Q:

How do I tune a four-string banjo?

A:

Quick Answer

Tune a four-string banjo by deciding what kind of tuning you want to use and then tune each string separately. This takes a couple of minutes. You need a four-string banjo and an electric tuner or another instrument to which you can tune the banjo.

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Full Answer

  1. Choose a tuning

    Choose between the GDAE, CGDA or DGBE tunings. Each one has a slightly different sound. The GDAE tuning creates more of a traditional sound as found in the fiddle or mandolin. The CGDA is closer to standard music and found in the viola and mandola. Finally, the DGBE tuning is closely associated with the sound of the guitar and useful when mostly playing chords.

  2. Tune the second string

    Tune the second or fourth string depending on the tuning you want to use. If you are using GDAE, tune the second string to A using another instrument. For CGDA tune the second string to D. Only for DGBE do you start by tuning the fourth string to D.

  3. Tune the first string

    For GDAE and CGDA, play the second string at the seventh fret. Adjust the knob on the first string until it matches the sound. For DGBE, start by playing the fourth string at the fifth fret, and then appropriately tune the third string until the sounds match.

  4. Tune the third string

    For GDAE and CGDA, play the third string at the seventh fret. Adjust the knob on the third string until it matches the second string. For DGBE, start by playing the third string at the fourth fret, and then tune the second string until the sounds match.

  5. Tune the fourth string

    For GDAE and CGDA, play the fourth string at the seventh fret, and adjust it until it matches the third string. For DGBE, start by playing the second string at the fifth fret, and then tune the first string until the sounds match.

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