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Tuning Tenor

Discussion in 'Technique [BG]' started by gr8bassplayer, Mar 23, 2013.

  1. gr8bassplayer


    Feb 12, 2013
    Hi all,

    I've been wanting to learn a few Victor Wooten songs, but these are tuned in tenor(a-d-g-c). I feel like I'm going to snap a string. Any advice on not? What strings, etc. do you use for tenor tuning?
  2. Broadbent


    Mar 28, 2007
    whatever gauge you're using now, just continue using it but add the 4th string tuned to High C
  3. TalHaz

    TalHaz Supporting Member

    Jan 30, 2012
    Spring, TX
    MTD, Trickfish
    The simplest solution will be to purchase a 6 string set and only use to the top 4. Tuning standard tuning 4 strings set is a risk and too much tension on the string to be comfortable to play.
  4. gr8bassplayer


    Feb 12, 2013
    Thank you for the suggestions!
  5. Tenor tuning is essentially the 4 higher pitched strings of a 6 string bass. It might be cheaper to find a matching single c string on juststrings.com or similar sites. Be careful though about this type of experimenting. I started on a 4 and now play a 7 and want an 8 string

    I started on a 4 and wanted a low b switched to a 5 then tried eadgc and low f#bead and went to a 7 string and now tune g#beadgc. The low g# is as low as Id ever want to go but now I'm missing that high f string my 7 string originally came with. Ill probably end up playing an electric harp :)
  6. JES

    JES Supporting Member

    +1 on just buying a C string--that's what I do.
  7. hipstirbass


    Mar 15, 2009
    I've played in a tenor tuning EADGC, for over 16 years. I currently play a Zon Sonus special with a Hipshot double stop xtender. This allows me achieve chordal techniques as well as the low range of a 6. I'm amazed that a string company hasn't marketed a tenor set. I recommend trying this on a 5 string.
  8. JES

    JES Supporting Member

    I've been super frustrated wanting a phosphor bronze C string--nobody makes one except for Thomastik, but I'm looking for the brighter kind.

    Also, a question on nomenclature: is ADGC officially considered "tenor" tuning for a bass? I know it's not "piccolo."

    I play a Martin ABG tuned ADGC and I've been trying to figure out what to call it. "Baritone guitar" is taken, so is "tenor guitar." "Tenor bass" or "Alto bass" sounds a little like "jumbo shrimp" to my ears but I guess that's the best option. . . .
  9. KodyAudette


    Apr 30, 2012
    I've been playing around with tenor tunings lately and I finally decided to set up my 6 string as a "Solo" bass to be played like a bass but with the ability to use fuller chords and such without getting muddy. It'll be tuned G(above standard bass E)-C-F-A#-D-G I had to use Circle K's tension chart to create a custom string set for it (86-63-47-35-27-20). They should be here in a couple days, we'll see how it plays!
  10. D.A.R.K.

    D.A.R.K. Supporting Member

    Aug 20, 2003
    I've been playing tenor guitar for over a decade now and have adopted the tunings to short scale basses. I like to use piccolo string gages from ken smith, and change up the gages depending on tuning. (my current fav is: f,f,c,f (yes 3 octaves).
    Here is the wikipedia description of tenor tunings to consider:
    Tenor guitars are normally tuned in fifths (usually CGDA, similar to the tenor banjo or the viola) although other tunings are possible, such as "guitar tuning", "Chicago tuning," or baritone ukulele tuning (DGBE), "Irish" or "octave mandolin" tuning (GDAE, like a violin but one octave below) and various "open" tunings, for slide playing. The tenor guitar can also be tuned like a soprano/concert/tenor ukulele, using various versions of GCEA tuning.
    The normal CGDA tuning is very "open" and it gives the instrument unusual voicings from both open and closed chords. The fifths tuning also makes for easy moveable chord shapes. The instrument is equally well suited to both rhythm and lead playing.
    Though books are available for the standard tunings above, books are also available for more esoteric tunings as well such as GDAD, CGBD and DGBE in the Chord Genius series of books published by Northern Musician Services. One of the main attractions of this instrument is its breadth of available tunings.
  11. gr8bassplayer


    Feb 12, 2013
    I ended up getting some D'Addario half rounds and ordering a extra high C. Works great! So much fun for chording and solo work!
  12. "Baritone bass guitar?" I just usually say "i played a baritone guitar on that one" if asked, regardless if I tuned the bass up or downtuned a standard tenor guitar down to A or B. I know that that there is an actual 30" scale "baritone guitar," but if I tell 'em that, no one calls BS on me.
  13. JES

    JES Supporting Member

    I've started playing out with it and invariably get the "what do you call that instrument?" question.


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