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Thread: Banjo Tunings

  1. #1
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    Default Banjo Tunings

    I play old time fiddle and banjo (but make my money playing Bela Fleck
    kind of stuff..ha ha) I just found a nice old fretless and put gut strings on it.
    Any tuning recommendations? I use open C alot..

  2. #2
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    d-G-D-F#-A "Low Bass" which is two steps down.

    Right now I am playing a slick little Jeff Menzies Gourd Banjer.

    Stellar.

    Chris Rideout
    Tampa, Florida

  3. #3
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    Thanks!
    I really like those banjos..
    Right now I am playing a slick little Jeff Menzies Gourd Banjer.

    Stellar.

    Chris Rideout
    Tampa, Florida[/QUOTE]

  4. #4
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    Contact George Wunderlick at the CW Medical museum in Frederick, Maryland. He has many years of experience with the banjo.

    http://www.civilwarmed.org/
    Marc Riddell
    1st Minnesota Co D
    2nd USSS
    Potomac Legion

  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by kyguerilla
    I play old time fiddle and banjo (but make my money playing Bela Fleck kind of stuff..ha ha) I just found a nice old fretless and put gut strings on it. Any tuning recommendations? I use open C alot..
    ky -

    For period tunings many use "Drop C" (gCGBD) or "open G" (gDGBD) but three to five steps slacker than modern pitch. A "Briggs" tutor tuning is dGDF#A and a "Converse" tutor tuning is eAEG#B. They use the same chord shapes, if you think in chords that is, as "Drop C" and the raised bass versions (dADF#A and eBEG#B) chord shapes are same as "open G", a typical Bluegrass tuning.

    Not sure what you mean by your "open C" tuning, but if you mean the "Pete Seeger" traditional folk C tuning for banjo, (as called above "Drop C") you should feel right at home.

    Good luck with those guts. I switched to Nylguts (faux gut) because in the sundown / campfire scene (drop in temp and increased humidity) I spent more time tuning than playing. The guts sound slightly better. The Nylguts look right if you stain stain them slightly.

    Dan Wykes
    Last edited by Danny; 05-16-2009 at 11:45 PM.

  6. #6
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    Saw that advice in your first paragraph, phrase for phrase, on another forum, Danno. I was impressed with what the original author stated about tunings because it was so clear and concise. When I read your post here, I recognized it immediately. Here's the link to the original advice : http://minstrelbanjo.ning.com/forum/topics/how-to-tune

    Although the advice is sound and is something anyone could have written, I am somewhat taken aback by your use. Your reposting of that information gives the false impression that you know what you are talking about.

    I am happy to report I didn't see similar advise about using plastic strings on that same esteemed minstrel banjo forum. The problem I've noticed isn't the strings, it's the head. Because calf skin gets soft in the humidity, I hang around campfires to heat it up periodically. I've been known to pack a candle for those times when I know I won't be near a fire. It's slow, but it works.
    - Silas Tackitt

    "I consider him a humbug, a man of small capacity, very obstinate, not at all chivalrous, exceedingly conceited, and totally selfish." - - Lafayette McLaws about James Longstreet.

  7. #7
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    Well spotted, Silas!! Thank you very much for keeping the truth out in front, the better to deal with this cretin.

    Quote Originally Posted by Silas
    Saw that advice in your first paragraph, phrase for phrase, on another forum, Danno. I was impressed with what the original author stated about tunings because it was so clear and concise. When I read your post here, I recognized it immediately. Here's the link to the original advice : http://minstrelbanjo.ning.com/forum/topics/how-to-tune

    Although the advice is sound and is something anyone could have written, I am somewhat taken aback by your use. Your reposting of that information gives the false impression that you know what you are talking about.

    I am happy to report I didn't see similar advise about using plastic strings on that same esteemed minstrel banjo forum. The problem I've noticed isn't the strings, it's the head. Because calf skin gets soft in the humidity, I hang around campfires to heat it up periodically. I've been known to pack a candle for those times when I know I won't be near a fire. It's slow, but it works.
    Carl Anderton

    "Frank Converse the banjoist, his beautiful wife, and a young gentleman from Richmond, said to be smitten by the latter's charms, skipped away from Petersburg, Va., by the Southern train, leaving the "Converse Opera Troupe" to fufill the engagement as best they could."

    National Police Gazette, April 1860

  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by Silas
    Saw that advice in your first paragraph, phrase for phrase, on another forum, Danno. I was impressed with what the original author stated about tunings
    Silas -

    Me too. I liked the way Marc stated it on the Minstrel Banjo Ning, that link you posted, that's why I passed it along. Don't understand why you're casting aspersions, though. I've not done anything even remotely wrong or deceitful. You yourself noted Marc's material was not original, i.e. "it could have been written by anyone," and the tutors were the source credited by both of us. Hence, what is your problem?

    And what's this about my not knowing what I'm talking about? I've been playing period banjo longer than you. I've used those very tunings, I've used skin heads, I've used gut strings. I've just spent three days at an educational living history playing the banjo and explaining the nuances of period performance. Why the trash talk, friend?

    I haven't brought up Nylgut strings on the Minstrel Banjo Ning site because most of those folks aren't reenactors and play in stable environments where gut strings (and skin head) are not a problem. As you know, many of them use some form of Nylon string sets anyway. I still think gut sounds the best, but Nylgut is well within the sonic range of real gut sets, but they stay stable in temperature change.

    If you'd had a lot of experience at reenactments up North, you'd know what happens June evenings, even early July, and again by late September around evening campfire time. Not sure you have that problem down South as commonly - do you? Skin heads can be tightened with heat or with the tensioners if you got 'em, but faux-skin mylar heads allow less retuning time so I don't have your high-horse about that practice either, having used both.

    You still tummin' on that fine-lookin' homemade?

    Dan Wykes

    p.s. hello Carl, loved your latest U-tube, totally appreciate the playing and the settings
    Last edited by Danny; 05-17-2009 at 08:29 PM.

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by Danny
    Carl -

    Am I missing something, was there something I did wrong? Would you have given guy a different answer? Why so bitter?

    You're a great period banjo player, I'm sure you can add something interesting and positive to the topic, why not that instead?

    Dan Wykes
    You used someone's else's words and phrases and tried to pass them off as your own. Just more evidence, and I'm borrowing some one's else's phrase here, of your cretinism.

    Also, your comment on gut strings was just plain old mis-information. Gut strings do not go out of tune at dusk any more than plastic ones do. The problem (as Silas pointed out) is with the absorbative nature of a real skin head. Anyone who has actually used real gut strings would know this.
    Carl Anderton

    "Frank Converse the banjoist, his beautiful wife, and a young gentleman from Richmond, said to be smitten by the latter's charms, skipped away from Petersburg, Va., by the Southern train, leaving the "Converse Opera Troupe" to fufill the engagement as best they could."

    National Police Gazette, April 1860

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by Old Cremona
    You used someone's else's words and phrases and tried to pass them off as your own. Just more evidence, and I'm borrowing some one's else's phrase here, of your cretinism.

    Also, your comment on gut strings was just plain old mis-information. Gut strings do not go out of tune at dusk any more than plastic ones do. The problem (as Silas pointed out) is with the absorbative nature of a real skin head. Anyone who has actually used real gut strings would know this.
    Well, Carl, I disagree. Gut strings are affected by humidity and temperature. There's a reason some in the Early Banjo community recommend coating the unwound ones. I've actually used gut sets, how would you know if I didn't anyway? So there we have it, two different experiences, two different opinions.

    Isn't it the music that matters? If we're both getting the results we want is this anything to obcess and accuse over?

    Dan Wykes
    Last edited by Danny; 05-17-2009 at 08:47 PM.

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