Fingering differences and similarities between banjo and mandolin

Fingering differences and similarities between banjo and mandolin

I try to use the same fingering for both instruments, though there situations where this isn’t possible.

Do any of you tend to use significantly different fingering for the two instruments, and, if so, is there some advantage in that. It would seem that using the same fingers and positions for the same phrases on both instruments would make, if not the playing, at least the learning easier.

Thoughts?

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Re: Fingering differences and similarities between banjo and mandolin

I’ve recently acquired a Tenor Banjo as an alternative to Mandolin and found that I have to use my little finger all the time, which is taking a while to get moving. On Mandolin I rarely use it.
I have a feeling that using all four fingers will make for a better technique if I can get the hang of it.
I wish I’d started at 14 instead of 64 though.

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Re: Fingering differences and similarities between banjo and mandolin

IMHO it depends on the tune, sometimes taking your wrist up and down and using 3 fingers works better on banjo, and sometimes a guitar type one finger per fret is better - no hard and fast rules, just flexible and fast tunes, whereas on mandolin (and mandola) three fingers works pretty well most of the time (though even there you need that little bit extra…) - Each of the tunes should be their own pattern, basically, best of luck, Greg

Re: Fingering differences and similarities between banjo and mandolin

Easier to use mandolin fingering on a short scale banjo…

Re: Fingering differences and similarities between banjo and mandolin

"I try to use the same fingering for both instruments, though there situations where this isn’t possible."

Do you mean there are certain situations where your mandolin fingering doesn’t work on a tenor banjo? Because I can’t imagine it the other way around.

And I see here that some write about playing the mandolin with three fingers. How slothful. If God had meant for man to play mandolin with three fingers, He would have given us three fingers.

Seriously, play with four fingers and use the same fingering, just as you would for a fiddle, an octave mandolin, a bouzouki, a guitar, or even a cittern. Why complicate life?

Re: Fingering differences and similarities between banjo and mandolin

Per Davey:
I’ve recently acquired a Tenor Banjo as an addition to the Mandolin and found that I have to stretch my little finger a whole lot further, which is taking a toll on my technique (minimal) while I get use to it. On Mandolin, it’s not much of an issue. The major difference between the two critters is the banjo needs some major right-hand drive, far more than a mandolin.
I’ve substituted four virtual thumbs for my fingers.
I wish I’d started at 14 instead of 63.

Re: Fingering differences and similarities between banjo and mandolin

Thanks everyone for the comments.

Barry Morse - yes, it’s as you say. I sometimes fret the D and G strings on my mandolin at the second fret with one finger to make a partial A chord, but the strings are too far apart on my tenor to do this very effectively.

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