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Tenor guitar on a budget?

the button 21 Dec 08 - 07:24 AM
Zen 21 Dec 08 - 07:59 AM
GUEST,ljc 21 Dec 08 - 08:28 AM
alex s 21 Dec 08 - 08:30 AM
Bobert 21 Dec 08 - 08:51 AM
Will Fly 21 Dec 08 - 09:12 AM
Dave Hanson 21 Dec 08 - 09:47 AM
GUEST,punkfolkrocker 21 Dec 08 - 10:41 AM
the button 21 Dec 08 - 11:48 AM
Stringsinger 21 Dec 08 - 11:53 AM
Will Fly 21 Dec 08 - 12:09 PM
the button 21 Dec 08 - 01:55 PM
LJC 22 Dec 08 - 03:55 AM
Will Fly 22 Dec 08 - 04:08 AM
Stringsinger 22 Dec 08 - 03:01 PM
LJC 22 Dec 08 - 06:00 PM
Bobert 22 Dec 08 - 07:54 PM
Stringsinger 23 Dec 08 - 03:41 PM
GUEST,jonm on holiday 24 Dec 08 - 05:19 AM
Jim Lad 25 Dec 08 - 03:56 AM
GUEST,Phil Beer 25 Dec 08 - 03:52 PM
GUEST,Brad San Martin 12 Feb 09 - 11:26 PM
GUEST,ketennis 19 Nov 09 - 12:49 PM
mandotim 19 Nov 09 - 12:58 PM
DonMeixner 19 Nov 09 - 01:42 PM
Two of a Hind 20 Nov 09 - 07:19 AM
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Subject: Tenor guitar on a budget?
From: the button
Date: 21 Dec 08 - 07:24 AM

I know, I should be saving my pennies to upgrade my concertina. But I do like the sound of a tenor guitar.

They seem to come in two price brackets -- less than £200, and eye-wateringly expensive. I'd particularly like to hear from anyone who's got a nice instrument in the lower price bracket. Or, indeed, anyone who's bought an absolute dog, just so I know what to avoid.

Cheers in advance (cos you people are good at this sort of thing).


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Subject: RE: Tenor guitar on a budget?
From: Zen
Date: 21 Dec 08 - 07:59 AM

In the lower price bracket we have an Ozark tenor guitar which is well-made and sweet-sounding. Available from several good shops.

Zen


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Subject: RE: Tenor guitar on a budget?
From: GUEST,ljc
Date: 21 Dec 08 - 08:28 AM

I got a 1952 Martin Tenor for £400 shipped from the states, no import problems because of its age it seems. I had to spend about £30 on having the bridge re-cut to fix the intonation and new tuner buttons as the old ones perish over time, but I think you can get a bargain if you have a look at some of the US shops online and are prepared to take a punt on an older instruments.

You would always be able to ebay over here if it was not what you were after, but I don't think any of the new ones are up to much (I've tried plenty). I can think of two prominent folk musicians from the UK playing tenors at the moment, the newer made ones don't sound anything like their records, but the two martins I have heard in the flesh are bang on.

I was looking to get one before they were commercially available about 2 years ago and got fed up with the lack of availably... so made my own one to keep occupied whilst I shopped around - I took a travel guitar I had knocking about, did the maths for the string thickness/tension for GDGD tuning and stuck 4 strings on the middle 4 slots of the nut. No need to re cut anything or alter the guitar permanently. The shorter scale length works well with the higher pitched tuning of a tenor and it certainly give you a chance to get used to the tuning/chord shapes. I'm sure you could do the same to a regular acoustic guitar for a temporary fix!

LJC (yes, first mudcat post, but I have been lurking for about a year and a half!)


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Subject: RE: Tenor guitar on a budget?
From: alex s
Date: 21 Dec 08 - 08:30 AM

try the Music Room, Cleckheaton. Tonewoods @ £200


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Subject: RE: Tenor guitar on a budget?
From: Bobert
Date: 21 Dec 08 - 08:51 AM

I've owned at leasr a half a dozen of these things... The one I probably should have kept was a flat-top Gibson from the 30's because it had more umpft than the Martin 0-17, the Harmony arch-top, the Harmony flat-top and another one that I can't remember... But I saw a 30's Dobro resonator tenor on ebay but was outbid and so I contacted the buyer and he wasn't really looking for a rosonator so I traded my 30's Gibson for the reso... I like the reso okay but it ain't got the umpft as the Gibson....

BTW the Harmonies aren't all that expensive... The flat-top has more umpft to it than the arch-top if that matters to you which unless you are just playing by yourself doesn't much matter but if you are playing with others than the flat-top will hang better..

B~


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Subject: RE: Tenor guitar on a budget?
From: Will Fly
Date: 21 Dec 08 - 09:12 AM

If you're in the UK, the Hobgoblin chain do a Chinese-made tenor for around £160. They aren't bad - for the price. Good ones on eBay appear to be nearer the £1,000 mark. I'm having a luthier friend make me one - handmade, but less than the eBay price...


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Subject: RE: Tenor guitar on a budget?
From: Dave Hanson
Date: 21 Dec 08 - 09:47 AM

Tom Napper converted a Baby Taylor into a tenor guitar, he's pretty good playing it too.

eric


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Subject: RE: Tenor guitar on a budget?
From: GUEST,punkfolkrocker
Date: 21 Dec 08 - 10:41 AM

errrmm.. I always look for the most cost efffective functional solution..

see my post in "Guitar set-up for missing digits"


thread.cfm?threadid=116986&messages=47


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Subject: RE: Tenor guitar on a budget?
From: the button
Date: 21 Dec 08 - 11:48 AM

Thanks for the replies, all. I've seen the Ozarks and the Tonewoods for sale on EBay. I've dealt with both Hobgoblin & The Music Room in the past, and they're both fine retailers. Just wanted some opinions before I part with my hard-earned, or have a trip out to Hobgoblin for some hands-on.

I'll probably be a nightmare customer, though, cos I haven't really made my mind up whether to go for CGDA or GDAE set-up. ;-)


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Subject: RE: Tenor guitar on a budget?
From: Stringsinger
Date: 21 Dec 08 - 11:53 AM

There are three standard tunings for it. One is like the top four strings of a guitar. DGBE. This is sometimes known among banjo players as "Chicago" tuning.
The second is in fifths like a tenor banjo. CGDA or GDAE. The third is like a plectrum banjo tuning.CGBD (Eddie Condon used the last one with trad jazz bands).

The instrument that is used sounds different with these three tunings. I find that a tenor
guitar will accommodate one of the above mentioned tunings better than the other two.
The Eddie Freeman model is built like a Maccaferri or Selmer Django style instrument.
I don't know which tuning is best for this. Also, Ukulele Ike (Cliff Edwards) fashioned
a resophonic four stringed instrument which probably he strung like a uke. However,
it might accommodate a tenor-tuning as well.

Frank Hamilton


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Subject: RE: Tenor guitar on a budget?
From: Will Fly
Date: 21 Dec 08 - 12:09 PM

The tenors I've played in the past (like my tenor banjo and the tenor guitar I'm having made) are - and this is purely my personal opinion - played more versatilely in CDGA tuning. Jazz chords sit nicely in this tuning and, because they're in the same tuning ratio as a viola, tenors in this tuning can cope with many fiddle tunes.

Having said that, I tend to put a Shubb capo on the banjo when I want to cope with fiddle tunes in D. Tunes in G fall more easily on the tenor fretboard.


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Subject: RE: Tenor guitar on a budget?
From: the button
Date: 21 Dec 08 - 01:55 PM

What appeals to me about the CGDA option is the availability of that big open D chord, fretting the bottom two strings at fret 2. And the big open C, fretting the top 2 at fret 5. And then just faffing about from there, really.


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Subject: RE: Tenor guitar on a budget?
From: LJC
Date: 22 Dec 08 - 03:55 AM

Depends what you want to play I suppose - I don't see much point in GDAE since I play fiddle, mandolin and bouzouki as they cover that tuning pretty well! CGDA is the standard tuning I believe but the two common tunings I've come across are GDGD and DADA. These might sound limiting but the chord shapes and sounds you can get are fantastic. They don't really limit the keys you play in as long as you have a capo and its still ok for playing tunes.


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Subject: RE: Tenor guitar on a budget?
From: Will Fly
Date: 22 Dec 08 - 04:08 AM

Hi LJC - given the distance between GDGD and DADA tunings, would you recommend using different gauge strings (as appropriate) and sticking with one or the other?

I've never tried either of these but I'm willing to have a crack at them - or one of them.


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Subject: RE: Tenor guitar on a budget?
From: Stringsinger
Date: 22 Dec 08 - 03:01 PM

It depends on the style. Eddie Condon used CGBD (plectrum tuning effectively). As for jazz voicings, DGBE has the greatest versatility over the standard tenor banjo CGDA.
The fundamental difference between DGBE, CGBD and CGDA is that the latter uses open voicings. Also, in my experience, substitution chord changes in jazz are more difficult
to execute in CGDA. They are easier in "guitar-tuned" DGBE.

As to the gauge of string, each instrument requires different ones and experimentation is the only solution. Also, there are some re-entrant tunings that can be used for each of the above mentioned tunings. The "high C" or CGDA with the fourth string an octave higher
closes the chord voicings and has a different musical texture. You can also tune the tenor
like a uke which adds a different quality.

In an earlier swing band, there is argument for CGDA or for GDAE. (dropped tenor banjo tuning) but the other two tunings also work as well.

Frank Hamilton


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Subject: RE: Tenor guitar on a budget?
From: LJC
Date: 22 Dec 08 - 06:00 PM

I think you would have to use different gauge strings, tuning up a fifth would probably snap the string if you played too hard and at best would shorten the string life. I opted for GDGD as you can effectively get DADA by capoing. GDGD is the tuning Seth Lakeman has on his tenor, and I believe Karine Polwart has either AEAE (like a cross tuned fiddle) or DADA (I did ask her after a gig, but have since forgotten!)

I think the modal tunings are great for the current British folk thing but would be really limiting for playing jazz - tenor guitars were designed originally for banjo players who wanted to 'branch out' into guitar playing and needed a stepping stone along the way.


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Subject: RE: Tenor guitar on a budget?
From: Bobert
Date: 22 Dec 08 - 07:54 PM

Ya'll know what???

Well, I'll tell ya'... Ya start a tread about geetars that can be bought for this or that an' it always ends up with ya'll comparin' tunin's...

Do ya'll know how boring that is???

I mean, I play open tunin's, too... But I play what I feel and guess what??? Ya' Give???

I play stuff that ain't in no book and ain't in no Mudville discussions 'cause tunin's is just what you feel an' the rest is all acadmeic...

Think I'll sneak down below the line...

Geeze...

B~

BTW, if ya want to talk tunings why not start yet another thread on 'um... I try to help the guy out with some suggestions on geeters and...

...Nevermind... Ya'll have at it...


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Subject: RE: Tenor guitar on a budget?
From: Stringsinger
Date: 23 Dec 08 - 03:41 PM

A lot depends on the scale of the neck. A shorter scale will accommodate higher
tunings. A long neck will make thinner strings more tinny. I find the discussion about
tunings interesting because I am a musician. I think we can help this fella' out by determining what his interest is in the tenor guitar. It is a venerable instrument and used
a great deal in jazz, especially earlier forms from Chicago and revival New York.

The tenor guitar was concomitant with the jazz acoustic guitar which in my opinion
never surpassed the playing of Eddie Lang. That even goes for Django and Oscar.

Eddie Freeman was an exponent in England and used the Selmer "modele" of Django
sans the bottom two strings.

The tenor guitar was used in early swing groups in the 20's and early 30's. It was used
in the early Kingston Trio recordings also. Probably because the KT had Hawaiian influences. The baritone uke is like the tenor guitar only tuned higher. It is a very
versatile instrument like the guitar but it is essentially used for chordal melodies.

If your technique is good, you shouldn't have to play the instrument too hard. A good
tenor will sound just as good played at a moderate volume and will carry with higher
tuned strings.

The only thing that would be missing in this instrument as a solo would be the bass lines.

Frank Hamilton


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Subject: RE: Tenor guitar on a budget?
From: GUEST,jonm on holiday
Date: 24 Dec 08 - 05:19 AM

I tried the Ozark and the own-brand ones from Hobgoblin and Music Room (Ashbury and Tonewood, I think), which appear to be the same instrument.

The Ozark is significantly smaller and punchier, it comes with a recommendation not to retune from CGDA all the way to GDAE, so mine is currently tuned DGDG low to high, which I find more usable for tunes in G than GDGD - the D in the bass can act as a drone and most tunes in G go down to D and/or up to the G an octave-plus above, which gives me the range.

I've had it about five months now and am very pleased, although there are some minor fit-and-finish issues which do not affect the tone.

The others I tried were guitar bodies with a slimmer and shorter neck, which meant a full-size case or gig bag (the Ozark fits a 1/2 size classical bag/case). No more volume over the Ozark but a little more richness and bass, although if I wanted something guitar-sized, I'll take a guitar. The Ozark was punchier and is audible through the Castagnari Wall of Sound at sessions.

Eagle Music in 'uddersfield are currently doing Ozarks with a free hardshell case at a bargain price.


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Subject: RE: Tenor guitar on a budget?
From: Jim Lad
Date: 25 Dec 08 - 03:56 AM

Mine are custom made, around $1.500 for one and $400 for the cedar top. Mind you, I spent an additional $400 getting the cheaper one set up properly.
I prefer the DGBE tuning and use CGDA on the banjo..
I'll be interested in what you settle on. Would be a real treat to have an affordable standby kicking around.


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Subject: RE: Tenor guitar on a budget?
From: GUEST,Phil Beer
Date: 25 Dec 08 - 03:52 PM

We have two beautiful Custom built David Oddy instruments which we tend to tune CGDG. I have also just acquired the Ozark which I have set up for GDAD. It was under £200 with a case and compares very favourably with the more expensive ones. Good value I think personally.


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Subject: RE: Tenor guitar on a budget?
From: GUEST,Brad San Martin
Date: 12 Feb 09 - 11:26 PM

...I just nabbed an old Epiphone tenor from eBay, and it was set up to play in DGBE tuning. That just seemed uninteresting to me, since I have a few guitars that have that tuning already...so I tried the Eddie Condon tuning that Frank mentioned. It's great! Very flexible, some nice possibilities for voice-leading. I can see why Condon stuck with it for his whole life...

brad


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Subject: RE: Tenor guitar on a budget?
From: GUEST,ketennis
Date: 19 Nov 09 - 12:49 PM

I have what appears to be a home-made electric guitar resembling an old "airline" guitar. I couldn't find any markings to indicate what make it is, but underneath the pickups is "LJC #1". LJC - Is this yours by chance?

ketennis


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Subject: RE: Tenor guitar on a budget?
From: mandotim
Date: 19 Nov 09 - 12:58 PM

For me, no contest in the lower price bracket; another vote for the Ozark tenor, about £200 including a nice hard case, from Eagle Music in Huddersfield. Loud, sweet-toned and a really lovely neck to play. Solid cedar top, laminate back and sides, nicely bound and finished. I play it in CGDA, although it really belongs to my wife and she loves it dearly. Rude not to buy one at that price, really.
In the more expensive bracket there are lots of luthier built tenors to choose from, but I'd be tempted to look around for an old Gibson archtop tenor. Getting pricier these days, but still plenty around.


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Subject: RE: Tenor guitar on a budget?
From: DonMeixner
Date: 19 Nov 09 - 01:42 PM

Blueridge makes a tenor and if it is anything like their other instruments it will be a fine intro to tenor guitar. And it will likely be all the guitar she will ever need.

Having learned to play 6 string guitar three times now I have deloped a few observations. The first time I took up guitar it was a 1950's Gibson tenor. In 1969 absolutely no one had a clue what it was, neither fish nor foul. The reference work wasn't easily found in a part of the US that was of a 6 string or no string mind. In hind sight I know what I needed to do to play it but back then tenors were only seen on the covers of the Kingston TRio LPs.

I learned 6 string instead which was fun and I got real good at it.

The second time I learned was following rehab on a wrist injury to my right hand. I crushed my wrist and hand in some machinery. I had to learn to strum and finger pick again. Try playing a guitar with a potato and you will have the idea. 6 or tenor would have made no difference until a year and a half of surgeries and rehab were over.
I still don't frail well.

The third time followed a table saw injury that involved reattachments and a year and a half of surger and rehab. I tried the tenor again. The span of the chords was too great for my fingers to reach for many chords in the traditional tenor tunings. Tuned like the top four of a guitar dgbe wasn't easier. Tuned like a banjo in G tuning with out the drone was much better. (DGBD I still recommend this style for the tenor.

In hindsight here if I had a brain I'd have learne to play left handed. I am a singer, not a guitar god and strumming and simple finger picking suits me well. Being able to move up the neck, something I still can't do well after 20 years, is more desireble to me and my style of play than being able to pick with 2, 3, or more fingers.

I think in this instance it isn't the missing fingers that will cause the anxiety but the missing thumb. That would be the critical issue as I see it. In my case my thumb was severally damaged but not removed.

In any case good luck with this project. Having lived through this problem my support is with the musician.

Don


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Subject: RE: Tenor guitar on a budget?
From: Two of a Hind
Date: 20 Nov 09 - 07:19 AM

I bought an Ozark from Eagle Music and had a pick up fitted in it by them, it works well, sounds sweet and for the amount of time that I need it for a different sound when we perform it was money well spent.


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