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You may associate the banjo with hillbillies and their unique music genre. But the banjo has been played by many famous people including Steve Martin, the comedic actor. The banjo is not the most popular instrument around and it takes a special person to endure its twangy sound night after night.
But it is a good instrument which makes some very happy music when played right. To learn more about the banjo just continue to read our article. It has facts about the banjo you may never have heard about.
Plus, it answers as many of your questions about this instrument as it can. It is worth the few minutes it takes to read this to get caught up on the banjo and its unique characteristics.
Best Banjo For Beginners
The best banjo for a beginner is normally a question which a lot of people who are interested in playing the banjo have; choosing the right banjo for yourself or someone else depends on a lot of things which the player would like to achieve in the instrument. It is not easy to point a definitive answer to this question but this article can give you some pointers on what to look at in a banjo and the best beginners.
Top Fourteens (14) Best Banjos For Beginners:
1. Vangoa Five-String Banjo
The Vangoa is a very ideal Banjo for beginners, it has all the accessories that a beginner might need. Here are some of its features that make it the first ranked the best banjo for a beginner like it is made of high-quality mahogany wood, it has a removable resonator, its carrying is of very high quality, it has accessories like extra string for replacement when need arise, its fretboard is made of walnut and it is 38cm long with 5 strings. The banjo also is beginner-friendly because it comes with a user manual on how to use it.
2. Deering Goodtime 2 5-String Banjo
Made from the Deering Shop which is located in the USA, it is made with quality materials that are used to make high rated Banjos. These banjos are very affordable and that does not mean that the quality is compromised. Here are some of the features that make this brand the perfect banjo for beginners are: is made with maple and is well finished with satin which is perfect for protection, the banjo is easy to play and tune due to its slender body, its standard measurement is 27cm, its rim, resonator, birch, and neck are also made of maple.
3. Ibanez B200 5 String Banjo
Since the Ibanez came back into the banjo business after three centuries, this is among the top brand that is known for good beginner banjos. The B200 5-string banjo has a closed back and it is also quite affordable, which is one of the reasons that make it attractive for beginners. Some of the features of this banjo include: a basswood rim with a mahogany neck and are both finished with a gloss, it has five strings and is 14 inches long, the inside of its neck is covered with mother of pearls and comes with a rosewood fingerboard. Here are some of the pros and cons that of this banjo that beginners should be aware of
4. Jameson Guitars 5-String Banjo
This is a good beginner’s banjo; it is made with 24 brackets, an armrest that is chrome–plated, Maple Bridge, and a hinged tail-piece that is adjustable. It comes readily set-up, unlike other banjos that will need a person to set for themselves. This makes it easier for beginners to play than going through a lot of assembling before use. Its neck is made of mahogany and has a removable resonator.
It’s finished with gloss and another factor that makes this best beginner banjo is the fact that Jameson (who is the manufacturer) has a free banjo use tutorial on his website.
5. Luna Celtic 5-String Banjo
The Celtic 5-string banjo can also be categorized as a good beginner banjo, designed like a traditional banjo and it has a lot of top-notch specifications that make rank among the best banjo for beginners. Its body and neck are made of mahogany with a fingerboard that is made of black walnut. Its fingerboard is beautifully adorned with a mother-of-pearl
which is a Luna signature and has 5 strings.
6. Mulucky 5 String Banjo Mini – 28 Inch
Wondering which banjo is best for beginners? Look no further, because the Mulucky 5 string banjo Mini is one of the best as it comes with a complete beginner kit. The banjo has 5-strings and produces a very unique sound that its players can easily grasp. Its tuning pegs are chrome-plated makes it easy to handle and tune. It is made of Sapele with strings that are made with Alloy steel.
7. ADM 5-String Banjo 24 Bracket
This banjo is also among the best banjo for beginners, it is a very good banjo that comes s with an economical kit that makes it very cost-effective especially for beginners. The banjo also comes with a very quality carrying bag that offers protection when traveling so as the banjo cannot get easily destroyed. The banjo bridge and fingerboard are made of very quality mahogany material which makes it very sturdy and stable. Its side is made of Sapele and its back is made of quality wood grain which makes the banjo durable. The most attractive feature of this banjo is that it has a geared 5th tuner which is very important for playing and tuning.
8. Mulucky 5 String Banjo – Remo
The mulucky 5 string is also another banjo for beginners; it has 5 strings with closed tuning pegs that are gold plated. The banjo is easy to learn and its body is made of very superior maple wood which cannot be corroded easily. It has a geared 5th tuner which produces classic tones. The banjo has fiber skin drumheads which make it produce bright, resonant, and stable sound.
9. Deering Goodtime 5-String Banjo
The Deering Goodtime 5 string is also another perfect banjo if they are stuck on which banjo is best for beginners. It has an open back with a slender neck that is made of maple, its rim is also made of 3-ply maple with geared tuners that are sealed. It is finished with satin and its metal parts are plated with nickel. Its bridge is made with both maple and ebony and is easily adjustable.
10. Rouge B30
The Rogue B30 is also a good beginner banjo; it is a very affordable banjo that is 39 inches long. Its neck and body is made of nato and has thirty brackets plus an aluminum ring. Its armrest and tuners are chrome plated make it very comfortable. The case of the banjo is sold separately but is still price friendly and a good banjo for beginners.
11. Costzon 5 String Banjo
This banjo is also another best beginner banjo; this banjo has 5 strings and is made of high-quality material where its sides are Sapele wood, fingerboards are made of rosewood .it has a geared 5th tuner which makes it produce classic tones.it has 24 adjustable brackets so as it can meet the design requirements.
12. Epiphone MB-200 Banjo
Wondering which banjo is best for beginners, and then the Epiphone MB 200 is a good option to consider. It is a good bluegrass banjo and is quite affordable. It is made of high-quality mahogany material and rosewood fret wood and has a standard measurement of 26 cm in length with a US Remo Head.
13. Rover RB-25 Resonator 5 String Banjo
The Rover RB-25 Resonator is also another one that is the best banjo for a beginner. It is neck is made of mahogany with a fingerboard that is made of rosewood and a nickel-plated flange. It has an armrest which makes it more comfortable during use. So, if you torn of which banjo is best for beginners then the above banjo is a good option
14. Banjo Ukulele Concert Size 23 Inch
The banjo Ukulele is a Sapele wood 23-inch banjo which is the fusion of the two. This banjo is affordable and has 4 strings. The neck, back, and sides are made of Sapele wood with 12 frets and a fingerboard that is made of rosewood. It also has closed tuners which are made of chrome which helps it to tune effortlessly.
Important Banjo Facts You Need To Know
The instrument is supposed to have gotten its start in the Caribbean and was played there prior to the 17th century
Joel Sweeney was the first real banjo star playing the instruments in the 19th century
Earl Scruggs is said to have been the best banjo player of all time. He was the co writer of the Beverly Hillbillies t.v. show theme song He died in 2012.
Steve Martin, the actor, maybe the most famous banjo player to date. He is known all over the world.
There are 2 types of banjos- the 4 string is used for dixieland jazz while the 5 string is for bluegrass
There are similar instruments found throughout the world- the Chinese call theirs the sanxian, the japanese had the shamisen, the Persioans called theirs the tar and the Moroccan named theirs the sintir.
Rolls and Drones- these are two 5 string banjo techniques with the roll playing the 8th notes and the drone notes are played on the 5th string and are also 8th notes
There is a 6 string banjo similar to the 6 string guitar but it is not as well known or popular as the 4 and 5 string models
Animal skins were the usual body covering of the original banjos. Today and in recent decades synthetic materials have replaced the animal skins
There are many different banjo hybrid instruments. Some of the more well-known models are the banjo ukulele, the banjo mandolin, and the banjo guitar. different people have made their own hybrid which has not caught on with the general public
Things To Consider Before Buying Your First Banjo
When you are a beginner, it is hard to know what elements you that a banjo has that make sit a good instrument. Here are some tips to guide your search:
banjos are not made in large volumes thus their cost is going to be higher than some guitars. A good entry-level banjo should cost you around $200 to $500 with better options costing up to and over $1500
it is best to rent a banjo first to see if you really want to play the instrument. This saves you some money and helps you learn what to look for when you go and buy your own
the maker of the banjo matters and three of the best companies to buy from are Deering Banjos, Gold Tome, & Recording King. Fender is good but not as good as those three
#4. Resonator Or Closed Back Banjo:
while not mandatory to buy this version of the banjo helps you sound good when you play quickly.open back banjos are for the claw hammer style players
banjos can weigh up to 12 pounds or more so pick one that won’t hurt your back while you hold it for hours
it has to fit your hands and your reach. If you are not comfortable playing or holding the banjo keep looking for one that fits your frame
listen to the sound the instrument makes when you are playing it or by the sound clips offered by internet stores. Each banjo has its own sound, some are mellow, some are bright, some will hold the sustain and some won’t. Pick the one that sounds good to your ear
some people recommend buying online at internet stores but it is better to go to a reputable music store where you can talk to knowledgeable salesmen and have your questions answered right away.
Open Back Vs. Closed Back
Which one of these two options you choose to play will depend on the type of music you want to play.
The closed-back or resonator banjo has a louder sound than the open-back model. The latter is more subdued and is often used when playing with other instruments.
Then the open back banjo is for those times when you want the banjo to be a lesser instrument in the band. You may find them more often in dixieland jazz bands as the banjo compliments the other instruments throughout the different songs.
The closed-back banjo is more for bluegrass music as the banjo player wants his or her instrument to be the lead or near the lead instrument. The louder sound and the twang that comes with this banjo makes it perfect to be leading the way.
The only real difference to the style of the two banjos is that the closed back is exactly as it sounds. It has a closed-back with a resonator device planed inside to make that louder sound. The open back does not have a back cover nor a resonator
Also, the open-back banjo is lighter than the closed-back which makes it a bit easier to hold and play. You should be able to play it longer as it causes less strain on your back over long practice sessions.
The style of play is a little bit different as the clawhammer is used for the open back while plucking is used for the closed-back option. You can use fingerpicks with either model if you want
Also, the open back banjo is cheaper than the closed-back as it has fewer parts. For some, this may be the most influential aspect that causes them to buy one banjo model over the other.
In the end, it is up to your preference which one you choose to play. Just look at the different parts of each banjo and then go and test both out. See which one fits your style of play, your reach, and is light enough to handle for hours on end.
After you do that, make your choice.
What About Tuning
Both banjo models have the same style of tuning tools. The pegs turn till you get the right note. But they are not always tuned in the same manner and the following information is for the 5 string banjo.
#1. Standard Tuning
The standard tuning used by most banjo players is the open G. It is called the open G because you can hear the G note without pressing any strings. The notes for each string are as follows:
- first string- D
- second string- B
- third string- G
- fourth string- D
- fifth string- G
Now the 5th string G is the highest pitch of all the notes played on the 5 string banjo. Then the 4th string D is the lowest and it is a full octave lower than the 1st string D. The 3rd string G is a full octave lower than the 5th string G.
#2. Different Tuners
The easiest way to tune a banjo is to use an online tuner but you can use a regular tuner that you can hold in your hands. The online option provides the note you need to match at the push of a button.
Online tuners are usually free but if you lose your internet connection, you are out of luck. It is best to buy an electronic tuner and tune your banjo the old fashioned way. What is good about the electronic tuner is that they have a built in microphone and can tell if you are flat or sharp right away.
#3. Guitar Tuners
As a side note, you may already know how to play the guitar and have a guitar tuner lying around the house. it is possible to use the guitar tuner only if it is a chromatic model.
Cheaper guitar tuners usually are not chromatic enabled and will not be helpful when you want to tune your banjo.
#4. Tuning By Ear
This can be done by those people who have perfect pitch. This ability means that you are able to sing or play a note just by listening to the note and then copying the sound afterwards.
#5. Misc. Tuning
Besides the open G tuning option, you can tune your banjo to the double C or the D tuning options. The double C is as it sounds, your 4th and 2nd strings are tuned to C with the 3rd and 5th tuned to G and D is for the 1st string.
For the D tuning, you have the 3rd and 5th strings at F#, The 2nd is at A and the 1st & the 4th at D. That should give you plenty of tuning options to make your banjo sound like a professional is playing it.
How Should A Banjo Sound
The banjo is a very expressive instrument in nature, just a slight touch on a banjo string produces a very beautiful musical sound. On the other, a strong strike on the banjo string will produce a very powerful tone that can be heard even in a distance.
The banjo head is often described as “thin membrane-like” due to its ability to create a snappy popping sound that the banjo is known for. This said membrane is swiftly activated by the strings and bridge of the banjo, it quickly responds to this touch due to its nature of being sensitive and also thin this aspect makes them beginner-friendly.
This dynamic response is one of the most satisfying aspects that banjo lovers get from playing it.
How Many Strings Do You Need
The number of strings on a banjo is a great determinant of the various styles of music produced by a banjo and the ability to play a lot of notes. The most common banjo type is the 5 string banjo but there are others like the 4 string, 6 string, fretless, and 12 string banjos that are available.
The five-string banjos are the best banjo for beginners which are the most common type and are also preferred by the majority of players who are professionals. The 5 string banjo can also be found in either open-back or resonator types. The open back banjo is also a good beginner banjo. The five-string banjo also is suitable for traditional music styles like folk music and bluegrass.
How To Check The Quality Of The Build
As a beginner, it might be difficult to identify aspects of the build that a good banjo should entail that will greatly impact the banjo tone and sound like the experts. To find the best banjo for beginners, beginners should mostly concentrate on the kind of wood that is used in constructing the banjo. This is because the wood greatly affects the tone that would be produced by the banjo.
The parts of the banjo that a beginner should look at to get quality banjos for beginners include the rim of the banjo, the hoop that surrounds the banjo body (pot) which is also the most important part in the construction of the banjo. The rim of the banjo should be manufactured from a resonant and firm material like maple. Another very important part of the banjo is the neck, best quality banjo necks are also made from maple or other hardwoods this will make the banjo to be stable and also maintain its clarity and brightness.
Banjo necks that are quality also contain truss rod in their inside which is also important because it will allow for adjustments of intonations and in keeping the neck stable. The Fingerboard which is located on the top of the neck, these are the ones that hold the frets in place and thus should be made of very hard wood like ebony or others. A beginner should look at these important parts and identify the material to find the best banjo for beginner.
How Much Should You Pay
In the quest of finding a good banjo beginner are mostly confused about how much they should pay for a good one. Buying a good beginner banjo does not mean that a person will have to break a bank to get one. Though, generally in most instances spending more means getting quality.
To get banjos for beginners is not a difficult task as the least expensive banjo cost approximately $150. The amount spends on a banjo is dependent on the specific style of music that a beginner wants to play, style, and type of banjo. As long as the banjo meets the specification that a player is looking for and is of somewhat good quality then the player should get it and advance as they go and have enough resources.
Other Types Of Banjo:
Another aspect of the banjo that is noteworthy for beginners is the different types of banjos that are available in the market because we have concentrated mostly on the 5 string banjo.Also, the 5 string banjo exists in various designs.
Other Types of banjo include:
- Parlor banjo: is a shorter scale 5 string banjo that has only 19 frets but is also tuned with Open G.
- 5-string banjo/Bluegrass banjo: These banjos have a resonator attached to their back of their pot; the resonator is responsible for the bright and lively sound. They are the best banjo for beginners.
- Long- neck banjo: This is another 5-string banjo that has 25 frets and measures 32 inches, the most unique feature that this banjo has is the fact that it can use the same banjo chords used by 22 -fret, 5-string banjo.
- Guitar banjo: The guitar banjo is the latest invention of the banjo which is also a 5- string; it has a small scale than a normal guitar and is perfect for normal pitch.
- Tenor banjo: Have 4 strings were used for traditional jazz.
- Mandolin/ Banjolin Has 8 strings with a small body and can come with or without a resonator.
- 6 string banjo: tuned and played like a guitar and also merges the banjo body and guitar neck.
- 19 fret banjo: has 19 frets and mostly used for Irish music and traditional jazz
- 17 fret banjo: it is mostly thought Irish music.
Best Banjo For Beginners: FAQs
#1. Is it hard to learn to play the banjo?
The banjo is considered one of the easiest musical instruments to get started playing. After mastering the tuning aspect, you just have to work on your finger style
#2. What are good banjos?
There are lots of good brand names for banjos. Deering Banjo, Fender, Gold Tone and Recording King lead the banjo making industry. Give a few different brands a try as you never know where you will find the best banjo for you
#3. Which is easier to learn to play guitar or banjo?
This is a toss up but the banjo should have the edge here. Not only is it easier to tune than the guitar you have less strings to tune and play.
#4. Should I stick with playing the 5 string banjo or learn to play the 4 string as well?
You should try to master all of the different banjo variations out there. You never know when your music interests change or when you will be invited to join a group and play their type of music. Be prepared
#5. How many different banjos are there?
At last count there are 8. There is the 4 and 5 string models, then the 6 string, the guitar banjo, the uke banjo, the mandolin banjo, the tenor banjo as well as the plectrum model.
#6. How do I chose the right banjo for me?
first, you should decide what type of music you want to play and then go out and test the different brands and models before making your decision. Make sure you feel comfortable holding the instrument and playing it.
#7. How long has the banjo been around?
It is hard to say exactly when the banjo was first invented. There are many variations found throughout the world that it is hard to say when they were invented and by whom.
#8. Can I use a capo on a banjo?
The 5th string is the problem here and a normal capo doesn’t usually work on a banjo. You can improvise if you want to shorten that sound though.
#9. What banjo brand is best for a beginner?
The banjo brand that a beginner chooses depends on where they are looking after all the banjo has unlimited options and thus finding a good model for you shouldn’t be a problem.
#10. Which banjo should a beginner choose: Open-back or resonator?
The choice of open-back or resonator banjos should be guided by what a person has chosen to play. For instance, if a beginner chooses to play bluegrass then they should go for a banjo that has a resonator, the catch is banjos that have resonators are a bit expensive than the others.
For those beginners who are not sure about the kind of music they should settle for then, they should start with an open-back banjo then switch later when they decide.
#11. Which banjo type should I buy?
Banjos are in different types like 6 string, 5 string, and others, before choosing a specific type of banjo a lot has to be considered especially if a person is a beginner. Some of the things include style and quality of the music; comfortability with a specific type like a person may not like a long neck banjo among others. A beginner should go to a banjo shop and try out all of them then make a decision.
#12. What kind of banjo is good for a beginner: Electric or Acoustic?
Electric Banjos are not common but there are in the market, they are quite expensive and are not as loud as Acoustic banjo but they can be amplified to be louder. Most beginners prefer the Acoustic banjos because they are affordable and when the need for sound arise they can be amplified with a microphone.
#13. How often should banjo strings be changed?
These questions do not have a specific answer because it depends on a lot of things. A professional player who uses their banjos often may need to change their strings even as soon as before every performance so as their banjos may not break while performing. The most general rule of banjo strings that should be followed by all players is to change the strings as soon as they lose the ability to tune and tone.
Therefore the Banjo strings are inexpensive and disposable and can greatly influence the tone, tuning sound projection of the banjo. Mostly, such a problem is fixable by the power of new strings.
#14. How do I tune my banjo?
There are a lot of types of banjo and all of them are tuned differently. The most common banjo type is the 5 string banjo and it has a standard tuning that will apply to all the banjo of the same type. The standard tuning for a five-string banjo is G, D, G.B, D. The other types also have different tunings.
#15. How do I care for my banjo?
Proper handling and care of a banjo are very important because it will help the banjo to last longer. Here is some of the way that a banjo can be properly cared for:
Storage: A banjo-like any other musical instrument should be kept in a cool dry place.
Cleaning: After playing the banjo, it should be wiped with a cloth that is lint-free to remove all the finger marks. The banjo strings should be cleaned also using a fast fret with a suitable lubricant.
Transport: when transporting a banjo it should be greatly cared for, they should be placed in a good carrying bag of good quality that will protect the banjo.
Learning to play the banjo is not that difficult. Once you master the tuning you are on your way. Just be clear in your mind the type of music you want to play as that will make learning a lot easier. You can always add another style later on.
If you’re wondering which banjo is best for a beginner, the above article is the best for you because it will give you the best insight about brands to look for and some factors to consider while choosing a banjo.