Best Banjos Review – Top Rated Models in 2018 with Buying Guide
If you’re looking for the best banjo on the market yet your time is limited, you might want to check this guide to learn more about the most appreciated products out there. After a careful examination of the quality and value offered by the best products in this line, we’ve concluded that the Jameson Guitars 5-String is the first option to consider. Ideal for various genres, this model is a full-scale 5-string banjo that features a geared 5th string tuner along with 24 brackets and a maple bridge. In case this item is sold out, you might want to consider the Resoluute Resonator.
Highly Recommended Choices – Reviews & Comparison
Finding a good banjo might call for lots of research and time. To make that process easier, based on reviews of banjos, product specs, and customer feedback, we have concluded that the models showcased below are worth considering. Here are a few banjo reviews to help you find the right one for you.
Jameson Guitars 5-String
One of the great features of this banjo is the geared 5th string tuner, which plays a significant role in what both tuning and playability are concerned. This model comes with 24 brackets, a chrome plated armrest, a maple bridge as well as an adjustable hinged tailpiece that together enhance one’s performance as well as comfort when playing.
The banjo is perfect for folk, bluegrass, country, and even modern rock. Its performance is completed by a stylish high-gloss finish achieved by quality materials as well as the mahogany resonator, the durable neck with a 7 ply maple and mahogany shell.
Buy from Amazon.com for ($154.95)
The resonator can be removed in order to be played open back. The sound and the impact are maximized by the Remo drumhead which also creates a high-quality bang. The 5 strings and geared fifth tuner will get you a true banjo ring. The maple fingerboard ensures easy playing as well as a stylish design.
You can use this model to play the Bluegrass or Clawhammer banjo style. The banjo comes with a Banjo Book to help you explore this new journey.
Buy from Amazon.com for ($129.99)
The slim low-profile neck makes playing comfortable and easy as it fits large and small hands alike. Correct intonation over the entire fingerboard is ensured by the accuracy and precision of the fretwork. The user can maximize tone by lowering or raising it thanks to the adjustable patented Goodtime tailpiece.
This model outperforms other products in this line by delivering a top quality sound that is achieved with the help of the 3-ply violin-grade maple rim. The banjo comes with 16 brackets and an 11″ diameter rim that allows easy head adjustments. Moreover, the item is ideal for traveling as it weighs only four pounds.You can easily add it to your travel guitars collection.
Buy from Amazon.com for ($489)
Jameson Guitars Left Handed
This instrument plays just the way it looks thanks to its 5 strings, the geared 5th string tuner, 24 brackets, and, of course, all the materials used for its build. It is not only ideal for those of you who want to learn more about this instrument but it is also great to play different genres such as folk, bluegrass, country, and, why not, even some modern pop hits.
The product was designed for left-handed players. Other features include a mahogany resonator with thumb screw, a 5/8″ hard maple bridge, a 3-ply maple rim, a Rosewood Fretboard, and a mahogany neck.
Buy from Amazon.com for ($211.33)
Jameson Guitars 6 String
The banjo comes with several features that are usually found on pricier models including a mahogany resonator and neck, a chrome-plated armrest, an adjustable hinged tailpiece, 24 brackets as well as a maple bridge. Along with these features, the 7-ply maple and mahogany shell make the product not only play great but look good as well.
The item addresses players of all ages and abilities. The only thing you need to do when receiving it is to tighten the strings and adjust the bridge slightly. No need to worry about breaking the tuners as they are enclosed and diecast, which makes them sturdy enough to resist frequent usage.
Buy from Amazon.com for ($169.95)
The 5 strings will get you the classic tones of folk, country, and bluegrass. You can even use it to play some modern rock tunes as well. The geared 5th tuner significantly contributes to the instrument’s playability and tuning.
This model is lightweight and, thus, perfect for traveling. It makes a great addition to your musical gear no matter if you are a beginner or an experienced player. The package includes a Truss Rod Adjustment Tool as well as a Maplewood Bridge Stand so you can start playing right away.
Buy from Amazon.com for ($129.99)
Morgan Monroe MB-75BK
The MB-75BK comes with 30 brackets and a geared 5th Peg in an almost entirely black body including black satin finished wood, black REMO head, and black chrome hardware. The chromatic contrast is achieved by the inlays in the headstock, the dot inlays on the frets, and the pearloid tuner pegs.
The crisp, bright tones it creates make this instrument great for playing Scruggs/bluegrass style. Durability and sturdiness are ensured by the quality of the materials used and the thick finish that withstands scratching. Customers who’ve tried it appreciated both the quality of the sound and the construction.
Click to see the price on Amazon!
Oscar Schmidt OB5SP
Considered to be one of the most appreciated 5-string banjos in the world within a price range that can be described as affordable, this model comes with 30 bracket cast aluminum tone ring, geared 5th string tuner, 22 frets, and a Spalted Maple resonator that together help the player create a versatile sound as well as bright tones.
Durability and sturdiness are achieved with the components and materials used including the multi inlay rosewood fretboard, chrome hardware, the Nato neck, and the gloss finish, which result in a stylish piece of musical craftsmanship. The unit measures 42 x 18.2 x 5 inches and weighs 9 pounds.
Buy from Amazon.com for ($259.99)
Kmise 4 String
The product uses standard ukulele tuning of G-C-E-A while featuring the typical sound of a banjo. The 18 frets are made of a durable material that is resistant to abrasion and contributes to the quality of the sound created. Thanks to the Chrome Geared Closed Tuning Pegs, the player gets to keep sure strings and enjoy stable tones.
The fingerboard is made from a hard material that ensures corrosion resistance without affecting the player’s comfort. The premium Aquila strings guarantee the quality of the sound, the feature many customers who tried this banjo appreciated.
Buy from Amazon.com for ($119.99)
Best Banjo picks
The set includes 4 long-wearing NP-1 stainless steel finger picks that are not only durable but also comfortable, as well as 2 black NP-8B large sized thumb picks that deliver the same quality. With these 6 pieces, musicians can meet their dual needs.
The finger picks have been ergonomically designed to enhance the player’s comfort and, thus, add to the quality of the sound. The products created by National have gathered appreciation for both their durability and style.
Buy from Amazon.com for ($12.95)
Jim Dunlop Silver
The player’s pack includes 5 nickel silver fingerpicks (four finger picks and one thumb pick) designed to enhance the sound of banjos and other musical instruments such as acoustic guitars. The great thing about these picks is that they are adjustable so you can bend them to fit even larger finger sizes.
Customers who’ve tried this set have appreciated the finger picks for the quality of the sound they help a player enjoy as well as for the quality of the materials used. They proved to be effective at playing just as advertised.
Buy from Amazon.com for ($7.2)
Jim Dunlop Pack
The product comes with five nickel silver finger picks and one thumb pick so you can meet your various needs. They are available in various sizes yet they are somewhat adjustable, which means you can bend them to fit even bigger fingers. They are ideal for all skill levels.
The materials used as well as their design will help you deliver a bright and classic sound while keeping you comfortable during your gigs or rehearsals. Customers who’ve tried the product have appreciated it for the comfort provided and the improved sound quality.
Buy from Amazon.com for ($7.2)
Best banjo capo
Nordic Essentials Deluxe
Made of premium zinc alloy, this capo is suitable for a great variety of instruments including banjos, classical and electrical guitars, ukulele, and mandolins as well as many 6-string and 12-string instruments. The item is lightweight and ultra-portable, so it is perfect for travel, home and studio play.
The capo can be easily and quickly released and repositioned with one hand without disturbing the tuning. The quality and durability of the materials used as well as the finish give it a luxury feeling. The package includes one guitar capo deluxe, one carry pouch, and one instruction manual that will help you learn how to use it correctly.
Buy from Amazon.com for ($38.95)
Locking and removing it is as easy as 1, 2, 3, thanks to the “over-center” locking principle the capo works on. The user needs one smooth flip of the lever to lock it securely in place and just the same to remove it. The capo provides just the right amount of pressure so you can enjoy the truest tones.
Moreover, the soft, resilient rubber used works like a fingertip, which means that it won’t bend the strings over the frets and, thus, the strings won’t be pulled off the center. That further translates into no re-tuning needed.
Buy from Amazon.com for ($20.66)
Planet Waves NS
Thanks to the micrometer adjustment mechanism it features, the capo will help you dial in the precise tension you need to enjoy clear ringing tones without any excessive force being applied to the neck. This will further reduce the need to retune your banjo or the instrument you use.
Its sleek aircraft-grade aluminum construction ensures long-term usage and resistance to tough playing without adding too much weight to the instrument since it weighs only 0.32 ounces. This capo can also be used with standard electric and acoustic guitars as well as mandolins. Customers who tried it have appreciated its precision and the quality craftsmanship.
Buy from Amazon.com for ($12.95)
Best banjo strap
Using a unique internal control-stretch system, the product will reduce the weight of your instrument and thus significantly boost your comfort when playing it. The strap will not only disperse the weight but it will also absorb the shock of your movements.
This model features a tailored neoprene pad with internal control-stretch design, strong side release buckles as well as secure Neo-loops which make it easy to use and attach, durable, and adjustable. The strap measures approximately 46″–55″ and weighs 5.6 ounces.
Buy from Amazon.com for ($24.48)
Thanks to the hi-tech memory foam this model features, the strap will conform to your shoulders and neck for the ultimate in comfort. Moreover, the wicking materials used will allow moisture to dissipate and the player to remain cool while performing.
The Slimline strap comes in five connection options, Standard, Slimlock, Neo-Loop, Acoustic End Pin Jack and Dobro. The standard connection series features quality leather with a rich distressed oil finish and measures 51″ – 60″ in regular length. The strap is available in eight colors so you can match it with your instrument or stage outfit.
Buy from Amazon.com for ($26.52)
Perris Leathers Suede
This 2.5″ tan suede banjo strap uses sheepskin back and metal hook ends that ensure a soft touch as well as durability to last even when going on a tour or having some rougher play. It can be fully adjusted from 44.5″ to 53″, so you can find the measure that suits your body best.
The players who tried it have appreciated the product for its quality and the boost in comfort it provided. Many of them have also mentioned superior craftsmanship in their feedback.
Buy from Amazon.com for ($29.54)
Best banjo bridge
Golden Gate GB-5
This bridge combines a premium hard-rock maple base and a fully compensated ebony top in a design that will ensure the accuracy of tuning no matter the banjo you’re using. The top of the bridge has been cut in such a way to allow the correction of scale length for various string masses and diameters.
The bridge boasts deluxe materials, hence its name, and is ideal for 5-string banjos. It measures 3 x 0.2 x 0.8 inches and weighs 0.32 ounces. Most reviews we’ve found are positive, many of the customers who’ve tried the bridge appreciating it for the sound improvement it delivered.
Buy from Amazon.com for ($11.54)
Grover 1/2 Inch
Available at a price that falls into the affordable category, this product was designed to help banjo players get the best of their instrument without emptying their pockets. Boasting various features, an adjustable design as well as a durable construction, this bridge was clearly created with the bluegrass banjo player in mind.
Its half-inch size means it is perfect for most banjos. Durability and long-term use are ensured by the wood it is made of as well as its design. The quality of this bridge has been appreciated by many customers who’ve tried it as online reviews show it.
Buy from Amazon.com for ($13.95)
Designed to improve the sound of a banjo and help musicians improve their audio output, this bridge is both durable and stylish thanks to the combination of the hard maple design and the ebony top. This model is ideal to take players from the practice room directly to the stage.
The 5/8″ straight design makes it suitable for most banjos, which means you can use it with your old instrument as well as with future pieces that will be part of your collection. Current owners of this model have appreciated the bridge for quality, stylish design, and durability.
Click to see the price on Amazon!
Best banjo tuning pegs
The Chrome model is made of brass and zinc alloy, which ensures durability and long-term use. The alloy is completed with pearl buttons that not only add a touch of luxury to the product design but also ensure a soft and comfortable feeling when in use.
The 10:1 gear ratio will provide the player with a precise and quick tuning of the 5th string. Its dimensions should make it suitable for both modern and vintage banjos. Make sure to check the measurements and compare them with your banjo before ordering.
Buy from Amazon.com for ($14.59)
Musical Accessories Semiclosed
The package includes 4 machine heads and 1 non-slip peg as well as 4 bushings and 8 screws, just about everything you need to install them once you receive the pack. The pieces are made of zinc alloy and celluloid, which ensures durability and makes them ideal for long-term usage.
The fixing screw holes measure 27mm whereas the outside diameter of the bush is 8mm. The chrome color might be a bit different from the pictures. Customers who’ve tried this set have reviewed it positively appreciating the product’s overall quality, the ease of use, and its efficiency at eliminating tuning problems.
Buy from Amazon.com for ($9.64)
The package comes with 2 golden plates, hence the name, each of them featuring 2 pegs (2 left-handed and 2 right-handed). They are ideal for slotted head ukulele as well as banjos and similar instruments featuring 4 strings. The button color is mica and the material used is PVC. The user also gets 6 mounting screws for immediate installation.
The golden color, which may vary a bit from the pictures, gives the set a luxury touch whereas the engraved design with the open cog/exposed gear configuration adds to the product’s professional look and feel. Players who’ve tried the product appreciated it for its quality, design as well as the difference in sound achieved.
Buy from Amazon.com for ($39.99)
Best banjo books
Wayne Erbsen Bluegrass
The book addresses beginners and players with little to no experience yet willing to learn to play Bluegrass on their banjo. The package includes a book and, as expected, a CD. This guide will help the player start with a simple line. The author then teaches simple ways to embellish and enrich the song with easy rolls.
The unique method used by Wayne Erbsen will help all those using this guide learn how to play a song in different ways and, thus, adapt it to various moods or circumstances. The audio instructional CD includes 99 tracks.
Buy from Amazon.com for ($21.01)
Janet Davis Songbook
The popular songs the book offers include tunes such as Lady of Spain, Riders in the Sky (A Cowboy Legend), Tennessee Waltz, Alabama Jubilee, Foggy Mountain Breakdown, Duelin’ Banjos, and Bye Bye Love. The songbook will help the player learn more also through listening as the package comes with various recordings of demos.
The product is available in the paperback edition as well as the Kindle edition with audio/video. You can access the audio using the unique code each book comes with. The multi-functional player the audio files include will allow you to apply various functions.
Buy from Amazon.com for ($23.48)
Michael Bremer Aerobics
The book was created in such a way to provide the learner with enough material for a 50-week program. It is committed to offering daily resources for an entire year of practice with a two-week vacation. It addresses musicians of all skills and levels, from beginners to advanced players.
The audio files the package includes can be accessed online, streamed and downloaded. They include demo tracks that will help the learner practice the examples mentioned in the book. The author aims at teaching essentials banjo techniques and, thus, at helping the learner play better and more accurate.
Buy from Amazon.com for ($18.04)
Yearly Guide & Report
Finding the right banjo might require lots of research and, especially, time. If you are a beginner, things get even more challenging. In order to simplify your shopping and decision-making process, we have highlighted the most important factors to consider when looking for the right banjo for sale.
Types of banjo and music style
Just like in the case of other instruments such as clarinets, guitars, or drums, banjos are divided into different types that will suit different needs. Generally, banjos are to be found with four, five or six strings, each of them designed to suit a specific kind of music. Ask yourself about the genre you intend to play when going shopping.
The 4-string banjo features a short neck and is further divided into two types. Tenor banjos are used for Jazz, Irish music, Jamaican and Moroccan music because they lack the lower pitch of an instrument or singer. The second 4-string type of banjo, Plectrum, is tuned differently than the other one and is used mainly for jazz and melody chord styles.
The 5-string banjo is the most common type featuring 22 frets and a scale length of 26 ¼ inches. Its popularity is related to the fact that this type of banjo can be used for many kinds of music ranging from jazz to bluegrass, country, and rock. Then there is the 6-string banjo usually preferred by guitarists since it is tuned like a guitar. It is widely used for folk music.
Open Back versus Resonator
No matter if you’re a beginner looking for a cheap banjo to start learning how to play it or a more advanced player, another important aspect to keep in mind is whether the banjo features an open back or a resonator. If you want your banjo to project your songs forward toward your audience, then a banjo with a resonator is the one you should look for. An open-back banjo won’t produce or have a twang as loud as a resonator banjo.
Again, knowing what type of music you need the banjo for will help you with this aspect, too. If you intend to use the banjo for folk or softer genres, then you might want to consider the open-back as this type would get you a more laid-back sound. A banjo with a resonator is better for a Bluegrass player, for instance, as it produces a louder, brighter sound.
If you have little experience and you don’t know what genre you will begin to play or like for your future practice, it is best to go for a resonator banjo. Most such types feature a removable resonator so you can get some flexibility if needed. Therefore, try to pick one that comes with a resonator you can remove.
Whenever you’re looking for a musical instrument, be it a new cello, an acoustic electric ukulele, or stylish electric violas, there is one thing common to all of them: the materials used, or better said, the quality of them. You might be a skilled player but if you use an instrument made of low-quality materials, the audio output will surely suffer.
When it comes to banjos, the neck, fretboard, and resonator are made of different types of wood. Choosing the right wood depends on the sound you’d like your banjo to produce. For instance, a mahogany neck and resonator will get you less bright tones yet a warmer sound. If a brighter tone is what you want, then you should opt for a maple neck and resonator.
In case you’re interested in keeping the brightness of your tone moderate, it is best to go for a walnut neck and resonator. You will also find banjos featuring rosewood necks, which means the strings will vibrate longer after they are plucked. This translates into a longer sustain.
Budget and brand
The budget you have at your disposal will obviously play a key role in your decision. Then the reason why you buy the banjo itself will decide how much money you are going to spend. If you’re a beginner or you want a banjo just to practice now and then, therefore for spare time fun, there are various models you can get for under $300.
If you are an experienced player or you take your interest in banjo playing seriously, you might want to start with a more expensive model. Even if it costs you more now, a higher price tag usually means a greater quality and that further means you won’t need to replace it too soon.
There are various brands out there when it comes to banjos. Go for a brand that sets up such instruments correctly and is specialized in musical instruments like banjos.