advantages of GDAE tenor banjo tuning

advantages of GDAE tenor banjo tuning

I began attempting to play the tenor banjo a while ago and have been sticking with CGDA tuning. Is this tuning relationship common in ITM or is it to be considered less practical? I am fairly confortable with the tuning but I also find myself favoring the two high strings (D and A), occasionally using the G and rarely using the low C string. I guess here is what I am asking "is GDAE a more suitable tuning for the playing of ITM?"

Re: advantages of GDAE tenor banjo tuning

if you want to play Irish fiddle tunes it’s far better to tune GDAE just like the fiddle but an octave lower. The fingering patterns abd first position range are then the same on both instruments althoug many players (me incl.) use cello fingering on the banjo.

Posted by .

Re: advantages of GDAE tenor banjo tuning

With the lone exception of Gerry O’Connor, virtually *everybody* playing Irish music on the tenor banjo tunes it GDAE.

Re: advantages of GDAE tenor banjo tuning

I sometimes find it difficult with some tunes on the banjo with the fingering patterns as used by fiddle playing, anybody out there be able to give me an idea on how to apply ‘cello’ fingering patterns, please?

Re: advantages of GDAE tenor banjo tuning

millionyears,
i come from a background in upright and electric bass, so the use of my middle two fingers in such cramped spaces (fingerboard of the banjo relative to that of the upright bass) is another obstacle i have to get around when learning tunes——ah well sure is fun

Re: advantages of GDAE tenor banjo tuning

no, thereare others who use cgda,
it gives a great ring and a really bright sound.
if you capo on the second fret with cgda,and play a string down,you are playing in d,so you can play the d pattern and g pattern,for gdae.it sounds really great to play this way with someone else who is playing in gdae,
I think youarean octave higher,Its agreat sound.
the diadvantage of cgda is the small percent of tunes you cant play like the home ruler

Posted .

Re: advantages of GDAE tenor banjo tuning

Dickens,

CGDA

capo @ 2nd fret gives

DAEB

which is an octave *lower* that uh, normal tuning. It’s clever, and works, and is like how some people play mandola without really learning it (although the most common solution there is to drop the top string down a fret yielding DAEA), and to each his own.

Re: advantages of GDAE tenor banjo tuning

The advantage for me is my banjo, mandolin and octave mandolin are all tuned the same.

Re: advantages of GDAE tenor banjo tuning

re-enactor, it is my understanding that CGDA is a 4th higher than GDAE, so if dickens capo-ed up to the 2nd fret, making it a 5th higher, then played a D on what would now be the 7th fret of the G string, it would indeed be an octave higher than the open D on a GDAE banjo.

He would then play a D tune as if it were in G

Confused? I am.

Posted by .

Re: advantages of GDAE tenor banjo tuning

The advantage of the traditional cgda jazz tuning is that you have a brighter sound and the strings are smaller in diameter. Mike Flanagan of the Flanagan Brothers played in this tuning, probably because that was the popular tuning at the time.

GO’C, John Carty and others will play in that tuning at times (GO’C much of the time) and capo up two (Tenor guitar is played the same way) which give the banjo the same range as a D whistle but does not give the low G string range.

GDAE tuning has the advantage of being the same as a fiddle or violin and being in the range of most Irish tunes right down to the lower G note. GDAE gives a completely different sound to the banjo (for one thing it is an octave lower than cgda) and a different timbre. It is traditional because Barney McKenna made it so and others saw the logic in using what is now known as the Irish tuning for tenor banjo.

Look at this lesson for an explanation of the cello fingering style http://banjosessions.com/aug06/highb.html

Mike Keyes
http://www.mikekeyes.com

Re: advantages of GDAE tenor banjo tuning

oh, that’s funny. of course I was wrong about the octave down. So, what you get effectively is 3 strings that are the same if you capo 2nd fret. Not too different.

Re: advantages of GDAE tenor banjo tuning

And again, as I wrote here a number of times before: I know a couple of banjo players, not only Gerry O´Connor, who use CGDA once in a while. I experimented around a lot and found DGDA extremely practical for ITM - somebody wrote me that Gerry O´Connor also uses this tuning once in a while. I rarely have to go down below the low D; the tunes that go lower I play on the concertina. DGDA has a brighter sound, it´s very easy to reach the high B. I cannot follow Mike Keyes here when he says GDAE is traditional because B. McKenna used it - I respect Mike Keyes a lot, his banjo website is a treasure trove of useful hints but here I just don´t agree. You create your own sound , and the tuning you use is a part of it. Some time ago I posed the question here, if it would cause `raised eyebrows´ at a session if I used my DGDA-tuning, and one answer I got was: `If you play well, nobody cares about the tuning you use´ - and that is the only aspect that matters ! By the way: 5string-players use lots of different tunings, so why shouldn´t we ??

Posted .

Re: advantages of GDAE tenor banjo tuning

I agree with Alex,also learntunes that are normally played ind in g on your cgda,then when you capo on second fret[Pla string down]youwill be compatible key wise.
it will be good for your knowledge of the keyboard and your technique.
the scale of g will start on your bottom string 5 th fret[capo on second fret it becomes your seventh fret]next note is your open third string , then second fret third string and so on.

Posted .

Re: advantages of GDAE tenor banjo tuning

should read tunes that are normally played in d,play in G.

Posted .

Re: advantages of GDAE tenor banjo tuning

Tune any way you want.
GDAE for me. I like the low G.
I was FCGD (Capo on second).

I think that the CGDA sounds way to high for me. You cant hear it as high on the Flanagans stuff though.

They unlike O’Connor were not all about technique and speed and sexy licks, and bendy notes bla bla. It was used very much as a percussive instrument with chordal accompaniment.

Killoran had a banjo player too in his band - or was it banjo-mandolin or was that Mckenna - cant remember.
I Have it here somewhere……

Re: advantages of GDAE tenor banjo tuning

Having that low G in GDAE tuning does have a big impact on timbre, as Mike says. Even if the tune never calls for that string to be played, the sympathetic vibrations change the sound of the instrument enormously (at least on my banjo.) I’ve tested this by deadening the G string while I play, and the sound is much thinner.

It has a kind of downside, too, in my experience. Intonation on the G string is troublesome compared with the other strings. When I tried to compromise so that the string is true to the note A when fretted at the second fret, the sympathetic vibrations of the open string were out of tune and very noticable. It took me quite a while to figure that one out.

I hope that makes sense.

Posted by .

Re: advantages of GDAE tenor banjo tuning

reenactor, thankyou for your apology.

Posted .

Re: advantages of GDAE tenor banjo tuning

John Knoss:

my version of cello fingering is to use finger 1 at frets 1 and 2, finger 2 at fret 3, finger 3 at fret 4 (occasionally fret 5 also when the run goes above that note) and finger 4 at frets 5 6, and 7 where I’ve used finger 3 at fret 5.

Mike Keyes:

Although traditional tuning for the instrument is CGDA, I tune my 21" scale tenor guitar GDAE, strung 0.013, 0.020w, 0.030, 0.040. It works very well and can cut through multiple pipes and fiddles.

Posted by .

Re: advantages of GDAE tenor banjo tuning

Alex,

I use the term "traditional" to indicate that the vast majority of banjo players who followed Barney McKenna used the GDAE tuning. This occurred mostly because they were coming from another instrument (Mick Moloney talks about this quite a bit) and the GDAE tuning was easier to use since it was the same tuning as the fiddle.

In fact, most of the early banjo players (i.e. from the 1960s) used fiddle style fingering too.

Banjo doesn’t really have much of a tradition as far as time goes and most banjo players were self taught at first. That is the reason why there are no specific regional styles to speak of (there is a "London style" and GO’C has influenced a number of players, however) because initially there were not very many teachers. And most of those players use GDAE for the reasons mentioned. The use of other tunings is not discouraged by banjo players, this is Irish music after all, and the experiments with bouzouki have shown that there is plenty to learn in that respect.

Grego,

As for the floppy G string, sometimes it is hard to get an equal and pleasing G string sound. Much of the time a flabby sound is due to a small gage string. A lot of players are leery of going above, say a .040 inch string for fear of putting too much stress on the neck. But I have seen up to a .052 used successfully on a short necked banjo. But be very careful :grin:

Other tweaks include tightening the head and other setup adjustments. I have rarely found a banjo that I could not help the G string improve with a good setup. Occasionally there will be a banjo whose G string is not pleasing, but I can make the string be equal in volume and timbre. It may take a lot of work, however.

Mike Keyes
http://www.banjosessions.com

Re: advantages of GDAE tenor banjo tuning

Cheers, million years bc. I’ll give it a try! Been trying to master City of Savannah (which I think is a smashing tune on the fiddle so should work well on banjo) for some time, maybe I’ll be able to ‘find it’ now.