From the Wikipedia page on the quarrymen: The Quarrymen.

Lennon's mother, Julia Lennon, taught her son to play the banjo and then showed Lennon and Eric Griffiths how to tune their guitars in a similar way to the banjo, and taught them simple chords and songs.

My question is how did he tune and did he do so with the Beatles as well?

  • Unverified sources on the internet suggest that he initially used only 5 strings on his guitar and tuned it like a banjo (probably open-G), but that all but a handful of Beatles songs (such as Dear Prudence) were recorded using standard tuning. – Your Uncle Bob Jul 14 '19 at 18:12
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    It's more common to tune a banjo like the top strings of a guitar! – Laurence Payne Jul 14 '19 at 21:05

"tuning the guitars a similar way to the banjo" is a reference to open tuning, usually open G.

This was relatively common in Blues and American old time music (from which skiffle was largely derived), and it's easy to play some basic chords for beginners on it too (easier to "get going", so to speak, whereas with standard tuning it's much easier to make some quite cacophonous sounds if your left hand isn't yet up to scratch)

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I've heard that Julia was the first to teach a few chords to John, but I've also read the when George joined the band, John stood onstage with his guitar, only faking his playing, and that George was the person who really taught John to play. The only person still living that might be able to set the record straight is probably Paul.

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    The question surely is more about the actual tuning notes rather than who taught whom. – Tim Jul 14 '19 at 17:33
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    @Tim- I suppose I should have been a little more precise in my answer. Perhaps Julia taught John to tune like a banjo, and then George came along and taught him standard tuning and open tunings since that was Georges area of expertise. That's the point I was trying to get across, I hope I have a little better success this time. – skinny peacock Jul 14 '19 at 22:44
  • Speaking of faking the playing, the first audible playing by John appears on 'All my Loving'. Before that I really cannot hear a note he plays. – Marquis of Lorne Jul 15 '19 at 0:11
  • @user207421- That's what I call pulling something apart to look at it! I've listened to a lot of Beatles, but I never pulled any of it apart like that. I'll have to try it sometime to see if I like it. – skinny peacock Jul 15 '19 at 13:34

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