brummytom Registered User
#1

Hi there, just a quick question, sorry if it's stupid...

Just wondering if there's any great difference between the two instruments? I'm currently (trying) to play the mandolin, but would like to switch the tenor banjo. At christmas I got a 5-string banjo (á la Luke Kelly) as I thought I'd just want to play chords along with singing (which I enjoy doing, whether I'm any good or not!)

However, after playing the 5-string I realised I wanted to play the actual tunes (jigs/reels etc.) instead, so started playing my mandolin again. After meeting a banjo player (Joe Molloy) in Dublin in February, my interest in the tenor increased.

But is there any major difference? Would a short- or long-scale be easier, are the strings majorly different? Is the tenor much harder to play?

Apologies if that made no sense,, Im 15 and in England - there's nowhere that I know of that can really give much advice on this topic.

Tom

banjopaul Registered User
#2

Howya!
Been there before, moved up from mandolin to banjo when I was round 13 i think. Tuning is the same (i'm assuming your tuning your mandolin GDAE) and your picking isn't gonna be hugely different. The only hard part is getting used to the greater stretch between the notes, especially if you happen to have small hands.

Even so I'd still advise a 19 fret tenor over a short scale 17 fret. In my experience short scales never sound close to as good as long scales, the seem to lose something.

Any other questions feel free to ask, also look in the video thread stickied at the top of this forum for lots of tenor banjo videos, bit of inspiration ya know!

Good luck!

brummytom Registered User
#3

I don't really know what to say except for thank you, I appreciate it..

D'you mind if I ask one more question? Would you reccommend tuning a tenor to 'Irish' mandolin/fiddle tuning GDAE or CDGA, I mean which would sound better, if there's any real difference?

doolox Registered User
#4

The CDGA tuning needs smaller guage strings to work as otherwise you risk breaking the thinner strings when tuning up to CDGA. Gerry O'Connor the well-established Roscommon-born Banjo player, uses CDGA tuning and it sounds very bright and clear on the smaller ( 17 fret) banjoes.
GDAE tuning sounds better on longer scale length instruments but the fingerboard length can slow down players used to mandolins and the like.
I think my banjo CDGA tuning uses the following strings 0.09 plain for A, .13 plain for G,.20 wound for D and .24 wound for A.
If you look up a website by googling strings instruments and scale lengths there is a website that gives every possible tuning instrument and scale length on the planet and it can help you pick the right strings for your requirements.

banjopaul Registered User
#5

brummytom said:
I don't really know what to say except for thank you, I appreciate it..

D'you mind if I ask one more question? Would you reccommend tuning a tenor to 'Irish' mandolin/fiddle tuning GDAE or CDGA, I mean which would sound better, if there's any real difference?


I'd recommend GDAE myself, its a matter of personal preference I guess, GDAE would be much more common, and sounds better to me, but both work. Its CGDA by the way, not CDGA haha.

Have a read of this for a bit of a debate on the matter:
http://www.thesession.org/discussions/display/17419
and
http://www.thesession.org/discussions/display/19159

doolox Registered User
#6

GDAE is better in the sense that Violin and Mandolin tab books can be used straight away without transposing to play in the same key. Better for playing with groups in a common key.
If you are a soloist and play on your own then the sound of the instrument becomes more important and I find CGDA more tuneful.

banjopaul Registered User
#7

doolox said:
GDAE is better in the sense that Violin and Mandolin tab books can be used straight away without transposing to play in the same key. Better for playing with groups in a common key.
If you are a soloist and play on your own then the sound of the instrument becomes more important and I find CGDA more tuneful.


You have a bit of a point i suppose, personal prefernce again, but sure the fun of trad is in playing with others! no one really starts learning with the aim of going pro!

brummytom Registered User
#8

Ok, thanks to the both of you for that; sorry I've taken so long to reply, for some reason I was magically unsubscribed from this thread? :/

I havent got the banjo yet (but hope I will soon) I'll probably try it GDAE at first just because I'm used to it from the mandolin, but then see whether it's alright for me

But thanks again, particularly Paul, I appreciate it

banjopaul said:
Its CGDA by the way, not CDGA haha.

I did know that, honestly... typo

banjopaul Registered User
#9

brummytom said:
Ok, thanks to the both of you for that; sorry I've taken so long to reply, for some reason I was magically unsubscribed from this thread? :/

I havent got the banjo yet (but hope I will soon) I'll probably try it GDAE at first just because I'm used to it from the mandolin, but then see whether it's alright for me

But thanks again, particularly Paul, I appreciate it


I did know that, honestly... typo


Cool, best of look with it anyway! Stick up a youtube video of your progress when you've been going for a while! Feel free to pm me if you wanna ask anything!
Paul

Want to share your thoughts?

Login here to discuss!