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BanjitarBanjitar Tuning


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#1 buckg66

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Posted 29 April 2007 - 07:12 AM

I recently started playing a Banjitar as our Banjo player quit the band and it was decided that I could double on Banjitar and Rythm. Can anybody give me a tuning for the Banjitar that will make sound more like a Banjo? I current tune it in E (eBGDAE) but this sounds more guitar like then Banjo.

#2 laker0902

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Posted 29 April 2007 - 09:16 AM

I thought the point of a banjitar was that a guitar player could easily pick it up and play it because of the tuning. The tone and picking style should be what make it sound like a banjo, not the tuning.

#3 dadfad

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Posted 30 April 2007 - 03:15 AM

Dropped-D will help a bit (a regular banjo having a drone note, normally a G). You might want to substitute a thin E-string (.010 to .012) for the 6th (thickest) string (tuned to D) which would give you a drone of a higher octave (like a banjo). I don't know how much you do or don't know about banjos, but they are usually tuned to open-G with that hi-G drone. You could also go the extra step (using an open-tuning) by tuning to open-D (6th to 1st DADF#AD) with that higher octave 6th-string.
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#4 halfmoonbay

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Posted 30 April 2007 - 10:06 AM

Open tunings do make the difference - in the way that you voice chords, the position that you play things in as well as the fact that you can have the open notes ringing so you can get your drones and pedal tones that get you a more 'authentic' sound.
Open G is worth getting to grips with, I reckon it's perhaps one of the more straight-forward alternative tunings to start out with. A bit of chord construction theory helps - if you can figure out what notes constitute each chord you can easily figure out the right chord shapes to use and then transfer them up and down the neck as needed.
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#5 dadfad

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Posted 30 April 2007 - 11:32 AM

QUOTE (halfmoonbay @ Apr 30 2007, 03:36 PM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
Open tunings do make the difference - in the way that you voice chords, the position that you play things in as well as the fact that you can have the open notes ringing so you can get your drones and pedal tones that get you a more 'authentic' sound.
Open G is worth getting to grips with, I reckon it's perhaps one of the more straight-forward alternative tunings to start out with. A bit of chord construction theory helps - if you can figure out what notes constitute each chord you can easily figure out the right chord shapes to use and then transfer them up and down the neck as needed.


Yes, banjos are generally open-G (with the hi-G drone). I suggested D as a bit more "user-friendly" with guitar-strings. However, if you preferred G-tuning (like say because the "banjo tunes" in your sets are in the key of G), then you could (from thick to thin) substitute (in place of the thick-E) another G-string (I'd suggest a solid .016 to .018). For your next five strings (thick to thin) tune either DGDGB or GDGBE (<probably best way), which are then (omitting that thin G-drone string) the first five strings or the last five strings of open-G tuning. (Regular open-G tuning on a guitar is DGDGBD. That thick 6th-string G often "gets in the way" when playing in open-G. Kieth Richards actually leaves that string off when playing in open-G. Some old bluesmen will (by tuning the 6-string up instead of down) tune to GGDGBD instead (sometimes called sawtooth-G).


I noticed in your first post you "called" strings from eBGDAE thinnest to thickest. The strings are normally called from thick to thin (like EADGBe on a regular-tuned guitar, even though the thinnest is the 1st-string, etc) (I don't know why but that's the way it's done!). I just thought I should mention that so nothing gets confused (or a string gets broken laugh.gif ).


If this was me (and I didn't know how to play the 5-string banjo) I'd first decide if I wanted to do those tunes in the key of D or the key of G and go from there. HMB is right. Open-G is a good tuning to get into opens with if you aren't already familiar with them already. Another thing to keep in mind is that when learning to work in either one of those tunings, you learn a lot in one (shapes, etc) that can be applied to the other. They are very similar in a relative sense, just moved over one string.

It's best to think of open-tunings in terms of relative scale-degrees instead of actual note-names. Take for example open-D Dadfad-Tuning (DADF#AD). It's relative scale-degree notes are I-V-I-III-V-I. Now look at open-G (DGDGBD). Its scale-degree notes are V-I-V-I-III-V. Looking at them like that it's easier to see that chord-shapes or fingerings learned on one of them can be applied to the other simply by moving that shape over one string. Looking at it that way also makes it easier to see why related tunings like open-E and open-A play identically to open-D and open-G. Both open-D and open-E are I-V-I-III-V-I, and both open-G and open-A are V-I-V-I-III-V. The only difference is that open D and G are tuned lower while open E and A are tuned higher.

Getting into open-tunings (if you aren't familiar with them already) really greatly expands the potential of tunes you can do, especially in authentic old-time styles, country-blues and slide.
Un-plugged is not the same as never-was-plugged-in-to-begin-with.

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#6 SmashySmashy

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Posted 30 April 2007 - 02:24 PM

Bela Fleck plays an electric banjo, although it has 4 strings. I am pretty sure he tunes it to banjo tuning though.

#7 buckg66

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Posted 01 May 2007 - 10:58 PM

Thank you to everyone for their input.

I had been considering an open G tuning as it as more closer to a Banjos tuning so I will give it a try see how it comes out. I already do kep ome og my Guitars tuned to open D so I am familiar with open tunings



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