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Thread: Using an old kay 4 string banjo as a uku?

  1. #1
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    Default Using an old kay 4 string banjo as a uku?

    Hey Folks,
    I have found an old kay banjo. It is a vintage 60's model 4 string unit. I believe the 4 string banjo and the baritone uke are very close to the same tuning. Any thoughts on tuning the banjo like a baritone uke? IIRC, the banjo is DGBD and the Baritone uke is DGBE. Maybe put uke strings on it too.

    I just fell in love with it when I saw it. I'll likely get it, even if I can't tune it to a uke. It will sit until someday when..................

    Thanks in advance for any help or thoughts on this.
    Mark

  2. #2
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    Someone correct me if im wrong, but having your banjo tuned DGBE is not out of the norm at all. I beleive its referred to as chicago tuning,most tenor guitars also have this. Just do a little research on what string set to buy and ull have your banjo in standard bartitone tuning in no time! As for putting actual uke strings on it you will more than likely want to stick with wound sets because i dont believe nylon will ring out as clear as you'd like.

  3. #3
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    If it's a short scale tenor banjo, it's nearly the same size as a baritone banjo uke. You can get strings and even tune it GCEA if you like.

  4. #4
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    Yep, "Chicago tuning" is DGBE (linear).

  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by PhilUSAFRet View Post
    If it's a short scale tenor banjo, it's nearly the same size as a baritone banjo uke. You can get strings and even tune it GCEA if you like.
    I think it is a long scale version. 19 frets, would that make it a long scale?
    Sorry for my ignorance.
    Mark

  6. #6
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    it has an 11" head and about a 15-16" neck.

  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by jcricket View Post
    I think it is a long scale version. 19 frets, would that make it a long scale?
    Sorry for my ignorance.
    Mark
    Sure sounds like it. Typically, tenor banjos come in short-scale (or "Irish Tenor") 17 fret versions and longer scale 19 fret versions. The other typical 4-string banjo is the Plectrum, which has a scale length similar to a guitar (or a 5-string banjo without the 5th string). I say "typical" because there have been an awful lot of banjos built over the years, and they don't all follow the same rules.

    DGBE is standard tuning for the plectrum, while tenors are often tuned CGDA, in fifths, like a viola. But a banjo doesn't know how it's supposed to be tuned, so with the right string set, you could definitely tune to GCEA or DGBE.



  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by RichM View Post
    ...DGBE is standard tuning for the plectrum...
    People string Banjos differently, of course, just as they do Ukuleles. Still there is a dedicated "Plectrum" tuning that is c g b d', and the 19th- early 20th century repertoire for that music is as good as it gets on four plucked strings.
    Last edited by southcoastukes; 08-14-2014 at 07:40 AM.
    Dirk Wormhoudt



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  9. #9
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    Yes, a short scale "Irish tenor" banjo is 17 frets, but I've still heard of some folks stringing up a 19 fret model GCEA. Some of them 34" some 37" Here's an older post on tenor banjos. Scroll down for recommended metal string diameters for GCEA tuning:

    http://www.banjohangout.org/archive/243140
    Last edited by PhilUSAFRet; 08-14-2014 at 09:21 AM.

  10. #10
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    Do it, I've got a 4 string tenor banjo strung up like a baritone. Loads of fun!
    http://www.youtube.com/user/hoosierhiver

    UWC: no shirt, no shoes, no problem..

    Ukes questions should be emailed to mike@mainlandukes.com

    I know Gary Yoshida.

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