Guitar or ukulele or what?
April 4, 2006 9:26 AM   Subscribe

Guitar filter: Looks like a 3/4 sized acoustic guitar, popular in the 1930's, tuned EADGBE like a normal guitar (I think) but one octave higher. Produces a nice "crystal" sound. The one I saw looked like it had a Martin logo on it, but can't see anything like this on the Martin website....

...besides the "Little Martin," but is that tuned one octave higher?

That's about all I have to go does this instrument have a name? Would this be a 6 string ukulele? Or a normal 3/4 sized acoustic with the top strings from a 12 string set on it? Or is it a tenor guitar or something weird like that? I play guitar but have no knowledge of anything beyond the normal stuff.

If it is a Little Martin, is there a cheap way of getting an instrument like this? Thanks in advance for any info...
posted by oxala to Sports, Hobbies, & Recreation (12 answers total)
Response by poster: Steel strings on it, also.
posted by oxala at 9:44 AM on April 4, 2006

I'm not sure there is really a name for that, other than "3/4 guitar"

Hopefully someone can correct me on that.

Here is a picture of a tenor guitar.
posted by poppo at 10:01 AM on April 4, 2006

Best answer: I believe they're also called "High Strung" guitars. So one of my music acquaintances who had one lead me to believe, anyway, and a google search for high strung guitars seems to show some usage of the term...
posted by weston at 10:13 AM on April 4, 2006

There's also the Baby Taylor series of guitars.
posted by beowulf573 at 10:28 AM on April 4, 2006

I don't think there's any special name for this, since any guitar can be tuned an octave high if you put the right size strings on it.

A friend of mine did this with a Baby Taylor -- it sounded great.
posted by camcgee at 10:44 AM on April 4, 2006

Best answer: These types of smaller guitars that were popular during that time period were called parlor guitars. They were smaller guitars designed to accompany singers in quiter settings like living rooms or parlors. Most high end acoustic guitar makers will have a parlor guitar in their line up. The Martin you saw was probably a "New Yorker" model. I don't believe their tuning differed from a regular guitar though.
posted by greasy_skillet at 10:52 AM on April 4, 2006

Sounds like a high-strung guitar to me. A semi-popular singer-songwriter friend of mine used to use one quite a bit with his old band to give some texture to thier acoustic folk style of music. If you're a CCM fan, his old band is Caedmon's Call.
posted by chrisfromthelc at 11:08 AM on April 4, 2006

Best answer: This is also called "Nashville" tuning; you can do it to any guitar. Typically, people would separate a 12-string set into a normal 6-string set and high-strung set. The high strung guitar would then often double a regular acoustic part. I think the early Everly Brothers hits used this a lot. The Stones used it on "Angie," I believe.

Note, however, that only the E, A, D and possibly G strings are light gauged and tuned an octave higher. The high B and E strings are normal. I would not recommend trying to tune those strings up an octave on a 3/4-size guitar.
posted by timeistight at 11:54 AM on April 4, 2006

Sounds like a parlor (parlour?) guitar to me. The few I've strummed have been tuned conventionally but there's no reason they couldn't be tuned up if lighter strings were used. A ukulele, even a baritone, typically has four strings. There certainly are ukes out there with more strings (I think John King plays one) but these aren't common. Parlor guitars are much more so.
posted by Songdog at 12:43 PM on April 4, 2006

Response by poster: Thanks, plenty to go on here.
posted by oxala at 2:07 PM on April 4, 2006

Not shaped like a guitar, but with the same tuning you're talking about, is the recently discontinued Gibson M-6. You might be able to find a used one.
posted by transient at 7:45 AM on April 6, 2006

Agree with most respondents, most likely a parlour guitar. It is unusual to tune up on a small guitar, as it stresses the neck even with light guage strings, and a small guitar unless it is unusually heavily constructed would be prone to a short life span unless it were heavy duty.

Strongly recommend the call on the Baby Taylor. Despite the lame name (poetry!) it is a great little guitar with one caveat; the mid range is not as clear as a big guitar. The bass and treble are very good however. For me, it means that picking is a better option on mine than strumming.
posted by fox_terrier_guy at 8:47 AM on May 20, 2006

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