Using Tabledit to convert standard guitar notation to banjo


Hello, I have entered Red River Valley into Tabledit. The accompaniment came from an easy guitar song book I have. I want to convert that into tab for banjo. How do I do that? I assume any standard notation can be applied to any instrument, however when I go to change the tuning to banjo, it warns me that some notes will be dropped since I am going from 6 strings to 5 strings.
Forgive me if this has been covered before. I searched the forums and could not find the answer.

Thank you.


Hi @JoeB Excellent Post.

To the best of my knowledge you cannot use TablEdit to convert Guitar TAB/Notation to Banjo TAB/Notation. I think that much you have already discovered.

What might be possible is to use TablEdit to find the melody notes in the Guitar TAB to help you workout the melody on a banjo. Then use the logic from one of @BanjoBen 's Build-a-Break Lessons to find roll patterns & licks to fit your arrangement.

Identify the melody notes from the guitar TAB. Create a new blank banjo TAB and find those same notes on the banjo. Of course they wont fall on the same strings or fret positions on the banjo as they are on the guitar.

Once you have that basic melody the challenge will be to fit the filler notes (rolls) and (licks)


The only 3 strings that directly convert from guitar to banjo are the 2nd, 3rd, and 4th. The first string of a guitar is an E. On banjo, it’s a D. So, you can move those notes up 2 frets on the banjo tab and have the same note.

Not hearing the song, I’d have to think that even if you pulled it off, you’d be disappointed with the results. Guitars played with a single pick, so I’d think paying the same thing on banjo would seem lacking. Maybe if you throw in some filler notes around the melody?


I tried something and it works:

  1. Have Tabledit show both tab and musical notation in your source material
  2. Select a measure of the musical notation (NOT the tab). Be very careful about boundaries of your selection box… you want to start on the first beat and know exactly which notes are selected. For example, I might choose the first beat/top line of the scale and drag down to the first beat of the next measure down to the low C line.
  3. Copy (CTRL-C)
  4. Start a new Tabledit “project” with the instrument/tuning you want (banjo)
  5. Select the same starting position that you copied from in steps 2-3. You don’t have to recreate the selection box, just select the exact upper left hand starting point. From the example above, that would be the first beat, top line.
  6. Paste (CTRL-V)

That moved the notes from one instrument to another. The tabs will be correct for the two instruments. Note: You don’t have to do one measure at a time… you can do the ENTIRE song, but you have to be careful about precisely selecting the right notes. I thought doing a single measure would be less prone to error until you do it a couple times.

Best of luck!


Another problem you’d need to address is any notes below the D (4th) string…guitar has nearly another octave of lower notes it produces that don’t exist on a banjo.


Alternately you could click on this link and download the TAB from the Banjo Hangout


Thank you guys for your help. I was able to use that information to figure out a procedure.

I like having both instruments (modules) in the same file. If you do not want both instruments in the file, you can skip steps 1-3.

  1. Open the guitar tab. Select Score, Instrument, and then click the add module button. Leave it at the default of guitar.
  2. Select the original guitar module and Select All (Control - A), Copy (Control - C), then select the other module.
  3. Select All (Control - A), then Paste (Control - V). You now have an identical copy of the first module.

If your song uses notes lower than the guitar 4th string, you need to move everything up an octave. If not, you can skip to step 7

  1. Select the new module, then choose Score, Transpose.
  2. Make sure all the measures are included in the From Measure and To Measure option.
  3. For number of intervals enter 12 to get everything up one whole octave. Then click OK. You now have a guitar tab up one octave from the original song.
  4. Select Score, Instrument, change the name and Midi option to Banjo, then select Tuning tab.
  5. Select the Fingerings radio button (important to do this before changing instruments)
  6. Change the instrument to Banjo Open G.
    Now you have the basic melody for the song you want to play on the banjo. Now apply rolls, pinches, and licks to fill in as desired.