Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Tenor Guitar: Blacksmith's Prayer

When Seth Lakeman began performing his song “Blacksmith’s Prayer,” he used a small bodied Martin tenor guitar that appears to be a model 5-15T. It is the same guitar that appears on the cover of his 2011 album “Tales from the Barrel House.” It’s not my favorite tenor guitar, as it looks like a baritone ukulele; but be that as it may, it still sounds great – like many Martin guitars do and always have.

I am not sure if he used the Martin on the studio track, as later live performances of “Blacksmith’s Prayer” and the song’s video show Seth playing an Irish bouzouki. In fact, whether he is playing the tenor or the Irish bouzouki, Seth tunes both instruments to the modal bouzouki tuning of G-D-A-D.

However, you will notice that it appears higher in pitch than either instrument’s typical open string range. Sounding slightly lower than a mandolin, this was accomplished by Seth using a capo on both instruments at the ninth fret. In essence, the “Blacksmith Prayer’s” tuning became E-B-F#-E.

This particular cut was captured live at St. Pancras International Railway Station in London in 2011 and is part of The Station Sessions series of recordings. It gives the full effect of Seth and his Martin tenor guitar as well as his great stage presence.

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