How to Tune a Banjo?
Learning how to tune a banjo easily and quickly is one of the first steps in learning to play the banjo and I am here to lend a few tips to help you get the job done.
To get the notes to tune to its best to use an electronic tuner. Electronic tuners are easy to get and there are many out there at reasonable prices. Electronic Banjo Tuners Tuners are chromatic and when you strike the string it will tell you what note you are playing. A good place to start is by tuning the 4th string to D and then working your way through the strings tuning, the 3rd, 2nd, 1st and then the 5th strings in that order.
The notes for open G standard bluegrass banjo tuning are:
It’s best to use small movements when tuning the banjo and take your time. The most common mistake in tuning for beginners is going past the note they need to tune to and cranking and cranking until the string breaks. If you find that you are turning a lot and the string is getting tight, chances are you went past the note and are trying to tune the string to the next octave up. If that is the case, back the string off till you get to the note you want in the lower octave. An octave could be described as; on the piano every twelve keys up you get the same note but in a higher register. For instance, in standard bluegrass banjo tuning the 5th string is a G which is an octave above the 3rd string G.
Its best to tune up to the note rather than down, if you need to loosen the string down to get to the note you want, go below the note and then back up. When loosening the string If you simply stop when you arrive at the string being in tune, the string tends to work its way sharp again, going below the note and back up to the note will take the slack out of the string to speak and work much better.
The old fashioned manual way to tune is to match the;
open 3rd string to the 5th fret 4th string
open 2nd string to the 4th fret 3rd string
open 1st string to the 3rd fret 2nd string
open 5th string to the 5th fret 1st string.
Tuning is demonstrated and explained in detail in both the Book and DVD from The Beginning the Five String Banjo.
It also plays the notes consecutively to make it easy to tune to or to get a note to start with.
Learn More Tips on Changing Banjo Strings
Best Banjo Strings
Ross Nickerson is the author of The Banjo Encyclopedia “Bluegrass Banjo A to Z”along with over twenty other books and DVDs to help others learn to play 5-string bluegrass banjo.