It is very easy to tune a banjo.
It depends on the type of banjo you have because you have to tune each type of banjo using a different methodA 5-string banjo is the most common type of banjo.
Other types include the 19-Fret Or 17-Fret tenor banjo, plectrum banjo, 5-String longneck banjo, 6-String banjo, 12-String banjo, and banjo ukulele.
Tuning of banjo-like every stringed instrument is adjusting by tightening or loosening of its strings. Each string, however, has its own pitch and frequency which is G, D, G, B, D from top to bottom.
In practice, there are three methods to tune a Banjo which are:
Tuning by Ear
This method requires a perfect pitch for the individual. However, only very few people have the ability to do so because it requires a great amount of experience.
Tuning a Banjo to Itself or Other Instruments
In this method, you play the Banjo against another tuned Banjo or any other tuned instrument. The frequency is then matched to the respective frequency of the tuned instrument.
Tuning by an electronic tuner
This is by far the most accurate and easy way of tuning a Banjo or any other stringed instrument. You play the banjo to the electric tuner which then tells you to flatten or sharpen the required string. The Banjo is in this way tuned perfectly to the standard open G chord.
Following are the types of tunings for a 5-String banjo:
1. “Open G” Tuning
A 5 string banjo has a standard tuning in open G – the notes from the 5th string to the 1st are G, D, G, B, D. When you strum it, without putting finger on any of the strings on the neck, you will be playing a G chord on the banjo.
2. “Double C” Tuning
This is most often used in old times music. The notes from the 5th string to 1st are G, C, G, C, D.
3. “C” Tuning/”Drop C” Tuning
Coming from the open G tuning, you drop the D string on the 4th string down to a C. the notes for this are G, C, G, B, D
4. “D” Tuning
Notes for this are F#, D, F#, A, D. You have an option to tune the 5th string to an “A” instead of an “F#” and still be in “D” tuning.
5. “G Modal” Tuning
The notes for this are G, D, G, C, D. This tuning is very similar to standard G tuning except the second string is tuned up to a C note.
This removes the third of the G chord and produces a G sus 4 chord. By removing a third of the chord, you cannot tell if it is a major or minor chord and that produces a modal sound.
Tuning the 17-fret or 19-fret tenor banjo:
There can be any of the three tunings for a tenor banjo.
Standard Tenor Tuning
This tuning is the intervals of fifths and is exactly the same as the viola or mandola. Its notes are C, G, D, A.
Irish Tenor Tuning
This tuning is like a violin or mandolin, only one octave lower. it is in fifths but comparatively lower pitch than the first tuning type. Its notes are G, D, A, E.
- Chicago Tuning
This tuning is like the top four strings of a guitar. This is very convenient for guitarists to play a 4-string banjo. This tuning has notes D, G, B, E.
Tuning of a plectrum banjo
- The most standard plectrum banjo tuning is C, G, B, D. This is very similar to the standard 5-string tuning (without the 5-string), but you drop the 4th string down to C.
- D, G, B, E is also known as Chicago tuning. This type of tuning is very similar to the top four strings of a guitar.
Tuning of a 5-String longneck banjo
Its opening E tuning has E, B, E, G#, B notes. It is just like open G tuning, but 3 steps lower in pitch.
Tuning of a 6-String Banjo
It’s tuning of E, A, D, G, B, E is just the tuning of a guitar. Hence it is easily played by guitarists.
Tuning of a 12-string banjo
E, E, A, A, D, D, G, G, B, B, E, E,
This tuning is the exact same as tuning of a 12- string guitar. The only difference is that you double the lower 3 strings, which are separated by an octave, and you double the top 3 strings in unison.
Tuning of a banjo ukulele
G (high), C, E, A
In this, you tune the G string higher than the C and E strings. This gives a ukulele its individual sound. The tuning of a banjo ukulele is just like the tuning of a standard ukulele.