I have been doing this for the last ten years on and off. I am primarily a guitar player but do not like using 6 string banjos. So some time ago I figured that if I just used the top four strings of a regular guitar on a tenor banjo I would be able to get the desired sound of a banjo in my arsenal without really having to learn a new instrument. Turns out it has been done for years and it is called CHICAGO TUNING (for its obvious blues advantage and connection). But I would like to know if a Dixieland or Ragtime player would or could use Chicago tuning? I would think because of its connection to the guitar and its myriad amount of pentatonic scale offerings it would be an ideal way to proceed. Of course I would imagine that a Dixieland Chord Melody player would not prefer the Chicago tuning format. Keep in mind string instruments lend themselves to many tunings (unlike brass or woodwinds) and do not HAVE to follow one set option. Any thoughts? Any Dixie players using Chicago tuning? Let us hear from you.
Edited by - Vince Dees on 11/20/2019 10:14:38
Many players have and do use Chicago tuned tenors, myself included although I'm at the beginning of my "journey". I have played guitar since 1970 and earned a BA in Music Theory as a Percussionist. Had been playing bass in an Americana band until recently (reformed as duo) and I also am learning mandolin. I also have played ukulele but not much lately.
So, the way I look at a Chicago tuned tenor banjo is that is functionally an oversized baritone banjolele. Great for folk, pop and of course, jazz. I mostly play fingerstyle (no picks) or plectrum.
Play what you want and have fun! Check out Eddy Davis on YT, he is a prominent member here.
Thanks for the input. Baritone Ukes are also tuned to the top 4 of a guitar. You are correct, a string is a string and sliding up or down produces a musical tone. Choices depend on the scale structure as it relates to the tuning. Ditto for the chord positions. What ever comes natural and comfortable. Play on.
Well, turns out I was mistaken about Eddy Davis using Chicago tuning. Sorry.
Originally posted by Ondrej
In the Czech Republic, we have one banjo player who started out on Tenor Banjo and then switched to Chicago tuning. His name is Ivan Mladek.
Edited by - Vince Dees on 11/21/2019 10:57:58
it is nice to see that jugband music from America's past has spread all over the world.
'Checkerboard...again' 37 min
'Naked!' 3 hrs
'Good Saturday Morning' 4 hrs