Tiny Moore

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Billie "Tiny" Moore (May 12, 1920 – December 15, 1987) was a Western swing musician who played the electric mandolin and fiddle with Western swing legend Bob Wills and the Texas Playboys in the 1940s, and with The Strangers during the 1970s and 1980s.

Born in the Gulf Coast town of Port Arthur, Texas, in 1920, his primary instrument was the electric mandolin.[1] While a member of the Texas Playboys from 1946 to 1950,[2] he played Gibson electric mandolins: at first an EM-125, and sometime after 1948, an EM-150. Although these are 8-string mandolins, Tiny used only 4 single strings instead of pairs. This gave his mandolin an electric guitarlike sound. Later, in 1952, he commissioned one of the first American-built 5-string electric mandolins from Paul Bigsby. At the time Moore was playing in a band led by Bob Wills' brother, Billy Jack. The Bigsby 5-string mandolin had single courses of strings (rather than the paired courses on a standard mandolin) and added a low C string to the standard G, D, A and E. This tuning actually gives the instrument a wider range of notes than a guitar.

Western swing is a hybrid of country, blues, and jazz; Tiny Moore's style of playing draws upon all of these sources. Moore and his Bigsby mandolin were strongly identified with each other for the remainder of his career. The instrument is arguably the most famous electric mandolin in the history of American popular music.

In the mid-1960s he taught group guitar lessons at the local YMCA in Sacramento, California. He taught every style of music from Old Timey folk to The Beatles. He also operated Tiny Moore Music, a music store in Sacramento, and sold copies of the Bigsby mandolin built by Jay Roberts of Yuba City.

In the 1970s he made two recordings with David Grisman for Kaleidoscope Records: "Tiny Moore Music" and "Back to Back," a duet album with Jethro Burns.

In 1999, Moore was posthumously inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in the Early Influences category as a member of Bob Wills and His Texas Playboys.


  1. ^ "Tiny Moore". Retrieved 1 June 2011. |first1= missing |last1= in Authors list (help)
  2. ^ McPeters, Buddy. "Johnny Gimble, Tiny Moore and Gibson EM-150 Electric Mandolins". Retrieved 1 June 2011.