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Thread: Tenor Guitar tuning - CGDA vs GDAE ????

  1. #26
    Work in Progress Ed Goist's Avatar
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    Default Re: Tenor Guitar tuning - CGDA vs GDAE ????

    Looks like these are the ticket...
    John Pearse 450L Tenor Guitar Strings: For GDAE tuning, 80/20 Bronze wound, ball ended. Gauges: .013, .020w, .030w, .042w
    c.1965 Harmony Monterey H410 Mandolin
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    Default Re: Tenor Guitar tuning - CGDA vs GDAE ????

    Don, if you modify the nut and bridge with a file will this prohibit you from changing back to CDGA strings?

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    Default Re: Tenor Guitar tuning - CGDA vs GDAE ????

    Don, if you modify the nut and bridge with a file will this prohibit you from changing back to CDGA strings?
    I never really thought about it, but now that you bring it up it is possible you can't go back. The slots would be too big- .012 for a .010 string, .022 for a .014, .032 for a .022, and .044 for a .032. Now, if you were to go back to CGDA it is POSSIBLE you could get a buzz or rattle in the slots...or not. It the strings don't make noise you're good to go. If they are noisy you are up a creek. Only way to tell if that would work would be to try it.
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    Default Re: Tenor Guitar tuning - CGDA vs GDAE ????

    If you cut the slots for the John Pearse set Ed wants to try it might be a little better. They aren't quite as fat as the ones I use. Another thought: if you have a floating bridge like I do you could make 2 bridges, one for each set, very easily. You could make different saddles for each set for a pin bridge IF the saddle is removable. Nut would be more problematic.
    Don

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  9. #30
    Work in Progress Ed Goist's Avatar
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    Default Re: Tenor Guitar tuning - CGDA vs GDAE ????

    Quote Originally Posted by multidon View Post
    If you cut the slots for the John Pearse set Ed wants to try it might be a little better. They aren't quite as fat as the ones I use. ...snip...
    Don, during my search for a first tenor I was told that one of the biggest benefits of the longer 23" scale tenor guitars is that the longer scale facilitates GDAE strings that are low enough in gauge to make it possible to go back and forth between GDAE & CGDA without needing to adjust the nut and saddle.
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    Unfamous String Buster Beanzy's Avatar
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    Default Re: Tenor Guitar tuning - CGDA vs GDAE ????

    Quote Originally Posted by Ed Goist View Post

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    Bingo! Thanks Ed that's going straight in the gig-bag.
    Eoin



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    Registered User Malcolm G.'s Avatar
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    Default Re: Tenor Guitar tuning - CGDA vs GDAE ????

    Quote Originally Posted by Beanzy View Post
    Bingo! Thanks Ed that's going straight in the gig-bag.
    Moi, as well!

    You're a wealth of info, Ed!

    Would saddle compensation change? I'd have no problem making up multiple nuts and multiple saddles - just have to get the correct compensated blanks.
    Malcolm Grundy from Montreal

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    Default Re: Tenor Guitar tuning - CGDA vs GDAE ????

    Would saddle compensation change? I'd have no problem making up multiple nuts and multiple saddles - just have to get the correct compensated blanks.
    Yes, saddle compensation would change in GDAE if you use a wound A. I have a floating bridge and I get acceptable intonation using a straight uncompensated saddle with a slight tilt up on the treble side.
    Don

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    Registered User Terry Allan Hall's Avatar
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    Default Re: Tenor Guitar tuning - CGDA vs GDAE ????

    Prefer Irish (GDAE) for both of my Tenors (guitar and banjo), because by the time I'd taken them up, I'd been playing mandolin for about 20 years, so all I had to do is adapt to the longer scales. Did keep another tenor banjo in Dixieland (CGDA) for jazz gigs, but found that Irish tuning works just as well, and none of the bands I worked with cared one way or the other, really, so I eventually gifted it to one of my mandolin students.

    Also, the Irish tuning covers about the range of the guitar, so it's good for backing up other instruments, as well as for lead lines.

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    Default Re: Tenor Guitar tuning - CGDA vs GDAE ????

    re loop ends on a pin bridge guitar. Jack Spira came up with a nifty trick for his pin bridge instruments ... he drills a hole across the channel for the strings. What you do is thread the string through the hole, then loop the string over the bottom of the pin. So simple and so elegant. I have used them on both my Spira Mandola and O/M and as simple as it is ... it works.

    (If you want to try this, drill the hole @ 1/16 or less, at least half way down the peg. After the string is threaded and looped, give it a good pull or two to set the string and keep it from moving when you install it. I even tried it on a few of the brass pins which are available - I would get an extra set of pegs before you try this.)
    Mandola fever is permanent.

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    Registered User Mike Herlihy's Avatar
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    Default Re: Tenor Guitar tuning - CGDA vs GDAE ????

    Hate to bring up the dreaded "C-word" but if you capo on the second fret of CGDA - you get the DAEB and are able to play most Irish tunes (GDAE - DAEB).
    Last edited by Mike Herlihy; Mar-12-2012 at 2:57pm. Reason: mistake

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    Registered User Brad Weiss's Avatar
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    Default Re: Tenor Guitar tuning - CGDA vs GDAE ????

    Ok, late to this thread, and just picking it up now. I'm sure the GDAE tuning is the way to go for the Irish music the OP asked about. I had my Gibson TG-50 tuned in G for a month, but found it too slack, and the chords were muddy, so I thought I'd try CGDA tuning. And I love it! A much brighter and tighter sounds, with fuller chords, and nice resonance for jazzier leads, too. But the fingering for the choro I like to play meant I had to relearn a bunch of tunes, which I found maddening. So I found a solution. A capo at the second fret turns the tuning to DAEB - the top of the mandolin, plus a high B. It's perfect for almost every choro, except for the ones that have a note or two below C (and there aren't all that many of those), and the fingering is the same. Cool! I love the tone of the tenors, and may be unloading some mandolins since I'm so taken with this new sound, I never pick up a mando these days.

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  21. #38
    Mandolin Botherer Shelagh Moore's Avatar
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    Default Re: Tenor Guitar tuning - CGDA vs GDAE ????

    I used to tune GDAE but these days play it in CDGA as I prefer the sound and chords in the higher tuning... also better for songs for me.

  22. #39

    Default Re: Tenor Guitar tuning - CGDA vs GDAE ????

    Quote Originally Posted by Mike Herlihy View Post
    Hate to bring up the dreaded "C-word" but if you capo on the second fret of CGDA - you get the DAEB and are able to play most Irish tunes (GDAE - DAEB).
    see, now capo on a tenor is totally acceptable in my book, and even on a longer scale mandola (19")
    Sorry, I am no longer suffering fools

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    Capt. E Capt. E's Avatar
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    Default Re: Tenor Guitar tuning - CGDA vs GDAE ????

    Bumping an old thread here...
    Just acquired a nice 20's vintage Stromberg Voisinet tenor guitar. Strung it with medium Octave Mandolin strings (D'Addario EJ80-unwound E string) and tuned it to GDAE. I don't think the instrument will take heavier strings. I have been trying out GDAD lately, which is a pretty cool tuning with wonderful open string tone on the two high strings. Great for blues.
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  24. #41
    Capt. E Capt. E's Avatar
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    Default Re: Tenor Guitar tuning - CGDA vs GDAE ????

    Finally made some photos of my new tenor. Enjoying it very much. The tone and volume is great all the way up the neck and the new Grover tuners work just fine (the originals are gone and someone had put on some cheap replacements). The guitar is 23" scale, floating bridge, and I am using octave mandolin strings, GDAE tuning (sometimes GDAD).

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    Last edited by Capt. E; Jul-18-2017 at 10:03am. Reason: additional comments
    Jammin' south of the river
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  26. #42
    Capt. E Capt. E's Avatar
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    Default Re: Tenor Guitar tuning - CGDA vs GDAE ????

    More photos: A previous owner had fun with the headstock. Considering having the stencil removed, but I kind of like it.Click image for larger version. 

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    Jammin' south of the river
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    Default Re: Tenor Guitar tuning - CGDA vs GDAE ????

    Looks great!!

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    Default Re: Tenor Guitar tuning - CGDA vs GDAE ????

    Hello,

    I have a tenor banjo and barytone uke, both tuned GDAE.
    They sound good.
    When I want CGDA I put my capo at the 5th fret and they sound good to.
    The neck is shortened but I don't often go past the 12th fret anyway.

    So I ask to myself:

    Suppose one hesitate between GDAE and CGDA.
    Isn't it better to advice him GDAE?
    GDAE can be easily changed in CGDA with a capo.
    CGDA can't become GDAE.
    So, regardless of taste, sound, style of music played etc... GDAE seems to me more interesting just because you can access both tunings.

    Please correct me if what I say is stupid
    My english is not perfect.
    Nor my french anyway...

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    Default Re: Tenor Guitar tuning - CGDA vs GDAE ????

    Quite correct Phil, not stupid at all & a good way to hear the different sound but, it might depend on what you are playing & how you approach the tenor guitar.
    If you play your tenor guitar like a mandolin then that makes most sense.
    If you play it like a guitar using chords, the shortened strings wont sustain very well and will also feel tight if you finger pick.
    So yes you can capo GDAE to find out what CGDA might sound like but it wont sound or feel the same as CGDA on a full 23" scale.

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    Default Re: Tenor Guitar tuning - CGDA vs GDAE ????

    I recently converted from Chicago tuning to CGDA on my Martin 5-17 and tenor banjo. Wow! I never tried fifths tuning before. The chords are pretty easy to learn but the sound range is so much better. I love playing the D as a modal chord, without the regular or flatted third. I throw in the minor third (F) with some bending occasionally to get a real down sound.
    Playing A, pulling odd to the open G, then open C hammer on the D gives it a real kick too.

  33. #47
    Registered User Tim N's Avatar
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    Default Re: Tenor Guitar tuning - CGDA vs GDAE ????

    As a player of chords, it took me about a year to settle down with tenor guitar generally, and I was frustrated by the tuning issue - because I initially wanted GDAE, but realised that the guitars which are easily available/affordable off the shelf (and in Germany that means online...) are not suited to it. The sellers can (and do) tell you what they like, but a short scale guitar like the Osark just doesn't work with Irish tuning, and even the 23" Blueridge only just about works with a really thick G string. Both of them really want to be played in CGDA (or possibly CGDG), and sound good when tuned thus. If I played them with a capo on the 5th fret just for the sake of acheiving GDAE, I would have no joy in it.
    So I think , ideally you just have to have two instuments of different scales if you want to have the pleasure of both worlds. My long scale instrument is actually an Irish Bouzouki (c26"). It would be nice to have a long scale tenor too... but I'd probably have to look much further afield, and spend more to find one - or commission a build.
    "What's that funny guitar thing..?"

  34. #48
    Registered User Seonachan's Avatar
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    Default Re: Tenor Guitar tuning - CGDA vs GDAE ????

    I realize there are advantages to standard tunings (whether CGDA or GDAE), especially when playing with others and/or in genres like ITM where certain keys are common-to-ubiquitous. But if you're not constrained by such things, there are other keys that can sound fantastic on a tenor guitar. I'm a big fan of BbFCG. On a 23" scale, a standard CGDA string set sounds and feels better to me tuned down that full step - more in the instrument's comfort zone as opposed to pushing the edge. A little mellower, a little darker. And of course you can always capo up to standard if desired. Just my 2, knowing I'm in a minority.

  35. #49
    Registered User Tim N's Avatar
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    Default Re: Tenor Guitar tuning - CGDA vs GDAE ????

    That's a good tip; I might well try it out. I must admit that CGDA can sound a little too bright sometimes, and it's the top string that really does it. I tried a while with CGDG, which helps, but I personally find some of the the chord shapes less satisfactory.
    I've noticed that capoing a tenor isn't quite so straightforward. I have a whole range of normal guitar capos, but none sit very happily. I tried buying a banjo capo, but it was too small for the Blueridge which has a deep neck profile. Any tips?
    "What's that funny guitar thing..?"

  36. #50
    Registered User fox's Avatar
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    Default Re: Tenor Guitar tuning - CGDA vs GDAE ????

    I agree with Secnachan, I find the A (cgda) far to stressed on a 23" scale but of course thousands of folk use just that format very successfully so it might just be us.

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