The Banjo is among the most melodious string instruments. Its sweet, soothing tune creates unmatched magic. When played alongside vocals, it gives the song another dimension. Initially played by the African slaves in the 18th century, the soulful instrument made its way into modern-day music and adds a beautiful variation.
While many want to learn this old instrument, it is not very easy to find the perfect banjo for a beginner. So, in this article, we will look at the best banjos that beginners can opt for as they prepare themselves to walk on the melodious journey of country music.
The shape of a banjo includes its strings, a body, and the neck. Based on its type of body, banjos are of two types – open back banjos and closed back or resonator banjos. Although the difference seems to be very minor, it creates a lot of differences in terms of the music produced by these types of banjos.
An open back banjo will have a relatively lower intensity of the music. This is the oldest form of banjos, and its sound quality instantly gives a country music vibe. Not having a back cover makes it light in weight. Also, these types of banjos do not necessarily require fingerpicks.
A closed-back or resonator banjo produces a much louder and fuller tone. As it has a solid back made of wood in a convex shape, it helps the sound to reverb, making the tone brighter. These types of banjos are played with fingerpicks. The wooden back makes it heavier than the open back banjos.
Furthermore, based on the number of strings in the banjo, it can be classified into three types – four, five, and six-strings banjos.
Among the three variants based on strings, the five-string banjo is the most commonly used. It was the first type of banjos ever invented and is the easiest to learn among the three. These banjos have a smaller fifth string, with usually a tuner attached to it sideways. The classic country-style tone that you relate to the word ‘banjo’ comes from this version of the instrument.
The six-string banjo is an equivalent of a guitar, but with the tonal quality of that of a banjo. Relatively, the six-string banjos will have a brighter tone than guitars. This variant is harder to learn and play.
While banjos are majorly used as the lead instrument, the four-string banjos act as the bass instrument. It is used to compliment the chords. It is harder to pick up than a five-string banjo.
We have already discussed the types of banjos. Every learner needs their own time to learn to play any instrument. There is a myth about banjos not being easy to play. But this is completely wrong. Rather, the five-stringed banjo is actually considered by a lot, as the easiest string instrument for beginners.
So, a five-string banjo is suggested as the best option for a beginner. It is the oldest type of banjos, producing the classic nostalgic brighter tone which the beginners usually look for. The build of the five-string makes it the most comfortable for playing compared to the other variants.
This type of banjos is tuned higher than the other ones. It is generally tuned at G, so even if you are not holding any fret, it plays G chord. To play the C chord, which is another important basic chord, one needs to hold just one finger on the fifth fret.
Similarly, another finger holding all the strings in the seventh fret produces the D chord. These three chords are the foundation chords, and the most essential. Learning to play these, one can play the banjo along with many songs.
As we can see, the five-string banjo makes it easier to play for those who are not used to stringed instruments, or those who are learning to play banjos.
The five-string banjo can be played in both three-finger and clawhammer style. The three fingerstyles are known to be easier, but it totally depends on the person’s comfort level.
Finding the best banjo for a beginner is not easy. There is always confusion if the instrument will suit the learner or not. There are some factors that determine the quality of the banjo, and knowing about these might be helpful for a novice.
Here are the factors which a beginner might keep in mind while buying their first banjo.
Often, the budget is the biggest constraint for a beginner looking to buy an instrument. While there can be many really cheap options available in the market, it is advisable to look for the minimum features and warranty that the seller offers. Having said that, it does not mean that only bigger brands manufacture good products.
While buying a banjo, the student must keep in mind the kind of music they are aiming to play. For instance, while any five-string banjo can accompany folk songs, for American retro and country music, an open back five-string banjo is recommended.
So, having clarity about the type of music he or she will play, is necessary. Similarly, the buyer must also check the weight and features of the banjo for playing it comfortably.
Finally, another important aspect is to keep in mind if you will play it right-handed or left-handed. Since the tuning of the fifth string is done in a specific way, it is a really necessary aspect to check for in a five-string banjo.
Now that we have some idea about the suitable types of banjos for beginners and what kind of music a banjo can produce, we can now proceed to look at some really handy options. Here we are listing 10 of the best beginner-friendly banjos which a buyer can consider while they are bringing home their first banjo.
To start the list, we have a company which specializes in manufacturing banjos. Deering is a quite famous name among those who play the banjo. The California based company has been in the market since 1975 and is known for producing banjos at a reasonable price.
Their uncompromised quality earns them a place among the best banjo makers today. So, owning a Deering banjo will be a great step forward for beginners looking for a banjo.
Deering’s Goodtime five-string banjo is one of their most popular products. The banjo suits beginners and professionals alike, making it a great choice. The banjo will surely be an asset to a diligent learner. Let us now look at the features the Deering Goodtime five-string banjo boasts of.
With so many features and unique qualities, the Deering Goodtime five-string Banjo surely makes for a great beginner banjo.
Among the modern-day instrument manufacturers, Epiphone is one of the front runners. Established in the 1870s, Epiphone has manufactured instruments for famous brands such as Gibson before making their own identity.
Epiphone is considered as one of the best among the manufacturers of entry-level instruments. The company has a huge range of string instruments, but are considered among the top manufacturers of banjos.
The advanced procedure which the Epiphone instruments are made through makes them flawless. One of Epiphone’s most popular products is their MB200 banjo. Below, we will look at its distinct features.
Despite its great features, this Epiphone banjo comes at a very low price tag. The MB200 maintains all of Epiphone’s quality features and enlists itself among the best beginner banjos available.
Known for their guitars, Jameson also manufactures other stringed instruments, including banjos. While their guitars are a symbol of impeccable quality and brilliant sound, their banjos are no different.
Jamesons have maintained unmatched quality in all their products, including this five-string banjo, and have lots and lots of satisfied customers across the globe.
The closed-back five-string banjo by Jameson has earned its own place among the best beginners’ banjos one can find. Best in quality, yet not too big a price tag – this has been Jameson’s policy since the very start. So, the budget constraint is well taken care of.
Now, let us give the features of the Jameson five-string banjo a look.
All these features make the Jameson five-string banjo one of the best beginner-friendly banjos.
With a wide range of stringed instruments, Oscar Schimdt is one of the most popular instrument makers. The company manufactures acoustic and electric guitars, ukuleles, mandolins, the lesser common autoharps, and, of course, banjos.
Though they are makers of many types of instruments, their banjos are among their best-selling products. The US company, established in the 1870s, has not let its quality drop and has managed to stay among the top instrument manufacturers.
The Oscar Schimdt banjos have their own unique qualities to add to the x-factor. For the beginners, Oscar Schimdt has created their five-string banjo OB5. Let us now have a look at the features of the banjo.
The best part about owning an Oscar Schmidt is that the company adds features to its instruments which are user-friendly. Lifetime warranty on the product gives the buyers a sense of security. The look and the features make the Oscar Schmidt OB5 one of the best beginners’ banjos.
To string instrument lovers, the brand Ibanez needs no introduction. For many years, Ibanez has been producing instruments for both professionals and new learners.
Ibanez’s variety of products and many different models in each category helps a buyer choose a suitable product from plenty of options. Besides guitars, ukuleles, Ibanez is also known for making some of the finest banjos around the globe.
Here, we will look at the B-50 model of the Ibanez. Though it is not the cheapest of Ibanez’s banjos, this particular model is a good investment for serious learners who want to continue to become professional players and might need a transition into a better model than an entry-level one. Below are the features of the Ibanez B50:
Excited about all the features that this amazing model has in it? The Ibanez B50 will surely make a great model for beginners.
A company renowned for its digital products also manufactures some of the best banjos in the world. Gadget lovers know the US-based brand Pyle for their varied range of digital products.
The company not only has digital musical solutions but other gizmos as well. However, they are also manufacturers of different key and string instruments, including banjos. Just like their gadgets, their instruments, especially banjos, have been rated higher by the ones who have purchased their products.
As Pyle produces professional-grade music instruments, they have incorporated many features of high-end instruments in entry-level ones, making it worth every penny. While the company has many models, their PB60 five-string banjo has been really popular among students for its longevity and features.
Let us quickly look at what makes this particular banjo special and a part of our discussion.
The renowned company understands the requirements of a novice learner well and has hence created a model for them. The company has also packed some important accessories and tools along with the banjo, which makes it a perfect package for any beginner.
A discussion about stringed instruments is incomplete without Fender. The world-famous brand, along with its popular guitars, also manufactures some of the finest banjos. Among them, the Concert Tone range is perfect for beginners or even intermediate learners.
The Concert Tone 54, in the entire range, has acquired a lot of popularity for its distinct features. Let us have a look at them.
Elegant look with the highest quality is what the Fender Concert Tone 54 promises of, and is surely one of the best beginners’ banjos.
Eastar has earned its place among the best instrument makers of recent times. From key instruments to string instruments and wind instruments, Eastar is a crowd favourite brand for beginners and professionals alike. Eastar has also brought to the market its range of flutes.
Many buyers have already been satisfied with the high-quality product within Eastar’s budget-friendly price range. Let us go through the features of Eastar’s beginner-friendly model – the Eastar EFL-1 to understand what makes it one of the best flutes for students out there.
The EFL-1 has been made with qualities suitable for a beginner, and the accessories which come along, are great for taking care of the instrument.
Yet another Ibanez banjo makes it to the list due to its sheer class and quality. The aesthetically beautiful Ibanez B200 is a stylish gear for beginners with all the qualities of a professional-grade instrument. Let us quickly have a look at its features.
With top-grade features and high-quality parts, the B200 from Ibanez is easily among the best beginner banjos money can buy.
Well, if the other banjos still don’t seem to be right for you, here is a package that will definitely help you start your journey. Rogue is a brand relatively new to the business and started off its string instruments in the 1990s with guitars.
They brought to the market a wide range of products, including banjos. Their banjos not only have fine quality but are budget-friendly and come in a compact package with plenty of accessories.
For those who have a very limited budget yet want a good banjo with all its accessories, the Rogue starter pack is simply perfect. Here is what features and accessories come packed in with the banjo.
Witha a carrying bag, learner’s kit, high-quality parts, and great output, the Rogue beginner’s banjo kit is complete.
The beautiful, mesmerizing sound of a banjo becomes lively with the skills of the one playing it. While these options are there to help you find the best banjo for beginners, it is your skill that matters the most.
So go ahead, pick the most suitable instrument according to your style, and start off learning the nuances of the instrument asap. I hope this article comes in handy. Best of luck for the melodious journey.