Thursday, October 16, 2014

Tenor Guitar: Did it in a Minute

During the 70s and 80s, Daryl Hall and John Oates were hitting it big on the national charts with a plethora of hits. The early 80s were especially good for the “blue-eyed soul” duo. The 1981 album “Private Eyes” produced a number of hits including two number one singles: “Private Eyes” and “I Can’t Go for That (No Can Do).”

These two chart topping singles were followed by “Did it in a Minute” at #9 and finally “Your Imagination” which peaked at #33. While “Did it in a Minute” wasn’t the biggest song from the album, this 1982 Top 10 hit utilized our feature instrument – the tenor guitar.

From listening to the studio version, you might not realize that a tenor guitar is present on the recording, but if you saw the video or saw Hall & Oates live, you would have seen Daryl Hall playing a Gibson ES-345T (I believe) tenor guitar. From a distance it is difficult to determine the model, as the ES-335 and ES-345 guitars have much in common. While I know Gibson had a 345 tenor in production, I am not sure about a 335; but, it could have been a custom model. I haven’t seen any documentation on this particular guitar.

Daryl Hall, John Oates, & Ray Harrah
the author & Will Shumate

As you can tell from the video, the guitar is a thin line semi-acoustic electric with two Humbucking pickups and a cherry red finish. If I remember correctly, Hall (or maybe Oates or both) had a Les Paul TV Special tenor from the 1950s as well. When I met the band in 1982, I asked Hall about his tenor guitars; however, after 32 years it escapes me what he said about these elusive instruments.

As far as tuning is concerned, I would venture to say that he is using standard guitar tuning on the four strings as (D-G-B-E). I have no way of confirming this. Hall uses a six-string on this number these days.

Although it charted at the same position as Rick Nelson’s “Hello Mary Lou,” I would consider that “Did it in a Minute” is the second most popular tune to utilize a tenor guitar. I surmise this because “Hello Mary Lou” was backed with a number one song – making the single more accessible to a wider audience. In Hall & Oates defense, they did it in a minute; how marvelous is that?


  1. Let's not leave out: kudos for recording a Mike Oldfield song, and doing a video of same! Ensures a money flow for Mike, though I'm guessing "Tubular Bells" does pretty well on an annual basis.

    1. That they did on their next LP "H2O." Thanks for the reminder about "Family Man."