Saturday, January 12, 2013

My Left-Handed Fletcher Tenor Guitar

Fletcher Tenor Guitar in Blue Heron case
In late summer 2012 I became the owner of a Fletcher Tenor Guitar.  Fletcher instruments are hand-crafted by Jamie Dugan in Ithaca, NY.  I had seen and heard a Fletcher guitar in the hands of Jamie's mom, Jody Platt, a well known oldtime musician and Clifftop veteran who plays with the likes of Riley Baugus and the Lonesome Sisters, and I immediately knew I wanted one.  The quality (and price tag) of these instruments meant that if  I was going to get one I was making the jump from someone who dabbles in music as a hobby, to someone who better be pretty damn serious about dabbling in music as a hobby!

Fletcher JD1 Mahogany
Fletcher guitar with The Bailey strap
I already play short scale (21", 17-fret) GDAE-tuned tenor banjo.  Most tenor guitars have a bigger body and longer scale length than I'm comfortable with, and I don't like the feel of double course strings so an octave mandolin wasn't something I was interested in.  Fletcher instruments, on the other hand, are designed to use the same GDAE tuning (one octave lower than a mandolin) and have basically the same scale length, specs and feel that I am used to from playing tenor banjo.  Add in the fact that Jamie could make it left-handed, and it seemed like the standard Fletcher model was custom made for me!

Blue Heron case
John Carty's traditional Irish album I Will If I Can - where he plays some tunes on tenor guitar - and Norman Blake's classic flatpicking guitar album Whiskey Before Breakfast are two huge influences on the playing style I'm aspiring to adopt, and the Fletcher tenor guitar gives me the perfect means to attempt these forms of music on a 4-string guitar-sounding instrument that I greatly enjoy playing.

The Fletcher came with a hard shell case and one strap button -- if I'd have thought about it I would have had Jamie install a 2nd strap button on the other side of the body.  I found that I don't like lugging around a heavy case, so I ordered a custom fit, high-quality soft case/gig bag from Ken Jorgenson at Blue Heron Cases, who is super friendly and easy to work with.  I had a local luthier install a 2nd strap button, and ordered a hand-braided leather strap from Bill Bailey ("The Bailey").  Now I'm all set.  Some hastily recorded sound demos are below.  I recorded them using a basic iPad recording app.  My limited playing abilities combined with the limitations of the amateur recording device may not properly convey the tones this instrument can produce, but it will give you some idea.


  1. My Fletcher Tenor Guitar:

    1. Hi Dick - thanks for sharing the link to your Fletcher Tenortone!