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Using Banjo Tuners on Guitars – Tune Like a BOSS (Complete Guide)

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Who doesn’t like a guitar that can play several beats and notes? Who can say no to a multi-versatile guitar that you can use to play all the songs you like, regardless of their genres?

Is it possible? Yes, it is! All you need is good-quality banjo tuners, and you are all set! The guitar lovers and enthusiasts may think, can you use banjo tuners on a guitar? How do you put a banjo tuner on a guitar?

Is locking banjo tuners easy? What about Banjo D-tuners on a Tele? Is there any banjo tuner for the telecaster? How do you ensure you are doing it correctly when adding a banjo tuner to high E? What are gearless tuners, and are there any Scruggs tuners for sale?

Some other players may also think what the benefits of banjo tuners or what the specifications of banjo tuners are. The types of banjo tuners and the correct methods of using banjo tuners on guitars are all essential queries.

But don’t fret, this article will answer all your questions! In plain terms, banjo tuners have a low gear ratio that helps your guitar tune fast and switch up the notes anytime they like.

The banjo tuners have two thumb screws each so that you can lock the tuners at different levels according to your preference.

Once set, the banjo tuners can be set in any direction without worrying about stopping them because the thumbscrews will do it for you. This is a great way to make accurate tuning changes and get the exact tone that you want.

Banjo tuners have been around for a long time, approximately a century, because of their great benefits.

However, they are still missing on some guitar models, but you can easily install them and set the banjo players without much trouble.

What are Banjo Tuners?

Banjo tuners are a technical invention with a low gear ratio. They help produce different tones by adjusting the knobs. They can be tuned to play a wide variety of genres just as tuning.

The banjo tuners can be used on a great number of instruments, including guitars. And while some may not admit it, posing while handling the banjo tuners can make a great pose when clicking pictures!

History of Banjo Tuners

Banjo tuners were initially simple tuning pegs consisting of wooden dowels that are struck in holes. However, today, modern tuners have a wide variety of looks and features, some even being pretty complex.

The contemporary banjo tuners are quite a far cry from the tuner of yore. The two most famous banjo tuners are the planetary pegs and geared pegs. The tuners used on guitars are also of different types.

What are D Tuners on a Banjo?

The famous Keith D tuner is a tuning machine with built-in stops that allows the player to set their preferred note and then retune the guitar to another note.

Next, you can play with this second note and switch between the two notes whenever you like.

The stops come in at this time that prevents the player from going too far or not going far enough.

A popular American musician, Earl Scruggs, has used the D tuners on a Banjo and deserves significant appreciation for using them for several songs and adding to their popularity.

Some classics include the Randy Lyn Rag, Flint Hill Special, and Earl’s Breakdown. The D tuners are pretty useful when it comes to bringing an ‘out-of-tune melody into a proper, pleasant tune.

How to Use D-Tuners on Banjo

You do not need complicated tools to do this. Simply grab a sharp #2 pencil and lift the second and third strings close to the nut (by lifting the tuning pegs).

Rub the pencil back and forth in all the slots that you see and keep on coating until the slots are completely filled with pencil graphite.

This will lubricate the guitar’s strings inside the slots, preventing any binding that may pinch the string or not allow the string from one pitch to another.

When your strings move back into the lubricated notches and are well-tuned up to the pitch, set your tuner to the upper note initially and ensure that you always tune the upper notch first.

Next, move on to the lower note. Start with lowering the string pitch, and without setting it, bring it back again to the high note, pre-setting it. You will notice that it is flat. What you need to do next is retune the tune entirely.

Now you will lower the initial note again and repeat the process of returning it. One trick that will help you is to bring the lower note up to the high note while simultaneously setting and tuning the stop.

We also suggest the avoidance of bringing down the note to the correct pitch as this may enhance the issue of ‘sticking nut.’

Once you feel the high note is in order and set well, simply start lowering the note once again to your desired level of notes and set this as the stop note. You can bring the note back up to your highest note and keep going back and forth.

You can also loosen the lower stop and retune it, then set it again. This practice will bring your lower note in tune. Raising the pitch is a good way to check the high note and bring it down to the level of the lower note.

You may notice that occasionally the high note becomes flat, and you have to restart the entire process. This is mostly because setting the high note while the low note as the stop is in place is not the right way.

What you can do to tackle this situation is to set the high note to the level where the lower note is not set.

On the other hand, you cannot overlook the fact that setting the low note is typically faster and easier than setting the high note when it comes to banjos.

The amount of graphite contained within the nut slots makes a significant difference, reasonably so. When you are sliding a string though constantly, this may happen often.

In this case, keep a pencil with you and keep the string and slot coated continuously with graphite. This will also help the other strings tune easily even when they are wound.

While setting up and using the D-tuners is not a walk in the park, they can work in your favor with good lubrication and plenty of patience and practice. If you do it correctly, you will notice that the resultant sound is smooth and accurate.

How to Tune a Banjo

An easy guide to tuning a banjo includes the following steps:

1. Considering Each String’s Pitch

You can make use of a clip-on tuner to inspect the string’s current condition and pitch. The standard tuning widely used all over the world for a banjo is:

  • 5-string Banjo: GDGBD
  • 4-strings Banjo: CGDA

A quick suggestion is to use a tuner app or opt for a good-quality banjo tuner.

Making music is primarily about good beats, a pleasant listening experience, and staying in tune. If your banjo tuner is out of tune, you might as well not play your instrument at all, as it will only seem out of tune and unpleasant.

With such an instrument, you will find it quite challenging to sing or produce any music at all.

To fix this problem, you can use a free tuner app with the help of your smartphone or bring home a clip-in tuner that helps keep your banjo in tune.

2. Tightening the Loose Ends, Loosening the Sharp Ends

If your string has a pitch lower than the one that you intend for it or is too flat, it is time to tighten its tuning peg so the pitch can be raised.

On the other hand, if the string is higher than you want it to be or much sharper, loosen the tuning peg and bring it down to the level of the pitch.

Remember to tune the peg position along with the string tension. A good and safe way is to bring a string UP to the pitch by loosening it initially, followed by some tightening.

This will maintain the tension as well as keep the peg in position. If the string feels too sharp, simply lower the string to the pitch you desire and then raise it to the pitch you want.

3. Tuning Each String and Adjusting

  • Start with tuning each string and repeat till all the strings maintain the pitch that you desire.
  • The other strings may have to adjust to the tension. You can also change the pitch as you move on to the next string.
  • Remember to adjust the banjo intonation, as this is highly important.

While the open string can be produced by tuning the pitch, each fret of the pitch is adjusted by managing the banjo bridge’s position.

The measurement from the twelfth fret’s center to the bridge’s fret should be the same or almost equal to that from the twelfth fret’s center to the nut’s edge.

Moreover, it would be best if you loosened the tension in the string before adjusting the bridge and then use a pencil to mark the position.

Choosing the Best Banjo Tuners

Finding the right type of banjo tuners is also a quest. For deciding the ideal banjo tuner for you, see what features are essential for you and if you can compromise on any features.

An important deciding factor is a finish that banjo tuner offers. There are several types of banjo tuners, such as chrome, nickel, and gold-plated.

The banjo tuner does not only give an instrument the correct pitch but also a fine and refined look. Another factor many experts recommend taking note of is the style and type of tuner buttons, as they further add to the overall look.

The materials, including pearloid, plastic, amber, and ivoroid, are sometimes used for buttons, each with its unique finish. The materials help bring the entire instrument together, giving it a personalized look.

You will come across numerous types of aftermarket banjo tuners, each offering a look, unlike others, making it a persuasive reason to buy.

From the material used to the manufacturing process, you must ponder upon all the factors and settle on the banjo tuner that you think is the best.

Some of the old banjos make use of a tapered hole found in the headstock. While this peg is traditional and original, it fails to provide a solid base for the banjo to remain in tune for an extended period.

Therefore, we suggest opting for a more modern peg, especially the geared one. Here are some of the most popular types of banjo tuners:

1. Chrome Steel Banjo Tuner

The chrome-plated steel banjo tuners are commonly available and minimally expensive, making them a great option. Alongside this, the chrome-plated steel banjo tuners also offer a greater variety of functions at a moderate price.

The tuning pegs are mostly available without the usual buttons for a lesser price. The tuning pegs ranging from gold-plated steel to wooden pegs are often found on banjos, bass guitars, and simple guitars all over the world.

Some banjo tuners, even the ones with a straight geared design, are available in the mid-range tuning pegs and fine entry. The materials used for making these banjo tuners are all high-quality.

2. Planetary-Tuning Pegs

If you are on the lookout for the best tuning pegs for a high-quality instrument, you can bring home the planetary-tuning peg set made from the finest chrome, gold-plated, and steel, enhancing the appearance.

Many professional players consider buying these banjo tuners as they are among the finest tuners available on the market. These tuners cost you slightly more than those on the market but will hold tunes well and operate smoothly.

Another prominent advantage of getting these banjo tuners is that they are high-quality, planetary-style banjo tuners. They will increase your instrument’s value and make playing it an enjoyable experience.


Banjo tuners on guitars are a great way to set notes according to your preference and switch between the tones you desire.

They also prevent you from going too far away or staying too close to the set notes while keeping your sound pleasant. Please ensure that you invest in the right banjo tuner with all the features and qualities that you desire to make the most of it.

Fortunately, modern manufacturers have come up with banjo tuners that are compatible with all the new guitar tuners. They work well and help the user achieve the tone and frequency they desire.

All you need to do is learn how to set your banjo tuner to your guitar correctly, and you are all set!

Frequently Asked Questions

Can you use banjo tuners on a guitar?

Fortunately, all the high-quality modern banjo tuners work pretty well with guitar tuners. However, locking Sperzels on a banjo is not compatible with a guitar and only adds more difficulty to your playing experience.

How do you put a banjo tuner on a guitar?

A banjo tuner is put on a guitar by tuning it to the e notes and tightening and loosening the notes wherever required.

Can I tune my guitar to sound like a banjo?

You can make your guitar sound like a banjo via an inexpensive trick. All you need to do is take a balloon and some hot air.

Add the flavor of your choice to your acoustic routine by putting the balloon inside the guitar, and you are done! However, please ensure that the strings do not touch the rubber but are still really close.

What is a D tuner?

A D-tuner, short for Detuners, is a mechanical device used for simplifying a stringed instrument’s tuning while it is being played.

With the help of D-tuners, musicians accurately and quickly reach notes that are outside their instrument’s typical range. The D-tuner also goes by the name of hipshot and drop head.

How do I lock the banjo tuners?

Start with loosening the tight nickel or black chrome thumbscrews with a counterclockwise motion, but only half a turn. The modern D-tuners now work pretty well with the standard tuning mode and allow regular tuning.

What is Keith D-tuners for guitars?

The Keith D-tuners is a machinal device with built-in stops that allows the user to set a note, retune into another note, and then set the second note.

The player can then switch between the notes and also be prevented from going too far or staying too close to the set tone while performing.