The 5 Best Banjos for Beginners (2021)

This article includes our pick of the best banjos for beginners to suit all budgets, ranging from basic beginner banjos to get you started, higher-quality ones that will last many years, to more light-weight travel-friendly options. 

Later in the post, you will also find answers to some of the most common questions that people have when buying a new banjo.

The 5 Best Banjos for Beginners (2021)

1. Rogue B30 Deluxe
Editor's Choice - Lightweight, affordable banjo that’s perfect for beginners
2. Deering The Goodtime 2 Banjo
Pro Option - High-quality banjo from a great brand
3. Rogue Travel / Starter Banjo
An open-back 5-string starter banjo, lightweight and sturdy
4. Ibanez B50 5-String Banjo Natural
Good Quality 5-string Banjo from Ibanez
5. Recording King RKO-3S
Budget-friendly, high-quality sound

1. Rogue B30 Deluxe

Rogue B30 Deluxe is a nice lightweight banjo that’s perfect for beginners and intermediates. This is a standard 5-strings banjo, with 20 frets on the neck. A great feature of this instrument is it’s Remo head, which’s held down by 30 brackets.

The sound quality of this instrument is quite nice, while also not being too heavy. The weight of this particular banjo makes it perfect for taking on the road or carrying it with you when you travel. Pricewise it’s also very affordable, which makes it a perfect fit for a beginner or intermediate.

2. Deering The Goodtime 2 Banjo

If you’re looking for a more high-quality banjo that you could see yourself playing well into the future, Deering The Goodtime 2 is a very nice banjo to check out. This 5-string banjo is handmade in the USA and it has a 22 fret neck.

The body of this banjo comes with a 3-ply violin grade maple rim and an 11” frosted top crown head with 16 brackets that hold it in place. The overall quality of the materials on this instrument is very high and worth the investment.

3. Rogue Travel / Starter Banjo

The purpose of the Rogue Travel/Starter banjo is all in the name. This is an open-back 5-string banjo with a beautiful vintage satin design and finish. 18 brackets are used to hold the tension of the head.

The main feature of this banjo is that it is lightweight and sturdy. This means that it will take on a lot of traveling and bumping around, making it a perfect companion for the road. The price is also very affordable, so if you’re looking for a budget, open-back banjo, definitely consider this item.

4. Ibanez B50 5-String Banjo Natural

Ibanez is mainly known as a guitar maker, but back years ago they were well known for making banjos. They have since started making them again, and the B-50 5-string resonator banjo is a great example. This includes an 11” Remo head that has 24 brackets. This banjo is mostly different by the use of wood that separates it from the competition.

Mahogany is used on both neck and the body, giving the B50 a different look and sound from the standard maple-produced banjos that are usually sold. This is a great mid-range quality, mid-range priced banjo that will serve you nice when you’re a beginner but also can be used further down the road.

5. Recording King RKO-3S

We finish this list with an open-back, 5-string banjo. The body of this instrument is made out of maple with a mahogany neck. The neck has 22 frets and a satin finish, with a rosewood fretboard.

This is a budget-friendly option, but one that will give you a pretty high-quality sound for the money you are paying. It is perfect for home practice.

Buyer’s Guide and FAQs

What type of banjo is best for beginners?

We advise that you start playing a 5-string banjo, as this is the most popular type. You can of course start with 4-string or 6-string banjos, but it’s better if you start from the beginning and work your way up to those different versions.

Is it hard to learn to play the banjo?

The banjo is quite a simple instrument and once you get a hold of the basics (which won’t take long) you just have to keep practicing and learning new songs, which all work on the same principle, so it’s not that hard.

Of course, there is quite a difference between learning the basics of an instrument and mastering it. So, while it’s easy to get started, you can have many years of enjoyment as you learn and develop further as a musician.

What are the different types of banjos?

Once you start looking at banjos you’ll see there are many different types on the market. The biggest difference is between resonator back and opens back banjos. These differ on whether they have a bowl on the back of the head (resonator) or not (open-back).

Resonator banjos are louder and have more treble in their tones, which is why they are used by bluegrass music. Open-back is the original type of banjo and they are softer and mellower in sound.

5-String Banjos

This is the standard and the original banjo. It has four standard strings and a fifth one which is ¾ in length, making it much higher in pitch.

4-String Banjos

4-string banjos evolved from 5-stringers at the beginning of the previous century. They miss the fifth, shorter string, making them much more guitar-like. Because of this quality, they are often used in theatre and jazz music, as they can be strummed for chords, which is quite hard with 5-strings banjos.

6-String Banjos

6-string banjos are the most similar to the guitar. Even though they have different bodies and that usual banjo sound, playing them is much easier for the guitar players, as they don’t have to relearn everything about the instrument, but they can keep on playing the banjo like a guitar.

12-String Banjos

These are rarer, but they play the same as 6-string banjos, just with the doubled-up strings.

How do you play the banjo for beginners?

There are many different ways to play the banjo, but the most used way is fingerpicking. This means that you wear a thumb fingerpick and two fingerpicks, allowing you to play that famous plucking style.

Can I learn banjo on my own?

Yes, you can. With enough practice and help from the internet, it’s easy to learn how to play the banjo on your own.

However, we recommend that you eventually get a local teacher that can help you point out areas for improvement in your playing.

How long does it take to learn the banjo?

It all depends on how much are you ready to practice. The best way is to practice a little every day – even 20 minutes a day makes tons of difference in the long run. If you practice regularly, you can learn how to play intermediate songs in a matter of months.

Summary

We hope that this article has helped you learn something new about banjos and answer all of your questions about buying the best banjo for you. When you’re buying your first banjo there are several things you should look out for and we believe that these five are at least a starting point from which you will rise up and into the banjo world.

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