Tenor Guitar: Why Less Can Be More

Ever felt stuck in a rut with your guitar playing? Then moving to 4-string can be a great choice. Find out why you need a Tenor Guitar - according to our own customers.

Tenor Guitar

If you're a guitarist who've never played a tenor guitar before, then maybe you should consider swapping your regular 6-strings for the four strings of a tenor. 

Experimenting with a tenor guitar will open up a whole new world of musical possibilities to you - from new tunings to the very way how you play guitar. It's so easy and exciting even if - or perhaps especially if - you've never played a tenor before. 

In this article, we'll let our customers speak: players of all skill levels and backgrounds who share one thing in common - their new-found love for one of ours Eastwood tenor guitars. What about you? Ready to join this new tenor revolution?

Lee Ranaldo (Sonic Youth):

Lee Ranaldo and his Warren Ellis tenor

"I have quite some experience with tenor guitars, but Warren’s model is the first electric tenor I’ve played... I love playing with a 4-string instrument - it can be a way to focus on the note combinations and harmony, especially with all the tunings that are possible and which I am always using, and often leads to interesting ideas that might turn out differently on a 6 string instrument."

Warren Ellis (Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds / The Dirty Three / Grinderman)

 Warren Ellis

"I'm primarily a violin player, which led to my initial attraction to the mandocaster. And I like tenor because it's in fifths which is great if you're a cello player or fiddle player... and also guitar players, because it offers different kinds of tunings."

What our customers said:

"I only recently discovered the tenor guitar. I had read about them but never played one; they are hard to find in a bricks and mortar store, even here in Houston... I’ve been a mediocre guitar player for 45 years with small hands who could never get much past 1st position and easy barre chords and rhythm and simple fingerpicking. Suddenly chords I can’t play on a 6-string are accessible to me with 1 or 2 fingers! It has breathed new life into my songwriting. [And] all that is available to my pedalboard and amps, amazing!"

 

Classic Tenor

"I restrung my tenor like a ukulele, so that when I teach Uke, we will be in different registers. In this way, the student can hear themselves, but my playing can support their sound"

"About 5 years ago I bought a baritone uke for use when I traveled. I liked the fact that I didn't need to learn all new chords... Then I saw the Delta 4. I always wanted a resonator guitar and the price was reasonable. I have found as I get older I am having problems with my hands and only having 4 strings makes it much easier to play."

Warren Ellis Tenor

"As a mediocre mandolin player for 40 years with large hands, I always felt cramped by the short scale length. The tenor guitar gives so much more space for creativity. And, with apologies to various basses and fiddles I have known, the Classic Tenor is the most fun I have had on 4 strings: made for jazz, but willing to rock when asked."

 

"Often leads to interesting ideas that might turn out differently on a 6 string instrument." - Lee Ranaldo (Sonic Youth)

 

"Very nice guitar of a beautiful simplicity with a kind of retro look. Sounds very pure, very versatile. Being a mandolin player, I use GDAE tuning. Chords are easy, no need for capo, There's not much lesson material available, but I find this much easier than a guitar, and still it can go low, and it plays easy in high positions."

"The tenor is brilliant - a super lightweight and great, rich sounding instrument.  I was surprised how easy it was to get into this new thing, and I truly love the fact that you can’t play the same old muscle memory habit stuff,  now when you only have 4 strings - tuned in fifths!" 

"I have the Tele, Flying V, and Les Paul models. I play a bit of mandolin, but the larger frets and guitar feel of a tenor is a lot more comfortable for me. It's a great way to get out of a guitar rut and explore songs I have long done from a different perspective."

Waren Ellis Tenor

"I´m very satisfied with my purchase. The tone is very special and reminds me of a mandolin but darker! It took some time to learn the chords but I play mandolins sometimes and I use same tuning, so wasn´t that difficult. The finish on the guitar is amazing and it´s a pleasure to play it."

"Purchased a Warren Ellis Tenor Baritone in Desert Sand. Good color, nice finish. Played well straight out of the box. I’m used to different tunings having a banjo, a saz and an Irish Bouzouki as well. But having an electric guitar tuned in fifths is something different. Very inspiring finding new roads to unexpected locations! Well made, inspiring guitar for a good price. All my Fenders & Gibson’s haven’t seen daylight for weeks."

 

Enjoying the Classic Tenor

"I'm a ukulele player and never thouth to buy a guitar. Aprrox. one year ago I saw this beautiful instrument and the best: 4 strings which you can tune like a uke; perfect for a guy like me who is to lazy to learn new chords... I love these kind of old school design. It looks great and it make a lot of fun to play it. The workmanship is great for that price. I'm just learning to play it and I can already say that I'm very happy to buy it. What should I say: if you like it, buy it."

"I could put a decent, solid rhythm behind all the stuff I was doing but still felt no progression started getting a bit bored. Enter the Eastwood Classic Tenor in stunning Redburst... I haven't played EADGBE guitar in at least a year, maybe a year and a half - and why would I?  Irish GDAE tuning is the future. My advice to guitarists (and any players of other instruments) that stagnate and can't progress is the same advice that was given to me, try something else."

 

Eastwood Warren Ellis Tenor guitar

 

Tenor Guitars for sale

More info:

Essential Tenor Guitar Chords Guide

Top 5 Songs Every Tenor Guitar Player Should Know

Warren Ellis Series Alternate Tunings & String Guide

Stop Thinking like a Guitar Player... Think like a Tenor Player

Tenor Guitar vs. the Banjo


4 comments

  • even if you struggle with amplify your folk instruments, eastwood is your solution. I play in a folk punk band and was always messing around with piezo elements and feedback. now i use the warren ellis tenor to play my banjo sounds, no feedback anymore! i also use the mandocaster and airline mandola

    Dennis
  • Re: Electric solid body tenor guitars.
    Read your article on tenors and alternate tunings, but missed any discussion of STRING gauges. I’m interested if alternate tunings benefit from changing string gauges at different positions on the tenor. I play regular 6 string Concert Uke, and even 6 string Cuban Tres ( lots of fun). I’m almost certain I will have to have a tenor in my collection.

    Bob
  • Another good reason to play Tenor : I usually play drums, an instrument you cannot easily carry on holidays. I tried to learn guitar but soon faced a major problem : 6 strings vs 5 fingers…
    I then discovered the tenor guitar and all my troubles seemed so far away : now it looks as though they’ve gone away ! Now I believe in my Eastwood Astrojet with a lot of pleasure and even take her on various places.
    I now long for Eastwood making a Classic Octave Mandola / 8-strings tenor…

    Guillaume
  • Super helpful to read this but I’m still frustrated trying to decide which tuning to use. I’m familiar with several including dgbe, gdae, gcea. And it seems several Canadian folkies love open tunings like gdad, open g, open a. I’d like to learn to play swing, jazz, improvise, play chord melody and not just strum chords. Any advice? Any online teachers out there? Hard to find locally. Thanks. Frankweir@yahoo.com

    Frank weir

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