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5 String banjo chord questions


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#1 doosh baggins

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Posted 11 February 2014 - 11:07 PM

My buddy's uncle got a 5 string banjo and we're trying to figure out how to play chords on it. Since it's tuned to Gmaj, I told him he should be able to play major chords with one finger, and minor, maj7 and m7 chords in easy to remember chord patterns, just move the positions of the fingers slightly for the different chords. However, my buddy looked at chord shapes on google, and saw all of these D shapes that don't even look like Ds to me, for instance x0234 is apparently a D, but I told him there is no F# in a D maj chord so what he's reading is wrong. I don't even know what is going on with these chord shapes: 

 

bnj5_chords_d.png

Just looking at the two D chords (to lessen my headache), that is obviously not a D chord (at least to me), and there are two differently fingered Ds. These chord shapes make no sense to me. If they're in the wrong tuning for us, I can't get my head around what tuning they might be in. And how can you have a moving Root? I've got a bunch of other questions, but I'm getting confused right now.


Edited by doosh baggins, 11 February 2014 - 11:09 PM.

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#2 dadfad

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Posted 13 February 2014 - 01:58 PM

Without really looking at it too closely, it's possible those are chord-shapes for a tenor or a plectrum 4-string banjo. (Both are tuned differently from a 5-string bajo as well as from each other.)

 

You should be able to find a 5-string chord chart or (and this is how I related to it when I was first learning to play a banjo), if he's familiar with playing a guitar in open-G tuning (DGDGBD) think of it this way. The four banjo strings (not counting that short drone-G fifth string) are tuned the same as the first four strings of an open-G tuned guitar. All the chords, changes, notes, etc will be the same.

 

Open-G Guitar = DGDGBD

 

Relate to these strings = DGDGBD

 

Since I was already pretty familiar playing in open-G on a guitar that worked for me pretty easily.


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#3 Nealio

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Posted 14 February 2014 - 03:11 AM

I don't think they're for a 4 string banjo either. The few chords I know, aren't in any of those shapes. The Em shape shown is actually the shape of a D chord.

 

Of course I'm talking about standard GDAE tuning. They may well relate to another tuning.



#4 dadfad

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Posted 14 February 2014 - 06:26 AM

Looking first at that Em chord given above and trying to sort of reverse work out what the tuning might be (knowing that fingering shown must contain the notes E, G and B in some sequence) it's possible those strings are tuned open to DGBD. I then checked DGBD against the fingering shown for the G-chord above (a G-chord requiring a G-B-D sequence) and the A-chord (requiring an A-C#-E sequence) and it works with those as well.

 

So that chart seems to be consistent with the four non-drone strings of what is the most common 5-string banjo tuning, which is G-DGBD.

 

Only a 6-string banjo is tuned to standard EADGBE tuning like a guitar.


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#5 doosh baggins

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Posted 14 February 2014 - 07:21 AM

Can you check the D's? Those were the ones that didn't make sense to me. Maybe I'm just reading the fretboard wrong, though.


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#6 dadfad

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Posted 14 February 2014 - 08:17 AM

Okay...

 

The first D shown: 0234 would (using the G-DGBD 5-string tuning) give notes D-A-D-F# so with D-triad being D-F#-A, that would be a D-chord.

 

Second D shown: 0230 would give notes D-A-D-D. That's not a true D-chord (not containing the 3rd-note F#) so it's actually a D5 (or D-no 3rd), but it could be used as a D-chord substitute. (Basically it's like a power-chord on a guitar.)

 

A quick tip:

 

When first starting out, the simplest way to finger the I-IV-V progression (which would be G-C-D chords in the Key of G)  on a 5-string banjo is this:

 

Open 0000 for your I

2010 or 2012 for your IV

0210 for your V

 

The IV and V shown are not major chords, but they can be substituted in place of them. They are very commonly used when playing in open-G tuning, whether on a 5-string banjo or on a guitar.


Un-plugged is not the same as never-was-plugged-in-to-begin-with.


 
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When the roll is called up yonder he'll be there...


#7 tenn_jim

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Posted 14 February 2014 - 04:45 PM

Without really looking at it too closely, it's possible those are chord-shapes for a tenor or a plectrum 4-string banjo. (Both are tuned differently from a 5-string bajo as well as from each other.)

 

You should be able to find a 5-string chord chart or (and this is how I related to it when I was first learning to play a banjo), if he's familiar with playing a guitar in open-G tuning (DGDGBD) think of it this way. The four banjo strings (not counting that short drone-G fifth string) are tuned the same as the first four strings of an open-G tuned guitar. All the chords, changes, notes, etc will be the same.

 

Open-G Guitar = DGDGBD

 

Relate to these strings = DGDGBD

 

Since I was already pretty familiar playing in open-G on a guitar that worked for me pretty easily.

Great John

 

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#8 doosh baggins

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Posted 15 February 2014 - 03:52 AM

*Facepalm*

 

I think I was getting the F# confused as being the second note in the scale. The D5 seems like a reasonable explanation to me. I'll tell him about those chords. Thanks DADFAD


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