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 ARCHIVED TOPIC: Strings for tenor banjo Irish tuning (GDAE)

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Slick Mick - Posted - 07/13/2011:  09:00:38

I just bought a Deering Goodtime tenor open back, 17 frets, which turned out to have pretty light strings on it (probably suitable for playing trad jazz). What strings should I get if I want to play Irish tunes using GDAE-tuning? Is there any special set with thicker strings for Irish tuning on the market?

Slick Mick 

randomman123 - Posted - 07/13/2011:  09:24:58

D'Addario makes irish tenor banjo strings. Look for the package on amazon that says irish banjo.

mikeyes - Posted - 07/13/2011:  09:55:47

GHS has several Irish tenor banjo sets available through a variety of vendors including Elderly and Janet Davis. The J-63i set is a little light for a short scale banjo, but it might work with your banjo. It will certainly be better than the cgda set that is already on it and it has less tension than the standard set.

Most GDAE banjos thrive with the same gauges as mandolins use, 40 30 20 10 or some variation of those sizes. You can get Octave Mandolin sets that will work too (they are long and you get two sets.)

Mumble Peg - Posted - 07/13/2011:  10:09:56

For quite a few years we put on octave mandolin strings for Irish tenor banjos. They are a little heavier than the GHS Irish strings and give a slightly darker tone, which many Irish players prefer.


D'Addario J80

Mumble Peg - Posted - 07/13/2011:  10:10:18

For quite a few years we put on octave mandolin strings for Irish tenor banjos. They are a little heavier than the GHS Irish strings and give a slightly darker tone, which many Irish players prefer.


D'Addario J80

ruraltradpunk - Posted - 07/13/2011:  10:13:12

This set would do the job:

or if you scroll down on this page you'll get to a set of Clareen strings for short scale tenor banjos:

You can also put together your own set by getting guitar strings in the gauges that Mike mentioned above - if the tailpiece on your Goodtime won't accomodate ball end strings you can just pop the wee ball thing out. Just make sure you get a wound "A".



Edited by - ruraltradpunk on 07/13/2011 10:14:24

Teddelicious - Posted - 07/14/2011:  13:48:16

I use the J-63i set Mikeyes mentioned, and they do the trick for me, although I have a 19-fret tenor banjo.

BDCA - Posted - 07/14/2011:  15:04:43

I have had good luck with 12 (14), 24, 36 42 on  17 fret Gold Tones. The 26 is wound. I buy single loop end strings from:

You may need to enlarge the grooves on the bridge and nut. A set of nut files is useful!



Edited by - BDCA on 07/14/2011 15:07:08

jeremy-g - Posted - 07/16/2011:  09:02:24

I'm sure you'll hear a million opinions on this- I'll add my uneducated 2 cents as well :)

I'm a new player, and have only tried 2 sets on my 17-fret GDAE axe. 

First I tried the D'Addario Irish Banjo set J63-i that others have mentioned in .012, .016, .024, and .036.  This set worked, but I wasn't crazy about the tone on my 17 fretter.  Some fretted notes seemed muddy, and 'out of tune'.  This string set was very inexpensive (under $5) and sounds a little better on my other banjo (which is a 19 fret model).

A few days ago I saw a post where someone recommended D'Addario "Chromes', which are a flat-wound Electric Guitar sting.  He swore by them, and I thought 'why not?' and gave them a shot.  He had recommended some pretty heavy weights, but I went a bit lighter for my first experiment with these.  I ended up with Chromes in 042, 032, 022 and a PL014 plain steel string (for the E).  I got them from for about $15 including shipping.

I gotta say, I am really liking this combo.  I had to file out the slots a bit for the G and D, but it was worth it.  Good volume, and great tone!  Muddiness is gone, and the whole banjo seems much more 'in-tune' with itself.  Sound is more mellow and less twangy, which is what I wanted.

Good luck in your search, and have fun!

BDCA - Posted - 07/16/2011:  09:09:49

What banjo???




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