Best Beginner Banjo | Buying Guides & Reviews
If you have just started your interest in Banjo, there’s a chance that you are still in the middle of searching for the best beginner banjo for you. Well, save your time and read our article until you finish so that you will know how to find the best one to help you improve the game from beginner to intermediate levels. But before going further, let’s cover the basis first.
What Is Banjo?
Banjo is a string instrument which comes with a drum-like body, fretted neck, as well as strings. It is still a member of the guitar family which comes with four or five strings. The way to play it can be plucking or/and strumming.
Banjo, with its unique voice, has been long tied with many genres of music including jazz, rock, Celtic, Irish, bluegrass, folk, blues, and pop.
Who Invented the Banjo?
There have been speculations and debates about who exactly invented the Banjo. But the historians referred back to the African origin because they thought it was the most sensible documentation to see.
The prototype of banjo was a stringed musical instrument made in Africa. It was popularized by the slaves who resided in the US in the 19th century. Then the trend moved to Europe. Back then, the final form of banjo was still biased because there are some stringed instruments with similar names such as bania, banju, and more.
Banjo made such significant recognition back in the 1800s when the first musician to showcase it was Joel Sweeney. While historians lost tracks on the banjo from its original place, the modern banjo form was invented by Joel Sweeney. He added frets to the neck and made the fifth strings.
Although there have been many debates about this, Joel Sweeney has been the name of the “modern banjo” inventor. It is because he made significant changes which are adding the frets to the neck and introducing the fifth string. Since then, many people have been using this modern version until nowadays. The fifth string is really a game-changer. However, it does not erase the existence of the banjo with four strings.
When was the banjo invented?
Joel Sweeney was the first-star performer of the modern banjo in the 1800s. its African Origin was in the same century. But the invention of modern banjo is counted as the real history because it was the first model which we can see today. The four conventional string banjo was not found in other records. The fifth string in the banjo instrument really made the change so that folks have been able to use it for many compositions of music.
The “Classical Banjo” was dated back in the early 1900s. there is a reason why folks called it “Classical”. it is the way the player to pick the strings of Banjo is exactly the same way as picking the classic guitar strings.
Jazz Banjo emerged in the 1920s almost the same time when the Jazz genre was introduced to the world. Many Jazz Players found that the Banjo with five strings just got in their way so they decided to play with four-strings banjo instead.
Then in the 1940s, Banjo was significant to the “Big Band” Era and had been an integral part in the orchestra band. But sadly, in the 1950s, Banjo did not seem to be trending at all because they were overwhelmed with the other instruments’ popularity such as bass, guitars, drums, etc.
How hard is it to learn Banjo?
Banjo comes in four-strings and five-strings types. The learning curves of the Banjo instrument can be different from one individual to another. If you have had experiences with string instruments before like guitar, bass, or anything else, learning banjo for dummies could be easier. If you have no basics at all, learning banjo from zero will be more challenging.
Just like with any other string instrument, it is not a simple YES and NO question because it depends on your time, effort, muscle, and other variables.
But here is the good news. It is easy and straightforward to learn the basics of the Banjo. And you can master the basics within a month or two, plus with few easy songs to playfully with your banjo.
The key to being a good banjo player is good timing, proper tone, skills, technique, as well as stability in faster tempos. The last one that I mentioned might be the most challenging factor that you need to face as a beginner.
According to Banjo instructors, the Banjo lesson is more of a physical challenge than a mental one. There will be repetition and physical challenges to build up the skills and hone the technique to play the five-string banjo.
For instance, the three-finger Scruggs’ style technique is one of the challenging techniques. But you will quickly learn it if you practice on a daily basis.
The secret sauce of learning all the techniques of Banjo is your muscle memory. When you are physically able to control the instrument without hassle, then you will nail it for sure.
When learning banjo, you will realize that muscle memory is a great base for all of your plays.it is more beneficial for many years in the future. While you might not remember the exact name of the technique, tone, or any other components in this string instrument, you will remember how you pluck and strum, and hit the right note because your hands just move the way they were.you will see this perk after you cover all of the bases, which could take a month or two. But when it comes to professionalism, it would take longer than that. It can take years. Some advanced players take two to three years to join in the big band or orchestra.
How much does a banjo cost?
Banjo prices can be different from one country to another. On average, the best banjos for the money could cost you from $50 to $2500. I know that the gap is too much because there are some exclusive banjos made for professionals as well. But if you’ve just started, the beginner banjo kit could cost between $100 to $400. Mid-range banjo could cost between $300 to $1,000.
What is the best banjo for a beginner?
Jameson 5 String Banjo
Gold-Tone Banjo CC-100R
Epiphone MB-200 Banjo
Deering Goodtime Banjo
Blue Moon BJ-10 5 String Banjo
Rogue b30 deluxe 30-bracket banjo
ibanez b200 banjo
Ibanez b50 5 string banjo
Epiphone mb-100 banjo
Luna celtic banjo
Recording king rk-r20 Banjo
Oscar Schmidt OB5 Banjo
Deering Goodtime 5-String Banjo
Vango 5 String Banjo
If you are looking for a full scale five string best beginner banjo, Jameson 5 String Banjo can be a great start. It comes with incredible features which you can reap their benefits to make a better play from day to day. The great design of the Banjo results in impressive sounds and great quality. It is a great option for both beginners and seasoned best intermediate banjo players.
What makes it a great choice is it’s geared 5th string tuner, the crucial component which can improve the quality of playability and tuning. Although designed as modern, it comes with classic tones.
The design is ergonomic. With the maple bridge, it sustains the pressure from your hands and elbows. Then there is a chrome-plated armrest which can make this as your best companion.
Its resonator is made of mahogany with 7 ply maple and mahogany shells. The manufacturer did very well on its high-gloss finish. So, you will get performance and appealing banjo at the same time. Learn more…
CC-100R is in huge demand because of good reason. Designed for beginners, the model comes with the features that you can find on banjo made for professionals.
This best banjo for beginners has full features to help you to improve your play. The maple neck with two-way adjustable truss rot, as well as the separate rosewood fretboard, is the solid proof of the high-quality design.
There are twin coordinator rods which are convertible. Thanks to this, you’ll be able to adjust your coordinator rods to your likeness. You can also remove the resonator to play with an open-back instrument. The versatility of the model allows you as a beginner to explore different play styles and make your learning experience more interesting. Learn more…
The MB-200 Banjo is a full-size featured Banjo. According to the detailed information of the product, it is a great choice for a starter or beginner. Although the model is full-sized good banjos for beginners, its weight is light so that your kids can also use it.
The head is made of remo, body and neck are from Mahogany, explaining why it comes so solid while it is lightweight. The fingerboard has its own appeal. The moment you look at it, it will hardly resist the floral inlay pattern that it has. The bridge is made of Rosewood.
The design can be great and loyal until you are reaching your intermediate level. The price is pocket friendly. But it does not mean it comes with poor quality. There is nothing to compromise in this best beginner banjo. You will not regret your decision to pick it. Learn More…
Deering has been one of the most popular brands in the string instruments world. Not only because of its ample quality, the affordable price is also the factor to make it more popular than other brands. Deering Goodtime is an open-back type of banjo.
It only weighs 4 pounds. Obviously, this incredible string instrument is lightweight enough for traveling, camping, hiking, city tour, or any other kind of traveling plan. You can carry this anywhere you want and play your banjo every time you like it.
It is also light enough for your kids. If you have kids or a niece or nephew who wants to learn banjo, the Deering Goodtime Banjo can make a great choice for them. They can start learning with this lightweight model.
For beginners to intermediate, its adjustment and setting can help you to improve the play style. From slow to fast playing styles, you will nail it. Also, we also need to mention it’s geared tuners which can help you to tune to accuracy. Learn more…
Blue Moon BJ-10 is a great starter pack for banjo beginners. If you have just started, this set will grant you a lot of perks. The package includes bag, finger and thumb picks, tuner, as well as tutor book.
It is the five-string banjo pack which comes with a complete package that you need to start your banjo exploration from the beginning.
The design is open-back with mahogany rim and neck. Meanwhile, the banjo head is made of 11 inches. The fingerboard is made of Ovangkol with 22 frets.
This model is strong, durable, yet lightweight so that it is suitable for all kinds of players in different levels. As a beginner, you can use this banjo to learn from the book and CD. It can accompany you until you reach intermediate levels. Hobgoblin Music is one of the prominent music brands in the UK. Its products have been internationally recognized around the world. This mature model is one of the most accurate examples. Learn more…
The 30-bracket Banjo is one of the most unique models you will find on the market. It comes with the Nato resonator and neck. The ergonomic design of the banjo makes it easier to use for a longer time. If you tend to spend more hours per day to practice and hone your skills, this one is definitely for you.
As mentioned, it has an ergonomic design. In detail, the chrome-plated armrest is designed in such a way so that you can play this instrument comfortably without any hassle. There are also geared chrome tuners which help you to tune the strings. The Remo head part also makes a huge difference. It is what makes this banjo more amazing than its competitors.
It is a 5-string cheap banjo for beginners, which is very ideal for your more exploration. But this package does not include the bag as a bonus. So, you will need to pick the bag separately from the market. Learn more…
Ibanez is indeed one of the most prominent string instruments brands in the market. Back then, Banjo from this brand was not so popular because people were focusing on electric guitar and bass.
But now the time is different. Ibanez has come up with lines of Banjo products in their fleet,. one of them is the B200 Banjo from the Ibanez. B200 is breaking through. It comes with an ample layer of dust. The overall design of B200 will remind you of the legendary Banjo Earl Scruggs. It will bring you back to the late 70s. If you love vintage style, this one’s for you.
Ibanez has really taken care of the combination of the solutions they added to their B200. Here are the important components: resonator, brass tones, and solid body. There is a dual coordinator rood constructor which you can adjust with the Chrome Banjo Tuners to ease you in exploring different styles with stable tuning. Learn more…
The Ibanez B50 is the brother of the B200. At a glance, you will be able to see the unique characteristics of this brand implemented on the body of the best beginner banjos. The old-timers may recall the classic and authentic banjo-building. Ask your father or grandfather or show the picture to them, they will feel the nostalgic events. They will be shocked with this signature model.
It is the collaboration with the great Earl Scruggs. It is a closed-back best beginner banjo with 5 strings. The price? It is the least thing you must worry about.
The Banjo Head is made of Remo 11inch. There are 22 frets in this banjo. The neck material is okoume, one of the best outhere. Purpleheart is the fretboard material, complete with natural finish.
Whether you are an Ibanez lover or not, you won’t regret choosing this to accompany your beginner’s journey. Learn more…
Epiphone MB-100 is an open-back banjo with five strings. Since it is open back, your expectation about its lightweightness is very true. the lightweight banjo allows you to bring the instrument anywhere you want. Whether you are traveling, working, or at home, all you need to do is just get this out of your bag and play the instrument. Its design is also prevalent for bluegrass and string-band music, although you can actually use this in many genres of music.
As we know, Open-back is lightweight and easy to maintain. It will put less pressure to your shoulder. When it is light, every player can practice for hours, and carry it around anywhere without any hassle. It won’t make you exhausted easily. The natural color finish makes it more vintage. It also has solid tuning and stability when okaying the musical instrument by yourself. Learn more…
As the name suggests, it is a Celtic type banjo which comes with five strings. The Luna Banjo is basically sounding the same with other types of banjo. But when we come with Luna Celtic Banjo, it is important to know the differences in the design.
First things first, it comes with the traditional Trinity graphic engraved on the mahogany resonator. Since it is made of mahogany, it can produce such quality sounds effortless. its most selling points are its clear resonant head and laser-etched mahogany resonator. Not only pleasing your eyes, but this model also pleases your ears and soul. Whether you are a beginner or intermediate player, this model can make a great choice for you. Learn more…
RK-R20 is resilient and fantastic. It can produce great-quality of sound with minimum effort. One of the problems of common Banjo units is that they are not sensitive to the air surrounding them. Therefore, players will need to sustain it to max out the performance. And when they want to sustain, the strumming or plucking will be more challenging
RK-R20 comes with a great sounding resonator banjo so that you can provide good quality of sound with minimum systain.
The winning features of this unit include the maple rim, mahogany resonator, and neck, planetary tuning machines as well. You can easily tune your musical instrument to your likeness.
Many amateurs to intermediate use King RK-R20 for recording too. It produces such crisp and ample sounds although using the moderate quality of condenser. Learn More…
OB5 Banjo from Oscar Schmidt is also a great option for beginners. Let me say it is one of the best because it comes with a full lifetime warranty. So, you will have a loyal companion for many years in the future of your banjo playing career.
OB5 is a five-string banjo for beginners and intermediate users. Coming with a geared 5th string tuner, it can make your tuning experience more fruitful and comfortable. The five-string instrument comes with handcrafted quality. Learn more…
Deering Goodtime 5-string Banjo is a popular option amongst the beginners. The open-back design comes with good lightweights, allowing you to travel with this around and you can play your favorite songs anytime with your banjo. Despite the lightweight trait, it comes with a super durable and sturdy bild.
It weighs only 4 pounds. The Goodtime can travel anywhere and be your best companion. There are also sealed-gear tuners located atop of the headstock. It helps you to keep the tune very well. Learn more…
Vango 5 String Banjo is one of the best models in the market. The Remo Drum head can be a great start as it is the solid buddy to choose.
You can adjust the string height to make your play more comfortable and smooth.
We mentioned the durability back then. It thanks to the Mahogany neck, sides, as well as back.
Rather than a standalone best beginner banjo unit, Vangoa provides a kit for you which includes The Bag, guitar tuner, strap, pick up, strings, as well as picks. If you want to start from zero, you could consider this starter kit in your wishlist. Learn more…
Banjo Buying Guide for Beginners
Starting your new hobby or interest has never been easy if you consider it as a serious business. That includes your plan in playing Banjo. One of the most challenging things about getting your first Banjo is to decide to pick one amongst a wide array of options from the market. Indeed, there is no one-size-fits-for-all solution. Therefore, you might want to know how not to waste your time browsing around thousands of options out there.
How To Choose a Banjo?
Choosing the right banjo could be tricky if you have just started it. But when you spend some time to identify your specifications for a banjo, it would reward you with the best companion.
There will be a wide array of choices which you will see when you browse around the market. But to help you narrow down the choices, you will just need to see the key features.
Here are the factors which you can consider:
Tuning – many models come with different types of tuners. But the best type for beginners is geared tuner which helps you to tune the banjo inaccuracy
High-quality coordinator rods – the quality multiple coordinator rods can improve the tone quality of your string instrument.
Wood – the choice of wood is also important. People have been debating about the Mahogany and Maple while both of them are great in their characteristics. Mahogany offers a warmer tone. Meanwhile, Maple comes with sound clarity. It will depend on what you’d like to enjoy with your banjo.
What kind of banjo should you buy?
Banjo has evolved from year to year with certain innovations and improvements from popular manufacturers and brands. Nowadays, it is easy to find various types of banjo from the market. And you might be overwhelmed with the options.
For instance, when it comes to strings, you will find banjo models which come with four, five, to six strings. Then there are also rare types of banjo which come with 12 strings. And can you imagine that there’s also a fretless banjo kind? By far, the most popular kind of banjo is the five strings one.
There are open-back and resonator-installed versions of banjos in the market. Open-back is the classic one. It has a mellower sound. Meanwhile, the resonator banjo has an additional plate in the back of the body. It is to project the sound forward to produce louder sound, which is why it is popular for bluegrass genre players.
Besides strings and its sounding source, there are other variables which make the different kinds of banjos such as wood type, shed type, tuners, rods, electric or acoustic, and so on.
To find the kind of banjo you want, you could read to the next point.
What Banjo to Buy for BEGINNERS Video Review
What is the best banjo for a beginner: resonator or open-back?
One of the most challenging questions to answer is when you need to decide between the resonator or open-back banjo.
At a glance, the difference in terms of appearance might not be too significant.
The resonator banjo is a model which has the wooden back attached to the instrument. Meanwhile, the open-back model does not have one. The open-back model allows you to look inside the body of the banjo sound source.
The choice will really depend on the style of your play. The resonator banjo has a louder sound because its resonator in the wooden chamber amplifies the resonance in the wooden chamber. If you are up to a brighter banjo sound, you could choose this. It is usually prevalent for bluegrass. Open-back, on the other side, produces mellower sound. It tends to weigh less than the resonator banjo. You will get the idea of what kind of banjo you need after seeing the differences.
What brand to choose for beginners?
There are hundreds of brands of banjo when you check around the globe. Some of them are pricey, but some of them are real-dirt cheap so that these always tempt the budget-conscious. But those models are not created equal. The best way to narrow down your candidate’s list is by focusing on the top reputable and trustworthy brands.
Top brands with top reviewed models for beginners will be a great idea for you. Here are the best brands that you can find on the market:
If you are starting from zero and need a good starter, consider picking the Rogue Starter Pack. It comes with banjo as well as tutorials and lessons which you can use to set your basics on the track.
How many strings?
The number of strings is the determining factor to choose your banjo. Here the common types of banjo based on the number of the string:
If 5 strings are too many for you, you could really use 4 string banjo. This model does not necessarily come as a base instrument. You can use it for different styles including Chord, Chordal components, tremolo, single string melody, and so on.
This model is the most recommended one for beginners. It is because it is the modern form of Banjo and the addition of a fifth string on the body allows you to enhance your playstyle from zero to hero. You can play anything with the 5 string banjo. There are different genres which you can connect with your instrument such as BlueGrass, Clawhammer, Classic, Folk, and many more.
The six-string banjo is similar to guitar. If you have played guitar before, learning six-string banjo will be easier for you.
Type of wood
The best banjo build is made of hardwoods. Therefore, you will find out that maple, walnut, mahogany, cherry, and others are popular choices.
It is because these hardwoods are strong and durable. In nutshell, you will want to be accompanied with your banjo for many years in the future. The hardwoods for banjo are great, but they don’t necessarily have to be heavy. Focus on maple, mahogany, or cherry banjo.
What type of banjo is best for beginners: Acoustic or electric
It is the hardest question. I meant it will really depend on each user’s necessity. If you are living in a rural area where there is no electricity, then the acoustic banjo is your best option. But that is not really the case for each individual.
Actually, both are great options. If you prefer acoustic, pick one with a resonator attached. But if it is too loud for you, you could pick the open-back model. Electric banjo would be useful if you need it for recording or studio.
How much should you spend?
The beginner kit of banjo usually costs between $150 to $400 with moderate quality. The mid-range quality banjo could cost between $400-$700. The high-end quality could cost you from $700-$1000. you might come across some banjo models which cost $1000-$5000. They are usually signature models.