A banjo is a stringed instrument largely known for its prominence in bluegrass, folk, country, and Irish music. It makes its place in the stringed musical instruments category, like the guitar and mandolin. The banjo is well known for its different patterns used for tuning. Generally, this instrument is available with four and five strings, however, those with six strings are also being used nowadays.
Tuning Patterns in a Banjo
The counting of strings on the banjo is similar to that of an electric or an acoustic guitar. This simply means that the counting starts from the bottom, with the thinnest string the first and the thickest the last. Like alternate guitar tuning, the banjo too has a variety of tunings. And musicians can choose any type of tuning they want according to their preferences. However, as a beginner in knowing how to play the banjo, it is better if you practice first on common tunings and then move on to more specific ones later.
If you have a banjo with four strings, the standard tuning pattern would be C-G-D-A, with 'C' for the lowest last string and 'A' for the highest first string. In case of a five-stringed instrument, the typical format will be the open 'G' pattern such as G-D-G-B-D, with 'G' being the last string and 'D' being the first string. There are many other patterns, which you can experiment with after advancing in the basics of playing the banjo.
Tuning a Banjo
Those wondering about the procedure to tune a banjo with a guitar tuner need to know that the procedure is as simple as that of tuning a guitar. Purchase a good guitar tuner for tuning the banjo. Switch it on, and keep it near the banjo. Play any one string and check if the LED on the electronic tuner shows the accuracy of the sound produced by the string. Tune the string, until the light goes green or the indication is accurate on the screen of the tuner. In the similar manner, tune all strings according to the tuning pattern you want.
You can also use a clip-on tuner, which is the same electronic tuner but with a clip on to be fixed on the banjo head. Switch the tuner on, play any string, and tune it until the screen or light indicates that the note is tuned accurately. You can even use a piano for tuning the banjo. Play the respective notes on a piano and adjust the strings according to piano notes.
Another good method is tuning the banjo with a guitar. For getting an open 'G' pattern on the banjo, match the sound of the guitar's 2nd, 3rd and 4th string to that of the banjo's 2nd, 3rd and 4th string. If you are familiar with tuning and playing the guitar, you should not have much difficulty in tuning the banjo. However, for tuning it by ear you need to be proficient with accurate note sounds.
These are the methods regarding how to get a banjo in tune. Tuning a banjo is just a matter of matching the open sound of the strings to the universal standard notes according to the tuning pattern you choose, much like tuning a guitar.