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 Playing Advice: 4-String (Jazz, Blues & Other Trad Styles)
 ARCHIVED TOPIC: classical guitar strings & DIY nylon on tenor

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Veerstryngh Thynner - Posted - 10/29/2018:  19:20:00

Hi all,

I finally got round to tuning the three classical guitar strings and a length of ordinary DIY nylon on my Morris tenor (23" scale and, I think, 20 frets). I went for BFCG (one below CGDA), but still this was a bit of a stretch (no pun intended), with a view on getting ordinary nylon up to G.

So wound guitar E became tenor B (i.e. below guitar E), wound guitar A became tenor F (i.e. below guitar A), guitar G became tenor C. Some margin allowed for potential breakage. But how DIY nylon would hold up was anyone's guess. 

The end result is not really satisfactory. 1 & 2 rich and sonorous, more like cello than tenor. But 3 & 4 are more tenor-like, soundwise, and not at all gelling with 1 & 2. Therefore, even a simple two-finger C chord sounds, well, pretty strange. And even when leaving the Morris alone for two days, after careful tuning and re-tuning, string tension refuses to remain constant.

I think I'll revert to steel, as per usual.

Veerstryngh Thynner

Edited by - Veerstryngh Thynner on 10/29/2018 19:22:12

Veerstryngh Thynner - Posted - 10/29/2018:  19:25:27

Here the picture of my Morris I couldn't get into my opening post.

Veerstryngh Thynner



G Edward Porgie - Posted - 11/01/2018:  07:16:10

At least you tried!

Maybe we should all be more experimental.

I have a 17 fret tenor banjo on which I use a classical guitar 5th strings (an "A" for the guitar) as my 4th string "C," because it's the only thing I've found that actually blends well with the three steel strings and still intonates properly. I've seen violins with 3 gut strings, but a 1st string "E" made of steel. Zither banjos used a mix a steel and other materials. Perhaps a different blend of gauges or string types would help you achieve the sound you want.

johnstephen - Posted - 11/01/2018:  07:24:51

George, is your classical 5th string a ball-end or loop-end string? I have been wondering about doing something like this too.

G Edward Porgie - Posted - 11/01/2018:  19:33:05


Originally posted by johnstephen

George, is your classical 5th string a ball-end or loop-end string? I have been wondering about doing something like this too.

It's a typical classical guitar string with a plain end. No loop, no ball, no nuthin'.  You have to tie a knot in it to hold it, just as you would on a classical guitar or a gut or nylon strung banjo. I can be a little tricky, and might even be unworkable with some types of tailpieces.

mike gregory - Posted - 11/01/2018:  19:49:03

I'm using various thicknesses of nylon "leader line" on a tenor.

But it's going to a five-year old with tender young fingers, and we're not all that worried about how loud and clear it is.

Ask around, among your fisher buddies, see if you can get various thicknesses to try out.

Veerstryngh Thynner - Posted - 11/02/2018:  05:30:53

Hi Mike,

I was hoping I could turn my Morris into some sort of cello-banjo, timbrally, by loosening head tension a bit and with classical guitar strings & ordinary nylon string combined. That worked fine for C and G strings (tuned to B and F, respectively), but not at all for D and A (lowered to C and G, respectively). So with the two lower strings more like guitar, but the two upper ones very much banjo, strumming all four produced a very uneven end result. Moreover, even after tuning and retuning all four, for several days in succession, tension still refuses to remain constant.

So yes, I'm a little disappointed, and next time classical guitar and plain nylon strings are going to be replaced with brand-new D'Addario or LaBella. I won't need a cello banjo just yet, but by the time I do, I might record tenor in the usual way (microphone) and use the Audacity editing suite to take that recording down one octave.

But I also discovered, via Banjo Weekly, the Tranjo (short for Traveling Banjo), for playing noiselessly. I'm much intrigued, and mailed the manufacturers some questions.

To George:

The Morris allows ball ends only. And since classical guitar strings and ordinary DIY nylon don't have loops or balls, I tied the smallest nut I could find to one end. Worked reasonably well.

Veerstryngh Thynner.

Edited by - Veerstryngh Thynner on 11/02/2018 05:42:21

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