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 ARCHIVED TOPIC: Tenor tuning

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jubal - Posted - 07/28/2007:  18:09:05

I mainly play guitar, but I have a six string banjo that I'm learning to play, and I just picked up a tenor banjo at a yard sale. My question is in regards to the tenor, four string. As a guitar player, would it be better for me to tune it as D G B E?

Griffis - Posted - 07/29/2007:  00:14:46

You can sure do that. It's frequently called "Chicago tuning", but for me, I'd go with the original tenor banjo tuning in fifths: CGDA. To me, it sounds more "right" and your banjo was likely set up to take that tuning (though that should be no big deal really.)

Hope you have fun! I love 4-string things. DGBE would probably take less of a learning curve, but the chord shapes on "real" tenor tuning are quite simple to learn.

PS-- a lot of tenor players go with GDAE (same as fiddle and mandolin)--this is real popular for celtic styles as well.

Edited by - Griffis on 07/29/2007 00:15:50

jubal - Posted - 07/29/2007:  09:29:16

Thanks Griffis!

backtothefuture - Posted - 07/29/2007:  11:06:20

Originally posted by Griffis

.... the original tenor banjo tuning in fifths: CGDA. To me, it sounds more "right" and your banjo.... but the chord shapes on "real" tenor tuning are quite simple to learn.

I agree with the sound thing and agree about the chord shapes being easy to learn. But what threw me off was when I tried to play some melody in the tenor (CGCA) tuning. I drove me nuts for a little while and I quickly reverted back to the Chicago (guitar) tuning you mentioned. I might try it again sometime, as I really didn't put the time in it that I should have. I should mention that I'm a banjo ukulele/guitar player primarily.


The BANJO-UKULELE said, "When I grow up, I want to be a BIG banjo!"

pweller - Posted - 07/30/2007:  12:28:46

The problem with Chicago tuning is that you can't make the full chord shapes. The tenor banjo was designed for fifths tuning (CGDA) I find that in fifths it's actually easier to pick out a melody than on guitar, which I started on, or maybe that's just me.

jubal - Posted - 07/30/2007:  23:31:31

Well, I think I'll give the fifths tuning a try for awhile and see how it goes. Right now I have it tuned Chicago style, and can play some things with it, but I'm having to do the simplified guitar chords (third fret 1st string , play three strings for G) and I'd like to do four string chords where possible.

bnjomn - Posted - 08/03/2007:  18:36:47

Another alternative is to use heavier strings and tune it G-D-A E one octave down from the mandolin. This is common among Irish musicians.



"A man must love a thing very much if he not only practices it without any hope of fame or money, but even practices it without any hope of doing it well."

G. K. Chesterton

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