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 Post subject: Stella Tenor questions
PostPosted: Wed May 22, 2019 3:20 pm 
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A reader writes:

Hello, a Stella tenor was given me, looks like was in an attic for 50 or 60 years, has three nylon strings on it, the action looks good. Is it possible the strings stretched over the years rather than pulling the neck up ? Can nylon strings be put on it, and what kind ? There are worn places on the fret board, am certain this instrument was played once upon a time.

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Thanks for getting in touch. Stella was an inexpensive brand along the lines of Kay but they made a few decent instruments. That said the neck didn't have an adjustment rod so if it started to warp there was no going back. Some of them had a v-shaped steel piece inserted in the neck to slow down any warping, but that wasn't that helpful. The main thing that kept the neck from warping was the fact that the necks were bulky. On some, it was like playing a 2x4. :-)

Chances are someone in the past wanted to learn tenor without his or her fingers hurting. The good thing about that is that nylon strings don't put nearly the strain on a guitar's neck that steel strings do.

That said, your guitar was made for steel strings, and if the neck is straight now a set of light steel strings shouldn't hurt it.

Do you play a stringed instrument already? That may determine what tuning you use, and consequently, what kind of strings you use.

Also, what is the distance from the nut to the 12th fret? Double that to get the "scale length." If your scale length is under 23" you might need to use heavier strings to get the same effect.

Now prepare to learn more than you ever wanted to know about tenor guitar. There are three common tunings, described in the following article.

https://creekdontrise.com/acoustic/teno ... guitar.htm

If you don't play guitar already, I might recommend going with an Irish Tenor tuning - it gives you low notes that the other tunings don't give you. If you play guitar already, you could try "Chicago tuning," which is just the highest four strings of a guitar.

Please keep me in touch on your journey and let me know how I can help you through the next steps.

Paul


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PostPosted: Wed May 22, 2019 3:21 pm 
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The reader replied:

Thanks for your reply.
From inside of the nut, measurement is 11 & 3/8 from outside the nut measurement is 11 & 9/16
Laid a steel rule on the neck and it is very straight. Think it will be a nice little instrument when fixed up. Might stay with nylon strings for the first set. Have another Stella tenor, for now I just sing and strum, have never had so much fun with an instrument. Have 5 string banjo, mostly play claw hammer and two finger. Have only used the C D G A , have never tried the Irish. I like the “ Joe Banes “ song. I welcome any advice, thank you.

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Nothing wrong with trying nylon strings. If the neck is straight, chances are they were put on initially to help a beginner get used to chording, before callouses built up.

Unless it has a slotted head, then it might have been set up to imitate a classical guitar.

Not sure sure I understand what you mean by CDGA tuning?

Counting from your toes upward, the most common 4-string guitar tunings are:

Tenor: ADGC (like a viola)
Chicago: EBGD (like the highest four strings of a 6-string guitar)
Irish: EADG (an octave lower than a mandolin)

That said, there's no reason at all you can't tune it like your 5-string. The first four-stringed "plectrum" banjos were tuned like standard banjos without the drone string (DBGC counting from your toes toward your chin).

Seriously, whatever "floats your boat." Best of luck with your guitars and your music!


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Paul Race playing a banjo. Click to go to Paul's music home page.Whatever else you get out of our pages, I hope you enjoy your music and figure out how to make enjoyable music for those around you as well.

And please stay in touch!

    - Paul Race Click to see Paul's music home page Click to contact Paul through this page. Click to see Paul's music page on Facebook Click to see Paul's music blog page Click to hear Paul's music on SoundCloud. Click to sign up for the Creek Don't Rise discussion forum. Click to learn about our Momma Don't Low Newsletter. Click to see Paul's Twitter Page Click to see Paul's YouTube Channel.



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