They are usually used in country music and bluegrass but these days, it’s all about mixing and matching and coming up with your own unique new sound.
It seems like Banjo’s are making a comeback as you could hear them in a lot of new pop and even trap songs recently. Along with violins and other instruments like a tenor ukulele or heck even a bass ukulele.
Here you will find the best banjos that most people would be able to enjoy.
If you’re spending more, you better be an expert banjo player. Anyways, here are our top 10 picks for the best beginner banjos out there. Hope you find one and make sure you tune it properly as well.
Best Banjo For Beginners – Jameson Guitar 5 String with Closed Solid Back
This one has 5 strings and is definitely the HONDA of banjos. Has everything you need and it’s one of the best banjo for beginners.
This Banjo also includes a tuner so you’ll be able to get the right sound from the beginning. Whether you are into rock, country or some classic bluegrass, this is the quality Banjo that you’ve been looking for.
The back is bound closed, nice maple finish on the bridge, total of 24 brackets and finally, if you’re right handed, this is for you. Sorry lefties. This is a great entry level banjo for sure.
Pyle 5 String Banjo
Play this either open or closed back (Resonator is made from Mahogany). You don’t need to spend too much time assembling it and the best part, it comes with chord charts as well. So needless to say, another killer choice for the beginner Banjo players as well.
As far as the dimensions go, the measurements are 38” long and about 13.5” in width. This is a nice lightweight banjo at only 5.5lbs.
It comes with a top of the line drumhead and the fingerboard is made of maple. The 24 brackets will give you a fairly loud tone and ring. One of the favorites here as far as 5 string banjos go. Last but not least, it comes with a tuner (Geared 5th) as well.
PLEASE NOTE: Out of all the Banjos featured here, the shipping on this Banjo is very padded to ensure safe arrival. I’m sure the rest arrive just as well but this is something the Pyle team pays extra attention too. Considered the best banjo to buy for a beginner by many.
Martin Smith Banjo
So here we have another gem of a Banjo by Martin Smith. What makes this package different is it actually comes with it’s own carrying case. I think no matter what you purchase, a carrying case always makes things handy (No pun intended).
This one is fairly padded but if you travel a lot with it, we recommend a hard case. This one is another 5 string guitar and has a quality head better known as Remo in the industry.
Bottom line, it’s top notch. The head of a banjo plays a key role in helping you get that professional sound and this Martin Smith Bajo doesn’t disappoint one bit. Overall construction is made of maple (What a surprise), rosewood and mahogany. If you want a Banjo and don’t want to sacrifice style and quality, this is definitely the one for you.
Aileen Natural Banjo
A tad bit smaller in length at 24”, the Aileen Natural is another decent choice. Don’t worry, it’s not as small as a guitalele.
It also happens to be the first 4 string banjo that we featured here on our site.
If you prefer a small sized Banjo, this one is for you. That said, don’t let the smaller size get you to think that it’s ‘small’ on quality as well.
This banjo is loaded with Acrylic strings that will give you a nice bright sound.
Deering Goodtime Classic Banjo
You know you’re getting a quality banjo when it’s backed by a 6 year warranty. Deering is one of the best banjo brands out there. They are a little pricey so your best bet is to wait till you see a Deering banjo part of a bundle or something.
This made in the USA banjo (Rare right?) known as ‘Goodtime’ by Deering has quickly become one of the most popular Banjos in this space right now.
We highly recommend this for the beginners not because of the way it sounds and plays but it’s also one of the most sturdy Banjo’s out there.
Long story short, this little guy can take a beating. Deering has established itself as a premium Banjo making brand so if you’re willing to dish out a few dollars, this one is right up your alley. If we can sum up this whole thing, the ‘Goodtime’ has great sound, quality and great history as well.
Jameson 6 String Banjo
Jameson guitars present this first 6 string Banjo on our site. Comes with the usual 24 brackets and all but what makes this Banjo stand out is it can be easily tune like a guitar (Steel strings).
Heck you can play it like one too! Don’t worry though, it sounds like a good’ol Banjo. It’s a got a beautiful maple and mahogany neck and it’s one of our favorite 6 string Banjos.
All around quality, awesome sound and for what they are selling this, I would consider this a steal.
Most people are really surprised by the quality and the loudness of the sound this Banjo produces – for sure. Great value for a 6 string banjo guitar.
Pyle PBJ20 8 String Banjo
It’s getting up there guys . . . This is an 8 string Banjo. Definitely not for the first timer. Rule of thumb is if you are just starting out, go with the banjo with the last number of strings. Simple as that.
Anyways, that doesn’t mean that this Pyle Banjo is not what it’s suppose to be. In fact, it’s one of the most sought after banjos for intermediate and professionals.
You do need to set it up up properly but it shouldn’t be an issue for an amateur Banjo player. The body is made out of Sapele (Polished) and overall, it’s actually designed to look like a Mandolin. Good buy for the pros.
Anyways, so what’s the difference between a Mandolin, Ukelele and Banjo? Just the tuning of the strings. That’s it.
4 String Banjo by Kmise
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This beauty is a hybrid of Banjo and Ukelele. 23” in size and easily tuneable. If you’re looking for something small and fun, this hybrid will do the trick.
With only four strings, you’ll get the hang of it fairly quickly. The only downside is it’s shipped all the way from China so you have to wait a little longer than usual.
That said, it’s actually a quality musical instrument that is quickly becoming a favorite for most. The strings might be a little too harder than usual as well but some banjo players actually prefer that. Overall, hats of to Kmise for creating a great product.
Banjo Starter Package
If you are looking for a total banjo package, this one by ADM might do the trick. It literally includes everything. Before we get into the accessories, let’s see how the people at ADM make their Banjos. This is a 5 string guitar with a wood and metal construction.
It also comes with a nice hinged tailpiece and a armrest to make sure you are comfy while playing them tunes. I believe this is the only banjo with an armrest.
The tone of this Banjo is awesome thanks to a mahogany resonator. Comes with a respectable one year warranty and the following accessories: 3 picks (One of the best picks for beginners by the way), bag, strings and nice strap as well.
5 String Banjo with Tuning Pegs
This one not only looks good but sounds awesome too. One of those rare instruments that can be used by kids and Adults alike.
You do need to spend a little bit of time setting it up but once that’s done, you’re good to go.
A high quality banjo (Especially the resonator and the fretboard) with a nice traditional style to it.
Whether you are playing at home or looking to practice your banjo skills on the go, this Pyle Banjo fits the bill quite well.
Anatomy of a Banjo
Pretty self explanatory. This is connected to the strings of your banjo and helps you tune things just right.
Connects / divides the Headstock. and the neck of your banjo together.
Are those metal bars (Usually metal) represent one semitone. One octave is made of 12 semitones.
Strings: The real music maker. On a typical banjo, these can be made out of acrylic, nylon and even steel like on an electric guitar.
Basically the opposite side of the neck (Front side of the neck) that holds the frets together. Also known as fingerboard as you use your fingers here to play the desire note.
When a banjo has a back, it’s refereed to as the “resonator”. When it doesn’t, it’s called “open back”. Like it sounds, the resonator simply “resonates” the sound created.
So the audience enjoys a large volume of sound as to an open back where the sound created just travels away in one direction instead of bouncing back. Either one is better or worse but for technical reasons, an open back is better for recording music. So play with a resonator and record with a open back. Mystery solved.
When you play the banjo at a certain position, it will eventually start to hurt your arm, hence the need for an armrest. I encourage you to invest in a banjo armrest because as a beginner, you should be practicing a lot.
These are used to secure the rim around the head. They are placed around the head to make sure it stays firmly in place.
Fairly important as it plays a great role in determining the overall sound and tone of your banjo.
Together with it’s partners in crime the headstock and the tailpiece, the bridge holds the strings together in place. It’s found in the middle of both.
Along with brackets, the rim serves as the main holder for the head.
Placed at the exact opposite end of the headstocks. Plays it’s role in holding the strings from one end.
The main purpose of a headstock is to hold the tuner and strings together).
The longest part of most stringed instruments. Also helps connect the Headstock and Head together. Essential part of a Banjo’s structure.
Geared 5th Tuner:
Some Banjos come with something called a ‘Geared 5th tuner’. This is for further accuracy on the 5th string.
Best Banjo Brands
These days, there are lots of companies that are making some good quality banjos. Here we showcase the popular banjo brands and the ones we think would be the best for beginners. You will also find a link at the bottom of each brand section. This will lead you to the Banjo brands home on Amazon.
One of our favorite banjo brands, Jameson banjos are simply perfect for the first timer or beginners alike. The company is actually call Jameson guitars but they have established a solid presence in the banjo market. In fact, they are now considered one of the best banjo brands out there. Definitely looking forward to see how they develop further in this niche.
Martin Smith Banjos
Another respected brand, Martin Smith has been in the stringed instruments game for quite sometime. They have done an equally great job in the banjo industry as well. Their banjos are considered mid-level in the music world.
Aileen Music Banjos
Now these guys have been doing it since 1993. They have three different companies as well such as Winzz that creates ukuleles and Lexington for woodwind instruments. When it comes to Banjos, Aileen Music is considered a respectable brand.
Finally, a company solely dedicated to the art of making Banjos. Deering is what we would call the ‘Yamaha’ of banjos. Founded by a delightful couple (Janet and Greg Deering), banjos by this company are the absolute top of the line.
In fact, over the past 39+ years, they have sold well over 98,000 banjos. Best part, it’s an American company and all of their products are made in the U.S.A.
Are banjo strings the same as guitar strings?
It depends. Guitars mainly use two kind of strings. Steel and Nylon. Steel ones are on electric and acoustic guitars and nylon on classical guitars. There are banjos that use steel strings but these are mainly banjo and guitar hybrids. Some banjo also use nylon string.
The material definitely matters to a certain point and what kind of sound you are looking for but as long as they are assembled in the right way (Tuned properly / Formation of strings), then you should be fine.
This goes for all stringed instruments. So whether it’s a 6 string banjo, 5 string or whatever, all stringed instruments can share their strings. This includes ukuleles and tenor banjos too.
Can I mix medium and light strings on a banjo?
First you have to understand the purpose of light and medium strings. Light strings are used by beginners and once their fingers get used to it, they usually upgrade to medium.
Both are used by professionals. It all depends on what kind of sound you are trying to get. In most cases though, it’s always one or the other. As an artist, you should always experiment so feel free to mix it up and see what it sounds like.
How many strings are typically on a banjo?
A standard or normal banjo has 4 strings. Although it is quite typical to see banjos have 5 or 6 strings as well.
Can you tune first four banjo strings to EADG?
Sure. However, these are normal settings of a bass guitar. Not sure if it’s a good idea to tune your banjo’s strings to such a formation though.
How far should banjo strings be from fretboard?
The distance between the strings and fretboard is called ‘action’ and rightfully so. So high should your strings be from the fretboard? The average distance is 5mm so anywhere around that