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Banjo Friday 13

In this week's post, I won't be featuring a player or a song, but a tuning. One of the things that sets a banjo apart from a guitar is the fact that you don't so much play chords as you play notes, so sometimes it's easier to re-tune your banjo than to strain yourself trying to play the song in a standard tuning like G or C. In fact, certain tunings become so identified with certain songs that they are named after them. Today we are going to look at "Last Chance tuning," so-named because it became the tuning most players defaulted to when playing this song. Here is Joe Newberry playing "Last Chance" with his banjo tuned fCFCD:


A few years ago, I had the good fortune to take a workshop with Joe where he taught this song. He's a great instructor and a true gentleman.


You can also use this tuning to play "Sandy River Belle." In fact, some players call this tuning the "Sandy River Belle tuning." Here is the April Verch Band playing Sandy River Belle with the added bonus of the some fine Ottawa Valley step dancing. Cody Walters is playing the banjo:


Finally, here is another example of a song played in this tuning, "Rambling Hobo" played by Doc Watson. Most people think of Watson as a guitar player, but, as you'll hear in the following recording, he started with a banjo, and he remains, to my mind, one of the finest clawhammer players ever:



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