How to Set a Tenor Banjo

By | April 12, 2021


Choose an electric tuner to make sure you match the strings to exactly the right pitch. If you are new to music, it is easier to tune an instrument if you have a device that guides you as your ear develops. It is also much easier to learn a new piece if you know you are making the right notes. Many banjo players choose reliable electric tuners made by Korg or Boss.


Set the electrical receiver on the A440 to ensure that the tuner senses the correct pitch for your tenor banjo. Many tuners have several pitch settings, so this is something to be careful about.


Pick a string of your tenor banjo and notice where your tuner needle goes. When the A-string is set, the needle will be in dab in the middle of the letter A on your receiver. If the needle is to the left of A, slowly and gently tighten your tenor banjo’s A-string, being careful not to snap the string by tightening too much. If the needle is to the right of A, slowly loosen the string until you reach the correct pitch.


Proceed to the D-string using the same technique used to set the A-string. When the D-string is set, the A- and D-strings merge. You should hear a perfect fifth. To double-check your setting and fret positioning on your tenor banjo, place your finger on the seventh edge of the D-string and tune it with the A-string. The notes should match.


Set the G and C strings using the same methods used to set the D and A strings. First, assemble the strings with the tuner and then check the setting against the other strings using the seventh wreath. When you have finished setting the C-string, your tenor banjo should be completely in line and ready for you to play.

Tips and warnings

  • If your strings are old or your stick needs adjusting, the strings on your tenor banjo can constantly go flat. If this happens, see your nearest workshop for help selecting new strings or ignition for your sticks.
  • Tenor banjos are set in fifths, much like violin, viola and cello. Remember that C, G, D and A are the strings of the tenor banana, which means that it is set exactly one – fifth under a violin. If you have ever tuned a violin, the method of tuning a tenor banjo will not be new to you and you may be able to do it by ear. If you are not familiar with tuning in fifths, give yourself time and train and you will become a pro in no time.