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 ARCHIVED TOPIC: Need Banjo With Stable Tuning - Alternate Tunings

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:

mixohoytian - Posted - 03/26/2020:  15:13:34

Hi Everyone. I have a very specific need. I am a guitar player who has been using 4 strings (on a 5 string banjo with the 5th string not in use) via alternate tunings that fit each song with success for recording only. My issue is that my sure cheap banjo doesn't stay in tune except for 2-3 frets at a time.

So I was going to spend $1k or so (Orange Blossom) but I've been told by some colleagues that the guitar (6 string) banjos by Gold Tone stay in tune "good enough."

If that is the case, I'd rather get the cheaper guitar version. In addition to alternate tunings I would like to try tuning the 4 strings as a guitar for soloing (since I play guitar).

Assuming I don't need the most awesome bluegrass banjo, do you think the guitar version would suit my needs?


deestexas - Posted - 03/26/2020:  15:44:08

Staying in tune is more of a setup issue than a price issue. Find someone to help with that.

G Edward Porgie - Posted - 03/26/2020:  16:22:49

It's easy enough to tune the four strings to the top four of a guitar.

In my opinion, the only halfway decent guitar banjos are those made decades ago with larger pots and longer scales than what is made today. The modern ones sound really muddy on the bottom end.

Because you are not using the fifth string, the standard plectrum banjo would be a good choice, and are generally less expensive than a 5 string banjo.

Before purchasing anything, I suggest you follow the advice given above by deestexas. Find someone who can assess yourcurrent banjo and make set-up adjustments if needed.

mixohoytian - Posted - 03/26/2020:  16:32:19

Thank you both. To be clear, I meant intonation as well. A cheap banjo can be set up to have good intonation?


Dan Gellert - Posted - 03/26/2020:  16:40:28


Originally posted by mixohoytian

A cheap banjo can be set up to have good intonation?


As good as any

mixohoytian - Posted - 03/26/2020:  16:53:38

Thank you!

jdeluke137 - Posted - 03/26/2020:  20:21:44

You said “My issue is that my sure cheap banjo doesn't stay in tune except for 2-3 frets at a time.” That sounds like your bridge may be out of place. Google “banjo bridge placement”. That may fix your problem.

Bill Rogers - Posted - 03/26/2020:  21:10:23

If you’re used to guitar tuners, the 4-1 tuners on banjos may not be precise enough for you. Look into a banjo with Rickard Cyclone tuners. They are very precise and stable.

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