Visit Elderly Instruments

 All Forums
 Playing the Banjo
 Playing Advice: 4-String (Tenor & Plectrum) Styles
 ARCHIVED TOPIC: standard tuning vs. Chicago tuning


Please note this is an archived topic, so it is locked and unable to be replied to. You may, however, start a new topic and refer to this topic with a link.

RJFreeman - Posted - 04/12/2009:  19:37:52


For you plectrum players, I am a five string player who recently became interested in plectrum playing. What are the advantages and disadvantages of DGBE vs. CGBD?

JohnTheWhite - Posted - 04/12/2009:  21:43:51


DGBD vs CGBD -> The low C is a nice-sounding low note; that's about it. Only useful for C scale, which means a different fret board up the neck. The DGBD gives a barre G-form instead of having to hit +2 with the pinkie. The F-form is played with the index on the 2nd string instead of the 4th. This allows an immediate 1st/2nd string interval to grabbed as well as the G-form half diminished. The pinkie is free to grab a 7th on the 1st string.
DGBD vs DGBE -> The E messes up the barre. Might be easier for a guitar player for the 1st week.

===
This is bluegrass type advice; you can do what you want to with it.
The advice is, "Don''t let your deal go down."

Bill Rogers - Posted - 04/12/2009:  23:02:22


If you're not a guitar player, it's probably best to use the standard tuning--there's a reason plectrum players do.

Bill

rudykizuty - Posted - 04/13/2009:  07:12:34


As a teen, I was originally taught with guitar tuning on a tenor banjo. But I soon switched over to plectrum tuning on my own after acquiring my first plectrum banjo.

Not to say there is anything wrong with guitar tuning, but to my ears, plectrum tuning just seemed to be the more natural sound that was intended for the instrument (especially if being played on a plectrum neck).

The nice thing is you can do what I did. Try both and go with the one that best suits your taste ;-)

Anthony Herner


Edited by - rudykizuty on 04/13/2009 07:21:58

NYCJazz - Posted - 04/13/2009:  07:27:18


I went from tenor (CGDA) to standard plectrum, so I had to learn all new chord forms. It was a lot tougher than I thought would be. My advice is stick with what is most familiar. Playing plectrum will get you way into all keys and a lot of chords you don't usually use in 5-string, and I can pretty much guarantee that it will take your BG playing to another level. Especially if you use gCGBD tuning.

Plectrum is kinda unique in that the melody is almost always on the outside string, and almost always played with the pinky. The tenor (as well as guitar) rely on lots of inside string work.





Improvisation is the ability to talk to oneself.
~ Cecil Taylor

1fiddle2play - Posted - 04/13/2009:  09:44:17


I think it most concerns what type of music you are going to play...Dixie, Jazz, stuff such as that I would say go with the standard CGDA but if ur a bluegrass 5 string player wanting to branch out on a four string and continue to play bluegrass I would advise DGBD tuning. YOu can play ur same tunes and keep the plectrum or tenor sound still. But this is my opinion and you know what everyone has to say abt opinions. Go with what you like most and have fun....

matrixbanjo - Posted - 04/14/2009:  05:47:00


I've been using chicago tuning for years on plectrum. I also play guitar. You can use guitar chord charts witth chigago tuning. You can play chord medly , you just have to remember to keep the melody on the top treble strings. There is a pro player from Germany(Peter Meyer) that uses a Tenor with Chicago tuning.

crewchief356 - Posted - 04/15/2009:  00:01:26


What abuot using Tenor C G D A tuning on a plectrum ?

Klondike Waldo - Posted - 04/15/2009:  18:41:11


quote:
Originally posted by crewchief356

What abuot using Tenor C G D A tuning on a plectrum ?





B string up to D( major 3rd) +D string up to A( perfect 5th)= lots of broken strings, I'd expect.

I''ll never play like Earl Scruggs or sing like Luciano Pavarotti, but I''ll pick better than Luciano and sing tenor better than Earl
deligo ergo renideo,
Bob Cameron

NYCJazz - Posted - 04/16/2009:  07:40:22


Plectrum tuned CGDA? Never seen it. I've seen plenty tenors tuned CGBD. Cynthia Sayer plays a tenor Vega archtop guitar tuned that way.






Improvisation is the ability to talk to oneself.
~ Cecil Taylor

KI4PRK - Posted - 04/17/2009:  07:02:10


I like Chicago tuning because a)I play guitar too, and b)because it makes the 6th very easy (barre), and I use the 6th a lot more than a major chord. DGBD is also nice because it transfers directly from all the chords I know on the 5-string in open G. I don't like CGBD because you really have to play with the chord forms, but I expect there's a reason most plectrum players use it; I just don't know what that reason is.

73, Brennen

strings - Posted - 04/17/2009:  07:13:48


Other than making the plectrum easier to learn for those with a guitar background, I've never heard of a good reason for using Chicago tuning on a plectrum. I originally learned the 5string using standard C tuning, as that's what Pete's book seemed to emphasize back then. The switch to plectrum was easy for me as I was already familiar with CGBD. I think barring chords up the neck is easier with CGBD than DGBD, and I've never seen plectrum arrangements in anything but CGBD.

Stephen,

Halifax NS

edit: Oops!...I'm in Halifax on my friend "string's" laptop....I didn't realize he was signed in....mainejohn


Edited by - strings on 04/17/2009 07:16:38

scotty22 - Posted - 04/17/2009:  07:31:50


Like Brennen, I use my plectrum in guitar tuning--only because I'm a guitarist...and also play tenor/mandola, fiddle/mandolin, bass, and several tuning variations on five-string banjo. So, while I would like to play proper plectrum, I'm simply trying to avoid having to become familiar with yet another tuning system. I have trouple enough just switching back and forth from tenor to mandolin trying to remember which is which!

______________________________
"...fat-arsed, beer-gutted, grey-beared, balding Morris dancers with the little bent pipes clamped in their teeth and scraggly ponytails ... (and the men, too.)"

spoonido - Posted - 04/19/2009:  07:37:36


Hooray!! I am about to buy my first tenor banjo! Now for strings, I intend to use "Chicago" style tuning. Should I just buy ball end nickle guitar strings, or are there sets of loop end banjo strings for Chicago tuning available? Seems a shame to throw out 2 perfectly good strings.

rudykizuty - Posted - 04/19/2009:  08:24:30


Chicago tuning doesn't require use of guitar strings, but I guess you could use them if you really wanted to. I always used tenor banjo strings even when I was playing with guitar tuning.

PS does anyone know how the term "Chicago tuning" came about? Just curious.

Anthony Herner

spoonido - Posted - 04/19/2009:  09:20:44


Oh, really? So the extra tension is no issue for the lower strings? I could like that! Any other views on this?

Klondike Waldo - Posted - 04/20/2009:  10:30:53


quote:
Originally posted by rudykizuty

Chicago tuning doesn't require use of guitar strings, but I guess you could use them if you really wanted to. I always used tenor banjo strings even when I was playing with guitar tuning.

PS does anyone know how the term "Chicago tuning" came about? Just curious.

Anthony Herner



Some of the early jazz players in Chicago, including, I believe Johnny St Cyr, tuned their banjos that way because they were guitar players.

I''ll never play like Earl Scruggs or sing like Luciano Pavarotti, but I''ll pick better than Luciano and sing tenor better than Earl
deligo ergo renideo,
Bob Cameron

Klondike Waldo - Posted - 04/20/2009:  10:37:35


quote:
Originally posted by spoonido

Oh, really? So the extra tension is no issue for the lower strings? I could like that! Any other views on this?




lower sting tension? t If you're tuning a Plectrum to Chicago tuning the fourth string is only up one whole step, from C to D. Third string stays at G. Second string stays at B, first string goes up only one whole step to E.

Now if you're talking tenor, Fourth string up one whole step to D, third stays the same (G), second goes down one and a half steps from D to B and First goes down a fourth from A to E. If anything, your first and second strings might feel a bit flubby.

I''ll never play like Earl Scruggs or sing like Luciano Pavarotti, but I''ll pick better than Luciano and sing tenor better than Earl
deligo ergo renideo,
Bob Cameron

spoonido - Posted - 04/20/2009:  17:32:58


Thanks, Klondike. You've got the info I can use. A longtime guitar and uke player, I'd like to go further back in my jazz leanings to those early times, and the tenor banjo seems like the way to go. I'll be picking it up this weekend.

neplusultra - Posted - 04/20/2009:  19:49:15


As for advantages/disadvantages...I find the layout a little easier on a standard plectrum...something about having to reach back with my first finger on a 2nd inversion major chord that also has the fifth on the E string. I guess I've just gotten used to chord melody on the plectrum and being able to use my fourth finger as a kind of rover on the D string to hit passing and melody notes.

As for the other question that was brought up about string gauge (a secondary question that came up in the thread...but probably deserves its own thread)...I suggest you go buy a bunch of loop end strings and start playing around to see what you like...The shorter scale on a tenor will make standard guitar strings a bit loose, so you'll need to go up a gauge or two to get the same tension.

For guitar tuning on a tenor I would suggest starting with a .012 or .013 on the E, a .016 on the B, a .020 or .022 wound on the G and a .028 for the D. Once you lock in your favorite gauges, you'll never go back to prepackages sets. I prefer GHS strings and if you find a good source, you should be able get them for about $4 or so a set.

stevengaub - Posted - 05/09/2009:  18:36:27


I love my tenor and Chicago tuning. In the old time 4 string band that I play in there are several "Guitar tuned 4 string" players; though not a majority or most loved. The best technique book I have found is http://www.banjobook.com/AUTHOR-Ste...d-Banjo.html

Happy guitar tuned plectrum or tenor banjo playing.

the bass man to the 5 string m

RJFreeman - Posted - 05/15/2009:  11:50:29


Thanks for all the replies. I have been spending the last couple of weeks playing with the different tunings, and I'm seeing why most plectrum players use CGBD, it is a very logical system for chord melody.



Want to hide these Google ads? Join the Players Union!

You are not logged in.
Log In


Not a member? Create an Account (FREE!)



1665 BANJO LOVERS ONLINE

HOME | FORUMS | MEMBERS | MEDIA ARCHIVE | TABS & LESSONS | CLASSIFIEDS | REVIEWS | LINKS | CALENDAR | STORE | TERMS OF USE