In terms of genealogy… if the mandolin, the banjo, and the guitar had a long lost sibling, it would be the tenor guitar. This four-string sibling not only has a voice all its own, but its open tuning invites instantaneous pick-it-up-and-play-it enjoyment, whether played solo or with other stringed instruments.
Of all the Artwood Vintage collection, the story of the tenor guitar’s development is the most mysterious. The notion most popular among historians centers on the often utilized open tuning (CGDA) and its similarities to other instruments of that era. It’s likely that the mandolin craze of the late 1800s, followed by the widespread adoption of the tenor banjo by swing jazz musicians in early 20th century, set the stage for this similarly tuned but less sonorous instrument.
The lower five frets of a tenor guitar plays in the same musical range as the highest ordinary male voice.