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Guitars - eight string - What?

JVZ 27 Mar 99 - 10:15 AM
bill\sables 27 Mar 99 - 10:44 AM
Art Thieme 27 Mar 99 - 04:31 PM
rich r 28 Mar 99 - 12:23 AM
JVZ 28 Mar 99 - 09:35 AM
Mark Roffe 28 Mar 99 - 03:47 PM
DoneyGal2 (inactive) 28 Mar 99 - 04:52 PM
Lucius 28 Mar 99 - 06:21 PM
Bob Bolton 28 Mar 99 - 07:01 PM
DonMeixner 28 Mar 99 - 10:11 PM
Lucius 28 Mar 99 - 10:36 PM
catspaw49 28 Mar 99 - 11:21 PM
Bob Bolton 29 Mar 99 - 01:55 AM
JVZ 29 Mar 99 - 12:03 PM
John in Brisbane 29 Mar 99 - 06:54 PM
Waiheke 17 Nov 08 - 04:13 AM
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Subject: Guitars - eight string - What?
From: JVZ
Date: 27 Mar 99 - 10:15 AM

I started playing guitar about 25 years ago so I could accompany myself singing. After about three years of practicing for an hour and a half every day, I reached the high level of expertise which could only be called LOUSY. I'm not being modest. I could not play with anyone else without messing them up. As for accompanying myself, I had manged only to work up a few jerky renditions of some Hank Williams tunes. Folk music to me was out of sight. I gave up all that practising but still kept playing regularly.

Then one day about fifteen years ago, I discovered a baratone ukalele in a music store. The guy said that sometimes folks tuned it like the four high strings of a guitar. I laid my money down. When I got it home I could play (strum) it immediately better than I ever could the guitar. As I spent a lot of time playing this instrument, I began wishing that there was such a thing as a four string guitar. Silly me!

Someone loand me a tenor guitar and I had a ball, but it wasn't enough. I wanted more sound. So I bought an old Silvertone for 20 bucks and took it to one of the few craftsmen that we still have among us. I told him to make it into an eight string tenor guitar, just like the high eight strings of a twelve string. He did so and I loved it. A couple years later I jumped in quality to an Alverez and now I can accompany myself on pretty much anything I want to do.

And that is the story of how I have managed to the rise to the high reaches of "good enough to get by" with no talent whatsoever added to a little imagination.

Now, if you are still with me through all that, first of all, thank you. Secondly, I would be interested in hearing from folks who:

1. Know about any other such eight string tenor guitars.

2. Have a similar story of overcoming lack of natural ability through imagination.

And if you are still with me now, Bless your pea pickin' heart.

John


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Subject: RE: Guitars - eight string - What?
From: bill\sables
Date: 27 Mar 99 - 10:44 AM

John Have a word with Stan Gee on stanandmaggie@geez98.freeserve,co,uk


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Subject: RE: Guitars - eight string - What?
From: Art Thieme
Date: 27 Mar 99 - 04:31 PM

John

Watch out. You'll give away all of our secrets!

Art Thieme


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Subject: RE: Guitars - eight string - What?
From: rich r
Date: 28 Mar 99 - 12:23 AM

Yes, many's the night I have imagined that I have natural ability.

rich r


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Subject: RE: Guitars - eight string - What?
From: JVZ
Date: 28 Mar 99 - 09:35 AM

I've know quite a few folks who had natural ability, but no desire to do anything with it. I guess, given a choice, I'd rather have my love for music.

John


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Subject: RE: Guitars - eight string - What?
From: Mark Roffe
Date: 28 Mar 99 - 03:47 PM

In 1971, I was living in the Virgin Islands, where nothing was available unless it grew on trees. I wanted an old National steel guitar something fierce, so when a friend took a trip to the states, I asked her to try and find one and bring it back for me. She came back with a 1931 National style 1 tenor (which she'd bought off a Vermont farmhouse wall for $85!!!). I played it for a few years, had a removable 7-string neck made for it (6 plus an extra G-string for an incredible fingerpicking "bounce"), and would alternate necks every so often. It was eventually stolen in California, and Ginny bought me a National Triolian mid -'30's tenor to ease the heartbreak. A few people have volunteered to kill me after hearing about the neck changes performed on the Style 1, so I promise I won't mess with the Triolian tenor.


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Subject: RE: Guitars - eight string - What?
From: DoneyGal2 (inactive)
Date: 28 Mar 99 - 04:52 PM

Art, Thanks for the pictures. I've had a hard drive crash and I have been off-line sinve last week. more later,harpgirl


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Subject: RE: Guitars - eight string - What?
From: Lucius
Date: 28 Mar 99 - 06:21 PM

I tried to get my nephew started on a tenor guitar, but it did not take. I thought that it was because he does not have a teacher, He just got an electric guitar, and I'm waiting to see how he does.

JVZ: I'm wondering if you think it would have made a difference if you had a teacher. Looking back at my teacher, I think of what a joke he was, but I did learn to play, because, or perhaps in spite of him.


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Subject: RE: Guitars - eight string - What?
From: Bob Bolton
Date: 28 Mar 99 - 07:01 PM

G'day JVC,

Your 8-stringer sounds interesting, but the thread seems to have gravitated back to tenor (4-string) guitars. How did you tune your 8-stringer ... part unison part octaves - or all in octaves?

Back in ~1965 my brother and I rather liked the idea of a 12-string guitar but no one sold any such thing in Australia - back then. As a sort of practice for following Pete Seeger's instructions for converting a 6-stringer to 12 strings I got a small 6-stringer (pretty poor quality ... screen-printed cowboys on the front, &c.) stripped it back, lightened the weight of the table and plugged the holes and slots fromn the 6 horizontal machine heads, then fitted 8 vertical machine heads.

After re slotting the bridge and nut for 8 pairs of strings I set it up all in octaves (tenor tuning plus octave below). The lowest string was to low for the body size and I ended up with the second string an octave above ... a sort of 8-string, baritone ukulele! Eventually It sounded ... well, interesting ... not bad in bluesy sort of tunes. Unfortunately, it went missing somewhere between Tasmania and the Snowy Mountains.

However, what this leads up to is the fact that I see (here in Australia) a lot of Irish groups playing what is called (in gloriously Irish fashion) an "Irish Bouzouki": 8 strings in unison pairs and with a flat-back pear shap body (like a large European mandolin) or a mid-size guitar body. This all reminds me that when I showed my 1965 effort to the local Greek-Cypriot shopkeeper, he said "That's not a guitar - that's a bouzouki., so perhaps there is a tradition for that body shape!

I don't know if the guitar-bodied "Irish Bouzouki" is common in America, but it must be around in the right (Celtic?) circles.Those I have seen here in Aussie have been hand-made to spec for various muusicians. There would be no reason not to re-string one of these to suit whatever music you like.

Regards,

Bob Bolton


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Subject: RE: Guitars - eight string - What?
From: DonMeixner
Date: 28 Mar 99 - 10:11 PM

On May 26th 1988 at 3:10 in the afternoon I ran my left hand through a table saw. All my fingers and my thumb were severely lacerated and my middle finger was severed except for some tissue. The reattachment was a success and my had works to a degree. I began looking for a tenor guitar to play, expecting to never again play a 6 string. I never found a tenor guitar but I saw Tim O'Brien do a show once with an 8-String thing with a guitar body and "F" holes can this be the guitar sized bouzouki that Bob mentioned? I'd sting give one a try altho' I am back on the F-30 guild and Ode Long Neck 5.

Don


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Subject: RE: Guitars - eight string - What?
From: Lucius
Date: 28 Mar 99 - 10:36 PM

Bob Bolton: From what I gather, the "Irish Bouzouki" migrated there from Greece in the mid-sixties. It can have three courses (six strings tuned in pairs) but four strings are more common these days. It also has become slightly less ornate than its greek counterpart. Andy M. Irvine of Patrick Street has been playing one for years.

Personally, I drool over citterns, a five course "English Guitar" with a round "A style" body. Information on these instruments and more is available at:

http://www.mandolincafe.com

Being from Australia, do you know anything about the other recent import to Irish music. Players from Dougie Mclean to the Chieftians have been using digeridoo (sp?) to their sound, and we had a player showing up at session a couple of months back with one in tow.


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Subject: RE: Guitars - eight string - What?
From: catspaw49
Date: 28 Mar 99 - 11:21 PM

See my post on the octave mandolin thread.


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Subject: RE: Guitars - eight string - What?
From: Bob Bolton
Date: 29 Mar 99 - 01:55 AM

G'day Bob Jovi,

Most of the 'Irish Bouzoukis' I see here in Australia seem have to have four courses ,in unison. Bodies are vriously pear-shaped or guitar shaped, often quite like the jazz guitar style with cutaway treble side and this would make f-holes quite logical. None of them look much like a real (turko-)Greek bouzouki, really just a variant of the ud or oud (but aren't all guitars, mandolins and particularly lutes (al ud)?).

The didgeridoo (Australian Oxford spelling)is interesting with Irish or Scottish music. I heard Dougie McLean some years back when he first picked up the didge and he sounded bloody good then! Some years back I did a display workshop on simple rhythm (lagerphone, Barcoo dog, bones &c) for the Australian Museum and, in the concert, there was a performance by an Irish couple with replicas of Irish bronze age 'horns' which appear never to have had mouthpieces. They claimed that the technique was probably the same as didge and played their interpretations of old Irish tunes in that style.

... who knows?

regards,

Bob Bolton.


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Subject: RE: Guitars - eight string - What?
From: JVZ
Date: 29 Mar 99 - 12:03 PM

Bob Bolton

The two high strings are unison, the others are octive. Lot's of folks have said it sounds a little like a hammer dulcimer when I really get to strumming.

John


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Subject: RE: Guitars - eight string - What?
From: John in Brisbane
Date: 29 Mar 99 - 06:54 PM

And of course you can fairly readily convert an existing 6 string guitar as Bob has mentioned. Very practical instructions can be found at http://edcen.ehhs.cmich.edu/~dhavlena/

Regards
John


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Subject: RE: Guitars - eight string - What?
From: Waiheke
Date: 17 Nov 08 - 04:13 AM

Hi - just found Mudcat and JVZ's original posting on this thread struck a harmonic. I see some of the posters are still active on the forum but JVZ seems to have dropped out.
Like JVZ I sporadically struggled in vain with, and in and around, six-string stuff for decades.
Before coming back to four, five, eight and 10-string instruments.
The mandolins were a start and I accumulated a few, including a brilliant 1920-odd German banjolin, but again I found fat fingers a large frustration and the high pitch meant I would need pain and suffering for my gravelpit vocals to qualify as company.
Baritone uke tuned GDAE an octave down from mando was the break-through. Within a month I had every - excepting B - major, minor and 7th on my side and I could finally play along with some of my favoured songs - ballads and Blues. B7 is ok.
I transposed Gary Turner and Brenton White's "Progressive Rhythym Guitar" to GDAE and CGDAE - as much as I could make work anyway - and had a ball.
Perhaps I should have left the 19.5 inch scale, four-string baritones with nylon but I didn't and between things like tension and lowering actions I had them playing 2/3 of a fret distance sharp inside six months. Took the bridges off, added trapeze tails, said "what the hell", gave them four-a-side tuners, four more strings, new nuts - in more ways than one - and compensated floating bridges. Magic in octave Gs, Ds and paired As and Es.
A pair of inexpensive 23-inch "student guitars" copped the same treatment and the magic grew. A 19-inch Chinese six-string was re-tailed, re-bridged, re-nutted etc and became my first five-string CGDAE. Within a fortnight it had gained full puberty with ten strings. Tuning knobs are tiny but ......
The ukes then got nuked to octave on all four courses. I figured if the two ends decided to look too closely at each other by craning the neck I would either get a bit of warning by the intonation going sharp or hear the bang. Neither has so far happened and the chorus is spritely fantastic. If it does happen I reckon I like them enough to pull 'em apart, straighten them and give 'em truss rods - they're family.
The tale continued with 25.5" acoustics done the same way as eights and tens and I reckon there is an incremental improve in the sound at finger-picking, especially, over the shorter scales but the left-hand finger fatique factor is up.
Between things a no-name Les Paul electric became an eight, as did an Ovation copy acoustic-electic, and a Road Star copy became a five. A deal of work with new-build LP tail and bridge and the vibrato bridge on the Road Star - and a fair bit of ho-hum winding the new LP and Roadie pickups but what the hell.
The LP sounds (to me) as good as my big-name 12-string and I reckon the Roadie will foot it with any Strat.
I guess the relative paucity of tab for (C)GDAE could be seen as a disadvantage but the chord progressions to pretty much every tune are readily available and I reckon working with and around them is where individuality thrives.
I just wanted to make music and (C)GDAE tuning on inexpensive instruments granted me that favour.


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