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Looking for the best banjo for beginners? Ready to get a little bit of that banjo twang in your life?
The banjo is one of the most interesting stringed instruments out there and offers a unique sound that has a lot of character.
While the banjo does have a bit of a negative connotation for some folks, thanks to a little movie called Deliverance, there’s no denying that the instrument is one of a kind and has a charm that can’t be beaten. It’s easy to see why, at this point, it has made its way into all types of musical genres.
If you’re looking for the best beginner banjo out there, you’re in the right place. Below I’ll give you my list of the very best banjos for beginners.
|Deering Goodtime 5-String Banjo||The Deering Goodtime 5-String Banjo is one of the most popular open back banjo options for beginners and offers everything you need to get started out on the right foot.||Open-Back||4.9||Check Price on Amazon|
|Oscar Schmidt OB5 Banjo||The Oscar Schmidt OB5 Banjo is a well-designed banjo that is sure to please your ears, fingers, and eyes.||Closed-Back||3.9||Check Price on Amazon|
|Kmise 5-String Resonator Banjo||This is a basic resonator banjo that offers a great value and reasonable quality.||Closed-Back||4.0||Check Price on Amazon|
|Pyle PBJ140 Banjo||This is a high-quality starter banjo that offers a great mix of quality and affordability.||Closed-Back||4.3||Check Price on Amazon|
|Gold Tone CC-100R||If you've got the money to spend and really want to start out with the best, the Gold Tone CC-100R banjo is a great option.||Closed-Back||4.8||Check Price on Amazon|
|Epiphone MB-100 Banjo||A high-quality, lightweight banjo that will satisfy any beginner or intermediate player looking for a well-rounded instrument.||Open-Back||4.5||Check Price on Amazon|
|Donner DBJ-200 5-String Banjo||This budget banjo offers all of the essentials you'll need to start playing the banjo.||Closed-Back||4.3||Check Price on Amazon|
|Jameson 5-String Closed-Back Banjo||This banjo offers the perfect mix of high-quality features, an excellent sound, and an affordable price.||Closed-Back||4.6|
|Aklot Open-Back 5-String Banjo||This is a pretty decent open-back banjo that's well worth considering if you're on a budget.||Open-Back||4.4||Check Price on Amazon|
|Pyle PBJ60 Banjo||if you're looking for a lightweight and very playable banjo that is also affordable, the Pyle PBJ60 Banjo is what you need.||Closed-Back||4.2|
Things to Consider Before Buying Your First Banjo
Depending on what you may or may not know about the banjo already, this section may be of interest to you. There are a few things you’ll want to make sure to think about before making a purchase and getting a new beginner banjo.
5-String vs 4-String
The first thing you need to consider is whether you want to get the 5-string or the 4-string banjo.
For a large majority of people, the 5-string is the one that you will likely be interested in. The 5-string is the type of banjo that is typically heard in bluegrass, folk, country, jazz, classical, and rock music.
A 4-string banjo, on the other hand, is more often used for Dixieland and Irish music
There are other options for the number of strings you can find on a banjo. There is the 6-string banjo, which plays like a guitar, the banjo ukulele, the banjo mandolin, and many more interesting options.
However, the 4-string and the 5-string banjo are the most commonly used. If you landed on this page, you’re probably looking for one or the other.
In this list, I’ll be looking specifically at the 5-string banjo.
Open Back vs Closed-Back/Resonator
Another thing you need to think about is whether you’re looking for an open-back banjo or a banjo with a closed-back resonator.
The open-back banjo offers a bit less volume than a closed-back banjo. An open-back banjo is more commonly used in old-time music where a banjo needs to fit in a bit more rather than rise above the noise.
Closed-back resonator banjos are much louder. The resonator is what allows the banjo to ring out so loudly in a bluegrass band as well as other types of music.
Left-Handed vs Right-Handed
Before buying a banjo, you also need to decide if you want a left-handed or right-handed option. Banjos are set up very differently depending on which of your hands is dominant.
Especially with 5-string banjos, it’s absolutely crucial that you get one that works with your dominant hand.
Is Banjo Easier Than the Guitar?
If you’re thinking about learning the banjo, you might be wondering how easy it is in comparison to one of the more popular stringed instruments, the guitar. Unfortunately, the answer isn’t as straightforward as you might like.
In many ways, the banjo is an easier instrument to learn. The banjo only has 5 strings while the guitar has 6 strings, and that makes it a bit easier to play. The banjo also has a smaller neck, and this can be helpful as well.
Because the banjo is tuned to an open G chord, it will also be simpler to play chords as well. The guitar, on the other hand, will require you to learn many shapes to play well.
When deciding which instrument is difficult, however, you’ll want to think about how you’re going to play it. Unlike the guitar, the banjo typically isn’t strummed. Most banjo players play 5-string banjo rather than the clawhammer style. The 5-string banjo requires a lot of fingerpicking, speed, and coordination.
Keep in mind that while you can strum either a guitar or a banjo, it’s a little more common to strum the guitar. This means that the guitar may end up being a bit easier for you. However, this depends on the style of guitar or banjo you want to play.
Best Beginner Banjo – My Recommendations
Alright, ready to get started? Here’s my list of the best banjos for beginners, each of which is great for using while learning.
- Great tone
- Made in America
- No armrest
- A tone ring isn’t included
The Deering Goodtime 5-String Banjo is one of the most popular open-back banjo options for beginners and offers everything you need to get started on the right foot. The banjo has high-quality construction and great intonation, which will help ensure that you’re always sounding your best.
A sharp and crisp tone comes out of this banjo and you’ll love the way the slim 22-fret maple neck feels when playing. The banjo is very comfortable to hold and feels great to play.
This banjo offers a lot of features and great sound, however, the only drawback is that it comes at a price. This is one of the most expensive beginner banjos on my list.
Despite this, however, we highly recommend this banjo for anyone looking to play the instrument while sounding great and being comfortable. This is one of the best open-back banjos around and is a perfect choice for beginners.
- Professional Appearance
- Cast aluminum tone ring
- A bit muffled-sounding high up on the fretboard
The Oscar Schmidt OB5 Banjo is a well-designed banjo that is sure to please your ears, fingers, and eyes. If you’re looking for the best banjo for beginners, you’ll want to find out more about this Oscar Schmidt instrument.
The banjo has a gorgeous look and features a rosewood fingerboard, a gloss finish, and a mahogany resonator. The instrument features 22 frets and a 30-bracket cast-aluminum tone ring.
The banjo also sounds great and easily stays in tune due to the high-quality geared 5th string tuner. The instrument is a great starter banjo. It’s unlikely to disappoint you once you have it in your hands.
However, it is somewhat on the pricier side. Overall, though, this is another excellent banjo that you can choose from that really will not disappoint. This is especially a great choice if you’re looking for a beginner resonator banjo that will give you a high amount of volume.
- Great value for the price
- Comes with a complete bundle of accessories
- Nice Appearance
- Cheaply made compared to alternatives
- Stock strings are lacking
One of the most popular beginner banjo options you’ll find on Amazon, this Kmise 5-String Resonator Banjo comes with a full collection of accessories that you’ll need to start playing the banjo. This includes fingerpicks, an instrument tuner, a banjo strap, and more.
The banjo itself is pretty impressive for its price as well and will give you the level of playability and sound quality you need when playing your first notes on the instrument. This is a resonator banjo and the quality of the materials is reasonably good, so you’ll be able to get a lot of action out of this value-packed deal.
While you’ll probably want to upgrade eventually, this Kmise 5-string banjo offers everything you need to get started playing the banjo with style.
- Great value for the price
- Quality craftsmanship and materials
- Essential accessories are included
- May need some light adjustments
The Pyle PBJ140 starter kit offers everything you need to start playing the banjo. Once you make your purchase, you’ll have a quality instrument at your disposal.
This resonator banjo is built with a good amount of quality and durability. It features a high-quality Remo drum head that’s handcrafted with Sapele hardwood. This is a full-size banjo that has 24 brackets and 22 frets.
While there are more professional banjos out there than this Pyle instrument, this banjo offers an amazing bang for the buck. The banjo has great reviews and offers a good combination of affordability and quality.
Be sure to take a closer look at this Pyle instrument if you’re trying to find a starter banjo that you’ll be happy with as a beginner.
- Clear, bright sound
- Quality maple construction
- Great setup from the very beginning
- More expensive than other starter banjos
The Gold Tone CC-100R is another great banjo option that serves as a well-rounded option if you’re looking for the best banjo for beginners. Gold Tone is a very respected brand and the company did a great job on this banjo.
The instrument has some excellent features and is well-made to offer both a good sound and easy playability. This banjo has some really nice hardware including geared tuners, a tone ring, two coordinator rods, and an adjustable tailpiece.
Both beginners and advanced banjo players will likely find a lot to love in this banjo. The banjo offers a lot of value for its price, however, it should be noted that this banjo is among the most expensive on my list.
However, if you’ve got the money to spend and really want to start out with the best, the Gold Tone CC-100 banjo is a great option for beginners.
- Excellent tone
- Great resonance and volume
- No accessories included
The Epiphone MB-100 is another great banjo for beginners that you should consider. Epiphone is a trusted brand that is well-known for its guitars but the brand’s banjos are also top-notch.
This particular banjo features a lot of good features and great craftsmanship. The geared tuner on this banjo is particularly nice, and the mahogany body Remo banjo head both look great.
The banjo features a great tone and has plenty of resonance despite having an open-back design. It sounds great from the get-go and is a great well-rounded banjo option. The banjo is also very lightweight and would work great as a travel instrument.
The instrument has a nice tone and sounds exactly like a 5-string banjo should. You also have a lot of control over the sound of this banjo as it is very adjustable.
If you want a banjo with a resonator, however, the Epiphone MB-200 Banjo is another great option. While it’s very similar to the MB-100, it also includes a resonator.
If you’re looking for a cheap banjo to get started with, this is a great choice that you may want to go with. The MB-200 option is a bit pricier than the MB-100, though.
Nonetheless, either banjo would satisfy any beginner or intermediate player and is another excellent option to consider if you’re on the hunt for a well-rounded instrument.
- Excellent value
- Includes a complete bundle of accessories
- Minimal adjustments needed
- Cheaply made compared to alternatives
- Tuners could be better
The Donner DBJ-200 Banjo is another option to consider in your search for a good starter banjo.
This banjo features a mahogany neck, back, and sides along with a high-quality drumhead that creates a clear and resonant tone. The banjo’s resonator can also easily be removed so that you can play it open-back style.
Donner has put together a great package for new players because the DBJ-200 banjo includes all of the core banjo accessories that you’ll need. This includes a tuner, a gig bag, a tuner, banjo picks, and more.
Be sure to consider this banjo for beginners if you want to start playing the instrument while getting started for a low price.
- Great value for a beginner
- Excellent tone
- May need some adjustments
The Jameson 5-String Closed-Back Banjo is one of my top banjo choices for good reason. This banjo offers the perfect mix of high-quality features, excellent sound, and an affordable price.
This is a closed-back banjo so the sound really rises above the noise and the resonator offers a great clear sound. The banjo also features a geared 5th tuner.
The banjo is really affordable compared to a lot of the other options out there. It allows you to get started on the banjo easily without the need for a large investment upfront.
Overall, you can’t go wrong with this banjo if you’re looking for a great beginner instrument that truly stands out.
- Excellent value
- Comes with a complete accessory bundle
- Attractive, vintage look
- Tuners are on the cheaper side
- The included strap isn’t the best
If you’re looking for an open-back banjo for a great price, then you might want to consider this Aklot instrument.
This Aklot Open-Back Banjo offers a surprisingly impressive level of quality for its price and also looks amazing as well. The banjo features maple wood and offers a bright and clear tone.
Like some of the other banjos on this list of banjo reviews, you’ll also find all of the great accessories you’ll need for starting the banjo included with this Aklot package. The banjo comes complete with a set of strings, finger picks, a tuner, a strap, and more. You’ll also get a 2-year warranty with this banjo as well.
10. Pyle PBJ60 Banjo
- Great Tone
- Very lightweight
- Awesome value
- Not made with the highest quality materials
- Will probably need some adjustments
The Pyle-Pro PBJ60 Banjo is another great choice for beginners, and along with the Jameson banjo we mentioned above, it’s also one of the most affordable options out there. It’s a surprisingly cheap banjo that is also highly playable and looks great.
The banjo features a mahogany neck, sides, and back, along with a gorgeous rosewood fingerboard. The banjo also has a nice maple wood bridge and chrome-plated hardware.
Another great thing about this entry-level banjo is that it is very lightweight. If you’re looking for a banjo you can take traveling with you, this may be the banjo you’re looking for.
Overall, if you’re looking for a great and very playable banjo that is also quite affordable, this Pyle PBJ60 Banjo may be just what the doctor ordered. If you need the best banjo for beginners, this is a great choice.
Choosing a Great First Banjo to Play
If you’re looking for a reliable high-quality banjo to start learning on you really can’t go wrong with any of the above options. The banjos above are the best of the best when it comes to great beginner banjos.
While you may want to eventually upgrade to a professional banjo, any of the banjos on the list above should serve you well as you progress in your skills. It’s important to get your banjo journey started off right, so take your time, and decide on the best option for you and you may just be playing the banjo for years to come.
Is a banjolele more your style? Check out my list of the best banjo ukuleles now.