Tenor guitars are not common instruments, and until recently, there haven’t been a whole lot of options for those interested in a quality affordable instrument. However, there are a couple companies that have started building inexpensive and good quality instruments that are readily available online, and perhaps even in your local music store.
My first tenor guitar was built by Blueridge, and continues to be a great investment, though it is no longer my number one instrument. If you are interested in buying one, I highly recommend the Blueridge BR-40T Tenor Guitar.
It costs around $450, has a solid spruce top, mahogany back and sides, and I have yet to play one that doesn’t sound great. It will probably come tuned CGDA (low to high), which is the same as a viola or mandola. If you want to get it tuned GDAD (low to high), like I tune mine, you’ll need different strings, and to bring it to your local instrument shop to get it set up for that tuning (a fairly inexpensive job).
I have spent a lot of time experimenting with string gauges and have found the following to be the best suited for GDAD tuning.
.042 for the G string (lowest) – buy in bulk here
.030 for the D string (low D) – buy in bulk here
.020 for the A string – buy in bulk here
.014 for the D string (high D) – buy in bulk here
If you are interested in tuning your instrument like an octave mandolin, I suggest a .012 gauge string for the high E string (which replaces the high D string) – buy in bulk here. While you are at it, check out my mandolin lessons website MandoLessons. All the information on that website is applicable to you if you tune GDAE, you just have to stretch your fingers a little more.
You may not think you need a dozen sets of strings, but they will last you a very long time and it is much more expensive to buy them one at a time. Trust me, make the initial investment and don’t worry about strings for a very long time.
It is also a good idea to buy a hardshell case to protect your brand new instrument. I also recommend a strap (one end can be tied around the headstock between the nut and the tuning machines with a bit of string).
Questions? Comments? Contact Me.