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Thread: Getting started with tenor, looking at an electric tenor

  1. #1

    Default Getting started with tenor, looking at an electric tenor

    Hello all you fine tenor guitar players! To use a quaint Australian phrase, my left hand is somewhat rooted, and therefore I am no longer equipped for playing anything other than slide or slimmer neck guitars. I am looking at joining your noble four string hobby. However, I am somewhat confused about where to get started. Strangely, anything acoustic aside from the cheap Harley Benton/Ibanez tenor guitars is... very expensive. Likewise, outside of custom luthiers, on the electric front the only tenors seem to be made by Eastwood and Fender. Further, it seems Fender are pulling some kind of nonsense with the Tenor Telecaster. Should I bite the bullet and just get a Warren Ellis tenorcaster? Any other suggestions? If it helps (or you can point me to a EU based luthier) I am in Europe. Thanks.

  2. #2

    Default Re: Getting started with tenor, looking at an electric tenor

    If you want shorter scale, and CGDA, the Eastwood mandola converted to a four stringer is a sweet instrument. For longer scale, a real tenor guitar is the sweet spot.
    Davey Stuart tenor guitar (based on his 18" mandola design).
    Eastman MD-604SB with Grover 309 tuners.
    Eastwood 4 string electric mandostang, 2x Airline e-mandola (4-string) one strung as an e-OM.
    DSP's: Helix HX Stomp, various Zooms.
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  3. #3

    Default Re: Getting started with tenor, looking at an electric tenor

    Quote Originally Posted by Krabo View Post
    ...anything acoustic aside from the cheap Harley Benton/Ibanez tenor guitars is... very expensive.

    ...Should I bite the bullet and just get a Warren Ellis tenorcaster? Any other suggestions? If it helps (or you can point me to a EU based luthier) I am in Europe. Thanks.
    Hi Krabo: I'm in North America so I don't know how helpful I can be but here goes:

    I consider myself a novice tenor player. The Ibanez tenors were my only affordable option when I started. I'd love to find an Aria tenor or Little Martin tenor, but they are scarce it seems. Used Harmony/Stellas are now fetching over $200 USD regularly. So I have to ask - as a novice, what is your apprehension with buying an entry level Ibanez or Harley Benton? The Ibanez models are $200 USD and $330 USD for the solid top and are readily available here in the U.S.

    Secondly, If you can find a local Fender dealer - why not pre-order a Tenor Tele ($500 USD). I know a lot has been made of the so called "nonsense" but they are only a month behind on a completely new product launch. I'd rather they be late and right rather than be on time with set-up issues, etc.

    Also these threads may be helpful:
    https://www.mandolincafe.com/forum/t...-Tenor-at-NAMM

    https://www.mandolincafe.com/forum/t...aster-worth-it


    Just my thoughts as a fellow beginner.

    Best of luck!

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  5. #4

    Default Re: Getting started with tenor, looking at an electric tenor

    You're right in that a descent acoustic is very expensive and there are not many builders of either electric or acoustic.

    The quickest way to a tenor is to buy a capo and restring/tune a 6-string guitar removing 2 strings in the process. Capo at the 2nd fret of a Les Paul, for example, will give you a 21" scale tenor - obviously a bit longer on a Stratocaster. I did this with an Epiphone Wildkat and it works great for giving me a tenor on the quick while I wait for the right offering to come along.
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  6. #5

    Default Re: Getting started with tenor, looking at an electric tenor

    I also remember reading this thread about Artist Tenor Guitars:
    https://www.mandolincafe.com/forum/t...s-in-Australia

    Don't know if available where you live, but thought it might give you another insight into acoustic options at 219 quid. https://www.artistguitars.co.uk/prod...guitar-w-15200

    Like Verne Andru, I did restring a Squier Mini with four strings once, but I have to agree with kurth83:

    Quote Originally Posted by kurth83 View Post
    ...a real tenor guitar is the sweet spot.
    Last edited by Huck; Sep-30-2019 at 8:02pm.

  7. #6

    Default Re: Getting started with tenor, looking at an electric tenor

    For what it is worth, I have found a builder in South Africa of all places who makes tenor guitars. Might be worth a look:

    https://reverb.com/item/7059963-fann...ell-pick-guard

    There is also a seller in Australia, Found Sound, who are selling two of the old p90 Eastwood tenors. Were these any good?

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    Default Re: Getting started with tenor, looking at an electric tenor

    Fanner Guitar Works looks legit to me. Shipping is included in price and 6-8 week turnaround. Their shabby chic electric tenor is kinda
    https://www.fannerelectricukulele.co...-tenor-guitar/

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    Default Re: Getting started with tenor, looking at an electric tenor

    One of the things you will want to watch is the scale length. Mandola and tenor guitar standard tunings are the same CGDA but the scale lengths can run from 16" to about 24". You will want to find one that works best for you. I have gone to four strings on all instruments, electric and acoustic. YMMV. That Fanner looks interesting and has a pretty good price. Just looked at their youtube demos.....their tenor guitars are pretty long scale. But I would think one of those ukes could be made to work for a shorter scale. Also, their website mentions "free worldwide shipping".
    Last edited by ajh; Sep-22-2021 at 2:11pm.

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    Default Re: Getting started with tenor, looking at an electric tenor

    I have a Fanner "Jazzy" electric baritone uke (19" scale) that I picked up used. It's very nice - I was impressed enough to order a solid body 20" Ocelot baritone direct from them (I'm calling it a short scale tenor but whatever). It's been a lot longer than 6-8 weeks though - not sure if that's atypical but fyi. I'm not in any hurry so I'm not bothered (nor have I been asked to pay anything up front, which certainly takes the stress out of the wait).

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    Default Re: Getting started with tenor, looking at an electric tenor

    Quote Originally Posted by ajh View Post
    That Fanner looks interesting and has a pretty good price. Just looked at their youtube demos.....their tenor guitars are pretty long scale. But I would think one of those ukes could be made to work for a shorter scale. Also, their website mentions "free worldwide shipping".
    I'm on their list for an electric baritone length uke. 19" scale - will be a crap shoot but I have an itch for a 4 string electric with 19" scale. We'll see.

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    Registered User BoxCarJoe's Avatar
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    Default Re: Getting started with tenor, looking at an electric tenor

    The Fanner "Jazzy Electric Uke" is really pretty.

    https://www.fannerelectricukulele.co...ctric-ukulele/

    Very tempting.

    I've got a Bruce Wei 19" baritone uke converted to electric (by me) and it plays great.

  13. #12

    Default Re: Getting started with tenor, looking at an electric tenor

    Tenor Guitars: ARTIST TG100EQ (CGDA), Fender Tenor Tele (GDAE).
    Mandolin: LM-220.
    Others: Seagull M4 "Merlin"(DAdd), Ashton BNJ50 Banjo, Tanglewood TWBT Traveller Banjo.

  14. #13

    Default Re: Getting started with tenor, looking at an electric tenor

    I recently purchased a tenor guitar from GS Monroe off Etsy. He agreed to build one using material that I sent him which included red spruce top, ribbon mahogany, ebony and tortoise shell binding. He did a great job for a $350 build. There are a few minor cosmetic issues with it that I want to address but nothing I couldn't otherwise live with. I did not need to do anything to the setup and it was good to go right out of the box other than I changed the tuning to CGDA.
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    Default Re: Getting started with tenor, looking at an electric tenor

    I've navigated some of the shoals of the cheap tenor guitar market and have these comments:

    - I've got a recording king tenor that is quite inexpensive (US $200ish) and its a passable instrument
    - I tried both the Eastwood Classic Tenor and the Fender tenor telecaster - and I like the size, shape and sound of the Eastwood a lot, and still have it. I couldn't justify keeping both so I returned the Fender - it felt too small. That said, the Fender was the better built of the two. I've heard that once you get off the absolute base models the Eastwoods quality goes up dramatically. I tried out a Eastwood Mandocello and that was a lovely well-built instrument, but I decided I'd really rather have the Warren Ellis Tenor Baritone, which I haven't been able to make happen yet.
    Addicted to 4-string instruments - Ukulele was the gateway drug, followed by bass and now onto the hard stuff - tenor guitars and banjos (plus a little mandolin on the side)

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