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Oct 9, 2019 - 6:39:07 PM
1 posts since 10/2/2019

I'm a new player and have just received my Good Time open-back yesterday. I tuned to open g with no problem. Then, out of curiosity, went looking for other tunings online. And found a gazillion of them. My question has to do with the way in which tunings are presented. I know
open g is 'GDGBD'. After a little searching I found this meant 'g4 d3 g3 b3 d4', the numbers being their octave designations. Why aren't other tunings shown with their octave numbers? Am I missing something?

Any info greatly appreciated...

Jim

Oct 9, 2019 - 7:01:01 PM

2194 posts since 4/29/2012

Not really. I prefer the notation gDGBD (or even better but rarely seen gDGBd ) . But I think we don't confuse ourselves with octave numbers because we know standard G, and that tunings other than standard G are going to be within a couple of semitones on each string or the same thing capoed up 2 frets. Sometimes you also see "relative tuning" - eg "5435 " meaning that starting with the 4th string the 3rd is 5 semitones higher, the 2nd 4 semitones higher than the 2nd , the 1st 3 up from 2 and the 5th 5 up from 1.

Oct 9, 2019 - 10:39:42 PM
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Players Union Member

janolov

Sweden

39793 posts since 3/7/2006

I think most banjo players think it obvious in which octave a string is tuned.  It has never caused me any problems.

Oct 9, 2019 - 10:46:42 PM
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Bill Rogers (Moderator)

USA

22312 posts since 6/25/2005

I’ve never seen tuning related to octaves like yup our show. When tunings are unusually high or low, that’s usually so noted. Otherwise using gDGBD as a base works fine.

Oct 10, 2019 - 8:38:33 PM

843 posts since 8/7/2017

I use the octave numbers when replacing strings and I don't have another, already tuned banjo, to compare the new banjo strings to.

With experience, you will get pretty close just by ear, and the need for octave numbers when changing from one tuning to another will not needed.

The relative tuning method mentioned by Andrew is a good way to change tunings without ending up in the wrong octave. Art Rosenbaum teaches this method in his books.

Since my tuner gives the octave automatically, I wrote down the octave numbers for standard G and double C on the tuner box, just for those days when I have a brain meltdown and can't tell which way to turn the pegs :-)

Oct 11, 2019 - 12:03:17 AM

2718 posts since 10/17/2009

Most of the tunings are similar in octave range; changing a string's tuning is just maybe a step or so higher/lower.

One thing that should make it fairly obvious; is how tight the strings are. Trying to get an octave too low will start to be really floppy; trying to get an octave too high will start to get really tight, feel like the string will break (keep going and it probably will).

Oct 11, 2019 - 9:10:57 AM
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4727 posts since 5/14/2007

Most the common tunings have you change only one or two strings by at most a whole step, or two frets. In the G and C tunings, the third string is the G below middle C on the piano. With that string in tune, you can tune the rest of the strings easily.

Banjo and guitar music are written an octave higher than standard.

Oct 12, 2019 - 2:28:49 PM
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362 posts since 8/14/2018
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quote:
Originally posted by janolov

I think most banjo players think it obvious in which octave a string is tuned.  It has never caused me any problems.


If you've never played before it is not obvious.

Oct 12, 2019 - 5:43:09 PM
Players Union Member

RV6

USA

1234 posts since 2/3/2012

Perhaps this might be helpful:  http://www.get-tuned.com/online_banjo_tuner.php

Oct 12, 2019 - 11:53:22 PM
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janolov

Sweden

39793 posts since 3/7/2006

quote:
Originally posted by MacCruiskeen
quote:
Originally posted by janolov

I think most banjo players think it obvious in which octave a string is tuned.  It has never caused me any problems.


If you've never played before it is not obvious.


When I started I didn't know the difference between g4 and g3, but I managed to get the right octave on the strings.

Oct 13, 2019 - 9:11:15 PM

843 posts since 8/7/2017

What's weird to me is that some days I have no trouble tuning after changing strings, and other days I'm completely buffaloed. Changing 1 string at a time, and tuning it to match the desired fret of one of the old strings before changing the next string helps sometimes.

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