Long story short, several years ago I fell in love with a National Res Guitar at McCabes Guitar Shop in Santa Monica. At the time, I didn’t follow my gut (even though hubby encouraged me to just ‘get it’) but rather my more practical side. Part of that practical side being financial, but mostly wondering how in heck I could keep from compromising my cg-nails in playing it (even if I could always just use a pick, but still…) and the whole heaviness of the instrument and well, I ended up talking myself out of taking the plunge and entering into its wonder-world.
Zoom to Thanksgiving 2016. Hubby and I drove up to Lansing, MI for the Family Holiday at middle daughter and son-in-law’s new home. The day after our festive feasting, son-in-law and I took an adventure trip to Elderly Instruments just a few minutes’ drive into town. I like to think it was a great excuse for this mother-in-law and son-in-law to further bond as fellow musicians. We browsed the instruments, soaking in the eye and ear candy. Nothing much tempted me to pick up and caress until my gaze happened upon this gorgeous tenor resonator.
Fascinated by the four strings on a res body, I lifted it off its display stand. Son-in-law was playing a nearby steel body 6-stringer res but I was not impressed with its sound…curious as to tonal differences between the two instruments I sat next to him on the bench and began a simple strum on the tenor res. And yes, she spoke to me. That long ago urging deep inside tugged, and this time I followed my gut! Hubby encouraged me to take the plunge in honor of my folks.
I view this newest addition to my musical toolbox as a special gift given from my folks posthumously.
Because of that, her name* came easily to me:
M(a) & (D)addy = Maddy.
I’ve since come to realize I have embarked on a rare journey: tenor guitars have little written about them. Add to that the fact that she’s a resonator – a National Triolian Tenor Guitar – and I’m happily learning about playing with a slide. Because there are so many tuning options to explore without having to negotiate six strings like a standard guitar, I am excited about delving into those options at the twist of a tuning peg.
I started out with the ‘Irish Tuning’ of GDAE as is normal tuning on the mandolin and violin. After purchasing my first glass slide, I decided to re-tune Maddy to open G tuning (DGBD) which is one of two common tunings derived from the ‘Chicago Blues’ tuning used by blues guitarists. The other being open D tuning.
Another commonly used tenor guitar tuning is derived from its historical evolution via the tenor banjo, tuned to CGDA. I’m not quite ready for that one yet as Maddy will need a different gauge of strings to accommodate the lower pitches without an annoying sloppy slap.
Meanwhile, Maddy and I are traversing a new world, following the Master’s creative muse born in me by her namesakes.
*most of my instruments have names (Stuart is in front of Gracie’s – my pre-production jumbo quilted maple Taylor 12-string – case)