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What Is The Best Banjo To Buy For A Beginner

The best banjos come in a few different types, but the specific twang most associated with the instrument (at least in Americana) is produced by the five-string banjo, with five strings normally tuned to a G-chord. The fifth string is shorter than the others, and is attached to a tuning peg sticking out of the side of the neck.

what is the best banjo to buy for a beginner

Another common banjo variation depends on whether the instrument is classic and open-backed, or closed with a resonator covering, which helps project sound farther and tends to be preferred by bluegrass players.

Material: Maple, mahogany, and walnut are all common banjo materials, which each lend the instrument a slightly different sound. Maple can produce a sharp tone while mahogany can sound much warmer. Walnut banjos fall somewhere in the middle of the two.

Resonator vs Open Back: An open-back banjo has no back cover, which creates an open sound chamber. This is a classic banjo design, which produces a low-volume, mellow sound perfect for traditional mountain-style. A closed-back banjo has a wooden resonator covering the sound chamber which projects sound toward an audience. Resonator banjos sound bright and twangy, and are the preferred choice for bluegrass players.

Adjustable Features: Some banjos come with features that can be modified as you see fit. For example, some have a removable resonator, allowing you to play the instrument in both styles, or an adjustable truss rod which keeps the neck straight according to individual needs.

This banjo is also adjustable. By loosening or tightening the outside and inside nut on the truss board, the player can adjust the position of the strings and keep the banjo neck straight. And because the resonator is removable, it can work as both an open and closed back banjo.

We love how beautifully-made this banjo is, with 24 brackets, a maple bridge, adjustable hinged tailpiece and chrome-plated armrest. Plus, while many banjos need a fair amount of assembly when they arrive, this instrument comes already set-up and ready to play (with some minor tuning).

And while many readers may be here because of bluegrass, keep in mind that the banjo has so much more to offer. You can play Irish folk tunes, Americana, jazz, Dixieland, blues, rock, and really almost anything you want. The banjo was around 100 years before bluegrass and it has a rich musical history.

Key Features: This banjo is 38 inches long and weighs about 10 pounds. It has 24 brackets with 5 geared tuners and a bound closed resonator back. The neck is slim for easy playing and it has an adjustable truss rod for future neck adjustments.

Key Features: It is 38 inches and weighs about 6 pounds. There are sealed geared tuners and a single bound maple resonator. This gives the banjo a very rich and warm tone. And it has the Deering fiddle-shaped peghead.

Who Will Use This the Most: This is a great banjo all around. Beginners to advanced players will be happy with it. Keep in mind a nice banjo like this will need to be protected and maintained.

Bottom Line: Deering is a great brand and if anything goes wrong you will be covered by a warranty. In my opinion, this is the best banjo for beginners under 500 considering its value and overall quality.

The banjo without a resonator is not the most complicated instrument so a lower price is expected. If you do buy this banjo just make sure the action and intonation are working well when you get it. As long as there are no major problems it is a reasonable banjo. And the fact that it has an armrest at this price is nice because they do come in handy.

My Review: This has a nice size price tag and along with that comes a banjo with a little bit of flair. If you are looking for a fancier looking design this may be the banjo for you. Ibanez is a maker from Japan known for heavy metal guitars, but they also build other instruments. They used to build banjos and recently got back into doing it again.

This particular model has a solid build and loud sound, the main selling point is really the artwork and style. Because of all that flair, it is rather heavy and might need a nice padded strap. However, with it, the banjo looks a lot pricier than it really might be. An image you may wish to project on stage, nothing wrong with that!

My Review: This open back 5 string banjo is made by Oscar Schmidt. A company known for great folk instruments since the 1800s and now owned by Washburn. Many of their most popular models aim at the high end of many low budgets. While they have their occasional lemon off the factory floor for the most part they produce worthy student instruments.

My Review: Recording King began as a musical instrument brand for Montgomery Ward, a once huge department store chain in the USA. They still make regular guitars, resonator guitars, and banjos. This model here is made to look like a simple 4 string banjo from 100 years ago, even with the head appearing to be a little worn and used. Ironically they are aiming towards a depression-era look, which was the time period when the banjo historically crashed in popularity!

This open-back banjo is usually tuned CGDA and is also great for playing Dixieland and Celtic music styles. Just like the Oscar Schmidt it is lower priced because it is a very simple banjo. Despite it looking so basic and rustic it has a very loud sound with great projection. At this budget range, you cannot expect perfection, but these tenor banjos will be suitable for first-time players. Of course not having the fifth string and larger scale it may limit you in some genres.

My Review: Remember that a plectrum banjo is a simple 4 string that is played with a pick or plectrum. This makes for a distinctly different rhythm than the common Scruggs or clawhammer style playing. This brand Rover is made by Saga, a company that makes a variety of folk instruments and violins. If you are interested in the plectrum banjo and folk music you will likely find other appealing instruments at Saga.

Once again the open back and 4 string models are very basic and spending over $200 is a working budget. The tuning is in CGBD, so you are playing in classic banjo tuning. Of course, you can change the tuning just pay attention to string gauges, tension, and the nut slots that they fit in. This is another banjo with no frills or anything special.

The one feature Gold Tone often touts a low action setup for you when it is ordered. This one of the best things a beginner can have, that way you know you just need to touch up the tuning. If you want a great banjo to start playing bluegrass or folk this will be it this will last as an advanced instrument. Gold Tone has some great banjos and you want to make sure you get a case!

My Review: This is the hybrid guitar and banjo model built for those seeking to make the crossover. Dean is normally known for their electric heavy metal type guitars, but they also make acoustic basses, mandolins, and banjos. Another company aiming for the high end of the lower budget, which means they usually have decent beginning instruments. This one is sold as a guitar tuning with the banjo sound, mainly coming from the normal resonator and head.

It is nice and easy to play if you are a guitar player as there is no transition and you are playing the same chords. If you wish to jump right into bluegrass playing this will get you started. This hybrid is actually good to have for jamming situations as someone will always likely know how to play the guitar compared to a banjo.

My Review: Pyle started in the 1960s making high quality speakers and eventually branched out into making instruments. They have higher priced banjos but this model here is a 5 string with a resonator which is barely under the $200 mark. At that price, you know it is going to be popular. The resonator is much smaller compared to most other 5 strings.

Besides people particularly interested in traditional Irish music this banjo is also great for those involved in Renaissance fairs, camping, and situations where a huge 5 string banjo is not necessary.

Key Features: It is 42 inches and 6 pounds, one of the longest banjos on the list so far. There are 24 brackets, an adjustable tailpiece, and a High Crown Remo head. With mother of pearl inlay, a black overlay peghead, ivoroid binding, and a chrome armrest.

My Review: This banjo is not full size, which is why it has such a low price tag. Vangoa is another new company breaking into the low priced instrument market. This is included on the list because it does have many great reviews so there are clearly some happy customers. It does have a different scale than other banjos, but it will still give you that bluegrass sound. Just in mini form!

My Review: Stagg is a 25 year old Japan brand that makes a variety of instruments especially guitars and banjos. They have similar quality products as Dean and Oscar Schmidt, and here is a great 5 string banjo with a resonator in the $300 range. It is definitely a little bland looking, but they are more worried about functionality than looks.

This Stagg is a decent student model and pricey enough to get a case for it. If you are looking to get into bluegrass or old-timey folk music this may be the banjo for you. This brand is common in local music stores so you may get lucky and find somewhere close to play them and see if they are the right sound and fit.

In all the instruments that they build their goal is to capture the lowest cost category so choosing this one may not be the best idea. But if you are going to go for it at least check the instrument thoroughly when you get it. Make sure the action and intonation work!

My Review: To be clear this is a travel sized open-back banjo, so if you do buy it because you need a smaller size keep in mind it will be a little different to learn. It is tuned C, G, C, E, G which is an open C instead of the normal open G tuning. Generally, this is a better buy for someone who already has a banjo and wants a travel size. 041b061a72


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