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 Playing Advice: 4-String (Jazz, Blues & Other Trad Styles)
 ARCHIVED TOPIC: Traditional Tenor 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: http://www.banjohangout.org/archive/364086

PTOEguy - Posted - 05/17/2020:  23:43:35


I've recently become the proud owner of a Gold Tone AC-4 which I'm very much enjoying in CGAD tuning. But I'm new to fifths tuning, having started on the ukulele. I'm thinking of changing the tuning over to the DGBE tuning so I have more chord shapes at my fingertips (so to speak). But I'm not wanting to lose the 5ths tuning.

Do I get much (lose much?) if I go from CGAD to DGBE?

Eric A - Posted - 05/18/2020:  00:07:48


Ukulele seems to be the hottest thing in music lately, so there are hundreds of tab books available for all kinds of music. Since you are already familiar with it, why not give it a try? You can always go back.

Dgbectrum - Posted - 05/18/2020:  03:02:59


Talking about fifths tuning I assume you mean CGDA
Try Uke tuning on your banjo (GCEA), it sounds better than Chicago tuning (DGBE) on tenor.
Plus you already knows the fingerboard.
I've done that by using the first four string of a 009 guitar set

JRay136 - Posted - 05/18/2020:  08:34:43


I would really encourage you to stay with the CGDA tuning. It's the way the instrument was designed and the 5ths resonate in such a fantastic way that brings out the character of the tenor banjo. It also allows you to learn and play all the music that exists for tenor banjo already. If you ever want to learn a piece written for tenor banjo or version of tune played by a tenor banjo player you won't be able to because the Chicago tuning has a smaller range.

5ths tuning also opens up a whole world to where Cello music, violin music, viola music, mandolin music and more lays nicely under the fingers.

I would say try everything and see what you like but since you already have a ukulele why not keep the tenor banjo as it is so that you really have the uniqueness of both instruments.

Just my two cents.
Jack

pasdimo - Posted - 05/18/2020:  08:35:25


In my opinion you should leave it tuned in 5ths and learn the chords. It's not so hard nor take very long (it's my experience), and the tenor banjo sounds a way much better in CGDA.

PTOEguy - Posted - 05/19/2020:  12:18:29


quote:

Originally posted by Dgbectrum

Talking about fifths tuning I assume you mean CGDA

Try Uke tuning on your banjo (GCEA), it sounds better than Chicago tuning (DGBE) on tenor.

Plus you already knows the fingerboard.

I've done that by using the first four string of a 009 guitar set






So this would be tuned an octave below linear ukulele tuning?  Very intriguing....

PTOEguy - Posted - 05/19/2020:  12:23:00


quote:

Originally posted by JRay136

I would really encourage you to stay with the CGDA tuning. It's the way the instrument was designed and the 5ths resonate in such a fantastic way that brings out the character of the tenor banjo. It also allows you to learn and play all the music that exists for tenor banjo already. If you ever want to learn a piece written for tenor banjo or version of tune played by a tenor banjo player you won't be able to because the Chicago tuning has a smaller range.



5ths tuning also opens up a whole world to where Cello music, violin music, viola music, mandolin music and more lays nicely under the fingers.



I would say try everything and see what you like but since you already have a ukulele why not keep the tenor banjo as it is so that you really have the uniqueness of both instruments.



Just my two cents.

Jack






I like this advice - and I do have a couple of banjo ukes.  My kids play cello and violin, so I've been picking up a few pieces from them as well.  



I really don't want too lose the 5ths sound - I wonder what kind of tenor banjo I could get in trade for a Deering Banjo Uke.



 



 

stevo58 - Posted - 05/19/2020:  14:04:11


I had  played guitar for 45 years when I picked up a tenor. I had been asked to learn it to sub in a local Dixie band. I had 3 weeks to earn 40 tunes on a strange instrument. I considered Chicago tuning, but in the end I decided to learn in standard tenor tuning, because -



- the entire world of tenor music would be closed to me if I used a non-standard tuning; and

- if I used a guitar tuning, I would play as if it were a guitar, which means the same patterns, cliches, and so on.



It wasn't hard to learn the chord shapes. I have had far more issues with my right hand than my left - you comp differently in this music, there's that damned tremolo thing, and so on. I am glad I made the decision. Learn it in standard tuning - after a few weeks it will be fine, and if you use an alternate tuning, you are damned to it.



Jmho

Steven


Edited by - stevo58 on 05/19/2020 14:06:08

SunnylandBob - Posted - 05/19/2020:  16:32:00


My 2 cents on using an alternate tuning while retaining chord shapes associated with standard tenor tuning...

My first solo video submission to YouTube years ago was this tune played on an old Epiphone tenor guitar. FYI - the fingerings are standard tenor guitar/banjo, but tuning is F-C-G-D (inside to outside).

This is sometimes referred to as "re-entrant" tuning. The "F" and "G" are one whole tone apart from each other in pitch with a lower "C" in between. This preserves the fingering patterns of tuning in 5ths so you can use standard tenor fingerings for any chord...but the sound of the chord will be transposed. For example, if you finger the standard tenor banjo "C major" chord, the sound will be "F major" using this tuning. "F major" shapes sounds "Bb major" etc.

I like it and use this tuning for my tenor guitars and one particular tenor banjo. It's useful when you want a more closely-voiced "guitar-ish" chord style and are willing to sacrifice the "high pitches" of chords in standard tuning. (By closely voiced, I mean the notes of the chord are clustered closer together than standard 5th tuning...which creates a wider, more "open voiced" chord).


PTOEguy - Posted - 05/20/2020:  09:27:44


Thanks Bob - that is really neat - great playing and I like the song choice.

I'm a big fan of re-entrant tuning on ukuleles, but had never thought of it on a tenor banjo or guitar.

So I think what I really need is a couple of extra tenor banjos so I can keep one in standard tuning and experiment on the rest...

Omeboy - Posted - 05/20/2020:  09:41:08


I gather that nobody here has ever explored C G B D ----standard plectrum tuning. Single string, chord melody, duo-style: it's all there waiting for you to discover it.

SunnylandBob - Posted - 05/20/2020:  13:05:48


Au contraire, mon Omeboy frere...I've got an early 70's Baldwin Ode plectrum that I dust off occasionally. For me, the plectrum length/scale is something I've grown to psychologically associate with that tuning. When I tried to use plectrum tuning on an early "spare" tenor banjo years ago, it caused problems for me because my muscle finger memory had gotten so associated with the 5ths on adjacent strings, I found myself trying to play tenor single note runs and getting myself screwed up when I heard the forgotten interval of the third...a problem I don't have when I'm playing plectrum in the standard long scale.

An old teacher of mine used to say, "There's a fine line between being in a groove and being in a rut" - Guess I still haven't logged enough plectrum-tuned time toward the legendary 10,000 hours. (Apparently the great Perry B grew additional fingers during that time!)

Dgbectrum - Posted - 05/20/2020:  16:15:21


quote:

Originally posted by PTOEguy

quote:

Originally posted by Dgbectrum

Talking about fifths tuning I assume you mean CGDA

Try Uke tuning on your banjo (GCEA), it sounds better than Chicago tuning (DGBE) on tenor.

Plus you already knows the fingerboard.

I've done that by using the first four string of a 009 guitar set






So this would be tuned an octave below linear ukulele tuning?  Very intriguing....






Actually is the same octave. It's a matter of string length

PTOEguy - Posted - 05/20/2020:  17:43:16


quote:

Originally posted by Dgbectrum

quote:

Originally posted by PTOEguy

quote:

Originally posted by Dgbectrum

Talking about fifths tuning I assume you mean CGDA

Try Uke tuning on your banjo (GCEA), it sounds better than Chicago tuning (DGBE) on tenor.

Plus you already knows the fingerboard.

I've done that by using the first four string of a 009 guitar set






So this would be tuned an octave below linear ukulele tuning?  Very intriguing....






Actually is the same octave. It's a matter of string length






Interesting - but I already have a couple of banjo ukes, so it would basically be a steel string version of the same thing.  Most likely a slightly different tone with perhaps a bit more power?

Dgbectrum - Posted - 05/21/2020:  14:21:44


quote:

Originally posted by PTOEguy

quote:

Originally posted by Dgbectrum

quote:

Originally posted by PTOEguy

quote:

Originally posted by Dgbectrum

Talking about fifths tuning I assume you mean CGDA

Try Uke tuning on your banjo (GCEA), it sounds better than Chicago tuning (DGBE) on tenor.

Plus you already knows the fingerboard.

I've done that by using the first four string of a 009 guitar set






So this would be tuned an octave below linear ukulele tuning?  Very intriguing....






Actually is the same octave. It's a matter of string length






Interesting - but I already have a couple of banjo ukes, so it would basically be a steel string version of the same thing.  Most likely a slightly different tone with perhaps a bit more power?






Personally I can't go making chords after the third fret on the uke (with my thick fingers), on tenor I have much more room instead to go up the neck  :-)

PTOEguy - Posted - 05/22/2020:  22:06:20


quote:

Originally posted by Dgbectrum

quote:

Originally posted by PTOEguy

quote:

Originally posted by Dgbectrum

quote:

Originally posted by PTOEguy

quote:

Originally posted by Dgbectrum

Talking about fifths tuning I assume you mean CGDA

Try Uke tuning on your banjo (GCEA), it sounds better than Chicago tuning (DGBE) on tenor.

Plus you already knows the fingerboard.

I've done that by using the first four string of a 009 guitar set






So this would be tuned an octave below linear ukulele tuning?  Very intriguing....






Actually is the same octave. It's a matter of string length






Interesting - but I already have a couple of banjo ukes, so it would basically be a steel string version of the same thing.  Most likely a slightly different tone with perhaps a bit more power?






Personally I can't go making chords after the third fret on the uke (with my thick fingers), on tenor I have much more room instead to go up the neck  :-)






There is that for sure :)



I have been enjoying the more spacious fingerboard on my tenor banjo



 

guitarbanjoman - Posted - 05/23/2020:  05:20:55


Nice video, Bob. Thanks for sharing.

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