I have a Kala, solid spruce top, laminated rosewood back and sides, slot head, bone nut and saddle. It's a shorter scale length than some. I tune it (low to high) CGDA, like a mandola. Mostly use it for the same stuff I play on mandolin and octave mandolin, celtic and folkie stuff, plus my own stuff. I have a couple of students who play either tenor guitar or tenor banjo in the same tuning so it's kind of handy for those lessons too.
Played in a jam a couple of weeks ago where one of the players played a tenor for a few songs. I was intrigued. He said it was tuned like a mandolin. It cut through the mix very well, sounded great when he played lead. I’ve been wanting to try one ever since but I’m afraid I’d like it and have to acquire one.
When I had lunch with George Gruhn in 2009, I expressed puzzlement about tenor guitars, particularly the comfort of the necks, and usability. Gruhn rushed to their defense, noting that they were very popular in the 30's and 40's and were more comfortable than you'd expect. The current issue of Vintage Guitar has a feature on Tiny Grimes, the majority of whose recorded work was performed on a tenor guitar. Personally, I've never tried one, though I imagine that a neck that feels too narrow for 6 strings might provide decent string-to-string spacing for 4.
I don't mean to be picky Robert1950, but standard tuning for a tenor guitar is CGDA. DGBE is not standard tuning, but, as you did say, Chicago tuning.
This is the tuning used by Tiny Grimes in Mhammer's video.
It is also the tuning that Nick Reynolds of The Kingston Trio used. Nick had been a ukulele player, so he is most often seen with the capo at the fifth fret, making his Chicago tuning GCEA without the re-entrant G.
I saw Joel Plaskett and Bill Plaskett last year during their tour for “Solidarity”. Absolutely phenomenal show, both are truly amazing musicians and really down to earth guys. They interacted with the crowd so much, and even invited people to join them for drinks at the bar down the road after the show, I bought two vinyl there that night and both are excellent albums.
I was blown away by how full sounding the tenor guitar that Joel plays is. Really amazing show, and I’ll be going to see them again; they never stay away from Newfoundland for very long. I threw in an extra pic of the hollobody Joel plays; he’s no slouch on electric either.
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