Tenors guitars genesis
Guitars trace their history back to the 15th century; Tenor guitars barely make it back to 1925. Until steel bands became practical on a guitar, higher instruments such as banjos and mandolins included the musical spectrum. With the advent of steel strings and recorded music, a need arose for a smoother sound instrument that covered the musical space occupied by mandolins and tenor banjos – thus tenor guitar. The first known tenor guitars were made around 1924 by two major Chicago-based instrument manufacturers, Regal and Lyon. Healy. The instrument was set in the same way as the tenor banjo – CGDA, low to high – and aimed at converted banjo players.
After decades, Martin and Gibson had jumped on the tenor guitar bandwagon. In particular, Martin made a variety of tenor guitars, starting with 5-17 in 1927 and continuing through the entire Martin range of body sizes, styles and ornaments, including frames.
Variations and innovations
Tenor guitar quickly became a platform for experimentation, as people began to try new ways to make the guitar louder. In the 1920s, National and Dobro began manufacturing resonator guitars of metal or wood with an acoustic amplifier of aluminum where the sound hole would normally be. National began making metal-bodied tenor resonator guitars in 1928, and continued to make them through the ’30s.
The electric time
Electric amplification became widespread in the ’30s that ended the resonator guitars’ of the first electric guitars were ten years old. When Rickenbacker began making Spanish guitars in the 1930s, it quickly made tenor and mandolin versions. In the same way, the company produced a tenor version of its semi-solid bakelite guitar in 1936. Gibson followed a year later with an electric electric tower; In 1924, Vega and Epiphone, among others, came out with electric tenors.
Reject and cancel
As musical groups became smaller, tenor guitars struggled to provide sufficient depth and flow of sound. Still manufacturers keep offering tenor guitars. Martin kept torsors in his catalog throughout the 60’s and continues to offer them on a special order basis. Gibson offered torsors in the 70’s and, like Martin, will make custom tenors. This has generated some interesting pieces, such as Gibson SG tenor depicted in Gruhn and Carter’s Electric Guitars and Basses’ or Vega Six-string tenor (with two sets of double strings) in the same book.
Few artists still use a tenor guitar as their lead guitar. Nick Reynolds of the Kingston Trio was the latest high-profile tenor guitar user. Lynda Kay Parker from Lonesome Spurs is the most famous contemporary player.
For players who are interested in vintage guitars on a budget, tenor guitars are an attractive option. Tenor guitars are one of the guitar family’s evolutionary dead ends; but they sound good and still have some followers among musicians and collectors. Tenor guitars are versatile and easy to play and are presented in jazz, Hawaiian and roots music. Their story, while relatively short and buried in the story of the tenor guitar’s six-string big brother, helps round out the story of how guitars became popular in the early 20s.