How to Tune a Banjo to the Key of E

By Charlotte Johnson
Most banjos have four or five strings.

The banjo is a stringed instrument whose face resembles a drum. Banjos are used in multiple musical genres, such as folk, bluegrass and country music. Although standard banjos are usually tuned to the open G tuning, some banjos are tuned to open E. Long neck banjos primarily use the open E tuning. The long neck banjo has three more frets than a standard banjo and was made popular by musician Pete Seeger. You can tune a banjo to open E through a series of simple adjustments.

Pluck the first string, which is the string closest to the ground when you are holding the banjo in playing position. Watch your electronic tuner to see which pitch the string is playing. In open E tuning, this string should be tuned to B. If the pitch is higher than B, loosen the tuning key until you reach B. If the pitch is lower than B, tighten the tuning key until plucking the string registers a B on the tuner.

Tune the second string to G# (G-sharp), using the same method that you used to tune the first string.

Tune the third string to E.

Tune the fourth string to B. This B will be one octave lower than the B on the first string.

Tune the fifth string (the shortest string) to E. This E will be one octave higher than the E on the third string.

About the Author

Charlotte Johnson is a musician, teacher and writer with a master's degree in education. She has contributed to a variety of websites, specializing in health, education, the arts, home and garden, animals and parenting.