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View Full Version : "Ukify" a 17-fret tenor banjo?



aarondminnick
01-04-2016, 05:12 AM
I've been playing around with some 1920s tunes on my wife's concert banjolele and having a good time, but I prefer a larger instrument (I typically play tenor and baritone uke).

There are some larger banjoleles out there, but after spotting an open-back 17-fret tenor banjo at a music store, I started wondering if it wouldn't be easier just to go that way. 17-fret tenor banjos have the same scale length as many baritone ukes (20" to 21.5") and it seems like there should be nylon string sets out there to tune it in standard gCEA or GCEA (low-g) tuning.

Just wondering if anyone had tried this!

Captain Simian
01-04-2016, 07:35 AM
I recently picked up a weird 19"scale, 18 fret tenor banjo\banjo uke recently which I have tuned gCEA and strung with Aquila Lava strings. They're specifically for baritone scale instruments tuned to C.

Cornfield
01-04-2016, 08:54 AM
I've got an old tenor banjo set up with nylon strings dGBE.
Reentrant Chicago tuning.

PhilUSAFRet
01-05-2016, 01:36 AM
I think I'd check with Southcoast to get the best ones for proper tension if you want nylon.

NOTLguy
01-05-2016, 01:49 AM
There are a couple of videos on You Tube of folk who have done this. Here is one.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mckKU8MW_SY

I took an old 1925 Banjolin and removed the short mando neck and made a new 17 fret tenor neck for it. It has an 11" pot. Sounds pretty sweet. Strung it with Fremont Low G Black Line tenor strings and have never looked back.

Regards,
Bill

aarondminnick
01-05-2016, 07:51 AM
Thanks, all. There are indeed several demos on YT and this combo (17" tenor banjo/nylon strings) sounds good.

I dropped a note to Southcoast and their reply was:

We're all out of longer strings that would serve for that tuning. Everything is "Ukulele Length". I actually have a Tenor Banjo myself, however, and it works fine to string it Ukulele style. I personally like reentrant tuning on mine, but remember that while the scale is the same as a standard Baritone, you have to have enough extra string to get down to the tailpiece.

What I'd recommend are Aquilas. You can look up the gauges of their Baritone C tuning set, then go to Aquila USA, a seller who deals with a lot of orchestral clients. He has strings in graduated diameters in 1 or 2 meter lengths. Since Banjos are pretty bright to begin with, the Aquilas are a pretty good match, giving a bit of the "old timey" sound.

PhilUSAFRet
01-05-2016, 11:22 AM
Since Aquila banjo uke strings seem to be the industry "standard", that makes sense.

fowl
01-05-2016, 01:18 PM
I have a 1925 Stella tenor banjo. I put standard Aquila baritone strings on it and it sounds great. Baritone linear tuning is the same as Chicago tuning on a tenor.

Maarten
06-02-2019, 01:56 AM
I have a 1925 Stella tenor banjo. I put standard Aquila baritone strings on it and it sounds great. Baritone linear tuning is the same as Chicago tuning on a tenor.

string inches tone string type
1 0,025 G3 wounded, phosofor brons
2 0,016 C4 plain steel
3 0,012 E4 plain steel
4 0,009 A4 plain steel

the mensure of this tenorbanjo is 57,5 cm (fret 0 to the bridge

this works perfect and with a nice tension on my "modified" tenor banjo (washburn) .
I play now everything as my banjolele but with a full banjo sound

John boy
06-02-2019, 05:04 AM
How did you attach the ukulele strings to the banjo? My tenor banjo uses banjo strings that have a loop at the end that loops on to a hook.

Swamp Yankee
06-02-2019, 09:55 AM
How did you attach the ukulele strings to the banjo? My tenor banjo uses banjo strings that have a loop at the end that loops on to a hook.

I use a “non-slip mono loop knot”

John boy
06-02-2019, 10:11 AM
I never heard of that, so I did a search on google. Got some diagrams and flow charts. Looks more complicated than my feeble brain can handle, but thanks for letting me know.

Swamp Yankee
06-03-2019, 07:13 AM
I never heard of that, so I did a search on google. Got some diagrams and flow charts. Looks more complicated than my feeble brain can handle, but thanks for letting me know.

Not a fisherman then, I guess ;)
A simple overhand loop will do, I suppose. It’s literally a “cinch”

kerneltime
06-03-2019, 07:41 AM
I've been playing around with some 1920s tunes on my wife's concert banjolele and having a good time, but I prefer a larger instrument (I typically play tenor and baritone uke).

There are some larger banjoleles out there, but after spotting an open-back 17-fret tenor banjo at a music store, I started wondering if it wouldn't be easier just to go that way. 17-fret tenor banjos have the same scale length as many baritone ukes (20" to 21.5") and it seems like there should be nylon string sets out there to tune it in standard gCEA or GCEA (low-g) tuning.

Just wondering if anyone had tried this!
Classical guitar strings are sold as singles and cheap enough to buy varying gauges to get the tuning and tension right. I tuned a cello banjo as a uke and it was a blast!