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How To Tune Up Your Banjo

How To Tune Up Your Banjo

Many banjo players can play every song known to mankind but lack the skills to tune their own instruments. In this video, banjo player Matthew Forbes demonstrates an easy step-by-step guide on how to tune a banjo.

Hello, my name is Matthew Forbes from The Music Workshop Company. I am going to take you through how to tune some instruments, how to play them basically, and also how to read the notated music for them. This is a four string tenor banjo.

The tuning, A, D, G, and C, starting from top going to bottom and depending on your preference for tuning, I like to start at the top and go downwards. So, I need the A, that's actually A above middle C, and I happen to have a piano to tell me. That's my note.

Best thing to do is to hear the note and then sing it. La ,La. When you have the note in your head, La, see if you can match the string up to it.

La. A little bit flat there, so the machine hints at the top, I turn it clockwise to go sharper and anti-clockwise if I need to go flatter. La.

Hear the note in my head, I match it with the string. La. Happy with that, we go down a fifth, the same as the interval for the violin as it happens.

Now, the best way of doing that again is to sing it. If we use the tonic sol-fa scale in reverse, if you like, we go from So to Do. So, it's SO, SO, FA, MI, RE, DO.

DO. It's rather sharp so, I am going to turn my machine hint anti-clockwise to take it down. SO, FA, MI, RE, DO.

A helpful tuning trick for fifths is to think of twinkle, twinkle little star. Twinkle, twinkle, that's a perfect fifths and if that's in tune, you know your instrument's in tune. So, going from that string down, SO, FA, MI, RE, DO to the G.

Another low. Going to do twinkle, twinkle again. Yes, good, trying to get it as pure as you can and then the last one.

Close, twinkle, twinkle. If you can't quite work it out on the ear, best thing to do is to go deliver E sharp and bring it down. It's easier to hear.

The other way of course, to do this because it's a fretted instrument is that you have the seventh fret on each string is the same note as the string above. So, if you wanted to start with the lowest string, the C, on tenor banjo, that's C blends middle C. Find the seventh fret, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7.

Then match it with the string above. Same there, and we should have a banjo in tune. .