View Full Version : Here's a crazy idea

02-18-2010, 07:09 AM
I started my music journey late (I'm 60). I'm just becoming good enough at the 5 string banjo to be dangerous. I'd like to expand my musical repertoire and have considered the ukulele but I don't want to have to learn new chords and fingering with a new instrument. My thought: Can a uke be tuned like the first four stings of a banjo and therefore played in the same manner as a banjo or would this be sacrilegious? Thanks for your thoughts.

02-18-2010, 07:15 AM
Do whatever you like as long as it sounds good to you!

02-18-2010, 07:16 AM
I don't see why not, there are several "standard" tunings for uke's, as well as a few slack key tunings. Some people also tune theirs up or down full or half steps, so I thinks whatever works for you is good.

02-18-2010, 07:23 AM
How is your banjo tuned?

02-18-2010, 07:39 AM

Doesn't look like it matches Ukes. But you can do whatever you'd like!

02-18-2010, 08:21 AM
banjo standard 5 string tuning is GDGBD. you could get close...just missing the high d.

Learning a new instrument though, is half the fun.

02-18-2010, 08:41 AM
As someone who has gone from classical guitar, to 5 string banjo, to ukulele... I say don't worry too much about it. If you want, you can have a slack key type tuning similar to a banjo open G (I think that's right) tuning. But I don't really worry about that. I just use tablature, and learn some new chords and it is a lot of fun. The re-entrant tuning is very much like the banjo. Anyway, your mind can handle it. If it has to, it can treat each instrument as a different set of conditions. I have been learning piano and ukulele at the same time. So far, Uke is winning because it is easier for me to get practice time on it, and I just like it better. I still pick up the guitar and banjo occasionally, and it takes a little time to switch. But if I did it once a week, I probably have no problem with the transition.

You might need more than one uke... one for slack key and one for regular tuning.


02-18-2010, 08:49 AM
Not knowing much about the 5string banjo, I would ask first, isn't that 5th string used as a drone? I find myself using the Gstring on a uke that way a lot of the time, along with creating those crazy "inside out" 4-finger picking rolls. So I would suggest incorporating it that way, and tune the other strings however you want. Anything goes in the Underground as far as I'm concerned! Standard uke tuning should also be learned - it's pretty easy and though different from banjo it keeps the mind sharp. At our age (I'm a young 52...) we need all the help we can get! :nana:

02-18-2010, 10:07 AM
If he is familiar with GDGBD, then he could take a baritone and tune it to DGBD by dropping the E string down to D. I understand that some sting sets for tenors come in baritone tuning, and Mele makes a jumbo tenor with a 19' scale that could be a tenor, or baritone tuning. I agree that it would be better to learn uke fingerings, but whatever works is OK. If he is in a local jam group with a lot of guitars, tuning a baritone to DGBE makes watching the other players fingering give him information on the chords they are playing (which, depending on his skill level, might be handy)

02-18-2010, 10:14 AM
You might need more than one uke... one for slack key and one for regular tuning.


Spoken like a person with true UAS. For shame! :-)