Best Banjos for Beginners and Intermediate Players In 2020

Best Banjos for Beginners and Intermediate Players

If you have a special liking for rock, jazz, country, and other related music genres, then you must be aware that you need to learn a couple of instruments to keep up with the hype.

And one such instrument is the banjo.

The best thing about this musical instrument is that it allows you to get as creative and innovative as you want.

So, it’s always better to own one to practice as much as you want, instead of renting.

And we are here to help you make the perfect pick with today’s review on the best banjo for beginners and intermediate players.

Let’s learn together!

Best Banjos for Beginners and Intermediate Players

Best 4-String Banjos For Beginners In 2020

1. Trinity River TRTB1 4-String Tenor Banjo

This is perhaps one of the best 4-string banjos for beginners, in today’s market.

And it also offers a fun experience for intermediates.

This amazing Trinity product is a great pick considering its favorable price and simplicity.

It offers decent quality to its users.

It contains 18 brackets and 19 frets to produce the best sound combinations, which you will love after toughening up the strings.

This piece comes with a custom-made gig bag, so you get to carry it wherever you want with ease.

And although at 19 frets it’s quite long for some individuals, they still learned to adopt and most buyers indicate satisfaction with their purchase.

Pros
  • Free custom fit gig bag
  • Great pricing
  • Decent sound
  • Durable
Cons
  • Difficulty to play due to the long stretch
  • Not easy to set-up

Check today's price on Amazon

2. Gold Tone CC-Plectrum Cripple Creek Plectrum Banjo

The Gold Tone brand has been known for years for its wide range of high-quality string instruments.

This CC-Plectrum banjo is well crafted with a vintage design, which guarantees reliability and durability.

It also, a great pick for beginners, not only for its stunning outlook but also because it’s removable resonator gives it a versatile appeal.

The instruments’ entire construction oozes comfort to its users, so you can be ready to jam for long hours without any worry.

This Gold tone banjo features a two-way truss rod, which is also adjustable, to allow users to achieve a neck angle of their choice.

Also, the string spacing is wide enough for ease of play, though some individuals prefer less space. Its tone is also crispy and balanced, with great volume.

Pros
  • Impressive sturdy construction
  • Great volume
  • Comfortable
  • Ease of use
  • Amazing action and bridge
Cons
  • Too much string spacing for some individuals
  • Price not favorable for beginners.

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3. Rover RB-20P Plectrum Open Back 4-String Banjo

If you just began playing banjo then the Rover RB-20P Plectrum banjo makes the perfect beginning pick for you.

It comes with a sleek metallic finishing, which will give you a lot of confidence carrying it around with you.

This open-back banjo comes with a contemporary composite rim of standard 11-inches.

It’s also pretty light and easy to carry around the neck, so you can comfortably play for hours without tiring.

The Rover RB-20P Plectrum banjo also contains a professionally customized neck, which allows players to play fast and with ease.

And with the amazingly long 26 3/8-inch plectrum tuning, you can easily create close harmony chords, making leaning banjo incredibly fun.

Before we forget, with all these amazing features, this piece is affordable within its range.

Pros
  • Great for quieter playing
  • Open G tuning
  • Bridge adjustment
  • Easy to assemble and play
  • Affordable
Cons
  • Requires a little setting up

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Best 5-String Banjos For Beginners In 2020

1. Jameson Guitars 5-String Banjo

Jameson brand always offers the best when it comes to folk and string instruments.

Their Jameson 5-String Banjo is a true definition of great pricing and top-notch quality.

It comes with a geared a5th tuner, which assures users with impressive, tuning thanks to the reliable internal gearing mesh.

And if you have ever played guitar, then you will agree that the tuner of this awesome instrument is pretty the same with that of a guitar, with a complete tune to the 5th string!

When you receive this model, you will realize that the mahogany back is perfectly closed using a 1.25’ nut.

And because of this, its tone is warm

This 5-string Jameson banjo also contains a nickel-plated armrest and a 3-ply mahogany rim, which screams durability.

Pros
  • Great pricing
  • Impressive clear and reach sound
  • Gorgeous mahogany design
  • It can be used by both right-handed and left-handed players.
Cons
  • Poor quality frets
  • Not so durable strings

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2. Deering Goodtime 5-String Banjo

Nothing satisfies a buyer than knowing what you get is value for your money.

This Deering Goodtime banjo offers exactly that. It’s unquestionably very durable, making it an ideal pick for professional intermediate players.

Beginners who also plan on taking-up banjo as a profession, also receive great value from this instrument.

It comes with an adjustable 3-ply maple rim, which offers versatility to users.

Also, its 22-frets and geared tuners will ensure you receive great sound as you would with a guitar.

Most players speak of not getting enough of this Deering banjo’s classic tailpiece design, which makes them proud users among their peers.

And even at a weight of around 41bs, you will love playing this great instrument. Also, it’s so reliable at a scale length of 26.25-inches.

Pros
  • Great for both beginners and intermediates
  • Wide dependable rim
  • Attractive tailpiece design
  • Comes with a 6-year warranty
  • Valuable investment
Cons
  • Too tight for big-bodied players.

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3. Oscar Schmidt OB5 Gloss Mahogany Banjo

This Oscar Schmidt banjo is great to pick for beginners, though intermediate players can also use it.

It comes with a great design, which matches the great sound and awesome playing experience it gives to its users.

Its great appearance features a rosewood finger wood, complete with sleek finishing and durable mahogany resonator.

The great musical piece from Oscar brands is 22 frets and has a 30 bracket cast aluminum tone ring.

This, combined with its top-notch geared 5th string tuner, allows players to produce rich sounds. That too, with much ease.

And although it’s pretty expensive as compared to other instruments within its range, it overs value for money. So if you have a little more to spend, then this shouldn’t be a problem.

Also, with the removable resonator, you get to experiment with various sounds, which will make your musical journey interesting and full of adventure.

Pros
  • Durable and reliable
  • Great pricing for great value
  • Removable resonator offers versatility
  • Beautiful design
  • Ease of use
Cons
  • Narrow neck

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4. Washburn B10 Banjo

Washburn brand has been around for a while and it has been producing high-quality fretted instruments since 1883.

So, if you’re looking for a banjo to serve you well in your folk, blues, and rock musical endeavors, then you’ve just found your perfect match!

This Washburn B10 5-String Banjo guarantees to help you deliver classic tones that would leave you and your audience in awe.

The instrument also comes with a Remo banjo head and an ebony-topped bridge maple that will help you achieve a crispier sound than other instruments within its range.

Its pricing is also favorable with all the amazing features this 5-string banjo presents.

And to ensure you enjoy comfortability as you play the instrument comes with a comfortable mahogany neck complete with a rosewood fretboard.

This tool is famous for its well-crafted classic tunes, which makes it a good pick to use for those “old school” songs.

Pros
  • Impressive tone and volume
  • Smooth playing neck for comfortability
  • Original Remo head
  • Traditional styling
  • Sturdy construction
  • Valuable pricing
Cons
  • Bridge dents the heat a little

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5. Oscar Schmidt OB5LH Left Hand Banjo

This OB5LH 5-string banjo from Oscar Schmidt brand is one of the most affordable and popular 5-string banjos worldwide.

It features a 30-bracket cast aluminum tone ring.

This is coupled with a durable mahogany resonator, which oozes of durability and reliability for the release of amazing tones.

This durable instrument also comes with a geared 5th tuner and a resonator binding.

When combined with the perfectly situated rosewood fretboard, these ensure everything is held perfectly in place as you jam away for long hours.

You will also love its neto neck, complete with truss rod as it offers you great comfort even as you go about your entertainment business.

At its price, the OB5 banjo offers you value for your money and is easily available in various physical and online stores such as Amazon.

So, you can rest easy knowing your fingers will have a blast as they move with ease to show the world what you have in store.

Pros
  • Lifetime warranty
  • Durable construction
  • Easy to use
  • Impressive tone
  • Available in both right-handed and left-handed versions
  • Smooth finishes
  • Great for both beginners and intermediates
  • Great quality, value for money.
Cons
  • A bit difficult to set up especially for beginners.

Check today's price on Amazon

Best 6-String Banjos For Beginners In 2020

1. Goldtone AC-6+ 6-String Banjo

Goldtone never disappoints with their range of string instruments.

Their Goldtone AC-6+ 6 String Banjo comes fully packed with an SMP-VC sliding magnetic pickup with Volume Control, which ensures you and your audience get to listen to well-balanced tones.

It comes with a Gator case, which ensures you enjoy an indirect discount of $100.

And this’s unique to the vendors on Amazon.

Also, you get to enjoy the comfortability that the neck leveling offers. So, get ready to get lost in sounds, without a tint of tiredness.

And of course, the fingerboard and fret are perfectly constructed to suit the demanding flawless entertainment purpose of this musical instrument.

Due to its great features, we find the pricing of this banjo pretty affordable. And would recommend it to both beginners and intermediates who are serious with their professional banjo playing gigs.

The package of this banjo tool comes pretty set-up so you don’t have to do much, which is very convenient for beginner players who know nothing about setting-up instruments.

Pros
  • Impressive sound in both unplugged and amplified status.
  • Easy to learn, thus beginner-friendly
  • More comfortable than any instrument in their range of pricing
  • In-expensive
  • It can also work best with regular electric guitar strings.
Cons
  • Few reports of tensioner sliding off the rim

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2. Luna Celtic 6-String Banjo

The Luna Celtic 6-string banjo comes with a traditional resonator, complete with a standard 25.5’ inch scale guitar.

Its sleek contemporary appearance makes it perfect for modern jams, the reason as to why it is most popular among youthful banjo players.

Its head is made up of a transparent material, which stirs the curiosity of the audience to what fun this instrument awaits to offer, and you get to bridge easily.

The amazing tuning option of the Luna Celtic 6-string banjo gives you room to experiment with various tones using the standard EADGBE tuning, which helps you achieve unique tones.

And if you want to open tune, then you can opt to use the punctuated resonant drones, which work perfectly fine.

The musical instrument features a laser-etched trinity design at the rear end of the resonator and if you have a little more cash to spare, you can order it with the case, for maintenance purposes.

Pros
  • Offers flexibility
  • Beautiful design
  • A clear head for easy bridging
  • Easy setting-up even for beginners
  • Loud crispy great sound
  • Worth every penny.
Cons
  • No armrest

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Types of Banjo (4- Vs. 5- Vs. 6-Strings)

4-String Banjo

Also commonly referred to as a plectrum or tenor banjo, a 4-string banjo is most famous among classic jazz players.

Usually, players use the pick plectrum, thus its name.

It offers two playing methods whereby players can either choose to use strum chords as a backup or use the melody notes just as they would when playing guitar.

The standard 4-string banjo comes with 19-frets. But you can also find a 17-fret one, which is referred to as the Irish Tenor banjo in the professional world.

The two can easily be mistaken as 5-string banjos.

Also, there are some longneck and short-neck banjos. The latter tends to be more shallow-pitched, while longneck is deeper pitched.

The small 4-string banjos are what we call banjo ukuleles they operate pretty similarly like the tenor banjo.

And although the turning of these types of banjos vary, players usually have few tuning options, so there isn’t much difference.

Because of the fret spacing of the short banjos, they are the easiest to play.

5-String Banjo

The 5-string banjos are characterized by 22-frets and 5th string tuning.

The standard 5-string banjo usually comes with a resonator and is great for playing folk music and is ranked as part of the bluegrass banjo family.

But it can also be used by clawhammer players, only that they will have to remove the resonator to achieve a softer sound with top-notch quality.

Players of bluegrass banjo normally use thumbpicks and metal fingerpicks to play.

On the other hand, those playing clawhammers prefer using fingernails or specialized plastic picks positioned over their nails.

Like the 4-string banjo, the 5-string can also have a long neck, which gives it a total of 25 frets.

And because of this, it produces lower sounds as compared to their 22-fret counterpart. Thus the reason why it’s more acceptable among folk music players.

6-string Banjo

The best way to describe the 6-string banjo is as a guitar residing in a banjo’s body.

It’s tuning and manner of playing is identical to that of a guitar. So, this makes it favorable for experienced guitar players as it’s easy to pick from where they know.

But even as it’s played like a guitar, its sound quality remains top-notch like that of a high-end banjo.

Which Banjo To Choose For A Beginner?

Now that you have understood how each of these banjos works, it’s time to examine the best piece for a beginner.

First, we would like to state that the type of banjo you need greatly depends on the type of music you want to play.

That said, you should know that the 5-string banjo is the most famous among the three and it suits numerous music genres as compared to the other two banjos.

From bluegrass, classic music, folk music to country music a 5-string banjo will do you great justice.

And contrary to popular assumptions that the 5th string is hard to play, the opposite is actually true as you won’t have to fret down.

Besides, they’re normally tuned to an open- G plus the chords, which makes it pretty easy to finger as compared to the guitar.

On the other hand, the 4-string banjos aren’t that famous as the 5-string ones.

They’re most popular among Dixieland jazz and Jamaican Mento music, which makes them complementing rhythm instruments, unlike the 5-strings.

And although they sound pretty cool as Tenor and Plectrum (we explained above), they aren’t as good as the 5-strings. Thus, favorable for beginners who aren’t thinking of playing banjo professionally, at least not at the moment.

Further, the 60string banjos are famous among country and rock players. This is because they can easily be tuned and then be played like guitars. But, for a quality banjo sound.

And because of this, they are most suitable for pros/advanced players, with a great knowledge of guitar performances.

So, if you want to learn banjo and are planning to carry it on as a professional, then 5-string banjos make a great pick to start with. They’re comfortable, easy to pick and will give you immense satisfaction.

Open Back vs. Closed Back Banjo

Design

The open back and closed back (resonator) banjos come in similar designs.

However, the major difference lies in the wooden bowl-like covering that the closed-back banjo comes with. It’s this “bowl” that helps players project various sounds towards their audiences.

On the other hand, the open banjo contains no bowl. So, its strings are positioned spaciously as compared to their closed counterpart. This is to allow easy playing.

Sound

Because of their “bowl” covering, the closed-back banjo is a preferred choice among bluegrass players.

It produces a louder and classier sound than that of an open back banjo, which produces softer and mellow sounds.

So, players using the open back banjo can opt for an amplifier to increase volume as they play.

Cost

Because of their nature, the open-back banjos tend to be cheaper as compared to the closed-back ones, which also tend to be heavier, due to the materials they’re made of.

So, if you don’t know which one to go for, it’s better to pick a closed-back banjo as it offers users a lot of flexibility.

Things to Consider When Looking For The Right Banjo For Beginners

The Wood

This applies to both the wood in the neck and rim of the banjo as they largely contribute to the nature of the sound produced.

For instance, maple is great for a brighter sound, while mahogany produces a warm sweeter sound. And if you want a balance between warm and bright, then walnut breaks the deal.

Tuners

Ensure the banjo you pick contains geared tuners instead of friction ones.

This is because the geared tuners are more stable, hence they can withstand the pressure as you play. And as you select, a banjo with a tuner ratio of 14:1 is not only a great pick but also offers ease of play.

Tone Ring

First it’s important to understand that not all banjos have a tone ring. But those which have should sit above and down the rim.

Banjos with tone rings made up of steel, brass, and bronze, offer brighter sounds than wooden ones when combined with the wooden rims.

Frets

Fret wires have different heights. You will have to press the strings over the frets to achieve crispy clear sounds.

Therefore, avoid narrow frets as they are difficult and uncomfortable to play. Instead, go for taller ones, which are easy to press on, hence ease of play.

Warranty

It should be easy for you to get service from your banjo’s manufactures. So, ensure they have contact details for easy access. Also, they should have a warranty as a guarantee.

Neck

The ideal banjo for a beginner should have a slender neck, which is easy to reach around and fret. You can try them out at the showroom and pick the most comfortable.

Testimonials

Almost every company has an online presence. So take time to search for reviews and see what other buyers are saying. It should give you a clue of what to expect.

FAQs About Best Banjos for Beginners and Intermediate Players

Is It Hard to Learn to Play the Banjo?

Playing banjo, like any other musical instruments depend on consistency and dedication.

But if you’re following the correct procedures, then you should have learned all the standard basics by the 6th month.

Afterward, it will be all bout perfecting the art and moving with revolution. And that takes a lifetime!

Remember, it’s always better to be playing an hour each day than a few more hours once per week.

What Is A Good Cheap Banjo?

I would say with confidence that the Oscar Schmidt OB5 makes the perfect pick.

How Do You Play the Banjo for Beginners?

  1. Tune your banjo using an electric tuner. And for this, ensure the strings should be tighter for a higher pitch.
  2. Achieve a perfect posture with your shoulders up and backward.
  3. Hold your banjo at an angle of 45-degrees, with its bottom side facing slightly upward for a clear view. Ensure you have a banjo strap for easy positioning.
  4. Let your right hand rest on the strings close to the bridge and the left on the neck.
  5. Your pinky finger should be on the head of your banjo, together with your ring finger.
  6. Now try picking by sweeping downward with the nail of your thumb/ index/ middle finger (whichever is comfortable for you.)
  7. Practice some standard banjo-picking patterns in the 8th
  8. Practice the rhythm
  9. Learn complex music and keep practicing.

Here’s a video for a better explanation;

How Much Does A Decent Banjo Cost?

A decent mid-range banjo should cost you around $300-$425.  And a lower-end model for beginners should be $150-$300.

How Long Does It Take to Learn Banjo?

As mentioned above, it should take you up to 6 months to learn all the standard basics, no matter the kind of music you want to learn.

Conclusion

Banjo is a popular musical instrument in the mainly in American musical scenes. It produces great sounds, which complement jazz, folk, contrary and other similar genres.

So, if you have been planning on learning banjo, as your first instrument or second, the above information should help you make the perfect pick.

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