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Banjo Uke tuning etc.

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GUEST,BigDaddy 29 Mar 01 - 12:13 AM
bigchuck 29 Mar 01 - 07:18 AM
bill\sables 29 Mar 01 - 07:41 AM
Jon Freeman 29 Mar 01 - 07:44 AM
Jon Freeman 29 Mar 01 - 07:45 AM
bill\sables 29 Mar 01 - 08:04 AM
GUEST,Claymore 29 Mar 01 - 11:00 AM
Jimmy C 29 Mar 01 - 12:39 PM
Jon Freeman 29 Mar 01 - 02:48 PM
Songster Bob 29 Mar 01 - 04:02 PM
Jon Freeman 30 Mar 01 - 12:04 PM
GUEST,BigDaddy 01 Apr 01 - 04:20 PM
bigchuck 01 Apr 01 - 06:10 PM
Jon Freeman 01 Jul 01 - 11:37 PM
GutBucketeer 02 Jul 01 - 08:52 PM
Jon Freeman 02 Jul 01 - 08:59 PM
GUEST,near@attbi.com 05 Jul 02 - 01:37 PM
NobleSavage 06 Jul 02 - 12:43 AM
GUEST,john 12 Nov 10 - 09:41 AM
Geoff the Duck 12 Nov 10 - 12:33 PM
GUEST,Lynn 24 Jan 12 - 08:22 PM
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Subject: Banjo Uke tuning etc.
From: GUEST,BigDaddy
Date: 29 Mar 01 - 12:13 AM

I have a bird's eye maple banjo uke that's been in the family for at least 60 years. I'd like to be able to play it. Can't find any instructions at Elderly Instruments, nor anyone anywhere who can tell me how to tune it and how to play it. I have memories of a great-uncle playing it when I was about four. He played things like "Ring, Ring The Banjo," "Oh Susannah," etc. I figure somebody out there can help. Thanks.


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Subject: RE: Help: Banjo Uke tuning etc.
From: bigchuck
Date: 29 Mar 01 - 07:18 AM

I've always tuned mine the same as a mandolin, GDAE.


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Subject: RE: Help: Banjo Uke tuning etc.
From: bill\sables
Date: 29 Mar 01 - 07:41 AM

A D F# B is one of the popular tunings as well as G C E A.


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Subject: RE: Help: Banjo Uke tuning etc.
From: Jon Freeman
Date: 29 Mar 01 - 07:44 AM

A uke basically uses the same intervals as the high four strings of the guitar with the exception that the lowest of the 4 strings is an octave higer on the uke than you would expect on the guitar. I can find these 2 tunings given:

A, D, F#, B
G, C, E, A

Jon


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Subject: RE: Help: Banjo Uke tuning etc.
From: Jon Freeman
Date: 29 Mar 01 - 07:45 AM

Snap Bill!


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Subject: RE: Help: Banjo Uke tuning etc.
From: bill\sables
Date: 29 Mar 01 - 08:04 AM

Formby used to tune according to the key he wanted to play in
A D F# B for key of D
G C E A for key of C
Bb Eb G C for key of Eb


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Subject: RE: Help: Banjo Uke tuning etc.
From: GUEST,Claymore
Date: 29 Mar 01 - 11:00 AM

As an ol' kamaina, and one who regularly plays a uke-strung tenor banjo for some local morris dancers, the uke tuning of G C E A, sung out as "My Dog Has Fleas" (the G being one whole note below the A) is the equivalent of putting a capo on a guitar's fifth fret and playing the four highest strings. In this case, the guitar "D" chord will now be a "G" chord for the uke-banjo, the "C" chord will be an "F" and the guitar "G" is now "C", etc.

The uke-stung tenor banjo tuning of D G B E (D being one whole note below E) is the most common, and you will simply use the guitar fingering of the 4 highest open strings (keeping in mind the treble "D" string is one octave higher than it's guitar equivalent).

So grab the uke, sing out "My Dog Has Fleas", tune to your "song", put one finger on the highest string at the third fret, (a "C" chord), stum con gusto, and Tiny Tim goes muttering to his grave...


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Subject: RE: Help: Banjo Uke tuning etc.
From: Jimmy C
Date: 29 Mar 01 - 12:39 PM

I have a real little beauty about 80 years old and in perfect condition and I tune it the same as Big Chuck - GDAE.


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Subject: RE: Help: Banjo Uke tuning etc.
From: Jon Freeman
Date: 29 Mar 01 - 02:48 PM

Well come to that, I tuned the one I had to GDAE but I thought that was more of a mandolin players "cheat" than a std uke tuning.

Jon


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Subject: RE: Help: Banjo Uke tuning etc.
From: Songster Bob
Date: 29 Mar 01 - 04:02 PM

Well, it turns out that there are mandolin-banjos with only four strings, so it's not out of line to tune a uke the same way. The difference in scale length is small (14" for a mandolin, and what, 13" for the uke?), but the strings from a uke set won't sound very good in mando tuning (the lowest string on a mando is the largest, while on a uke it's the next-smallest).

So if you're uke-oriented, use real uke strings and tune to C (gCea) or D (aDf#b). If you're mandolin-oriented, change that fourth string to a classical guitar 3d or 4th string and tune GDae.

Don't change to real mando strings, though, unless you're sure it's a mando-banjo you're dealing with. The heavier steel strings will do a hurt to the instrument, everything from pulling too hard on the neck to cracking the tuners (uke tuners typically have plastic parts which get a lot of tension from steel strings). If you have a good, beefy neck and a larger shell (like 8" or larger), you may have a mando-banjo, despite having only four strings. But those small-shelled (4-5") instruments with thin necks are ukes, and can't take the heavier steel strings.

And as for tuning to "My Dog Has Fleas," how can anyone remember that? What's the reference? If you memorize it, sure, you can sort of remember it, but it's better to have a whole song.

I offer here my uncle Buddy's Ukulele Tuning Song:
[Pluck one string for each syllable in the verses, and strum for the bridge. Use 0210 as the V chord in the verses, but the real I/IV/V chords in the strumming parts.]



  Wish I could play the ukulele, 
I'd pick it up and strum it gaily,
V
If I could play the ukulele
I
Like this. /strum-strum-a-strum-a/

Wish I could play the ukulele,
I'd pick it up and practice daily,
V
Till I can play the ukulele
I
Like this. /strum-strum-a-strum-a/

Bridge

IV
But then a certain Mr. G
I
Said, "It's an 'oo-koo-lay-lee'"
II
So the reason I can't play it might
V
Be 'cause I don't pronounce it right,

So, wish I could play the oo-koo-lay-lee,
I'll pick it up and strum it daily,
V
When I can play the oo-koo-lay-lee
Like this:

/strum-strum-a-strum-a strum-a strum-a/


Copyright 2001, James McNeeley

This won't really work, of course, since the alignment depends on the font, but it's a try.


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Subject: RE: Help: Banjo Uke tuning etc.
From: Jon Freeman
Date: 30 Mar 01 - 12:04 PM

Interesting Bob, in that case, I had a 4 string mando type and it was certainly built strongly enough to take steel strings.

I've now got an 8 sting one and I think the tone device in it is quite interesting. It is a British build instrument which just says "Bell Tone patent applied for" on it. It uses a piece of brass shaped like a saucepan (without the handle) which occupies most of the space inside the wooden casing.

Jon


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Subject: RE: Help: Banjo Uke tuning etc.
From: GUEST,BigDaddy
Date: 01 Apr 01 - 04:20 PM

Thank you all. I've been on the road since I posted my query and consequently, offline. You've given me a lot of information to play around with. The young cousin who owned this banjo uke was shipped off to Europe at 18 years of age and promptly killed at the Battle of the Bulge. Anyway, thanks again to you all.


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Subject: RE: Help: Banjo Uke tuning etc.
From: bigchuck
Date: 01 Apr 01 - 06:10 PM

Yeah, I should have mentioned that I strung mine (which is an old slingerland and built strong)with a tenor banjo steel set, which has worked quite well so far.
Sandy


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Subject: RE: Help: Banjo Uke tuning etc.
From: Jon Freeman
Date: 01 Jul 01 - 11:37 PM

I recently had the banjolin I mentioned in bits and took a couple of photo's to illustrate the construction I tried to describe. I'd be interested to know if the sort of tone device is common. I have put the pictures here.

Jon


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Subject: RE: Help: Banjo Uke tuning etc.
From: GutBucketeer
Date: 02 Jul 01 - 08:52 PM

I just bought a banjo uke and am really enjoying playing it. Here are some links that may be helpful.

The banjo uke website which has some very good "tuitions"
http://freespace.virgin.net/dennis.taylor/index.htm

Ukelele World for all around information, strings, and parts
http://www.ukuleleworld.com/

There is also the George Formby Society but it seems to be missing some files
http://www.georgeformby.co.uk/

enjoy:

Now, Does anyone tune their tenor banjo like a baritone uke? I am trying it out for awhile.


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Subject: RE: Help: Banjo Uke tuning etc.
From: Jon Freeman
Date: 02 Jul 01 - 08:59 PM

Not me Jim, life is in GDAE - I would even tune my guitar using that interval if I could work out how to do it without it sounding horrible (not really sure what it is but I always hear nasty unwelcome overtones when I try it).

Anyway seing as you have refreshed the thread, I will try again on my last question: has anyone come across the assembly used on my banjolin - it may be common - I've only pulled a couple apart but it still seems weird to me.

Jon


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Subject: RE: Help: Banjo Uke tuning etc.
From: GUEST,near@attbi.com
Date: 05 Jul 02 - 01:37 PM

I was wondering if anyone knows about Banjo intonation. At first I assumed that it was exactly like a guitar. But when I looked at how the string bridge sits on top of a drum head I started wondering if the skin harmonically extends the length of the string.


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Subject: RE: Help: Banjo Uke tuning etc.
From: NobleSavage
Date: 06 Jul 02 - 12:43 AM

I am the proud possesser of a fine vintage banjolele-- late '30's or '40's, I think. It is quite homely in appearance; Sears catalogue item most likely--has a slightly harsh yet curiously pleasing sound(not unlike yours truly), intonation is good, it's not too heavy--all in all, a plain but quite serviceable instrument. It bears the proud name "U-King" just below its little tailpiece. Tuned gCEA.

I have a soft spot for the ukelele--I was introduced to its simple charms at the tender age of 6. The chickens seemed to enjoy it a great deal. . .

NS


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Subject: RE: Banjo Uke tuning etc.
From: GUEST,john
Date: 12 Nov 10 - 09:41 AM

I HAVE JUST GOT MYSELF A NEW UKEBANJO MADE BY VINTAGE WITH A MANMADE VELLUM.IVE BEEN PLAYING A 1930,S KEECH SINCE CHILDHOOD .JUST WONDERING IF A GOATSKIN VELLUM WOULD CHANGE ITS CHARACTER ANY THOUGHTS.   J.L.


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Subject: RE: Banjo Uke tuning etc.
From: Geoff the Duck
Date: 12 Nov 10 - 12:33 PM

I would expect a change of character, but wouldn't like to guess if the change would be for better or worse.
The idea of man-made imitation vellum is that it is supposed to have a tone closer to vellum than a straight plastic one but without the moisture sensitivity of a real vellum.
Obviously, if you replace with real goat skin, the head will slacken in damp weather and tighten when dry. That can give problems keeping in tune if weather changes.
The only way of finding out is try a different skin and if you don't like the result go back to the original type of head. You may have wasted some cash, but you would know.
Quack!
Geoff the Duck.


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Subject: RE: Banjo Uke tuning etc.
From: GUEST,Lynn
Date: 24 Jan 12 - 08:22 PM

I have an old banjo uke (4 steel strings) and I took it to be refurbished. The fella doing the work had to drill out the tuner holes because he said he couldn't find any to fit it. Well, he put the steel strings on it and I couldn't get it to hold the "My Dog Has Fleas" without having to re-tune it after a couple of strums. He told me that it wasn't tuned that way. I believe he said the first chord was "A" and I can't remember after that what he said. I know how to play a regular uke and would like the uke tuning. Holding it as playing, he has the fattest string first, then going to the next they get smaller with the smallest string on the bottom. In other words, largest going down to the smallest. Does anyone know if this is correct? And, would I break strings trying to tune it to what I know? I would appreciate any help and I'm not sure if I know how to get back to this page so, could you email me please? It's to lynnricksmith@hotmail.com Thanks so much!


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