pages dedicated to DGBE tuning?

    I've been involved in conversations regarding the advantages of each over the other, so I'm fascinated to learn if this one-sidedness is the case on Facebook.

  8. #7

    Default Re: Tenor guitar string help

    For GDAE 12 18w 30w 45w is what I prefer but others like a much higher tension A & sometimes D but I think that is because most sets come with a 20 or 22 as standard for the A & sometimes a 32 for the D.
    Most music shops will sell you single guitar strings. So you can make your own set.


    I should probably ask a specific question or two. I'm trying to get it in my head but since I haven't even played on one yet...

    The D forth string on my guitar is 32w so the 30w that you said you like is higher tension or (lighter tension) on the D string?

    Next The 4th string G is one octave lower than the G 3rd string on my guitar. Am I getting close?

    Last you said the sets come with a 20 or 22. What is that set called? Is that tenor guitar set or called something else?

    Thanks, Keith

  9. #8

    Default Re: Tenor guitar string help

    Quote Originally Posted by nyimbo View Post
    For GDAE 12 18w 30w 45w is what I prefer but others like a much higher tension A & sometimes D but I think that is because most sets come with a 20 or 22 as standard for the A & sometimes a 32 for the D.
    Most music shops will sell you single guitar strings. So you can make your own set.


    I should probably ask a specific question or two. I'm trying to get it in my head but since I haven't even played on one yet...

    The D forth string on my guitar is 32w so the 30w that you said you like is higher tension or (lighter tension) on the D string?

    Next The 4th string G is one octave lower than the G 3rd string on my guitar. Am I getting close?

    Last you said the sets come with a 20 or 22. What is that set called? Is that tenor guitar set or called something else?

    Thanks, Keith
    This is what I wanted to avoid, the water being muddied by throwing out recommendations before knowing the starting point (the strings currently on the intrument).

    I especially don't want to advise you to go with a higher tension than what the inatrument has done well with, because if you run into problems down the road, none of us giving you advice will be paying for repairs.

    I promise I'll be as thorough and complete with my full answer as you could hope, once you provide the current string gauges.

    Again, I refuse to do any harm by throwing out suggestions which don't take into account your actual situation.

  10. #9
    Registered User fox's Avatar
    Join Date
    Feb 2014
    Location
    Guernsey... small island just off the coast of France
    Posts
    1,427

    Default Re: Tenor guitar string help

    Quote Originally Posted by Explorer View Post
    This is what I wanted to avoid, the water being muddied by throwing out recommendations before knowing the starting point (the strings currently on the intrument).

    I especially don't want to advise you to go with a higher tension than what the inatrument has done well with, because if you run into problems down the road, none of us giving you advice will be paying for repairs.

    I promise I'll be as thorough and complete with my full answer as you could hope, once you provide the current string gauges.

    Again, I refuse to do any harm by throwing out suggestions which don't take into account your actual situation.
    OH Dear, I am sorry, I will of course leave you to it....

  11. #10

    Default Re: Tenor guitar string help

    Quote Originally Posted by fox View Post
    OH Dear, I am sorry, I will of course leave you to it....
    :-)

  12. #11

    Default Re: Tenor guitar string help

    I'm still waiting for it (my National) to be examined. I went to the music store a few days ago and it was pouring, seriously pouring rain so I chose to leave the guitar at home and just went in to the local shop and talked to them and bought some strings for my 6 string.

    So no news yet on the gauge report of the tenor strings. I"ll add a report here for follow up help when it happens.

  13. #12

    Default Re: Tenor guitar string help

    I've been wondering! I'm looking forward to it!

  14. #13

    Default Re: Tenor guitar string help

    Quote Originally Posted by Explorer View Post
    I've been wondering! I'm looking forward to it!
    I'm not sure this is helpful. The salesman bumbled around on the electronic gage and complained he didn't know how to use it like he did the old manual one. Anyway this is what he wrote down. 30, 23, 14.5, 11.
    Thanks, Keith

  15. #14

    Default Re: Tenor guitar string help

    So, here's the current tensions:

    .011 - 19.6 lbs at E
    .0145 - 19.5 at B
    .023 - 27.9 at G
    .030 - 27.7 at D

    In the pursuit of "First, do no harm to some other person's instrument," I'd recommend going with:

    .010 - 16.2 lbs. at E
    .015 - 16.2 lbs. at A
    .024PB - 16.9 lbs. at D
    .036PB - 17.3 lbs. at G

    (I'm using the D'Addario String Tension Chart for my numbers.)

    Cheers!

  16. #15

    Default Re: Tenor guitar string help

    Thanks, Keith

  17. #16
    Registered User Seonachan's Avatar
    Join Date
    Apr 2011
    Location
    Western Massachusetts
    Posts
    210

    Default Re: Tenor guitar string help

    Those tensions from the D'Addario chart assume a 25.5" scale. Unless your Triolian is actually a plectrum or a one-off custom, it's going to have a ~23" scale, which would result in a lower tension (13-14 lbs) at those gauges. If you want to get the tension to the 16-17 lb range, you'll need to bump up the gauges to something like 40-26-16-11.

  18. #17

    Default Re: Tenor guitar string help

    Quote Originally Posted by Seonachan View Post
    Those tensions from the D'Addario chart assume a 25.5" scale. Unless your Triolian is actually a plectrum or a one-off custom, it's going to have a ~23" scale, which would result in a lower tension (13-14 lbs) at those gauges. If you want to get the tension to the 16-17 lb range, you'll need to bump up the gauges to something like 40-26-16-11.
    Just to note, my initial tensions using the current string gauges also assume a 25.5” scale length. All the string tensions I gave, both present and proposed, are still in proportion to each other. The OP never gave a target tension profile, which is why I suggested using the current set as a jumping off point.

    I also am wary of taking those measurements at face value, given the salesperson's complaints. I'd rather err on the side of caution, given my philosophy of doing no harm to an instrument for which I won't be paying for any repairs.

    Lastly, from National: "Our roundneck instruments were not built to handle the heavy gauge strings and high action required for lap style." As one increases the tension, as some folks do in the thought the increased tension adds more sound volume, the soundboard or cone then gets proportionally compressed, constraining its ability to vibrate efficiently. I figure, the OP can later go to slightly higher tensions incrementally if desired... again following "Do no harm."

  19. #18

    Default Re: Tenor guitar string help

    It does have a 23" scale, 21 fret. It's a 1930 Triolian in fairly good condition, don't know if being an older year has any bearing on the tension it will take.

    The more I have thought about it over the last few weeks, the more I think I might try to to sell or trade it for something that I will play. I have thought for some time that I would like a 12 fret parlor style guitar which I would play my finger style on rather than just keeping a tenor for sentimental reasons. I asked the original question because keeping it (for me) would mean I should play it - so was toying with the idea of trying to tune in 5ths - or leave as is and learn some uke pieces. But the do no harm comments has been keeping me cautious. The guitar has some sentimental and monetary value and I don't want to harm it. So I've done nothing to it so far and perhaps I should leave it as is????? I'm just thinking as I type.....

  20. #19
    Registered User fox's Avatar
    Join Date
    Feb 2014
    Location
    Guernsey... small island just off the coast of France
    Posts
    1,427

    Default Re: Tenor guitar string help

    I would suggest the strings that are already fitted are in fact .10 .14 .22w .30w.
    That would be a standard tenor guitar tuning CGDA string set?

  21. #20
    Registered User Seonachan's Avatar
    Join Date
    Apr 2011
    Location
    Western Massachusetts
    Posts
    210

    Default Re: Tenor guitar string help

    Just pointing out that 13-14 pounds of tension per string is extremely low. The strings are going to flop all over the place, and won't drive the cone the way it's designed to. Any guitar that can't handle more than that is already broken. National's warning about heavy gauge lap steel strings is talking about string sets that result in 30+ lbs of tension per string, well beyond the range that we're dealing with here.

    nyimbo, before going any further, when you do change strings, DON'T remove all the old strings at once. That will likely cause the cone to shift, and give you all kinds of problems. The rule for resos is to change one string at a time, so there's always sufficient tension to keep the cone in place.

Tags for this Thread

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •