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 ARCHIVED TOPIC: Changing Tuning

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Picking Dick - Posted - 09/27/2019:  06:48:03

Can one tune a tenor banjo (or guitar) to either CGDA or CGBD using the same strings?

G Edward Porgie - Posted - 09/27/2019:  07:44:08

CGBD using strings intended for CGDA would cause the two top strings to be a bit slack. CGBD tuning is meant for a longer scale. That's not to say that it won't work at all, but I doubt if you'd be satisfied with the results.

Picking Dick - Posted - 09/27/2019:  11:07:10

Thanks, George, I thought that would be a problem.

Well, when I look for tenor banjo/guitar strings there’s usually only one size. I guess one needs to know the correct size for either tuning.

I have an Irish tenor banjo which is in GDAE which is fine, but I’m thinkin’ of gettin’ another tenor banjo which I’d like to be tuned to CGBD.

I also have a tenor guitar tuned to CGDA which is also good, but I might like to try another tuned to DGBE.

So, trying to fined the correct size strings that I might need, is a problem so far. I suppose, if I knew the correct sizes, I could buy singles.

majesty - Posted - 09/28/2019:  05:25:24

Actually, there is no correct string gauges for the tenor. Most music stores stock 30,23,16,9 gauges. However, different banjos sound better with slightly different gauges such as, 32,24,16,11, or 30,23,14,10 or 28,22,14,10 or even 28,22,12,9 or? I would suggest for C,G,B,D that you try: 30,23, 18,12 gauges. Expect to spend an extra $5 to $8 if you want any of the gauges a little different,to suit your taste.

Picking Dick - Posted - 09/28/2019:  06:05:58

Wow! That’s very helpful, Jim. It’s just what I wanted to know. Thanks very much.

Picking Dick - Posted - 10/30/2019:  09:15:08

Well, after a coupla beers, I threw caution to the wind and finally changed the tuning on my tenor guitar from CGDA to CGBD to play plectrum pieces. It sounds just fine to me if I take out my hearing aids. With them in, it makes a few small squeaky sounds.

So, thanks for your info, Jim.

G Edward Porgie - Posted - 10/31/2019:  12:54:29

"I have an Irish tenor banjo which is in GDAE which is fine, but I’m thinkin’ of gettin’ another tenor banjo which I’d like to be tuned to CGBD."

If you're thinking of buying a tenor banjo to be tuned CGBD, why not simply buy a plectrum banjo, instead? Plectrum banjos were made for precisely that tuning.

Picking Dick - Posted - 10/31/2019:  14:39:11

Yes, you’re persactly right, George, I could do that. BUT . . . I thought that a tenor banjo would be easier for my wife to get rid of when I’m no longer here to whack away at ‘em.

But I’m really hesitating to buy anything at all until I can play chords without a lot of fumbling. I thought, if I could play chords with a bit of speed, then I’d pick up a nice plectrum or tenor banjo. Soooo, I’m now usin’ my tenor guitar to learn what I need. It was on hand and tuned to CGDA which I don’t need.

I’m having so much trouble learnin’ to stretch my poor ol’ fingers into the infernal chord shapes and, then when I do, havin’ to and remember the darn things. Ahhh, the Golden Years . . .

paulspafford - Posted - 11/04/2019:  20:18:13

I recently came across an article on Deering's site that can help you:

Picking Dick - Posted - 11/05/2019:  05:45:35

Hi, Paul, thanks for the info. I’ll keep it for use down the road.

I retuned my tenor guitar to CGBD though, and it seems to be all right to me. If I ever learn to play chords with any kind of ease, I’ll just get a plectrum banjo or convert my Deering 5 string to plectrum.

G Edward Porgie - Posted - 11/05/2019:  11:30:17

I wish you success and lots of fun learning. It's not impossible, it just takes practice.

Picking Dick - Posted - 11/19/2019:  08:17:16

Well, I don’t play clawhammer much anymore, so I decided to remove the 5th string from my A-scale Gold Tone Cripple Creek banjo, tune it to CGBD and play my plectrum music on it. One 5 string banjo is enough for me, and I wasn’t completely happy with my Kala Tenor guitar as a plectrum instrument anyway.

My shortened banjo doesn’t really have enough frets, but I don’t play up by the drum anyway. It has Aquilas on it, but it needed a change of strings anyhow. As a side note, I really didn't like the Aquilas much on my banjo.

So, now that I’m finally gitten the hang of playin’ chords, I’d like to smooth things out and start pickin’ up some speed. To do this, I’ve decided to stop playing all my other stringed instruments and concentrate on plectrum tunes. Someone told to do this a long time ago, but I didn’t do it.

So, that’s where I am. The “new” plectrum banjo feels better, and now I’m goin’ after those darned chords.

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