The Best Banjos For Beginners
Are you considering playing the banjo but don’t know where to start?
Maybe, you want to find out what makes one type of banjo better for new players than other types meant for intermediate and expert players. Many people simply want to know how hard it is to start playing the banjo in the first place.
Do you want to find out if you’re up for the challenge?
What is the best banjo for a beginner, anyway? No matter what the case, you’ve come to the right place! By the end, you will know the right choice for you among the available banjos for sale!
Top Beginner Banjos:
More details on each of our picks can be found at the end.
The Guide will comprehensively cover everything that you could ever want to know before purchasing your first banjo. We’ll go over how to select the ideal banjo for your needs and walk you through some of the greatest beginner banjo options on the market today.
This comprehensive banjo guide will explain why certain banjo options are ideal for new players. We’ll look at exactly what features make each banjo best for beginner level playing and how you can tell if a specific banjo will work for your style. We’ll also list the top 8 best beginner banjo options.
Before that, you might want to go through the banjo history, instrument characteristics, styles, and features of the instrument! By doing this, you’ll equip yourself with the facts and start your journey as a beginner the right way.
Help your self to select not only the best starter banjo but the ideal banjo for you as an individual!
What to Look for as a Beginner?
Helpful Beginner Banjo Features to Look For:
- Smooth Neck
- Dot Inlays
- Fair Price
- Acoustic Resonation
- Lightweight Strings
- Quality Material Construction
- For Children, Look for a Smaller Banjo
- For Travelers, a Lightweight Open-Back Banjo is Best
- For Loud Clear Tones, a Closed-Back or Resonator Banjo is a Good Choice
First, you should consider learning about the history of banjos and know what’s out there.
So what to look for when starting out playing the banjo? Whether you want to play in a Bluegrass, old-time, or frailing Clawhammer style, choosing the right banjo is key. For now, your main style will be “beginner”. However, over time that may change.
It’s best to choose a banjo that can grow with you. However, if you choose to change up your style later, you can always get another instrument. Usually, it’s best to learn a broad range of styles at first. In time, you can shift and begin playing in your own individualistic way.
Keep in mind that opinions on what makes a banjo great for a beginner may vary. Every musician has specific preferences and a unique playing style. With that in mind, here are some tips to help you find your perfect banjo!
• Look for a Five-String Banjo
First of all, it’s best to opt for a five-string banjo. For one, a five-string banjo will let you learn how to rhythmically pick that special fifth string.
This is key for creating folky rhythms and the classic banjo sound. Plus, five-string banjos are easier to find and come at a good value. Five-string banjos come in Clawhammer, Bluegrass, and Folk styles.
• Define Your Budget
Banjo prices can vary dramatically. After you figure out your budget, you’ll be able to more easily select the right banjo for a price you can easily pay. Try to select an instrument that’s of the highest quality you can afford. That way, you won’t be inhibited as you begin your playing journey.
• Think Comfort
It’s also a good idea to choose a banjo that will be comfortable for you to hold. Some banjos are pretty heavy. For example, electric banjos with head pickups can weigh quite a bit. Open back banjos are often much lighter and easier to play and carry around.
You will also want to choose a banjo with smooth frets and brackets so that you can easily slide your hand up and down the neck. Finally, it’s a good idea to select lightweight strings. Many banjos will include a set of strings.
Although, it may be a good idea to select your own set of light strings. The Elixir company makes some great Polyweb strings in light and easy to play gauges. Since you’ll probably need an extra set anyway, these are a great choice for beginners.
• Opt for Slim Necks and Geared Tuners
When you’re learning to play, tuning and chord changes can feel complex. To help make this easier, it’s a good idea to look for geared tuning pegs. These pegs use a gear system to help improve tuning precision and prevent tuning slippage.
Also, a smooth and slender neck will help you more easily transition between chords. On top of that, when you have a smooth slim neck, eventually you will be able to more easily pick notes faster.
• Skip The Electric Banjo for Now
Also, we recommend skipping electric variants until you’ve gotten better at playing. Electric banjos are heavier, more complicated to learn on, and usually cost more. Plus, you can always add an electric pickup later. Finally, it will likely be harder to play on the fly.
So, when you get those free moments to practice more, you’ll have more of a hassle hooking everything up and thus be less likely to get in those practice hours.
Plectrum and Four-String Options
In case you want to play in a more unique way, you might also want to look into four-string banjo options for beginners. Four-string banjos work well for Irish folk music, so if you like Celtic tunes, they’re worth checking out! So what is the best four-string banjo for beginners? Well, Jameson and Deering make some amazing plectrum banjos, so you might want to have a look at their instruments.
Top 8 Best Beginner 5-String Banjo Options
Here, we will look at the top 8 best 5-String Banjo options as it is our tool of thumb for all the new players.
Each of these banjos has its own unique characteristics. Remember, what might be the best banjo for players who like one style might not be ideal for your exact playing needs.
As you look through these products, simply choose what you feel will best fit your preferences most exactly. That’s the beauty of learning something all-new, you get to choose the starting point! Plus, every single one of the banjos on this list is a great choice for beginners.
8. Jameson Guitars 5 String 38 Banjo
Best Banjo for Those Who are Just Starting Out
This is a full-scale banjo made by Jameson Guitars. This guitar company is known for crafting quality acoustic instruments at a good price. It’s a nice-looking banjo that sounds balanced and is easy to learn on.
It comes with a geared 5th string tuner, a 24 bracket neck, solid back, real wood bridge, and works for Folk, Bluegrass, and Pop hits. Plus, this instrument is affordable.
7. Epiphone MB-100 5-String Banjo
Best Banjo for Beginners Who Want Trusted Quality
If you’re a guitar player already, you probably know how great Epiphone’s stringed instruments are. If not, you should definitely try out an Epiphone banjo, guitar, mandolin, or double bass. This Epiphone Banjo is ideal for those who are looking to learn how to play and want an instrument maker they can trust.
Epiphone is a real acoustic instrument trendsetter and their banjos are some of the best around. This banjo features dot inlays, a Mahogany body, and a lightweight open back. All of these features help to make it easier to play.
Plus, its Rosewood fingerboard and Remo head are stunning, durable, and made well. By the way, you may be interested to learn that Epiphone has been making banjos since before they made their first guitar in 1928. So, this is a company that knows what they’re doing. Their first banjos came out way back in the 1920s!
6. Pyle 5-String Geared Tunable Banjo PBJ60
Best Banjo for Beginners Who Want Simplicity
Maybe you’re looking for a banjo that’s simple and affordable. That’s totally understandable! If low prices and simple designs matter to you, the Pyle 5-String Geared Tunable Banjo might be the best banjo for sale to consider.
It’s a model that you can spend less on while still getting a great overall sound. Plus, it’s lightweight, simple, straightforward, and great for new players.
5. Rogue Learn the Banjo Starter Pack
Best Banjo for Beginner Musicians Who Want Everything Included
We couldn’t make a guide on beginner banjos without including this starter pack from Rogue. With this banjo starter kit, you’ll get a 5-string banjo, travel case, and instructional guidebook with a chord chart and a beginner’s DVD.
While the instrument itself isn’t the most premium option, the fact that you get everything you need makes it well worth considering. This open back banjo has a smooth finish and is lightweight with a short 18-bracket neck.
So, it’s great for learning the basics. Its tone is definitely authentic and you get plenty of extras. Finally, this kit comes at a decent overall price.
4. Deering Goodtime Left Handed 5-String Banjo
Best Banjo for Beginners Who are Left-Handed
If you’re left-handed, not to worry, there are still plenty of awesome banjos for you to choose from. This Deering Goodtime 5-String Banjo, for example, has been specifically made for left-handed people. It’s well-made, durable, and easy to learn on. It showcases a premium-grade Maple rim and has a lightweight open back design.
This banjo also has 22 smooth pressed frets and a slender rock Maple neck. On top of that, it comes with smooth pressed frets and a slim neck for easier chord changes. It’s great for playing on-the-go, so you can practice anywhere. Additionally, this gorgeous banjo comes in a stunning and unique blonde color!
3. Ibanez B200 5-String Banjo
Best Banjo for Beginner Players Who Want Closed Back Resonation
While open back banjos are awesome for travel and have lightweight designs, some players will still prefer closed-back models. Closed-back banjos are great, as long as you don’t mind a little bit more weight.
One of the best closed back banjos out there is easily this beauty from Ibanez. While it’s been a while since Ibanez has made a banjo, this particular model really sings! It has a 22-fret five-string design and a closed-back, so you’ll get tons of acoustic sound.
The resonation is truly stunning. Its basswood rim and 24-lug configuration give it a ring that can’t be beaten. It has a Mahogany neck and a Rosewood fingerboard with Mother-of-Pearl inlay. Not only that, but it also features Chrome tuners that give it a stylish vintage look.
2. Washburn Americana B10 5-string Resonator Banjo
Best Banjo for Beginners Who Want Something To Grow With
One of the best beginner 5-string banjo options out there, the 30-fret Washburn B-10 Americana Series Full-Size Banjo is classy, well-made, and creates an unforgettable sound. It’s ideal for amateurs and professionals alike.
If you want a banjo that you can learn on and grow into, this is a fantastic option. It’s a premium instrument that you can use for decades with proper care. Its Mahogany resonator provides amazing volume and smooth acoustic sound while its smooth and slender neck comes topped with an engineered wood fingerboard. Adorned with unique deluxe pearl floral inlays.
This banjo drips with Americana style. Die-cast tuners and Pearloid buttons make tuning smooth while its authentic Remo head and ebony-tipped maple bridge give you precise articulation. It’s also very comfortable to play on.
Lastly, this stunning and stylish banjo comes fitted with a Kershner-style tailpiece and shines with its Sunburst gloss finish. Washburn has been building banjos since the 1800s, so they definitely know what it takes to create a premium instrument!
What is the Best Banjo for a Beginner?
1. Deering Goodtime 2 5-String Banjo (Top Pick)
Overall Best Banjo for a Beginner
Finally, let’s take a look at the absolute best beginner 5-string banjo! Hands-down, it’s this Deering Goodtime 2 5-String Banjo. For beginners, this banjo beautifully balances price, sound, weight, design, and overall functionality.
Deering banjos are designed by Greg Deering, a musician who creates premium instruments at affordable prices. This banjo has been getting great player ratings ever since its release.
First of all, it has a resonator back that offers plenty of projection without weighing it down very much. So, you will get the benefits of a slightly lighter instrument with plenty of premium sound and impressive durability.
Plus, this banjo is made in the USA by Deering, a trusted acoustic instrument maker with a glowing reputation. Then, this gorgeous banjo has a real maple neck that shows off a lovely blonde color. This banjo has truly been designed to help new players succeed.
This banjo offers punchy bluegrass tones that resonate through the rock Maple rim. It also has a Birch and Maple neck and geared tuners for precision and accuracy. With the slender neck and 22 smooth full-sized frets, it’s easy to practice and eventually switch chords more quickly.
Its bright and clear sound is ideal for learning to tune your ears to those unique banjo string tones as well. This banjo also has clear note separation, which adds to its user-friendly design.
If that’s not enough, most of these Deering Goodtimes 2 Banjos come pre-fitted with light gauge strings. Light strings are ideal for fingers that don’t yet have calluses or for new players still building hand muscle memory. When you’re more experienced, you can then easily fit this banjo with medium strings. Without question, this is the best premium banjo that has been made in the USA specifically to help new players master their skills.
Top Rated Banjo Brands
Just like with styling, you’ll find that there’s no real consensus on which banjo makers are best. However, it’s safe to say that top banjo makers include Deering, Epiphone, and Washburn. All of these companies know how to craft a quality instrument from top to bottom.
For banjos, Ibanez and Jameson are known to craft some great products, although Ibanez is only just getting back into the game. With that in mind, we are excited to see where they take their modern banjos in the coming years!
No matter what brand you buy, remember to look for quality and user-friendly features over price. While it may be tempting to drop thousands on a premium banjo, it may be smart to first learn to play on something that’s a bit less expensive. We aren’t saying buy a cheap low-quality banjo. Just be sure to balance quality and price while you get the hang of things.
Here are a few of the most frequently asked questions about beginner banjos.
What is the best banjo to buy for a beginner?
If you’re looking to buy a banjo for a new musician, it’s a good idea to opt for an instrument of good quality and design that also isn’t overly expensive. We definitely have to recommend the Deering Goodtime 2 Banjo. This instrument is beautifully made with user-friendly design features and a rich sound. Plus, it strikes the ideal balance of premium quality and affordability.
What is the best way for a beginner to practice banjo?
When you first begin learning this instrument, the best thing to do is keep working at it. As cliche as it sounds, practice makes perfect. Don’t give up! Every great musician was a novice once.
Designating a specific practice time every day is a great way to force yourself to keep working at it. There are also a lot of great practice guides and lessons for beginners available free online. These resources can be extremely helpful.
Which is easier to learn to play, guitar or banjo?
While both of these instruments present their own unique challenges, many would agree that a banjo is easier to learn. Banjos have lighter strings and create more satisfying sounds with added rhythm elements.
Can I really learn how to play the banjo?
Yes! With enough dedication, a good instrument, and the right resources, anyone can learn to play the banjo. These acoustic instruments are also extremely fun to play once you get the hang of things!