Home Forums Tenor Banjos What is the difference between a Tenor and a Plectrum Banjo?

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      Banjo Warehouse

      The Difference Between The Plectrum and Tenor Banjos

      Both instruments have four strings, but their tuning and string length differs considerably.

      The Plectrum banjo started life as a regular 5-string banjo with the short 5th string removed to enable strumming with a plectrum. Its tuning and string length is therefore identical to the four stopped strings of a classic banjo: (bass to treble) CGBD. There was an early period where one could play both fingerstyle ‘Classic’ 5-string, and Plectrum 4-string on the same instrument, especially if the bridge was adapted so that the short 5th string was lowered by angling the side of the bridge, as in this illustration from Grimshaw’s Plectrum Playing for Modern Banjoists:

      The Tenor banjo is tuned as a viola, or an octave above a cello: CGDA, and has a shorter neck. It is therefore a higher-pitched instrument, the higher frequencies being useful for cutting through an ensemble.

      There are different variations of both banjos including different pot sizes and openback versus resonator.  What is your experience with the Plectrum and Tenor Banjo?

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