How to Tune a Banjo

It doesn’t matter if you are a newbie or a professional, you are not going to sound good if your banjo is out of tune. That’s why tuning an instrument correctly is always one of the first and most important things that every musician must learn. In this article, we will guide you on how to tune a banjo. 

Standard Banjo Tuning

There are many ways to tune a banjo and the easiest is to tune it to the standard tuning. 

5-string banjo

Standard 5-string banjo tuning
Standard 5-string banjo tuning

The most common type of banjo is the 5-string banjo and it has a standard tuning in open G – GDGBD. When you’re holding the banjo correctly, the 1st string (D) with the highest tone is the closest to the ground, and the 5th one is closer to your chest.

  • 5th string: G
  • 4th string: D
  • 3rd string: G
  • 2nd string: B
  • 1st string: D

The reason it’s called Open G is that if you strum the banjo once you’ve tuned it this way, it gives you a G chord without having to fret any notes on the neck. 

4-string banjo

Standard 4-string banjo tuning
Standard 4-string banjo tuning

The standard tuning for a 4-string banjo, called standard tenor banjo tuning, is CGDA (from low to high). This tuning is the intervals of fifths and is exactly the same as viola or mandola. 

  • 4th string (lowest tone & closest to the sky): C
  • 3rd string: G
  • 2nd string: D
  • 1st string (highest tone & closer to the floor): A

How to Tune a Banjo

The simplest way for a beginner to keep a banjo in tune is by using an electric/ digital tuner or a mobile banjo tuner app. In our powerful Guitar Tunio app, you can find a quality and reliable tuning engine for banjo. With the world’s most advanced audio algorithm, our banjo tuner helps you effortlessly and accurately tune your banjo with a level of precision found in high-end electric tuners. Thus, you have complete confidence when using it. Guitar Tunio is available on the App Store and Google Play, get it out now! 

How to use Guitar Tunio to tune your banjo

Tune your banjo with Guitar Tunio
Tune your banjo with Guitar Tunio

Here is a detailed guide on how to tune a banjo with Guitar Tunio, you can refer to. 

  1. Open the app and go to Settings
  2. Select “Tuning Mode”, swipe left, and find “Folk Instrument”. We have two options for banjo: 4-string Standard and 5-string Standard. Choose one that suits your needs for tuning.
  3. Identify the string you want to tune 
  4. Turn the tuning peg to adjust the string tension while monitoring the indicator displayed on the app screen.
  • If the needle moves to the left, it means the string is lower than the intended pitch, or flat, tighten its tuning peg to raise it to pitch.
  • If the needle moves to the left – the string is higher than the intended pitch, or sharp, loosen its tuning peg to lower it to pitch.
  • Once the needle settles in the middle of the screen, the string is in tune. You can move on to the next string. 
  1. Repeating the process until all strings maintain their intended pitches.

Tune by an electronic tuner

Tune a banjo with an electronic tuner
Tune a banjo with an electronic tuner

If you use an electronic tuner to tune the banjo, the steps are almost the same, just slightly different.

  1. Clip the electronic tuner on the headstock and turn it on. 
  2. Identify the string you want to tune and play it.
  3. Turn the tuning peg to adjust the tension, and watch the tuner closely for cues. The tuner gives you an indication of whether or not you’re sharp or flat, and turn green or blink when you’re right in tune.
  4. Once the string reaches the intended pitch, move on to the next and repeat the process. 

Once you’ve done all the strings, your beloved banjo is ready to play. 

Some notes on banjo tuning

There are a few notes about banjo tuning that you need to know as follows:

  • Always check the tuning every time you play;
  • Keep your face away from the banjo while you are tuning, just in case you break a string;
  • Tune the guitar in a quiet space for the best results.
  • Keep your banjo at the right temperature and humidity;
  • Loosen the tension on the strings before storage or transport;
  • Avoid impacts, big and small.

Tuning a banjo is easy. Hope this article is useful to you. Now, it’s time to pick up your banjo and tune it up! 

Leave a Reply