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Feb 9, 2019 - 9:03:40 AM
2061 posts since 9/25/2006

Anybody use really heavy strings on your standard scale banjo amd then tune down to E or even D?

I'm already familiar with Hartford...

Do any of you do this?

I've got a gig coming up with a folkie and need to play out of G position in the keys of F, E, and D.

Feb 9, 2019 - 9:20:45 AM
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936 posts since 11/9/2010

I did it for a while on my Kalamazoo conversion, tuned down to E; had a John Balch hide head; 2.5 gram bridge; GHS PF-160 mediums (.11, .13, .16, .26, .10). It worked great- volume, tone, and tuned low they had an easy "pull". But then again I used to use Vega mediums all the time. I would have tried heavier than that, but that was all I could find locally. I did have to file the nut and bridge slots, but it worked out for me. It was fun, and I hope to find a banjo to keep set up for low E tuning- "Big Country" just sounds better that way!

Feb 9, 2019 - 9:27:53 AM

8433 posts since 2/22/2007

I think that F will work fine and E will probably get by but I doubt that you will like the sound and/or feel in D. But try it and find out. They invented longnecks for a reason and string tension at lower tunings was one of them.

Feb 9, 2019 - 10:23:22 AM

626 posts since 8/26/2009

I purchased the John Hartford string set, and then some single guitar strings to work with (removed the metal piece with pliers). The 3rd string was wrapped like the fourth.
The strings seemed pretty sloppy when going to D, but I did keep one banjo tuned to D for awhile. Just got tired of carrying around two banjos so I just learned to play in D out of G tuning.

The John Hartford strings were made by Pearse and were 12, 14, 20, 24, 12 with 3rd and 4th wound.

Feb 9, 2019 - 10:42:21 AM



6483 posts since 8/20/2016
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I haven't used extra heavy strings, I haven't even heard of them before. When I'm trying to figure out a song in that low E tuning, my mediums or heavies get me there. They're a bit flimsy though, but It's just to figure out the song. I don't tune down there to sing, if I need to, I will figure out my own way to pick a song, maybe with a capo and/or Double C, Drop C or open D...etc...tuning.

If I had to pick with a folkie, assuming he's playing the guitar, I wouldn't worry about tuning down...he has those low notes on the guitar. For E I would tune to Drop or Double C and Capo up to the 4th fret probably, for F, I would use Sawmill tuning, and for D, I would use either Open D tuning or Open G. But I'm not a performing professional, just a guy who likes to pick with friends and such.

Edited by - Mooooo on 02/09/2019 10:47:57

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