If you’re delving into the world of banjos, you’ve likely encountered the term “open-back banjo.” But what does it mean, and why might it be the perfect choice for you? In this guide, we unravel the charm of open-back banjos, exploring their association with different playing styles, genres, and types. Whether you’re a newcomer or a seasoned player, join us on a journey to discover the best open-back banjos and find the perfect instrument for your musical expression.

Best Open-Back Banjos for Every Player

Gold Tone CC-50TR Cripple Creek Product Image

Gold Tone CC-50TR Cripple Creek

The Gold Tone CC-50TR is praised for its craftsmanship and playability. With a unique rolled brass tone ring, this travel size open back banjo delivers a tone that leans towards warmth. It’s a versatile choice for players exploring different genres, including folk and old-time.

Characteristics: Travel size, Versatile / Folk and old-time
Availability: Brand New / Used
Tone: Warmth
Construction: 8.4
Playing Style: 9

Deering Goodtime Open-Back Banjo Product Image

Deering Goodtime Open-Back

Renowned for its affordability and quality, the Deering Goodtime Open-Back Banjo is an excellent entry point for beginners exploring the world of open-back banjos. Its bright and clear tone makes it suitable for various playing styles.

Characteristics: Various playing styles
Availability: Brand New / Used
Tone: Bright and clear tone
Construction: 9
Playing Style: 8.9

Recording King RK-OT25-BR Madison

Recording King RK-OT25-BR

A favorite among enthusiasts, the RK-OT25-BR offers a warm and mellow tone, perfect for traditional folk and clawhammer playing. Its craftsmanship and playability make it a reliable choice for both beginners and experienced players.

Characteristics: Traditional folk and clawhammer playing
Availability: Brand New / Used
Tone: Warm and mellow tone
Construction: 8.4
Playing Style: 8.4

Bart Reiter Round Peak Product Image

Bart Reiter Round Peak

Crafted by the renowned Bart Reiter, the Round Peak Open-Back Banjo is a testament to quality and tradition. Its distinctive tone and excellent playability make it a top choice for players exploring various folk and clawhammer styles.

Characteristics: HQ, folk / clawhammer
Availability: (Hard to find)
Tone: Distinctive
Construction: 9.9
Playing Style: 9.9

Pisgah Possum 12inch Open Back Banjo Walnut

Pisgah Possum 12″ walnut

Handcrafted with precision, the Pisgah Possum offers a unique blend of tradition and modern craftsmanship. Its warm, woody tone and responsiveness make it a favorite among players who appreciate a more vintage sound.

Characteristics: Handcrafted
Availability: Brand New / Used
Tone: Warm, woody
Construction: 9.9
Playing Style: 10

Choosing the Best Open-Back Banjo

What Sets Them Apart:

Open-back banjos, distinct for their resonator-free design, offer a unique tonal profile prized by players in various genres. When selecting the best open-back banjo, consider key factors that contribute to their distinct sound and playability.

  • Tonal Characteristics: The absence of a resonator gives open-back banjos a mellower, warmer tone. This characteristic is especially appealing for genres like folk, clawhammer, and frailing. As you explore options, pay attention to the tonal qualities each banjo offers, whether it’s the bright and clear notes of a maple rim or the warm, woody resonance of a walnut construction.
  • Versatility in Playing Styles: Open-back banjos are celebrated for their versatility across playing styles. Whether you’re drawn to traditional folk, old-time tunes, or the rhythmic patterns of clawhammer and frailing, the open-back design allows for a nuanced and delicate tonal expression. Consider your preferred playing style when choosing the best open-back banjo for your musical journey.
  • Craftsmanship and Materials: Craftsmanship plays a crucial role in the overall performance of a banjo. Evaluate the quality of construction, materials used for the rim and neck, and the expertise of the maker. Different woods, such as maple or walnut, contribute distinct tonal characteristics, allowing you to choose a banjo that aligns with your musical preferences.
  • Head Material and Design: The banjo head material, whether synthetic or natural, influences responsiveness and tonal warmth. Consider the type of head that suits your playing style. Additionally, pay attention to the design elements such as brackets, tension hoop, and neck profile, as they contribute to the banjo’s structural integrity and playability.
  • Budget Considerations: Determine your budget and explore open-back banjos within that range. Fortunately, there are excellent options for various price points. Whether you’re a beginner looking for an entry-level banjo or a seasoned player seeking a professional-grade instrument, there’s a best-fit option for every budget.


Open-back banjos beckon with a timeless charm, offering a tonal canvas that resonates with tradition. Whether you’re drawn to folk, clawhammer, or old-time styles, the best open-back banjos listed here are your gateway to a rich and nuanced musical journey. Explore, play, and let the distinctive voice of the open-back banjo become a part of your musical expression.