When you first start to learn the banjo, you end up playing in the key of G or the key of C. As you learn new material you run across the keys of D and A, but what about the key of E? The key of E can be a little tricky to figure out, but I’m going to enlighten you a bit in this post.
Of course you can just locate the I, IV and V chords of the key of E and start experimenting with the different chord shapes. The I chord is E, the IV chord is A and the V chord is B. These three chords show up all over the fretboard as you can see. Here are three different E chords.
To add to the confusion, here are three A chords you can use.
Finally, we have three different B chords.
One of the problems with the key of E is the fifth string, G doesn’t fit well in this key, so you have to avoid the fifth string or re-tune it. The most common 5th string tunings are B - capo or hooked at 9th fret and G# - capo or hook at 6th fret. I like the sound of the B, it fits well with the B and E chords and gives the banjo a bluesy sound.
This post has covered playing in the key of E with only your fifth string re-tuned. In the next post I’ll show you two more ways to handle the key of E.