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25 messages

tuning a tenor banjo

21 Feb 15 - 01:26 AM (#3688417)
Subject: tuning a tenor banjo
From: Big Al Whittle

a friend gave me tenor banjo. i am trying to tune it. i fancied playing in a trad jazz band.
i got a book from absolute music and some sets of strings. and i've just attempted to put the strings on. the suggested tuning in the book is CDGA. however the A string snapped long before reaching that high A. i don't want to waste another string. i seem to remember years ago Patrick Walker said that he tuned his banjo like a guitar upside down GDAE. Somone else mentioned Memphis tuning - like a guitar DGBE. If you can help me out with advice on this subject - I would be grateful.


21 Feb 15 - 02:21 AM (#3688421)
Subject: RE: tuning a tenor banjo
From: GUEST,Jon

Your information on the tunings is correct. For CGDA, the string gauges should be around 9, 16, 23w, 30w.


21 Feb 15 - 02:25 AM (#3688422)
Subject: RE: tuning a tenor banjo
From: GUEST,Jon

I misread what you had. I don't know CDGA (a typo?). Jazz is CGDA.


21 Feb 15 - 02:52 AM (#3688423)
Subject: RE: tuning a tenor banjo
From: Gibb Sahib

I believe your banjo and its current strings are intended to be tuned GDAE.
That's how I do mine, with the heavier strings.


21 Feb 15 - 03:07 AM (#3688424)
Subject: RE: tuning a tenor banjo
From: The Sandman

lighter gauges need for cgda,gdae is common using heavier gauge strings if you want to be adventurous you can also tune it using 5 string banjo strings [but obviously not the high half g] dgbd, cgbd dgcd cgcd.


21 Feb 15 - 05:28 AM (#3688442)
Subject: RE: tuning a tenor banjo
From: Big Al Whittle

the gauges i bought are
32.22.14.10

and they have loop ends made by adagio

what do you reckon are the best - these ones seem to break to easily fot the high tuning.


21 Feb 15 - 05:38 AM (#3688446)
Subject: RE: tuning a tenor banjo
From: The Sandman

gdae, gauges are approx 12 16 24 36, that sounds best for your strings that you have


21 Feb 15 - 05:43 AM (#3688448)
Subject: RE: tuning a tenor banjo
From: GUEST,Jon

I only use GDAE tuning. These days I'm using Eagle Newtone pick your own for 40, 28, 18, 12.

I suppose if I was looking at other makes and looking for a Jazz set, I'd probably give D'Addario a try.

It is a tenor banjo rather than a plectrum banjo you have? The plectrum is the same scale length as a 5 string. The tenors are shorter and usually 19 or 17 frets.


21 Feb 15 - 06:55 AM (#3688453)
Subject: RE: tuning a tenor banjo
From: GUEST,Bignige

GDAE is essential Mandolin tuning, but for Tenor Banjo needs to be an octave lower. Maybe try Octave Mandolin strings, but be careful its easy to confuse Octave Mandola and Octave Mandolin, check what it says on the packet.


21 Feb 15 - 06:03 PM (#3688693)
Subject: RE: tuning a tenor banjo
From: Will Fly

Al - I use CGDA tuning for tenor guitar, and the string gauges I use are 32, 22, 14, 9.

The high A string - 5 frets above the top E of a conventional guitar = is liable to snap if the gauge is too heavy. The scale length is important, and you need the shorter scale length to play in what's known as Standard CGDA tuning. That's why I use a .009 rather than a .010 for the A.

Most folk stuff is played in the GDAE tuning - an octave below a mandolin, as the more common keys for "folk", particularly in sessions, tend to be the popular fiddle and melodeon keys of D and G. The better, equivalent, keys for tenor in CGDA tuning are F and C - hence the popularity of that tuning for jazz.

Hope this helps.


22 Feb 15 - 04:33 AM (#3688871)
Subject: RE: tuning a tenor banjo
From: Big Al Whittle

thank you all for all your help. i've heard from a bloke who plays in a trad band and makes the dgbe thing work. and as that doesn't break the strings , i think i'll try that out - to start off at least.

its a bit puzzling that the correct tuning doesn't work. i can't see that the difference between a 10 and a 9 should be that crucial. i suppose its to do wth tensile strength.

anyway - i'll let you know, if i get my shit together! very exciting to be on the cusp of something new at my advanced age!


25 Feb 15 - 04:11 AM (#3689661)
Subject: RE: tuning a tenor banjo
From: Scabby Douglas

Tuning a Tenor Banjo= Job For Life.


25 Feb 15 - 06:11 AM (#3689696)
Subject: RE: tuning a tenor banjo
From: The Sandman

you could also use dgbd tuning and use five string banjo set discarding the short string, the advantage of this is that it makes it easier if you ever want to play in open g tuning DGBDGBD on a guitar You will be able to pick tunes with a plectrum on both instruments plus you are also half way there to finger picking a 5 string banjo[maybe not frailing such as down picking but up picking] if you can already finger pick a guitar. once you have mastered that you can play about with sawmill tuning dgcd and try it on guitar dgdgcd,its very good for modal tunes or songs, just a few ideas.


25 Feb 15 - 06:29 AM (#3689703)
Subject: RE: tuning a tenor banjo
From: GUEST,ploppo

GSS - that's 7 strings..... (it's DGDGBD)


25 Feb 15 - 05:19 PM (#3689832)
Subject: RE: tuning a tenor banjo
From: GUEST,Bignige

A friend of mine plays a Tenor Guitar with 5 string Banjo tuning, less the octave string of course, it lacks punch wouldn't recommend it.


25 Feb 15 - 08:22 PM (#3689865)
Subject: RE: tuning a tenor banjo
From: PHJim

Are you going to be doing single string or mostly chords? Chicago tuning, DGBE is fine for chording, as is CGDA. CGDA allows you to stay in one position longer when playing single string leads. Both are good for chord melody. GDAE or Irish tuning is good for fiddle tunes since it has the same open notes as a fiddle, but an octave lower. I kinda like DAEB (standard CGDA up a full tone) for Irish fiddle tunes. I like it because most fiddle tunes don't use the low string and this puts tunes in a higher octave than Irish tuning.


26 Feb 15 - 04:15 AM (#3689928)
Subject: RE: tuning a tenor banjo
From: The Sandman

which gauges do you use for daeb.


26 Feb 15 - 04:31 AM (#3689933)
Subject: RE: tuning a tenor banjo
From: Big Al Whittle

thats up a full tone from the tuning i couldn't get because the string kept breaking. theres obviously something i am doing wrong or misunderstanding.

what a pity we can't all meet each other!


26 Feb 15 - 04:44 AM (#3689936)
Subject: RE: tuning a tenor banjo
From: GUEST,Jon

The only things I can think of are:

a) There is something else, eg. the nut, causing the string to snap but I'd have thought you know stringed instruments well enough to have checked for any mechanical problems.

b) The scale length is too long. My 17 fret tenor is 54cm/21". A 19 fret would be about 58cm/23". Both of these shouhld go to CGDA.


26 Feb 15 - 04:48 AM (#3689937)
Subject: RE: tuning a tenor banjo
From: GUEST,Jon

(Both of these should go to CGDA with a "standard" jazz set of strings)


26 Feb 15 - 05:17 AM (#3689944)
Subject: RE: tuning a tenor banjo
From: The Sandman

here is some advice from enda scahills banjo tutor , this is what he likes to use for gdae
e string 11mm or12mm plain steel, a string 16mm or 17 mm wound, d string 25mm or 26 mm wound, g string 34 to 40mm wound, these ae guitar strings he prefers them to banjo strings, he reckons that for his taste a plain a steel string is too twangy, he also says that the gauge of the g string will depend on the banjo itself, that a short scale will probably need a heavier gauge g string a 40mm, just another opinion.


26 Feb 15 - 06:01 PM (#3690062)
Subject: RE: tuning a tenor banjo
From: GUEST,DrWord

Al: Give us an update!
I've broken a few A strings. What GUEST,Jon said...@ the nut, or bridge, even...
but by all means, tune to tenor: CGDA--you'll love it!
keep on pickin' & keep posting...I especially liked "anyway - i'll let you know, if i get my shit together! very exciting to be on the cusp of something new at my advanced age!
I can relate!

keep us posted.
keep pickin'
dennis


27 Feb 15 - 02:53 PM (#3690279)
Subject: RE: tuning a tenor banjo
From: GUEST,Will Fly, on the wing

Al - out of interest, what's the scale length - from saddle to nut - on your guitar, And, how many frets are there?

I have 20 frets on my tenor - and that suits the CGDA tuning perfectly.


27 Feb 15 - 08:20 PM (#3690347)
Subject: RE: tuning a tenor banjo
From: Big Al Whittle

52.5 cms

i've pretty much settled for dgbe. that's because i know a guy in a trad band and he will give me an introduction to the banjo player, who will hopefully give me the inside track on playing in a trad jazz band.


28 Feb 15 - 05:27 PM (#3690604)
Subject: RE: tuning a tenor banjo
From: michaelr

Q: How long does it take to tune a banjo?

A: No one knows.