Gear

Four-String Fun: Inside the Alternate Reality Tenor Tele

This modern take on a tenor guitar packs big sound into its small size.

For the uninitiated, a tenor guitar might seem like an odd instrument.

Even though they are larger than a ukulele, they still only have four strings.

So how do you play something like the Fender Alternate Reality Tenor Tele? Options abound for this pint-sized powerhouse, as it is an excellent addition to add a new voice to your collection.


Embedded content: https://youtu.be/TNgGS1bvOlc


A modern take on the 4-string tenor guitar, the Tenor Tele has a huge sound that belies its small size.

With only four strings, you can tune the guitar to the same pitches of the top four strings of any six-stringed guitar (EADG). Or, you can tune it DGBE like standard guitar tuning minus the bottom two strings. Additionally, it takes well to a number of alternate tunings for more experimentation.

"The Tenor Tele is designed to inspire new sounds and fuel creativity," said Eugene Edwards, guitarist for Dwight Yoakam. "I know some film composers who keep a tenor guitar around in different tunings.

"It takes them out of their comfort zone and inspires new sound."

Tenor guitars have been around since the 1920s and have been used primarily by artists in country, western swing and jazz.

In recent years, artists like Neko Case, Ani DiFranco, Lee Ranaldo, Elvis Costello and Warren Ellis (Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds) have taken to the tenor guitar.

As for the Fender Tenor Tele, it features an alder body - a classic Telecaster tonewood - custom four-string single-coil Telecaster pickups with authentic, twangy tone and easily reachable master tone and volume controls. And its smaller size is perfect for children, beginners or anyone with smaller hands looking for a fun and accessible Fender electric.

If you'd like to hear the Alternate Reality Tenor Tele in action, watch the video above.

Shop the Tenor Tele here and see the entire Alternate Reality Series here.