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View Full Version : Can I use banjo uke strings on a 4 string banjo???



epage
02-26-2015, 08:08 AM
I have been looking at banjo ukuleles, as I have wanted one for a while, but as I live in the UK there are very little tenor banjo ukuleles in my budget range.

As there is a much wider range of banjos, could I just use banjo uke strings on an ordinary banjo? I don't really see why this would not work, but I would like to check first and I can't find any information via google.

Thanks for the help

SteveZ
02-26-2015, 08:43 AM
I have a 17-fret tenor banjo (21-inch scale) and tried nylon string combinations a while back, but wasn't satisfied (tension problems). Since then I got a 19 1/2 inch scale baritone uke and came up with a nylon string combination using available Aquila Nylgut stock to tune CGDA and love it.

If the goal is to replicate a banjo uke as close as possible with a banjo, then a 17-fret tenor banjo is probably about as close as you'll get. Odds are a standard baritone string set will work for tuning.

If the plan is to get a 19-fret Plectrum or a "standard" five-string banjo, there are nylon string banjo packages which may (I just don't know what the gauges are) be usable for whatever tuning you want.

Your post has got me interested in trying a nylon CGDA on my tenor banjo using the string combo I have for my baritone uke.

Cornfield
02-26-2015, 09:13 AM
I have an old, unbranded tenor banjo that I have strung with fluorocarbons in re-entrant dGBE. I think it sounds better than when I had metal strings on it.

epage
02-26-2015, 10:23 AM
Thank you for the answers so far, it makes it a lot easier to find what I want if i can use a banjo. I do have another question though, I am planning to use the banjo with both banjo and ukulele strings, and I know that the 5 string banjo is easier to play (without a pick, I don't like using them) compared to the tenor banjo. Would it be more effective to get tenor banjo with banjo ukulele strings, or a 5 string banjo, with 5 string ukulele strings?

(This probably sounds very confusing, sorry!)

Lori
02-26-2015, 10:35 AM
Like SteveZ and John said, you are going to have to find strings that work for the length of the scale you have. If the tenor banjo is equipped with metal strings, then it will be a bit of an adventure to find the ideal strings for that instrument. How do you want to tune it? That will make a big difference too. Your best starting point is using ukulele baritone strings. Banjos can be a bit harsh, so experiment with different brands. You might need a mellow string, and you might consider muting the pot a bit. Regular "vibration sensitive" tuners (like Snarks) can be confused when tuning banjo ukes. The red Snark I have has a mic option. That seems to work better on banjo ukes.
Good Luck
–Lori

Lori
02-26-2015, 10:43 AM
5 string banjos are a lot bigger than ukes. Tuning is very different. Will it be tuned like a banjo or a uke? The only 5 string ukulele sets I know of are GCEA with an extra low G string. The fifth string of a 5 string banjo is much shorter than the other strings, so I don't think you will find uke strings that will work. You will have to get very creative to find the right set up. If you are going to play ukulele tablature, you will be very confused if you have banjo tuning. If you are playing chords, you might be OK, but won't be able to use the chord diagrams.

–Lori

Cornfield
02-26-2015, 11:08 AM
Like SteveZ and John said, you are going to have to find strings that work for the length of the scale you have. If the tenor banjo is equipped with metal strings, then it will be a bit of an adventure to find the ideal strings for that instrument. How do you want to tune it? That will make a big difference too. Your best starting point is using ukulele baritone strings. Banjos can be a bit harsh, so experiment with different brands. You might need a mellow string, and you might consider muting the pot a bit. Regular "vibration sensitive" tuners (like Snarks) can be confused when tuning banjo ukes. The red Snark I have has a mic option. That seems to work better on banjo ukes.
Good Luck
–Lori

Use the same technique as tuning a resonator, mute all of the strings except for the one you want to tune.

Kevin B
02-26-2015, 03:04 PM
I have 1929 Wurlitzer tenor banjo strung up with LaBella 5 string nylon strings. I string it up by omitting the fourth string so I use 5,3,2,1 with the 5th string for my reentrant string. I tune it to GCEA. The results are great
76622

AJ Hill
02-26-2015, 06:04 PM
Look up Andy Banjo he is based in the UK and has a vast array of banjo's and Banjo ukes and he does a good job of setting them up

igorthebarbarian
02-26-2015, 06:23 PM
I had an old tenor banjo (heavy!) and I bought the normal banjo strings. Old tenor banjos are pretty easy to find and not that pricey. Plus you've got 4 strings/ shorter length than a normal banjo and banjo strings are easy to find/cheap/affordable.
You can then use the low DGBD strings and tune that to DGBE -- because of the shorter length I never had a problem tuning up that D string to an E.
Or you can take that 'short' G string and tune it re-entrant/high d - for dGBE tuning.
I think I found this all out from asking Jake at Antebellum Instruments. He may have actually posted it here on the forum somewhere too.
Those gave it a real banjo-y sound but I could use all my normal uke chord fingerings.
It wound up being too big/ too heavy and eventually I sold it.

TheCraftedCow
02-26-2015, 11:19 PM
If you want a small 5 stringer, check out a PLUCKY by GoldTone. It comes steel strings, but the former one I had and sold (because he is a friend) was switched to Aquila banjo ukulele strings, and it sounded great. I kept the steel 5th string.

Eddy Finn is coming out very soon with two new smaller banjos. One is a tenor banjo, and the other is an Irish. Scale length is two frets difference between them. I have no idea what they MSRP. I am getting two of each for inventory They are scheduled to be out mid March.