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

  1. #51
    Registered User bbcee's Avatar
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    Default Re: Tenor Guitar tuning - CGDA vs GDAE ????

    I have a Harmony 1201T that really likes to be tuned GDAE. when i first got it, coming from mando, I capo'd up two frets & tuned the same, as the finger stretch was killing me. Now that I'm used to it, I play uncapo'd in GDAE. It has a wonderful, deep and mellow sound.

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  3. #52
    Registered User Tim N's Avatar
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    Default Re: Tenor Guitar tuning - CGDA vs GDAE ????

    [QUOTE= 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. [/QUOTE]

    Tried it now - and you're absolutely right! Have now got my Blueridge tuned to BbFCG. Along with the flatwound strings I feel I've got a sound and a feel I'm really happy with. Both tips from folk on this forum.
    "What's that funny guitar thing..?"

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  5. #53
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    Default Re: Tenor Guitar tuning - CGDA vs GDAE ????

    I found these John Pearse 450 Tenor Guitar Strings they're 80/20 Bronze Wound Custom gauge:https://www.elderly.com/products/joh...nor-guitar-set & are designed to tune the Tenor Guitar like a Violin/Mandolin (but down an Octave) that's GDAE, the gauges from top to bottom are 13, 20w, 30w, 42w. Warren Ellis uses this Tuning on his Tenor Guitar so we can play his music pretty easily. GDAE Tuning isn't just for Irish Music, it's also great for playing Jazz because Tenor Guitars tend to be tuned pretty high at CGDA, & tuning them down a perfect fourth to GDAE w/ strings designed for that tuning really mellows it out so that it doesn't sound too thin. The Wound 2nd String (Eddie Lang popularized having a Wound 2nd String BTW) gives you a more consistent tone. GDAE Tuning is also great for Singer-Song writers when you're singing & strumming:https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=J6XZ0pIymq4

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

    Quote Originally Posted by Brad Weiss View Post
    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.
    Actually the strings are really slack cause they're not heavy gauge enough. John Pearse Strings are designed for that tuning w/o being slack.

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

    Quote Originally Posted by Eddie Sheehy View Post
    I prefer my Tenor guitar tuned GDAE. I used to cringe when tuning the A string in CGDA - and usually broke it...
    I think this lower tuning reduces the amount of tension so that it won't break.

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

    Also alot of Tenor Guitars have slightly deeper (sometimes bigger) bodies than most of you think so that when tuned GDAE w/ John Pearse 450s, they sound amazing.

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

    Also GDAE Tuning w/ John Pearse 450 Strings will reduce the string breakage since the tension is lower. The Lower Tension makes the strings easier to press down & the heavier gauge prevents them from sounding too thin.

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

    First of all CGDA isn't a true Tenor Range, it's an Alto Range. GDAE is the True Tenor Range.

  11. #59
    Tired & Cranky Monte Barnett's Avatar
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    Default Re: Tenor Guitar tuning - CGDA vs GDAE ????

    Quote Originally Posted by s11141827 View Post
    First of all CGDA isn't a true Tenor Range, it's an Alto Range. GDAE is the True Tenor Range.
    So if it's tuned CGDA it's really an alto guitar? I'm curious if anyone (maybe John Pearse) makes strings for alto guitar ..... not really .... I'm just being sarcastic responding to a dead thread.
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    Default Re: Tenor Guitar tuning - CGDA vs GDAE ????

    Quote Originally Posted by MB-Octo View Post
    So if it's tuned CGDA it's really an alto guitar? I'm curious if anyone (maybe John Pearse) makes strings for alto guitar ..... not really .... I'm just being sarcastic responding to a dead thread.
    s11141827 seems to be on a mission to resurrect all the dead threads so they can recommend John Pearse strings. I'm sure they're not connecting to the company in any way though.......
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    Default Re: Tenor Guitar tuning - CGDA vs GDAE ????

    Quote Originally Posted by Ed Goist View Post
    I just used the McDonald Patent Universal String Tension Calculator to determine the tension differences between CGDA and GDAE tunings on a standard scale tenor guitar (22 7/8" or 58.1 cm) using common string gauges. The tensions seem to be nearly identical!

    I used the 'long scale mandola' setting (with properly adjusted scale) to get the CGDA string tensions, and the 'short scale Bouzouki' setting (again with properly adjusted scale) to get the GDAE tensions. Here's what I came up with:

    * A tenor guitar (22 7/8" scale), tuned CGDA with strings .010, .014, .022W, .032W has a total string tension of 40.18 kg.

    * A tenor guitar (22 7/8" scale), tuned GDAE with strings .013, .020W,.030W, .042W has a total string tension of 38.97 kg.

    Very interesting!
    Having less tension in GDAE Tuning than CGDA is actually great because alot of Tenor Guitars (especially those w/ a Scale Length longer than 23) are known to have the High A String pop. So w/ GDAE Tuning you'll be able to get the strings tuned up to pitch more easily, plus it mellows out the instrument's sound.

  16. #62

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

    Quote Originally Posted by s11141827 View Post
    First of all CGDA isn't a true Tenor Range, it's an Alto Range. GDAE is the True Tenor Range.
    Wow... nope.

    Tenor banjo was tuned to match viola tuning. I think the first documented commercial tenor banjo dates to 1908, with a method for its CGDA tuning dating to 1913.

    4-string tenor guitar developed so tenor banjo players could easily double on a guitar-bodied instrument.

    Tunings for tenor banjo and tenor guitar have been generally recognized, and set in print in books, as Standard Tenor CGDA, Chicago Tuning DGBE, and Irish Tenor Tuning GDAE.

    Quite a few of the original method books for tenor banjo are now available as free downloads. I highly recommend doing a little research on those materials, dating back more than a century, to avoid embarassing pronouncements which are incorrect.

    I can understand and sympathise if you are assuming that tenor banjo nomenclature in North America, subsequently applied to the tenor guitar developed in that same region, should match the "alto mandola" and "tenor mandola" classifications in the UK and elsewhere. Still, they don't, being from a completely different region and tradition. Sorry!

    Quote Originally Posted by Jill McAuley View Post
    s11141827 seems to be on a mission to resurrect all the dead threads so they can recommend John Pearse strings. I'm sure they're not connecting to the company in any way though.......
    I didn't catch the JP Strings thing, but was astonished when the user necrobumped *two* of my old topics regarding my Ovation 12-string mandophone, recommending strings which were so light they would bend sharp just by fretting them. I had actually put in a lot of effort figuring out what worked in actual practice, so it was a bit amusing to see the armchair declarations which didn't seem to originate in the real world.

    Still, given that forum posts can be helpful to those who come later in search of information, I figure it's good to call that stuff out when it happens. Otherwise things which are easily disproven by the historical record might be repeated to the point where misinformation takes on a life of its own.

    Cheers!

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  18. #63

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

    Quote Originally Posted by s11141827 View Post
    Having less tension in GDAE Tuning than CGDA is actually great because alot of Tenor Guitars (especially those w/ a Scale Length longer than 23) are known to have the High A String pop. So w/ GDAE Tuning you'll be able to get the strings tuned up to pitch more easily, plus it mellows out the instrument's sound.
    It's worth knowing that a normal plain steel string will break fairly quickly when tuned above G4 at a 25.5" scale length.

    If it's a heavier string, it's stronger, but requires higher tension, leading to breakage.

    If it's a lighter string, it doesn't require as much tension, but it's weaker, leading to breakage.

    It's a weird area of convergence between the two related factors of strength and required tension.

    A plain string will also break above G#4 at around a 24" scale length.

    It's not a surprise that "alot" break when tuned higher than the scale length permits. The surprise would be that any normal plain steel string would hold up for long under such conditions.

    Anyway, hopefully this is useful information for anyone considering their tuning options at a scale length greater than 23".

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  20. #64
    coprolite mandroid's Avatar
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    Question Re: Tenor Guitar tuning - CGDA vs GDAE ????

    Longer scale (23") I am using FCGD .. & a capo..
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  21. #65

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

    Quote Originally Posted by mandroid View Post
    Longer scale (23") I am using FCGD .. & a capo..
    Which D ?
    And what gauge string are you using for that?
    Thanks,
    sounds_good

  22. #66

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

    Quote Originally Posted by mandroid View Post
    Longer scale (23") I am using FCGD .. & a capo..
    So, a whole step below GDAE, capoed at the second fret. Interesting!


    Quote Originally Posted by sounds_good View Post
    Which D ?
    And what gauge string are you using for that?
    At that pitch and scale length, of course, no strings will pop, but yeah... how heavily do you string that set?

  23. #67
    coprolite mandroid's Avatar
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    Question Re: Tenor Guitar tuning - CGDA vs GDAE ????

    Or, E B F# C#. still ascending 5ths ...

    Strings? I'm still using what came on the Ibanez AVT1


    you have short scale motor skills issues? capo to the 5th.

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  24. #68

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

    Quote Originally Posted by mandroid View Post
    you have short scale motor skills issues? capo to the 5th.
    It's funny that you mention going shorter.

    I have Jeff Cowherd's Army/Navy prototype, with a 14" scale length. He had listed another mandolin at the same time which he had strung as a mandola, using it as a travel mandola.. He was offering to restring it back as a mandolin, and to include the mandola bridge as well.

    I thought about it a bit, and wound up restringing *my* J. Bovier pancake as a mandola, and have happily used it as a travel instrument since then when space is *really* an issue, like when flying. (Otherwise I take my Flatiron 1SH beater mandola, purchased at a low price because of its condition and need for repairs. It will never be pretty, but now plays like a dream.)

    That successful J. Bovier mandolin-to-mandola experiment led to me retuning another of the Flatiron mandolas, with a 17" scale length, to an octave mandolin. It's incredibly comfortable to use. (As of now, two of the five Flatiron mandolas are tuned as octaves.)

    Capoing that 23" scale length tenor guitar to E B F# C#, and capoing at the fifth fret as you suggest to get to GDAE, gets you to a 17 1/4" acale length, just a bit longer than the 17" GDAE. That sounds comfortably playable.

  25. #69
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    Default Re: Tenor Guitar tuning - CGDA vs GDAE ????

    I want to thank the posters in this thread for all the information ... especially about the Pearse tenor set. I purchased a '38 Epiphone Triumph arch top tenor. I hadn't been as happy as I could have been with the sound and changed the strings over this morning ... and the tuners. This set of John Pearse tenors dramatically improves the sound for everything from trad jazz to Irish-Celtic to contra dance fiddle tunes. Many thanks for the headzup. What a community!
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    Default Re: Tenor Guitar tuning - CGDA vs GDAE ????

    Quote Originally Posted by Explorer View Post
    Wow... nope.

    Tenor banjo was tuned to match viola tuning. I think the first documented commercial tenor banjo dates to 1908, with a method for its CGDA tuning dating to 1913.

    4-string tenor guitar developed so tenor banjo players could easily double on a guitar-bodied instrument.

    Tunings for tenor banjo and tenor guitar have been generally recognized, and set in print in books, as Standard Tenor CGDA, Chicago Tuning DGBE, and Irish Tenor Tuning GDAE.

    Quite a few of the original method books for tenor banjo are now available as free downloads. I highly recommend doing a little research on those materials, dating back more than a century, to avoid embarassing pronouncements which are incorrect.

    I can understand and sympathise if you are assuming that tenor banjo nomenclature in North America, subsequently applied to the tenor guitar developed in that same region, should match the "alto mandola" and "tenor mandola" classifications in the UK and elsewhere. Still, they don't, being from a completely different region and tradition. Sorry!



    I didn't catch the JP Strings thing, but was astonished when the user necrobumped *two* of my old topics regarding my Ovation 12-string mandophone, recommending strings which were so light they would bend sharp just by fretting them. I had actually put in a lot of effort figuring out what worked in actual practice, so it was a bit amusing to see the armchair declarations which didn't seem to originate in the real world.

    Still, given that forum posts can be helpful to those who come later in search of information, I figure it's good to call that stuff out when it happens. Otherwise things which are easily disproven by the historical record might be repeated to the point where misinformation takes on a life of its own.

    Cheers!
    They recommend switching the bridge to an adjustable intonatable one.

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

    Quote Originally Posted by Explorer View Post
    It's worth knowing that a normal plain steel string will break fairly quickly when tuned above G4 at a 25.5" scale length.

    If it's a heavier string, it's stronger, but requires higher tension, leading to breakage.

    If it's a lighter string, it doesn't require as much tension, but it's weaker, leading to breakage.

    It's a weird area of convergence between the two related factors of strength and required tension.

    A plain string will also break above G#4 at around a 24" scale length.

    It's not a surprise that "alot" break when tuned higher than the scale length permits. The surprise would be that any normal plain steel string would hold up for long under such conditions.

    Anyway, hopefully this is useful information for anyone considering their tuning options at a scale length greater than 23".
    Octave4Plus makes special strings that can tune that high but you'd have to be gentle w/ them.

  28. #72

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

    Quote Originally Posted by s11141827 View Post
    Octave4Plus makes special strings that can tune that high but you'd have to be gentle w/ them.
    Interesting! Other than my now absent brother-in-music Groveland, I think I am the only one here who has extensively used O4+ strings. Have you used them... or are you just telling me what I've already said about them on the forum, minus actual details and experience?
    ----

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  29. #73
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    Default Re: Tenor Guitar tuning - CGDA vs GDAE ????

    Posts mentioned the John Pearse Tenor set - I use those on my Harley Benton tenor tuned G D A E, and they work well. A post above also mentiones that tenor guitars can be deeper bodied than you might expect. This one is 4"deep at the bottom, which seems a lot when you consider the top is shape like a tiny Dreadnought, less than 12 1/2" wide.

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

    Quote Originally Posted by Explorer View Post
    So, a whole step below GDAE, capoed at the second fret. Interesting!




    At that pitch and scale length, of course, no strings will pop, but yeah... how heavily do you string that set?
    Actually I tune GDAE for Jazz cause our Horn Section had their instruments converted up a whole step & they're now in the Keys of C & F. This also revived the Rare F Baritone Sax.

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

    Quote Originally Posted by Beanzy View Post
    I tend to think of the CGDA tuning as more natural for the transition between mandolin and tenor guitar.
    I read the mandolin in treble and am using the bass clef for the tenor guitar.
    When I pick it up I do a switch about in my head which says reading bass clef = going down to the C string/losing the E.
    So lower sounding instrument = lower tuning; just a little trigger to make it easier to switch.
    The scale patterns are ok as I play CGDA (cello) anyway, but 4 finger chords with the low string are a whole new kettle of fish for me.

    As for the sound I did tune my Martin LMX down again to the lower GDAE but it lost a lot of the resonance and went a bit dead.
    I know it's a HPLaminate body, but I was surprised at the difference in performance. I love the sound when up in CDGA, I didn't think you could do laminates to sound this good. I'm sure some would be a bit sniffy about them, but it's got me to drop some of my 'must be' solid wood prejudgices.
    Actually w/ GDAE you'll need John Pearse #450 Strings & there's less tension so it'll vibrate more freely.

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