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Sep 25, 2020 - 5:25:30 PM
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CosyCatBanjo

Scotland

5 posts since 9/25/2020

I have recently gained interest in Clawhammer Banjo Playing (i have played 3-finger for a while now,)
And I started learning a song I like which I found in the archives. "MOUNTAIN BANJO" The songs TAB sheet shows it can be play with the tuning of: "Sawmill" -a simple enough tuning- Or the original tuning : bF#BEF# .
I tried this tuning. it is a stark difference from open g tuning. I tried this tuning and it sounded like the original's, but the strings were rather loose and floppy. thus a lack of volume and clarity.
Is there a way I can play this song with this tuning without such loose strings?
If so, must I use a Capo?


-Sincerely A Confused Newbie.


Edited by - CosyCatBanjo on 09/25/2020 17:27:47

Sep 25, 2020 - 6:08:01 PM
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Bill H

USA

1394 posts since 11/7/2010

The tuning referenced is simply gDGCD capoed at the fourth fret.

Sep 26, 2020 - 12:56:05 AM
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AndyW

UK

589 posts since 7/4/2017

Just googled it and the version I heard from Rhiannon Giddens sounds pretty 'deep' sounding.

Probably the original was played on a non standard banjo or nylon strung and tuned down rather than capoed up??

If I'm correct you'll probably be better tuning to GDGCD. Or you might get away tuning down a step to get a bit closer to the original tuning but not all the way.

Sep 26, 2020 - 2:37:12 AM

CosyCatBanjo

Scotland

5 posts since 9/25/2020

I believe its a fretless banjo,
the deepness may come from alternate strings, your right!
they may be gut.

Sep 26, 2020 - 3:09:48 AM
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AndyW

UK

589 posts since 7/4/2017

Fretless are very often (I'd hazard usually) strung in nylon/nylgut nowadays. And they are often tuned much lower than a steel strung.

If you're really adamant on that deep sound you could of course restring in nylon. But you'd have to widen your nut and bridge slots to accomodate the strings.

Sep 26, 2020 - 4:00:10 AM
Players Union Member

janolov

Sweden

40731 posts since 3/7/2006

The original is played on some kind of gourd banjo or minstrel banjo tuned low bF#BEF#. With a normal banjo the tuning is gDGCD what we call sawmill tuning. There is no capo in the original recording but if you want to play along with the recording you should tune your ordinary banjo to gDGCD and use capo on the fourth fret (and spike or use a fifth string capo to capo/spike the fifth string on the 9th fret (fourth fret from the fifth string peg).

Sep 26, 2020 - 4:05:38 AM
Players Union Member

janolov

Sweden

40731 posts since 3/7/2006

quote:
Originally posted by Bill H

The tuning referenced is simply gDGCD capoed at the fourth fret.


I don't think it is capod at the fourth fret! It is a low tuned banjo tuned to bF#BEF# which is 8 steps (frets/ half tones) below the ordinary tuning. However, ig you want to play along with the recording you can tune to gDGCD and capo on fourth fret.

Sep 26, 2020 - 4:33:19 AM

CosyCatBanjo

Scotland

5 posts since 9/25/2020

Thanks! i may end up buying a fretless and restring it (if possible) for this style of playing.

Sep 27, 2020 - 9:43:16 AM

147 posts since 5/25/2015

quote:
Originally posted by CosyCatBanjo

Thanks! i may end up buying a fretless and restring it (if possible) for this style of playing.


I've got an old fretless with regular nylguts and I've been playing it tuned down to E or double A. It's got a larger pot and long scale so suits a lower tuning and plays fine.

The upside of not being able to play with anyone else at the moment is being able to play in any pitch you want!

Sep 27, 2020 - 4:27:56 PM

3023 posts since 10/17/2009

Wow, that's really low.

One other alternative that I played with for getting a low tuning... is using much heavier strings... I can't recall what gauge... but IIRC they were A string, D string, G sting and B string  from elec guitar set. 

edit: duh, you can just use a reg banjo set (probably med would be better) for 4 of the stings, just over one course; then just need to find a heavier 4th string substitute.

Might also look into Cello Banjo strings... I don't know much about... other than a cello banjo is lower.

Edited by - banjoak on 09/27/2020 16:31:51

Sep 27, 2020 - 4:45:35 PM

3023 posts since 10/17/2009

Thinking about it a little more.
The 1st string as F# is just half step less than normal 3rd sting; (G) so that would work.
The 5th string could also use normal G string. /
The s2nd string as E... is step sharp to the normal 4th string (D)... and if light gauge tunes up to E quite well.
The 3rd string as B, is a step half lower than the normal 4th (D)... and if medium should drop to B okay.
The 4th String as F#; is what you need to find.

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