Hey guys I am In need of a answer from a mandolin banjo expert can I tune a tenor banjo like a mandolin ? is there a need for change in gauge strings ? I have a customer in and asking i was concerned with scale length from mandolin to banjo

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Hey Paul - Good question- I'm always in the experiment mood and interested in how things turn out--
I would say that if you tune that 4 string banjo like a mando. then it would have to be an octave lower or the strings would be so stretched out they will break.
I'm in the process in building an 8 string mando that will be tuned an octive lower than the real thing.
I think you can also tune it like a tenor guitar or a tenor uke.
I say give it a try and see....
Using a short scale banjo (17 frets) it is possible to use heavier gauge strings and tune a banjo an
octave lower,in fact that's what I do on my 100 year old Lyon
healy that I resurrected from the dead.Sounds great too!
Elderly sells sets for this under the Celtic banjo header.Example ga.46w 35w 22w 14p.
Paul, you're talking about the standard Irish tenor banjo tuning, i.e. "octave mandolin". This works better on a 19-fret instrument, actually. D'Addario's Irish tenor set gauges are .012, .016, .024, .036.

Those heavier gauges Tim mentions would be better on a little 17-fret tango banjo.
Tango banjo?46 shoulda been 42 though I tried many variations.The proof will of course be in th' tango custard.

I have a 1923 Washburn 17 fret Irish tenor banjo. I have tuned it to the same octave as a mandolin, but it sounds/plays like it is is desperate need of intonation, but I have set the intonation at the 12th fret. Everything I read says that you use the 12th fret as with any banjo... but.....just doesn't sound right. I play both the mandolin and banjo. Thoight this would be an easy learn.     Jerry

You must have it tuned an octave below mandolin/violin [which is correct for Irish style]. What gauges of string do you have on it?

Why, yes... I believe that a banjo can be pitched exactly the same as a mandolin.... In fact, they can both be pitched into the same dumpster and not a soul would miss the banjo :)

(apologies in advance... I really have nothing against either instrument, but it was too good of an opportunity!)

Mike....that's one of my favorite kinds of jokes.  My absolute favorite is "The definition of perfect pitch: When you throw a tuba in a dumpster and it lands on a banjo!".


No offense to you banjo guys, it's just a funny joke.  Sub-in your most disliked instruments and customize it to your own taste (:

Hay Paul! How do you tune a banjo? Throw it in a wood chipper!

Hey I love the banjo, but I also love a good banjo joke. What's the difference between a banjo and a trampoline? You take off your shoes before you jump on the trampoline.


What did the banjo player get on his intelligence test? Drool.

How can you tell the floor is level? The drool comes out both sides of the banjo player's mouth.

A guy carrying a banjo and a hooker are hitch-hiking on the same road. 

Q. What's the difference between them? 

A. The hooker is on her way to a paying job.

Q. Did you hear about the banjo player that locked his keys in his truck? 

A. It took him 45 minutes to get out.

And to show that I'm an equal opportunity, self-deprecating offender: 

Q. How many guitarists does it take to screw in a light bulb? 

A. Six. One to screw in the bulb and 5 to stand around and say "I could've done it better."

Thanks folks, we'll be here all week (:


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