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 Playing Advice: 4-String (Jazz, Blues & Other Trad Styles)
 ARCHIVED TOPIC: journey into banjo-land from backyard guitar: open D vs G


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: http://www.banjohangout.org/archive/354525

Niko - Posted - 06/07/2019:  08:47:02


Ah, my first post. Bit of a ramble, but there is a point....

The first Wednesday of the month, here in Newcastle Australia is sacrosanct. Because on that night us backyarders we have the Acoustic Folk Lounge- a handful of folk in the downstairs room at the pub, trading songs. A couple of months ago I played a set of Joni Mitchell songs on guitar using a couple of her alternate tunings... and it got me hooked on the open tuning idea.

I decided to stick to and learn an open tuning thoroughly- so decided on open D. I tuned my guitar to that, then tuned the uke, and then dragged out my left handed banjo that I'd never got the hang of, and tuned it to open D.

I found the 5th string pesky, so ditched it and the peg. I found the resonator made it too loud, took that off. And couldn't get the hang of those finger picks so just finger picked. I know its sinful. but I like it.

So after an intense couple of months I can get to most chords without too much trouble... then I realised the easiest way to transition from standard tuning on guitar to an open tuning is to go to Open G. That's because the middle 3 strings as the same (Dgb) . So you can start playing straight away, and you're just duplicating the outer strings.

But am so glad I never figured that out beforehand because because the G tuning's similarity to standard, makes it hard to get away from habitual playing.

The open D has such a different flavour, and really have to think about everything freshly- can't just reach for the same old runs because I can't even find them!

I saw somewhere on this site a Swedish person @footfoot ? Also modifed 5 string to 4 string /open-back, wonder how that went.

Are there other folk who've done something similar?

mike gregory - Posted - 06/07/2019:  09:02:11


Oft-repeated advice, given to me by Milwaukee, Wisconsin banjo expert, Ken Haferman:





"Kid, it's YOUR banjo. Play it any damn' way you want!"



Welcome to the HangOut.

Emiel - Posted - 06/07/2019:  14:01:18


Some facts that might be informative:



The five-string banjo minus the 5th string is called the plectrum banjo. When playing with a flatpick became popular, the 5th string was in the way when strumming. The first 4-string banjo players just took the 5th string and peg off, like you. Later on the plectrum banjo was built with a straight 4-string neck. This happened quite early in the 20th, maybe late 19th century. The short-necked tenor banjo (also with 4 strings) came a bit later. The plectrum banjo can be either openback or have a resonator.



Now, when you fingerpick (and not strumming) the banjo and don't need the 5th string, you could also just leave it there and not (or only occasionally) use it.



Fingerpicking without fingerpicks is no sin! It is common in both the "classic style" banjo and in oldtime three- and two-finger picking. In oldtime, fingerpicks may also be used.





                                   Plectrum banjo



Open-D tuning for the banjo is: f# D F# A D. It's a really nice tuning, used in both oldtime and sometimes  bluegrass banjo, then called Rueben-tuning. 


Edited by - Emiel on 06/07/2019 14:07:45

Niko - Posted - 06/08/2019:  06:52:19


"Its your banjo play it any damm way you want"? That is the best advice, ever. Thanks. I appreciate it.

Niko - Posted - 06/27/2019:  07:21:09


Dear Emiel


thank you for that information, and also the d-turning was called Rueben-tuning. Am looking more at how rhythm players use combinations of strumming arpeggios and rolls as well as licks etc in providing a rich background- so its interesting, but not obtrusive. Well that's my intention- practice is another matter.


Originally posted by Emiel

Some facts that might be informative:



The five-string banjo minus the 5th string is called the plectrum banjo. When playing with a flatpick became popular, the 5th string was in the way when strumming. The first 4-string banjo players just took the 5th string and peg off, like you. Later on the plectrum banjo was built with a straight 4-string neck. This happened quite early in the 20th, maybe late 19th century. The short-necked tenor banjo (also with 4 strings) came a bit later. The plectrum banjo can be either openback or have a resonator.



Now, when you fingerpick (and not strumming) the banjo and don't need the 5th string, you could also just leave it there and not (or only occasionally) use it.



Fingerpicking without fingerpicks is no sin! It is common in both the "classic style" banjo and in oldtime three- and two-finger picking. In oldtime, fingerpicks may also be used.





                                   Plectrum banjo



Open-D tuning for the banjo is: f# D F# A D. It's a really nice tuning, used in both oldtime and sometimes  bluegrass banjo, then called Rueben-tuning. 






 

Emiel - Posted - 06/27/2019:  08:45:12


Good luck on your journey, Niko…

GrahamHawker - Posted - 06/27/2019:  09:36:49


It was only when I discovered G modal/sawmill tuning on the banjo that I realised I'd spent too many years being held back with standard guitar tuning and subsequently standard open G tuning. Suddenly everything made sense and I started to really play tunes on the banjo. I have one guitar tuned in a similar way.

badjazz - Posted - 06/28/2019:  10:22:43


Mike Gregory--I just have to say that I appreciate your reference to Ken Haferman. I used to go watch him play at the Hi-Fi Cafe in Bayview on Thursdays nights. Eventually when I got up the courage I even played some gigs on bass with Ken and his son. Good folks, and I could just hear his voice in my head like a blast from the past "Kid, it's YOUR banjo. Play it any damn' way you want!" Of course Ken would say that. I googled him after reading you comment and he died in 2017--I think the last time I saw him was 10-15 years before. Anyway, yes that is wise advice from a guy who knew a few things about a banjo.

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