This is a public version of the members-only Banjo with Tony Trischka, at ArtistWorks. Functionality is limited, but CLICK HERE for full access if you’re ready to take your playing to the next level.

These lessons are available only to members of Banjo with Tony Trischka.
Join Now

Level 1: Beginner
Level 2: Intermediate
Level 3: Advanced
Old Time Fingerpicking
Classic Style Banjo
Celtic Tunes
30 Day Challenge
Playing Backup
«Prev of Next»

Banjo Lessons: Tuning the Banjo

Lesson Video Exchanges () submit video Submit a Video Lesson Study Materials () This lesson calls for a video submission
Study Materials
information below
Lesson Specific Downloads
Play Along Tracks
Backing Tracks +
Written Materials +

+Level 1: Beginner

+Level 2: Intermediate

+Level 3: Advanced

+Old Time Fingerpicking

+Classic Style Banjo


+Celtic Tunes

+Playing Backup

Additional Materials +
resource information below Close
Collaborations for
resource information below Close
Submit a video for   

This video lesson is available only to members of
Banjo with Tony Trischka.

Join Now

information below Close
Course Description

This page contains a transcription of a video lesson from Banjo with Tony Trischka. This is only a preview of what you get when you take Banjo Lessons at ArtistWorks. The transcription is only one of the valuable tools we provide our online members. Sign up today for unlimited access to all lessons, plus submit videos to your teacher for personal feedback on your playing.

CLICK HERE for full access.
All right, let's get in tune.
The old way that people used to get in
tune in a situation like this would be
just to play the notes, and I'll do that.
That's how Pete Seeger started his.
The record that went along with this very
amazing and wonderful book,
How to Play the Five String Banjo.
Which is just.
[SOUND] Hitting the note.
[SOUND] And if you have the ear to hear
[SOUND] You can tune to that note.
That's the first string.
That's D.
Second string is B.
Third string is G.
Fourth string is D.
The fifth string,
the short string here, top string, is G.
Another way that people have
tuned is by tuning one string to the next
and the next string and the next string,
and so forth.
And if you, for instance start by getting
your fourth string in tune with a piano or
tuning fork
And then, to tune the third string,
you take your whatever finger.
And fret the fifth fret of the fourth
Fourth string, fifth fret.
And to have this G tuning,
your third string should be in tune with
the fourth string when you do that.
Then to tune the second string you go to
the fourth fret of the third string.
Third string, fourth fret.
And tune the second string.
Now there's a little problem with doing
that which I'll explain in a minute, but
I'll just keep going.
Now your second string, theoretically,
would be in tune.
[SOUND] To tune the first string,
you compare it with the second string at
the third fret.
And those should be the same note.
And then,
now that your first string is tuned, in
tune, fret the fifth fret of the first
string [SOUND] And to get the fifth string
in tune, those should be the same note.
The fifth string should be in tune with
the fifth fret of the first string
So fifth fret of the fourth,
fourth fret of the third, third fret of
the second.
Fifth fret of the first.
Now the thing that I wanna point out is.
Once you've, if you've fret the fourth
fret of the third string.
That tends to go a little bit sharp.
So what I'll do is, once I pretty much get
them in tune,
the best way to tune the second string is
compare it to the first string.
if you fret it at the third fret of the
first string.
That's a little more accurate
doing it that way.
Tested with a well tempered scale, but
we don't need to worry about that at all.
Okay, now for, for people with good
ears and, people that have the ability to
tune their own notes to this, that's fine.
But, in modern technology run amuck, no
not run amuck actually it's very handy.
People these days use tuners and this is
the kind I use.
It's an Intelli tuner and
what I like about it is that it has a
little light when you turn it on, and
when you play the note it has a little
arrow and it lines up in the middle.
You know you're in tune and this thing
affixes to the end of the head stock,
just like that.
And so, what you do is you hit, hit your
Let's say, I'm gonna put it a little out
of tune on purpose.
That sounds wonderfully horrible.
So if you hit the third string which is
the out of tune string right now.
I'm tuning it up and as soon as the arrow
lines up
right in the middle, then you're in tune.
And you do this with any string.
it gives you the name of the string right
And with,
the thing I like about the Intelli is that
it does have this green light.
So if you're playing on stage.
And you're off to the side and
maybe the light isn't on your banjo.
And you can't quite see what's going on
with the tuner with that light on you.
You can.
You can watch it and people might think
you're watching the World Series or
something that you might be watching a TV
show but so anyway.
Tuners are a huge boon to human kind in
the banjo world and
guitar world for that matter.
So, I do recommend that you go out and buy
a tuner that you might spend 30, 40,
50 dollars something in that neighborhood.
But I do recommend the Intelli.
it's time to talk about tuning the banjo.
This is a very important thing to do,
because you might find yourself in this
sort of a situation.
Most people, when they hear the banjo,
they hear it that way, that's how it
translates to them.
But and I don't, I'm not sure that any
banjo has been successfully tuned before,
but I think you can do it.