There are different methods by which the players can tune their banjos. So let us see the different steps that are there for the tuning.
How is a banjo tuned?
Check the pitch of each string
- Use one clip-on tuner for checking the current-sounding pitch of each string.
- The standard tunings for banjos will be:
- 4-String Banjo: CGDA
- 5-String Banjo: GDGBD
Listening & staying in tune can be considered 2 critical elements of music making. If your banjo goes out of tune, it’ll sound like the other instruments & voices will also be out of tune. That will be very challenging for a singer & just as difficult for the listeners. So, you can use a free application of tuner for your smartphone. You can even get yourself one clip-on tuner which will help you keep the banjo in tune.
Loosen if sharp and tighten if flat
- If you find the string flat or lower as compared to the intended pitch, tighten the tuning peg of it for raising it to pitch.
- On the other hand, if the string gets sharp or higher as compared to the intended pitch, loosen that tuning peg for lowering it to pitch.
By loosening a string first, try to always bring it up to the pitch. This will maintain the tension and also the position of the tuning peg. So, if the string is sharp, try lowering it slightly below the intended pitch. Raise to the intended pitch then.
Tune each string & adjust
- Tune every string and repeat until all the strings are seen to be maintaining their intended pitches of them.
- The other strings may change pitch and adjust to tension as you start tuning the next string.
While an open string is capable of being tuned to pitch, each fret’s produced pitch is managed by the players by adjusting the bridge position of the banjo. The measurement to the bridge’s edge from the 12th fret’s centre should be equal and match to it from the 12th fret’s centre to the nut’s edge. Before adjusting the bridge, loosen the tension of the string. Use a pencil for marking its location of it once it is in position.
How often should the instrument be tuned?
Banjos should be tuned each time they are played. Whether performing or practising, musical instruments need tuning for producing their notes of them at the correct pitches. String instruments include multiple strings that require tuning & maintaining the respective pitches is crucial for making the notes sound right.
Can banjos be tuned by ears?
Banjos can, of course, be tuned by ears, but it is recommended to use some kind of tuning tool. Be it playing in any ensemble or recording, it is important for musical instruments to be tuned and in sync with each other. Otherwise, the differences will be noticeable and show a “less-in-tune” result.
I own a music instruments shop. My go to instrument is a banjo. My business makes it easier for me to access the instruments from various brands and of various types. I will give my honest opinion here to help out others in choosing the right instrument for them.