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Thread: Banjo Tunings

  1. #21
    Join Date
    Jul 2011
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    Stillwater, Oklahoma
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    The tuning that you will use is really dependent on the style of music you are playing. If you are playing more lyrical tunes such as minstrel music, then the standard G tuning (gDGBD) is more than appropriate.

    However, for older music, such as Appalachian fiddle tunes, old-time ballads and the like, it may be more appropriate to play in G Modial (gDGCD). This tuning is also known as sawmill or mountain minor. This is a good key to play solo, but with a guitar player is familiar with the style and is good at "feeling" chords changes, this is also a great key to have accompaniment.

    The difficulty that guitar players have is playing in the key of G minor, which is not a "friendly" key for guitars, and many guitarists find it difficult to find where the chord changes are. A capo that allows you to switch into A minor will make it much easier for them.

    Some musicians that play in this key are David Holt, Dock Boggs, and Gillian Welch.

  2. #22
    Join Date
    Feb 2006
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    off the bottom of the scale
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mackay92
    The tuning that you will use is really dependent on the style of music you are playing. If you are playing more lyrical tunes such as minstrel music, then the standard G tuning (gDGBD) is more than appropriate.
    Not quite. Minstrel tuning in G/D is AFDGd. I remember it as "All Fat Dogs Get drunk." The tuning one level up is A/E and is BGEAe. I don't have a mnemonic for this tuning. One level down from G/D is the older F/C of GECFc. This is per the books from the time by Howe, Rice, Briggs, Converse, Buckley and others.

    Here's a quick link to Howe's Complete Preceptor for the Banjo where you can see the tuning of GECFc : http://www.archive.org/stream/comple...ge/n7/mode/1up I believe this was printed around 1848.

    Here's a link to Converse's Banjo Instructor, without a Master (1865) aka "Yellow Converse" : http://ulib.hamilton.edu/omeka/archi...89956e16bb.pdf Go to page 18 of the pdf and it shows the tuning for the key of A. Page 20 has a nice diagram of the fingerboard for A/E.
    - Silas Tackitt

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