Basic Banjo Tuning & Maintenance

[vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]The banjo is a popular instrument because of its unique sound and ability to stand out among a group of other traditional instruments. Make sure your banjo stands out for the right reasons — stay tuned!  Learn basic banjo tuning & maintenance for players, so it’s always ready to play.

Standard and Alternate Tunings

While the tunings here are for the five-string banjo, there are many other possibilities for the huge selection of other types of banjos available at Here are some of the tunings you’ll want to learn to open your range of playing, showing strings 1 through 5, in that order.

-Open-G tuning: Tuned to D-B-G-D-G, it is often called standard bluegrass tuning. When strummed, it automatically produces a G-chord. This tuning covers a lot of territory in bluegrass picking circles, and it’s simple.  By putting a capo on the second fret and tuning the fifth string up to an A, you will then have open A tuning.

-D-tuning: Tuned to D-A-F#-D-F#this tuning is often associated with the legendary Earl Scruggs, and just like open -G, it produces an open chord when strummed. When combined with Scruggs style three-finger picking, D-tuning offers a distinct sound that will set your playing apart.

-C-tuning – This tuning is most popular with clawhammer (open-back banjo) players, but also enjoyed by bluegrass pickers because of the lower sound from the 4th string.  Songs include “Home Sweet Home” and Carolina Traveler. It’s very close to open G tuning, but uses D-B-G-C-G, tuning the fourth string to a C.


A few tips on instrument care: To lengthen the life of your strings, be sure to wipe them with a dry cloth after each use. Before changing strings, mark the bridge position with a pencil so you can return it to the same spot. If your banjo has a resonator, protect it from scratches by putting a cloth over your belt buckle.  It’s generally a good idea to take your banjo to a professional banjo player/luthier for a proper setup, but you can get a start on it and eventually become the expert yourself. There are many resources available to you to guide you as you learn, but start out by learning the parts of the banjo and doing some basic adjustments. is your source for instruments, and can help to guide you to basic banjo tuning and maintenance. Check out some of the instrument care products available to help you keep your instrument playing its best.

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