View Full Version : Tenor Banjo more difficult to play than a Ukulele?

12-17-2010, 04:49 AM
I have always loved Banjo music, not 5-string bluegrass type, more like Eddie Peabody or Harry Reser. I wonder how hard it would be to play one, and are there any similarities between the uke and banjo regarding chords etc, specifically Tenor and Plectrum banjo.

12-17-2010, 05:05 AM
Nope. Completely different instrument, strings, tuning, and chords. Banjos are "picked" more so than strummed so, you would have to be a picker, or willing to work more on that. I have always loved the Banjo too, but was never the best at playing one. Get yourself a Banjole and you have the best of both worlds..

12-17-2010, 05:33 AM
You COULD cheat and tune your Tenor banjo as a Baritone uke - known as 'Chicago tuning' among banjo enthusiasts. I used to play tenor banjo with the proper tuning, but I tuned my tenor guitar to Chicago tuning and had a lot of fun with that!

12-17-2010, 05:35 AM
I'm typically a strummer, but the tenor banjo hasn't been that difficult for me to pick up.

12-17-2010, 05:37 AM
BTW - Harry Reser used both traditional tenor tuning and Chicago and also played ukulele on a lot of records. He really was pretty amazing.

12-17-2010, 07:39 AM
Tenor banjo (like mandolin) chords contain notes over a wider range than uke, and most people think the chord shapes are harder. I do, too, so I never went ahead with tenor banjo. By the way tenor banjo is almost always strummed, and 5 string is almost always picked, if you're not sure about playing styles.

I strung up one of my 5 strings with long tenor banjo strings, and capo'd up for a test. It sounded great, but felt limited. And in my mandolin playing days I only mastered a few chords - most of the chord shapes are too hard and not instinctive. Of course if you are playing New Orleans style you only need a few chords, 7ths mostly and they are easy. But I think you will find the chords way different from uke, you will have to think completely different.

If you really like the sound you should try it, you only live once. Learning two systems is a challenge, but your brain can take it. And if you tune the instrument like a baritone uke it won't sound the same. It's the wide spread of high to low notes that make it zing.

12-17-2010, 10:04 AM
But of course you could play a banjolele, which is essentially the same instrument with a skin head instead of wood...

12-17-2010, 10:15 AM
Yes - I'll third that. I have about seven Harry Reser Banjo tunes in my Banjo uke repertoire; I just love the things.

Still, I've kept up playing the chord shapes for the mandolin/four-string banjo family of tuning in cycle of fifths. It's been a great help to know them, and even though the chord shapes are different, they really aren't that hard to master.