Minstrel Banjo

For enthusiasts of early banjo

Another tuning question: Lon Morris's Jig, Buckley 1868


I just looked through Buckley's Banjo Guide from 1868  Some of the tunes indicates use of other tuning than the standard tuning. On page 15 on Lon Morris's Jig the following tuning is shown: from low string to high string B E G B d#. With todays pitch and todays notation we would call it f# D G Bb D. However, when looking at the melody I can't see how this tuning would work. The standard tuning seems to be working good. The fifth string in the notation is notated as e. The lowest note in the notation is A but the fourth string is tuned to B? It may be a printing error or the tuning indication have been inserted on wrong tune??? Have this tuning (B E G B d#)  been used for another tune?

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There was an older discussion on this weird one some time back. I'm not too sure how to dig in the archives for this, but I recorded it with at least 2 different possibilities given the infornation provided. I'll see if I can pull it up.

There are, however, several pieces written with one or two sharps that use "E" as the thumb string. (not relating to this particular song...but the discussion in general).

We have yet to differentiate between concert pitch and "tuning" in our confusing banjo language. 

If you retune the banjo but pretend you haven't,  then finger things as if they were in standard A tuning the melody seems to make (some) sense. I wonder if some of the the high "E"s are meant to be fretted as real Es and some are meant to be thumbed as D#s. If so, it doesn't seem like you can rely on the upwards flags to tell you which. (It could be  any number of typos - or G. Swain Buckley having a laugh at our expense!)

I'm looking through all my other non-banjo tune books to see if it appears in any of them.

Check my video for the strange result of all possibilities.


Thanks Tim. I just found that on Youtube. For some reason it didn't come up when I searched here. I had come up with something similar to your middle version. I think I'll fool around with it some more. Seems like a good project for the weekend. (I've already been to the dump - what else is there to do?)

Greetings All You Minstrel Folk,

I could be wrong, but when I tried tabbing Harpers Jig from Buckley's 1860 (downloaded from TimTwiss.com) there were no notes played on the 5th string, with my banjo tuned to dGDF#A. Subsequent examination of the video recordings by Tim and other members of this site, clearly shows an extensive use of the 5th string when playing Harpers Jig. Would this be another example of G.Swain Buckley's work needing to be re-interpreted?

Cheers Martin

Convert your tab from the Banjo Rosetta...according to the "Rice Tuning" of eAEG#B

btw....every E with an upward stem is the 5th string

Thanks Tim,

That is very helpful, I will set to and try tabbing this great little tune again.

Cheers Martin

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