Most popular in the 1920s, Tenor Banjos are 4-string banjos that are traditionally tuned in 5ths (C,G,D,A is the standard tuning, and G,D,A,E is known as "Irish" tuning). While they can be used in a ton of different applications, Tenor Banjos are mostly played in either Traditional New Orleans Jazz or Irish music.
Nowadays, Deering makes some impressive Tenor Banjos, using the same materials and hardware as their 5-strings. The Deering designs are adabtable and well-suited to the 4-string Tenor neck, and they offer Tenors with 17 and 19-fret necks. Jazz players typical gravitate to the 19-fret models because it gives the banjo a larger range, but Irish players vary between using the 17 or the 19 fret setups. The 17-fret has a smaller scale that places the frets closer together, so it's easier to play quick single-note passages—something that is often done in Irish music.
This Deering Sierra Tenor was made in 2013, and it is the 19-fret version, set up for C-G-D-A tuning. The Sierra features a 3-ply rim made from Violin Grade Maple, a -06- tone ring, and a 3-play poplar/poplar/mahogany resonator. As you expect from Deering, all the hardware is top notch— the one-piece zinc flange, the notched tension hoop, the Deering tail piece, armrest, and Deering planetary tuners get the job done in style. On the Ebony fingerboard, the inlays are classy and high-end, and they capture the appropriate 1920s ethos.
This 2013 Deering 19-Fret Sierra Tenor shows some signs of play and use (see photos), but it is nice shape all around. There is some wear to the back of the resonator, and the finish has lifted along the edge of the fingerboard high up on the neck. It plays nicely with low action, and it still has the original head and bridge.
Because of the heavy tone ring and resonator, this Sierra Tenor produces a loud, powerful voice with treble cut and definition on the low end. It has a percussive feel that will fit right into any rhythm section. It includes its original hardshell case.