Best Banjo for Beginners Review – Top Rated Models in 2019 with Buying Guide
If you are currently looking for the best banjo for beginners, but you lack the time to do some research, we are here to clue you in. After reading plenty of reviews, we have concluded that the Jameson Guitars 5-String is the model that you should consider. This device has five strings, and it delivers a sweet, mellow sound that you might like. Also, this product has a well-balanced construction, and it is lightweight. If this instrument is out of stock, you should consider taking a good look at the Rover RB-25 Resonator as it is a reliable second option that you might also find suitable.
Our Top Choice
Whether you are an experienced player or you’re just getting started, this full-size, five-string banjo is worth considering. Designed with versatility in mind, the instrument comes with specs that will help you explore the various possibilities of banjo playing with ease. It features high-quality materials, a chrome-plated armrest, a bound resonator, and 24 brackets that will enhance both your comfort and sonic output.
A few customers say that certain parts can break easily if used intensely, therefore durability might be an issue.
Learn banjo playing techniques and basics with this model. It is stylish, comfortable, and affordable.
In case you want the sound you produce to be rich and loud, this model might be just what you need. Featuring a standard 11″ rim and a professionally styled resonator, this banjo is committed to providing you with an enhanced sonic performance. Thanks to the accurately-fretted neck, you will enjoy an experience that is similar to the one more expensive models offer. The banjo does not just sound great but also looks so.
At least one buyer says the neck is a bit too narrow. Get as much dimension details as possible before buying.
Stylishly designed and committed to providing a satisfying sound, this model should not go unchecked.
Boasting quality materials that not only look great but also create a nice sound, this model is another option you might want to pay attention to. The 5-string instrument comes with stylish chrome-plated hardware, jade machine head tuner key pegs, and a high-gloss finish. It also sports a 5th tuner and a lightweight design that will enable you to add it to your travel gear with ease. It can be used for various genres.
One customer who tried this banjo says it would not stay in tune and it, thus, requires re-tuning every 5 minutes.
Explore the banjo experience with this stylish and lightweight model. It promises to deliver a nice sound.
Highly Recommended Choices – Reviews & Comparison
If you are new to this line of products, and you have no idea what type of banjo to consider, we are here to help. Below, you can find a list of top-notch products that, according to beginner banjos reviews, are worthy of your attention. So, keep reading and select the one you like.
Jameson Guitars 5-String
This five-string model developed by Jameson Guitars is full-sized, and it comes equipped with features that are usually found on pricier units. Besides, the device is suitable for both seasoned players and the inexperienced, which is a reason why many consider it versatile.
As a plus, the product features a 5th turner that is more practical than the friction tuners usually found on cheaper models. Furthermore, the device includes a chrome-plated armrest, 24 brackets as well as a bound resonator. Hence, the model is also easy on the eyes.
On top of that, this product features a mahogany resonator and a neck that has a seven-ply maple and mahogany shell. When played, the instrument delivers a sweet sound that you can use when making quality music. Just like when purchasing a harmonica for beginners, before you invest in it, make sure that you read the feedback left by prior buyers.
Buy from Amazon.com for ($154.95)
Rover RB-25 Resonator
Another five-string model that you might also like is the RB-25 Resonator from Rover. This model has a standard 11″ rim that has been constructed from a composite material that is somewhat sturdy. Furthermore, this unit comes provided with a professionally styled resonator that makes the product more powerful and the sounds that it produces richer and louder.
The neck of the device is accurately-fretted, and it is said to offer the user a similar experience to that of playing a more expensive instrument. The model also includes a friction 5th peg with a standard scale length of 25 1/2″.
The device has a beautiful finish, and it is said to stand out thanks to its exquisite look. This model has received good reviews. In fact, according to one prior buyer, the model is easy to play, especially if you are a beginner. Moreover, the product is lightweight, and it can easily be tuned by using an online app called gStrings.
Buy from Amazon.com for ($295)
Pyle 5-String Geared
Another unit that you should take a good look at is the Pyle 5-String Geared. The model is made from wood, and it has a high-gloss finish that you might like. Furthermore, the product includes jade machine head tuner key pegs as well as beautiful chrome-plated hardware. The model has a rosewood fingerboard, mahogany neck, sides and back, and a maple wood bridge.
Sound-wise, this device can deliver that classic tone that most five-string banjos have. Because of this, it is safe to say that this model can be utilized when playing country, folk, and bluegrass music.
Another feature that shows that this model is easily playable is the fact that it incorporates a 5th turner. The product is lightweight, and, thus, it is easy to carry it with you whenever you go on trips to the beach or when hiking or camping. The device is also suitable for beginners.
Buy from Amazon.com for ($139.95)
SX Country 5-String
If you want to purchase a product that has been vetted by prior buyers, take a look at the SX Country 5-String. This model has five strings and a fully floating bridge. What is more, the unit features a slim and fast mahogany neck that has a flat radius so that you can play this instrument easily.
When shipped, this device includes four planetary geared tuners and one friction tuner. Also, a padded carry bag is also included in the deal. As previous users have noted, the bridge of the instrument requires no sanding.
The unit has a loud and clean tone, and it stands out because it is rather affordable. However, just like when buying a beginner drum set, we recommend that, before you order it, you take a good look at previous reviews of the item. This way, you can make sure that you have made a safe decision.
Click to see the price on Amazon!
Gold Tone CC-Plectrum
If you are a fan of four string models, you will probably like the Gold Tone CC-Plectrum. This item features a simple brass tone ring, a maple neck, a bound fingerboard, and a practical resonator that you are prone to appreciate.
Furthermore, this model is currently considered worthy of one’s time and money because it was developed to cater to the needs of beginner players. Therefore, this unit is durable, and it has a low string action. Consequently, this instrument is highly playable.
On top of that, the product has a highly appreciated tone, and many of its users have said that the artistry of the model is excellent. As a plus, when compared to other banjos in this price range, you should know that this model is very loud, which is a reason why many like it.
The dual rod assembly that the device comes supplied with allows you to adjust the neck angle of the banjo in accordance with your needs.
Buy from Amazon.com for ($540)
Deering Goodtime 5-String
If you like investing in instruments that have been produced in the U.S.A., we recommend that you consider this model made by Deering Goodtime. The unit is lightweight, as it only weighs 4 pounds. As a result, you can take it with you whenever you intend to go hiking, camping or traveling.
As a plus, similar to when acquiring a piano for kids, it is worth saying that this model is sizeable enough to be utilized by children that want to learn how to play on an instrument of this type. The sound that this device makes has been described as vibrant by its many users.
The neck of the product is slender and fast playing, and the birch and maple rim are said to create a sweet sound that can be easily adjusted. Although not included in the price, the manufacturer also produces special cases that are compatible with this model.
Buy from Amazon.com for ($489)
Gold Tone AC-1
Another product that has been specially created to be used by beginners is the Gold Tone AC-1. When shipped, this model includes a carry case, one-year free access to a lessons site, a professional banjo set up, and a banjo book with CDs that you can watch in order to understand how this unit works.
This model is currently appreciated because it offers high quality at a great price. Besides, the unit is particularly lightweight, and it was created to be used by beginner players. Technically speaking, this unit has a twenty-two fret neck and an eleven-inch pot.
Although this unit is fairly lightweight, when you play it, the device feels substantial and easy to manipulate. The neck of the banjo is well contoured, and the unit is, overall, easy to get around on. The width of the nut is of 1 and 3/16”. Because this is a low action model, the unit supplies the buyer with clean and easy fretting.
Click to see the price on Amazon!
Savannah SB-080 18
If you want to purchase a model that as a Nato resonator and neck, take a look at the Savannah SB-080 18. This device features a rosewood fretboard and no less than 18 brackets. The device has a 5/8″ hard maple bridge that is rather practical and a three-ply maple rim.
The device is, overall, well-built and it is well-priced for a beginner banjo. The slim and fast neck of the unit allows for seamless movement. The truss rod that the device incorporates is said to be fully adjustable.
At the time we did the research on this unit, the model had received great ratings. However, not many prior buyers have added feedback comments. Because of this, it is difficult to say whether or not there are any undisclosed issues with the device. Still, the specialists consider this model a good purchase.
Buy from Amazon.com for ($249.99)
Yearly Guide & Report
If you are still not sure what are the features that you should have in mind while shopping for the best banjo for the money, this buying guide contains all the information that you need. So, read ahead and select a model that is fitting for your needs.
Open vs. close back (resonator)
According to reviews of banjos for beginners, one of the first decisions that you have to make before you purchase a unit of this type is whether you want a product with an open or with a close back, as this feature influences the sort of sound that the model produces.
For instance, a banjo that has an open back is usually lower in volume, and it has that classic, original design that is specific to instruments of this kind. Moreover, an open sound chamber product is lighter, and it can be played in Clawhammer style.
As a plus, these units do not require fingerpicks, and some say they produce a soft, mellow, traditional sound that is often associated with old school banjos.
On the other hand, closed back units feature a wooden resonator covering that makes the instruments deliver a louder sound that is better projected towards the audience. Furthermore, these devices are usually heavier, and they are generally sought after by bluegrass players. In fact, as previous users note, these closed-back models make a twangy and bright sound.
Last but not least, it is worth pointing out that a good beginner banjo with a closed resonator allows for fingerpicks to be utilized when one is playing the device. Also, the strings on these products are generally placed closer to the fretboard.
Type of banjos
Before you purchase the first cheap beginner banjo that you lay your eyes on, it is crucial that you also consider the type of instruments that you want to use. Therefore, you should know that there are three kinds of banjos available on the market.
Firstly, there are the four strung units that can be used when playing single string melody, tremolo, chord melody or chordal accompaniment. In this line of items, you can pick between a Plectrum Banjo, that can be used for playing jazz and a Tenor Banjo that has a rather shorter neck, and that became popular in 1910. Normally, a Tenor Banjo is utilized for chordal accompaniment.
Secondly, five string models are some of the most popular units out there. These devices have a very popular design, and they are well liked by the players. Because of this, it is recommendable that beginner players pick a unit of this kind.
Last but not least, there are the six-string items. In terms of playability, these units are similar to a beginner bass guitar. However, although they have a design that is similar to that of standard guitars, these models have that unique banjo sound that many love.
However, it should be said that, when compared to the five-string models, these devices are somewhat difficult to play and to master. So, you might want to start with an easier-to-maneuver instrument.
Important features that should not be overlooked
Just like when trying to get a beginner drum kit under 500, there are some features that you should not overlook when purchasing a banjo. For instance, it is vital that you considered the tuning of the device. Usually, products that feature geared tuners are more suitable for the task as they can help you avoid having your instrument fall out of tune.
Moreover, you should know that, according to the specialists, a model that has multiple coordinator rods is more suitable, as it can help you reach that high-quality tune that you like so much.
Also, you might want to know that the type of wood that was used in the making of the banjo is also crucial, as this aspect can influence the kind of sound that you will be supplied with. Hence, a model manufactured from maple is usually sharp and clear, while devices developed from mahogany have a warmer tone. Besides, walnut wood is another option that you should consider, as these products create a sound that is somewhere in the middle.
Furthermore, you should remember that a truss rod can stabilize the forward curvature of the neck of the banjo, while a good brass tone ring is essential to the type of sound the device produces. On top of that, before you start searching for banjos for sale, you should also think about the price of the instrument.
When doing so, you should consider the budget that you have available and, then you should select the most appropriate unit. However, although this might seem appealing, it is not necessarily a good idea to buy an expensive unit.
Instead, you might want to buy a feature-packed, yet budget-friendly product and, once you learn how to play on it, you should get a pricier device that has more minute features. When investing in a more expensive product, you should always consider acquiring those models that are made from high-quality materials and that have a sturdy construction. On top of that, you should not ignore that fact that, when it comes to banjos, some of the products cost a pretty penny because they simply have a more appealing look. So, be sure not to fall victim to this aspect.
Finally, your decision should also be influenced by the manufacturer that has constructed a particular product. Hence, it is best that you acquire models that have been developed by a well-known banjo maker that does not overcharge its buyers. So, follow these suggestions, and we are sure that you will end up with a reliable and highly playable instrument!
Frequently asked questions about banjos
Who invented the banjo?
A banjo is an instrument that is older than a mandolin. In fact, the banjo is an instrument that was developed by Africans in America in the 18th century, and that became popular in the 19th century. Although it is unsure who was the man or the woman who invented the banjo, it is safe to say that the man that popularized the five-string model was Joel Walker Sweeney, an American blackface minstrel performer.
According to the records, Sweeney was the first white performer that used the banjo on stage. Still, banjos are descendants of African instruments, and they were usually mastered by black slaves who, later on, taught their masters how to play them.
Are banjo and ukulele chords the same?
In simple terms, the answer to this question is no. Maybe the biggest difference between banjos and ukulele is the fact that they require different tuning. In other worlds, banjos are often turned to what the specialists call open chord tuning, that is G, A or D.
On the other hand, ukulele tuning is generally G-C-E-A for concerts, tenors and sopranos, and D-G-B-E for baritones. Still, it is worth saying that most players of an instrument called a uke banjo and those that play ukulele use the same chords. Still, a uke banjo is not the same as a banjo.
What banjo is easiest to play?
It depends on the type of music that you intend to play. Therefore, if you are a fan of country music or folk music, you should start learning by playing on a five-string model. These devices are the most popular out there, and there are numerous lessons available for those interested online.
Still, if you love jazz, then you should go for a four string unit. As a plus, as some users have noted, the four string model is overall easier to master as it does not require one to pick up the somewhat complicated multi-finger plucking technique necessary when playing the five-string model.
How to change strings on a banjo?
If you own a tambourine, chances are that you won’t have to spend a lot of time trying to figure out how to take care of the device. However, a banjo is a different type of instrument. Changing the strings on your banjo is something that can help you improve the sound quality of the device.
First, mark around the feet on the head. This way, if the bridge falls, you’ll know where to put it back. Then, relieve tension from the tooth of the string, gently cut the string, unwind it, and slide through the tailpiece. Then add a new string at a time.