I have a number of students who have trouble understanding the difference between the key of a song and the tuning of their banjo or they feel they can only play in the key of G if their banjo is tuned to open G tuning. I’ll try to clear this up here.
For a musician, the banjo offers acoustic power, super responsiveness to any kind of touch, brightness that can cut through the sound of an ensemble, warmth and richness to accompany voices and other instruments, and a tone character that is completely unique in the world of musical instruments. But how does all this happen?
What stops someone from playing banjo? Is it the belief that banjo “is too hard” to play? Is it because “I can’t find a teacher”? Is it because “they don’t like the sound of banjo music”? Let’s take a good look at the non-player and see what it might take to inspire them to begin to play the banjo.
G, D, G, B, D
The most standard 5-string banjo tuning. This is referred to as "Open G" Tuning because the banjo is tuned to an open G chord, meaning that if you strum the banjo without fingering any of the strings on the neck you will be playing a G chord.