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chord relationships learned from a 4 stringed instrument

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I learned the chords on a guitar many years ago and they're fairly second nature to me so I don't really think about where they are on the neck or what their constituent notes are.  My fingers just go there without thinking.

But I recently started learning how to play a five string banjo.  And I'm going through that process of finding where the chords are in many positions on the neck.  I find that when there are only four strings (the 5th string is just a drone G and isn't really fretted much), the chord relationships become more apparent.  For example, a minor chord is that chord's relative major with the fifth moved up a note or two frets.  So if you know how to fret a G, for instance, then you can figure out the Em, if you know where the five is (and it's good to know the 1, 3 and 5 of the chords).

That's probably the most useful relationship I figured out but there are others.  For example, raise the fifth of a minor chord up half a step and you get a major chord an interval of six away (Em to C for example.)

I also find that chords are a bit more tenuous or not as full sounding on a four stringed instrument - the six strings of a guitar allow the chord notes to be doubled up making them sound richer.  I guess the six strings also allow you to find chord patterns that aren't too inverted making them sound more solid.  But on a four stringed instrument you kind of take what you can get in terms of chord notes - they may be completely inverted.


Anyway, it's a fun process relearning all this and it seems a lot easier after having learned the guitar.  Someday I'll get to my Dad's old mandolin...

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Hi Six,

To tell the truth, I didn't really consider a banjitar.  My daughter has a 5 string banjo and i had fun noodling on that this summer so I started looking at the online want ads for banjos in the Ottawa area.  I finally found a reasonable one in Kingston so I negotiated with the guy to try get him to meet me half way - no go.  But my daughter who had lived in Picton for a number years and was going down to visit her friends said she'd pick it up.  It turns out she was friends with the guy who was selling the banjo - small world.

I played a banjitar many years ago but I was looking forward to learning a new instrument.

It's lots of fun.




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