Tenor guitars…???

Tenor guitars…???

What is going on with the scarcity of tenor guitars available to buy? Type it into google and all you get is sites mentioning electric/acoustic/bass guitars when all I really want to do is read about/shop around for a tenor…

Can anyone find a link?

Re: Tenor guitars…???

I bought a mini tenor guitar (about the size of a tenor banjo) made by Ozark from a music shop in Edinburgh a few months ago. I believe they are fairly widely available now.

It might be worthwhile contacting Ozark to ask about local distributors.

This was the instrument (although this was not the shop I bought it from):

http://www.eaglemusicshop.com/details1.asp/ProductID/5462/name/ozark-tenor-guitar.htm

And here is the thread I started on the subject:

https://thesession.org/discussions/18557

If you are after something more expensive/high end then there will be a few luthiers out there who will custom make them. You can also do what someone else I know did and just saw the neck down of a normal acoustic guitar and set it up for 4 strings - it might work!

Re: Tenor guitars…???

Don’t know where you’re located, but if you’re in Ireland, head to Tom Cussen’s shop in Clarinbridge, Co. Galway - he’s always got a few vintage tenors knocking about.

For a new tenor I’ve heard great things about the new Breedlove tenors, though they are on the pricey side.

I’ve also seen the odd tenor going on both the Elderly Instruments website, and also at Bernunzio’s website, google both of them.

Best of luck to you!

Re: Tenor guitars…???

They have become very fashionable lately, only a few luthiers make them, and they ain’t makin’ any more vintage ones.

How’s that for some good reasons?

I have a custom-made resonator tenor which has a very sweet sound and good volume but even that gets lost in a noisy session, or the sweet sustain starts to sound plunky.

It can be hard finding the right string gauges for GDAE, as seen in NCFA’s linked thread

Nothing really cuts through at a session like a banjo though.

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Re: Tenor guitars…???

They used to be both rare ( which is still much the case ) and unwanted. Now some people want them they are even rarer - like hens‘ teeth, as the man said. What with both Eliza Carthy and that nice young man from the West Country playing them, this has stimulated interest in what was pretty much a forgotten instrument. I would suggest that it’s not the ideal session instrument, with most of the projection problems of the 6-string, and no great virtues. Cutting down a 6-string will not make the ideal instrument - you will then have something built and braced too heavily for the stringing. If what you want is the non-banjo tone, better to go for some version af a ’zouk or octave mandolin ( incorrectly known as a mandola ).

Re: Tenor guitars…???

Pamela Springer in Kent (should be enough for a google) often has a couple of vintage ones for sale, (and a bunch of other stuff.)

Good prices, but work may be needed.

Re: Tenor guitars…???

A shop called In Tune Music (Tel.: 01 2841144) in Dún Laoghaire, Dublin are agents for Goldtone Guitars (http://www.goldtone.com). They make tenors, though I can’t vouch for their quality.

Re: Tenor guitars…???

If you want a bouzouki buy a bouzouki. If you want a tenor guitar buy a tenor guitar. I have both although I don’t play the bouzouki enough.

The tenor guitar is not a poorer version of a bouzouki. I like that it doesn’t have pairs of strings. I think it has a cleaner and clearer sound, albeit that it is quieter.

I managed to get the right gauge of strings in the end - it is just that the instrument did not come with them fitted and I was worried about damaging the instrument in the change over.

All good now - all I need to do now is learn to play it! 🙂

Re: Tenor guitars…???

John Carty’s playing makes me want to add one to my stable.
Very distinctive.

Re: Tenor guitars…???

Forget the Goldtone, if you want to string it GDAE - it is not voiced for that, but then most tenors aren’t, hence the wimpy sound. The Breedlove is, and is hands down the strongest sounding tenor I have yet heard. It’s body is a standard OM (orchestra model), which is not suprising, as it’s lowest note is only a step and a half above that of a standard six string guitar. As I recall the Breedlove’s scale length is about 24 1/2", which some players find a bit long. It’s what I would get, if going for a tenor.

Re: Tenor guitars…???

eBay is still a good place to look for these. At any given time, there are usually some old Gibsons/Martins selling for far less than the equivalent 6-string guitars, old Stella/Harmony tenors going cheap, and a few new ones.

Re: Tenor guitars…???

I bought a Gibson tenor on eBay 3 or so years ago (wasn’t a bad price including sending it over the pond). It’s mahogany, based on an LG-0 I and it isn’t loud tuned GDAE but has a nice tone. If you tune it GDAD you get more resonance and it would be good for chord backing in that tuning. For the occasional amplified gig I acquired a DeArmond sound hole tenor pickup and I think that’s quite rare (I need help with my eBay addiction). Gives it a raw, bluesy sound though. Unamplified it’s lost, except for messing about on at home.

Re: Tenor guitars…???

You might also think about trawling some jazz forums. If you’re looking to play melody on it, you might even luck into a Maccaferri-style tenor constructed for GDAE tuning.

Re: Tenor guitars…???

Jazz tenor guitars were often tuned DGBE like the top 4 strings on a 6-string. I think that’s the tuning Tiny Grimes used (played with Charlie Parker and sang the profound song Romance without Finance is a Noo-sance)

Re: Tenor guitars…???

If people tuned a Tenor Guitar to DGBE (the same as Baritone Ukulele) why not do the opposite and tune a Baritone Ukulele to GDAE (like Tenor Guitar)?
I know there is the gut versus steel strings issue. But you can get a Baritone Uke cheaper than a Tenor “Six String Devil” (or rather, four sting devil!) and experiment!
The Mahalo Baritone has a good long neck and shouldn’t cost more than 45 quid and may well stand the extra tension appropriate guage steel strings tuned to GDAE.
Just an idea.

Re: Tenor guitars…???

I have a vintage Martin that I like a lot, even though it is pretty beat up. I’ve been contemplating the LXM tenor, but waiting until I have a job again 😉

Re: Tenor guitars…???

List price on Breedlove tenor guitars is about $2500.
List on Goldtone is about $600.