Other Instruments

94. How is a banjo different from a guitar?


Although the banjo and the guitar are related, the major differences between them are that the banjo uses a drum to move the air and make sound, whereas the guitar uses a wooden box with a hole in it. By far the most popular kind of banjo is the five-string, and it has a re-entrant tuning. What this means is that the strings go down in pitch and then go back up again. This causes the fingering system on a five-string banjo to be radically different than that of a guitar, mandolin, or any sensible instrument.

95. If I can play guitar, can I play uke?


The uke is a close relative of the guitar and it’s tuned in fourths like a guitar. The chord shapes on the uke are the same as the chord shapes on the first four strings of a guitar. Ukuleles come in different registers, or keys if you prefer. The soprano uke is like a guitar with a capo on the seventh fret, except that the fourth string is an octave higher than you’d expect. The tenor uke is tuned like a guitar with a capo on the fifth fret (an no funny business with re-entrant tuning). The baritone ukulele is just like the first four strings of a guitar. Ukes are very easy to play for guitar players at first. But once you get into it deeply, there are a lot of challenges in the chord theory because you have only four strings to work with.

96. Is a mandolin another kind of guitar?


No. Although the mandolin is in the same family as the guitar, i.e. fretted plectrum instruments, it has a different history, different technique and a different fingering system from the guitar. If you play the guitar, however, the mandolin is easy to learn.