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Thread: "Ukify" a 17-fret tenor banjo?

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Jan 2014
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    Columbus, OH
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    Default "Ukify" a 17-fret tenor banjo?

    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!

  2. #2

    Default

    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.

  3. #3
    Join Date
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    Aurora, IL US
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    I've got an old tenor banjo set up with nylon strings dGBE.
    Reentrant Chicago tuning.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Jan 2009
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    Florida Space Coast
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    I think I'd check with Southcoast to get the best ones for proper tension if you want nylon.

  5. #5
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    May 2013
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    Newmarket, Ontario, Canada
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    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

    Pono ATDC Tenor Cutaway
    Vintage Tenor Banjo Ukulele ( circa 1920 )
    Vintage le Domino Concert Banjo ukulele ( circa 1931 )

    If it is worth doing, it is worth doing right.

  6. #6
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    Jan 2014
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    Columbus, OH
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    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.

  7. #7
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    Since Aquila banjo uke strings seem to be the industry "standard", that makes sense.

  8. #8
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    Brownsburg,In
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    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.

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Mar 2019
    Posts
    3

    Default a practical solution to unify your tenor banjo

    Quote Originally Posted by fowl View Post
    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

  10. #10
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    Feb 2019
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    San Francisco Bay Area
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    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.
    Kala KA-TE tenor uke (currently tuned F-Bb-D-G w/Worth Browns)
    Kala APB-CTG baritone uke (currently tuned D-G-B-E w/Martin 22 Baritone strings)
    Ohana BK-35CG baritone uke (tuned A-D-F#-B w/Savarez classical guitar strings)
    Various guitars, banjos, and basses

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