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Thread: Trouble Tuning my Mandolin Banjo

  1. #1

    Default Trouble Tuning my Mandolin Banjo

    Greetings! I've played mandolin for a few years and I recently received a Washburn BM3 Mandolin Banjo for my birthday. I'm having a ridiculous time tuning this thing. Each individual string seems to be in tune, per the tuner, but when I try to play a chord it sounds horrendous. Any help would be much appreciated!

  2. #2
    Registered User DavidKOS's Avatar
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    Default Re: Trouble Tuning my Mandolin Banjo

    Tuners, your ear, and is the mandolin in tune with itself.

    Let's start at the last part. How accurately did you intonate the bridge on your banjo mandolin?

    Did you make certain that the open strings, the 12th fret notes and the harmonics at the 12th fret are all the same and sound in tune?

    If you didn't get that working correctly on any mandolin, much less a banjo mandolin, you'll never get in tune no matter what the electronic tuners say about the open strings because the whole relationship of the frets and the pitches they need to make has not been properly set.

    So that's the first place to begin checking. Past that there are a number of other things beginning with "is it a natural or synthetic skin? are the frets accurate? etc".

    Best of luck.

  3. #3

    Default Re: Trouble Tuning my Mandolin Banjo

    Great, thanks so much! I'll start working with the bridge and go from there.

  4. #4

    Default Re: Trouble Tuning my Mandolin Banjo

    It sounds a thousand times better, thank you so much for your help!

  5. #5
    Mando accumulator allenhopkins's Avatar
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    Default Re: Trouble Tuning my Mandolin Banjo

    Mandolin-banjo bridges move around more than standard mandolin bridges, and therefore keeping an eye (or an ear) on the intonation, to insure correct location, is even more important. Lotsa "moving parts" in banjos, since the head tension also can vary, which affects string height, and also the sound quality -- tighter head, "brighter" sound.
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  7. #6
    Registered User DavidKOS's Avatar
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    Default Re: Trouble Tuning my Mandolin Banjo

    Quote Originally Posted by KoreyD View Post
    It sounds a thousand times better, thank you so much for your help!
    I'm glad that was the only problem.

    allenhopkins is right about those bridges moving a lot, so check it often, even if you have to tune a lot.

    Take care.

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  9. #7

    Default Re: Trouble Tuning my Mandolin Banjo

    You would also be wise to examine the nut. Often on new instruments the nut is way higher than it should be for quality in-tune.and comfortable playing. That is because depending on where it was purchased it may not have been well set up for playing. Frets.com has excellent information on adjusting the nut, if you need to. It will at least tell you how to determine it if needs be adjusted.

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  11. #8
    Registered User DavidKOS's Avatar
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    Default Re: Trouble Tuning my Mandolin Banjo

    Quote Originally Posted by bart mcneil View Post
    You would also be wise to examine the nut. Often on new instruments the nut is way higher than it should be for quality in-tune.and comfortable playing. That is because depending on where it was purchased it may not have been well set up for playing.
    This is really true of new guitars, where the nuts are often cut so shallow as to make the 1st fret note sharp.

    Good point.

  12. #9

    Default Re: Trouble Tuning my Mandolin Banjo

    Thanks everyone for all the helpful info!

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