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Thread: Tenor Guitar/Banjo Players

  1. #1
    Bark first, Bite later Steve Zawacki's Avatar
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    Default Tenor Guitar/Banjo Players

    The "dark side" posts which appear on the Cafe seem to indicate that tenor banjo is gaining in popularity and that many of the TB players also play tenor guitar. Considering the instruments' history, folk playing both is quite logical.

    For those who play both, do you have the TG and TB tuned the same or do you have the TG tuned differently? I've tried GDAE on one and CGDA on the other, and reversed that, and finally have both on CGDA.
    ...Steve

    Current Stable: Two Tenor Guitars (Martin 515, Blueridge BR-40T), a Tenor Banjo (Deering GoodTime 17-Fret), a Mandolin (Burgess #7). two Banjo-Ukes and five Ukuleles..

    The inventory is always in some flux, but that's part of the fun.

  2. #2
    Registered User MdJ's Avatar
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    Default Re: Tenor Guitar/Banjo Players

    Cgda on both (4 string) TB, TG (and Mandola)

    I also play 5 string tenor guitars - mostly in FCGDA but recently dropped my 5 string acoustic two 1/2 steps to D#BbFCG to play with a buddy who drops down for vocal reasons- i am cosidering keeping it in that tuning cuz it sounds better on my guitar- the heavier strings balance the bass and middle better with the treble (which was always a liitle pronounced on my instrument ....)

    Love the transparency with other instruments which is part and parcel of tuning in fifths.

    Best

    MdJ

  3. #3
    Registered User fox's Avatar
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    Default Re: Tenor Guitar/Banjo Players

    I use mainly CGDA but I do use a 17 fret banjo in GDAE with really thick strings, but it doesn't sound very good if you attempt to strum a rhythm.
    Just over the last few days I have been strumming my 19 fret banjo in CGDA & it sound quite good!
    With my guitars I much prefer CGDA.
    I also think that CGDA makes for a more interesting sound for any audience that might be listening, as most of my friends (as I do) play six strings, it sets something of a challenge to impress my mates with a four string, I find they take more notice of the A string tuning!
    It must depend on the individual instrument as well though...
    Last edited by fox; Oct-19-2014 at 12:59pm.

  4. #4
    Registered User bruce.b's Avatar
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    Default Re: Tenor Guitar/Banjo Players

    GDAE on both. I first found out about tenor banjos and tenor guitars from Irish trad players and they were all tuned GDAE so that's what I used. It was only when I researched them that I found out CGDA was the original tuning. For Irish and fiddle tunes I think GDAE makes a lot more sense and it also gives you a more useful range. I love playing tunes that stay on the two lower strings a lot and seek them out. I tend to often use the G string for harmony on the tunes that don't go down there. I'm not sure what tuning I'd prefer if I started with CGDA, perhaps that would then feel and sound best to me.

    I know a lot of people coming from Ukulele are using DGBE so they can use the same chord shapes. Makes sense, and tenor guitars do sound nice tuned that way.

    I just got a Kala tenor and I'm leaving that in CGDA for now. I doubt I'd be happy with it tuned GDAE as the body is really small and there's no way the G string is going to sound great, IMO. Plus, there would be no reason to ever play it if it was tuned the same as my "good" tenor, except maybe as a travel guitar. I'm getting it set up this coming week to lower the strings at both the nut and saddle. It's been fun playing it in the high tuning even with the high setup that pulls it slightly out of tune.

  5. #5
    Registered User DavidKOS's Avatar
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    Default Re: Tenor Guitar/Banjo Players

    Quote Originally Posted by bruce.b View Post

    I know a lot of people coming from Ukulele are using DGBE so they can use the same chord shapes. Makes sense, and tenor guitars do sound nice tuned that way.
    For me, the tunings in fifths are great for spread chord voicings and single-line melodic solos; the CGBD plectrum or DGBE "Chicago" (baritone uke) tunings are a bit better for chord melody soloing.

  6. #6

    Default Re: Tenor Guitar/Banjo Players

    I'm mostly a 5-string banjo player, but I started playing tenor guitar a couple of years ago. I have a 1936 Cromwell Archtop with "f" holes, plus a 2015 National resonator tenor guitar. I tune both DGBD (low to high), which is the same way I tune the 4 long strings on my 5-string banjos. It works perfectly.

  7. #7
    Registered User DavidKOS's Avatar
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    Default Re: Tenor Guitar/Banjo Players

    Quote Originally Posted by BlowingRockNC View Post
    I tune both DGBD (low to high), which is the same way I tune the 4 long strings on my 5-string banjos. It works perfectly.
    If you know G tuning on 5 string!

    So that makes:

    CGDA

    GDAE

    CGBD

    DGBD

    GDAD

    ADAD

    DGBE.......

    any others not counting transpositions (which really means CGDA and GDAE are the same)?

  8. #8

    Default Re: Tenor Guitar/Banjo Players

    I tune my tenor banjo (1925 Paramount Aristocrat) GDAE. And now I also have this tuned to GDAE:
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  10. #9
    Registered User DavidKOS's Avatar
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    Default Re: Tenor Guitar/Banjo Players

    Just played a Mardi Gras jazz gig, played a good bit of banjo, and it was also tuned like yours, GDAE.

    Frankly all tunings work, at least as well as the player can play them.

  11. #10
    RedKnucklesUnclesCousin GKWilson's Avatar
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    Default Re: Tenor Guitar/Banjo Players

    Everything I own is tuned GDAE.
    I'm to old to learn several tunings.
    And, too slow witted to transpose on the fly.
    Gary
    vincit qui se vincit

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  13. #11
    Registered User DavidKOS's Avatar
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    Default Re: Tenor Guitar/Banjo Players

    Quote Originally Posted by GKWilson View Post
    Everything I own is tuned GDAE.
    I'm to old to learn several tunings.
    And, too slow witted to transpose on the fly.
    Gary
    I went to two basic tunings - guitar, EADGBE, and GDAE for mandolin, octave mandolin, and tenor banjo. It makes like easier.

  14. #12

    Default Re: Tenor Guitar/Banjo Players

    Quote Originally Posted by GKWilson View Post
    Everything I own is tuned GDAE.
    I'm to old to learn several tunings.
    And, too slow witted to transpose on the fly.
    Gary
    Exactly the reason I tune everything DGBD. Why make things more difficult than need be? Just saying.

  15. #13
    Registered User Charles E.'s Avatar
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    Default Re: Tenor Guitar/Banjo Players

    Both my tenor guitars are tunes CGDA, my Gibson trapdoor tenor is tuned the same and my custom tenor banjo by Tim Currin is designed for GDAE, with Old Time music in mind.
    Charley

    A bunch of stuff with four strings

  16. #14
    Martin Stillion mrmando's Avatar
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    Default Re: Tenor Guitar/Banjo Players

    Quote Originally Posted by BlowingRockNC View Post
    have a 1936 Cromwell Archtop with "f" holes, plus a 2015 National resonator tenor guitar.
    Oh, do tell. Have you got photos of the National? There was a prototype floating around 4 or 5 years ago but I didn't know they'd finally got round to issuing those.
    Emando.com: More than you wanted to know about electric mandolins.

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  17. #15
    Registered User Charles E.'s Avatar
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    Default Re: Tenor Guitar/Banjo Players

    Quote Originally Posted by mrmando View Post
    Oh, do tell. Have you got photos of the National? There was a prototype floating around 4 or 5 years ago but I didn't know they'd finally got round to issuing those.
    He bought the one from the NAMM show, post # 13...

    http://www.mandolincafe.com/forum/sh...tional-at-NAMM
    Charley

    A bunch of stuff with four strings

  18. #16

    Default Re: Tenor Guitar/Banjo Players

    Yep. I had spoken with them a few months prior to NAMM, and they told me that they would be showing a demo model at NAMM. I asked if I could buy it, and they said they couldn't promise anything. They ended up selling it to Chicago Music at the show. Someone at National told me who bought it, and I called Chicago and bought it from them, only they hadn't gotten it yet from National. They had National send it directly to me. National plans on doing custom tenors of the same style. Elderly already has two on order, and you can purchase them in advance via their web site. I haven't seen any mention of them anywhere else. I don't know why they aren't making them as a part of the their normal inventory, but I guess there isn't a large enough market. The folks at Beard will make a custom tenor Dobro model for you, but it might take 8 months to a year to get one. I have some significant health issues, and I just couldn't wait that long. I'm getting different size strings for my National, because I only finger pick with the right hand and fret with the left hand, thus I don't need the large gauge strings. I have a great Cromwell from 1936, and Archtop with "f" holes, and I well and truly love it. I hope to enjoy the National every bit as much. I don't understand why more folks don't go for tenor guitars, but that's the way it is these days.

  19. #17
    Martin Stillion mrmando's Avatar
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    Default Re: Tenor Guitar/Banjo Players

    I have four National tenors right now, don't need another one. Cool axe, though.
    Emando.com: More than you wanted to know about electric mandolins.

    Notorious: My Celtic CD--listen & buy!

    Lyon & Healy Wood Thormahlen Andersen Bacorn Yanuziello Fender National Gibson Franke Fuchs Aceto Three Hungry Pit Bulls

  20. #18

    Default Re: Tenor Guitar/Banjo Players

    For Dixieland and Swing I prefer CGDA tuning - GDAE tends to sound muddy on chords...

  21. #19
    Registered User DavidKOS's Avatar
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    Default Re: Tenor Guitar/Banjo Players

    Quote Originally Posted by Eddie Sheehy View Post
    For Dixieland and Swing I prefer CGDA tuning - GDAE tends to sound muddy on chords...
    Yeah, you need to make sure the banjo sounds tight and snappy and play a bit up the neck as needed sometimes.

  22. #20
    Registered User Charles E.'s Avatar
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    Default Re: Tenor Guitar/Banjo Players

    Quote Originally Posted by Eddie Sheehy View Post
    For Dixieland and Swing I prefer CGDA tuning - GDAE tends to sound muddy on chords...
    True dat.
    Charley

    A bunch of stuff with four strings

  23. #21

    Default Re: Tenor Guitar/Banjo Players

    While I'm logged on, I just wanted to say that I was the only banjo player (with a banjo that is) at our Wednesday night jam at a local bar/restaurant. There are always lots of guitar players, so I usually take a banjo to this particular jam. Now when I take a tenor guitar, you wouldn't believe how surprised everyone is that tenor guitars even exist, much less that there is one anywhere within a hundred miles. Personally, I really like the tenor guitar, but it's hard to be heard above all the booming guitars, which is one reason why I got a resonator tenor guitar. It can most certainly carry its own with even the huge guitars, whatever they are called.

  24. #22
    Market Man Barry Wilson's Avatar
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    Default Re: Tenor Guitar/Banjo Players

    I just got a 17 fret cgda works fine. makes me pick up the mandola more. I find it easy on the fingers.
    Kala tenor ukulele, Mandobird, Godin A8, Dobro Mandolin, Gold Tone mandola, Gold Tone OM, S'oarsey mandocello, Gold Tone Irish tenor banjo, Gold Tone M bass, Taylor 214 CE Koa, La Patrie Concert CW, Fender Strat powered by Roland, Yamaha TRBX174 bass, Epiphone ES-339 with GK1

  25. #23
    Bark first, Bite later Steve Zawacki's Avatar
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    Default Re: Tenor Guitar/Banjo Players

    Quote Originally Posted by BlowingRockNC View Post
    While I'm logged on, I just wanted to say that I was the only banjo player (with a banjo that is) at our Wednesday night jam at a local bar/restaurant. There are always lots of guitar players, so I usually take a banjo to this particular jam. Now when I take a tenor guitar, you wouldn't believe how surprised everyone is that tenor guitars even exist, much less that there is one anywhere within a hundred miles. Personally, I really like the tenor guitar, but it's hard to be heard above all the booming guitars, which is one reasonwhy I got a resonator tenor guitar. It can most certainly carry its own with even the huge guitars, whatever they are called.
    Which TG Resonator do you have?
    ...Steve

    Current Stable: Two Tenor Guitars (Martin 515, Blueridge BR-40T), a Tenor Banjo (Deering GoodTime 17-Fret), a Mandolin (Burgess #7). two Banjo-Ukes and five Ukuleles..

    The inventory is always in some flux, but that's part of the fun.

  26. #24
    Registered User fox's Avatar
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    Default Re: Tenor Guitar/Banjo Players


  27. #25

    Default Re: Tenor Guitar/Banjo Players

    Steve, I just got a tenor resonator guitar made by National as a demo at the recent NAMM show. The only other one I could find was the Republic Hwy 49, but I really wanted a National. I just got lucky. Elderly has two steel National tenors on order. Mine is brass with an antique brass finish. I think National intends to make them only as custom orders, so I guess Elderly ordered them. I heard from someone at National that they made three bodies in preparation for NAMM, but only finished the brass one for the show. Bill.

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