So you’re thinking around buying a banjo. Fantastic. Therefore what must you it is in looking for? We have actually over 200 banjos in stock, with brand-new instruments getting here every week. Over there is an unlimited number of variations -- sizes, species of wood/metal used, different species of hardware, etc. -- and it have the right to be overwhelming come a banjo newbie.

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So we’ve put together a list of 5 questions come ask yourself before starting your search. This must narrow under your choices and, hopefully, make her decision a little easier. And also of course, friend can constantly call our advantageous staff at (517) 372-7890, and also they’ll it is in happy to answer any type of lingering inquiries you can have.

Before us get any further, a word about quality. Us stand by every the tools we market here, but there space some low-quality banjos the end there top top the market. Make sure that her banjo neck is make from a high quality hardwood favor maple or walnut and that the rim is made of a high quality tonewood (usually maple) or metal. Wood rims deserve to be either multi-ply or block style, but you don’t need to get too concerned about the distinctions this beforehand in your banjourney. Some banjos, favor the Gold tone AC-1 and AC-2, usage composite rims and are a good value. In any kind of case, beware the deals the sound too an excellent to it is in true.

With that the end of the way, let’s obtain started.

1: How plenty of strings?

The most usual banjo setup is five strings, tuned GDGBD, likewise known as open up G tuning. There are other feasible tunings, yet we don’t require to acquire into the here. If you’re looking to play authentic bluegrass or old time music, you will desire a 5-string banjo. But there are other options.

If you already play a stringed instrument, there room some varieties of banjo that can make the change a little less daunting. If you a guitarist who interested in gaining that banjo timbre however don’t want to worry around re-learning her chords and scales, there are numerous 6-string banjos on the market, and also they space tuned just like a standard guitar. It’s a great way to add banjo ton to a track or 2 without discovering an entirely brand-new instrument.

If you play violin, viola, mandolin, or mandola, you may want to take into consideration a 4-string tenor banjo, i m sorry are accessible with or there is no resonator. The typical tenor banjo has a shorter neck, 17-fret or 19-fret, and is tuned CGDA, comparable to a viola or mandola, however they can also be tuned in ireland tuning, GDAE, comparable to a mandolin or violin. While violinists and also violists will have actually to readjust to a fretted fingerboard and also not playing under the chin, castle will find that the notes are where their fingers space accustomed come finding them.

There are likewise 4-string plectrum banjos, which room played v a flatpick and traditionally offered in Dixieland music and also early jazz. Standard plectrum banjo tuning is CGBD, yet they can additionally be tuned to Chicago tuning, i beg your pardon is DGBE. This is as with the highest four strings ~ above a guitar, for this reason it’s an additional option because that banj-curious guitarists. And for ukulele players, there space a variety of 4-string banjo/uke hybrids on the market.

Tenor and plectrum banjos are much less common, for this reason you may have an obstacle finding one in her price range. Yet they’re absolutely worth considering if she transitioning from one more instrument.

2: Resonator or openback?

To oversimplify the issue, resonator banjos are typically used because that bluegrass and country music, and also openback banjos are typically used in old time and also folk. Resonator banjos have a key (resonator) ~ above the earlier that reflects much more of the sound the end to the audience, which is helpful if you playing v a according to band or contending to be heard in a jam session. Typically they likewise have a hefty metal ton ring inside, contacting the head, i beg your pardon contributes come the volume and gives the tone a distinctive character. Through openback banjos, ~ above the various other hand, much of that sound is soaked up by the performer, causing a mellower, more intimate tone. The playing style is generally different together well, through fingerpicking usually provided in bluegrass or country and frailing or clawhammer supplied for old time and folk.

Of course, yes no factor you can not play any type of style the music top top either format of banjo. You’ll discover plenty the old time players who usage resonator banjos, and modern amplification method openback players deserve to hang simply fine in a band. You’ll also find that plenty of openback banjos have tone rings, i beg your pardon can color the sound and/or include volume. We imply trying as many different banjos together you deserve to to number out what friend like.

A keep in mind on setup: Openback banjos room sometimes set up through high action over the high finish of the fretboard, giving more room because that clawhammer playing. (Some also have a scooped fingerboard, without frets over a details point, however we’ll acquire to that later.) If you plan to pat high ~ above the fingerboard, you’ll want to make sure your banjo is setup appropriately for that. The strings have to be low enough over the frets close to the head to play comfortably.

Banjos generally fall into 2 categories: Resonator (left) v a reflective key on the back, and also Openback (right).

3: What kind of head have to it have?

Most modern-day banjos use man-made heads, which are resistant to weather and environmental factors, but some football player still like the tone of traditional goat or calf skin heads. If this is your an initial banjo, stick to synthetic. You will do it have sufficient things to worry about; there’s no require to add a fussy skin head come the mix.

4: come scoop or not to scoop?

Some openback banjos have a scooped fingerboard, where over a certain point there are no frets and material has been removed, or scooped, from the fingerboard. This creates more space between the strings and also the fingerboard, providing you an ext room come play over the fretboard and take benefit of the cool sound you obtain in the spot. This is wanted by plenty of clawhammer players. If you plan on playing lead runs or other varieties of play that take it you high up the fingerboard, however, the scoop is no a desirable option.

Some openback banjos, choose this Deering Goodtime Americana, attribute a scooped fretboard for easier over-the-neck playing.

5: have to I go electric?

Where are you going come be play your instrument? If it’s mainly for playing about the house or in acoustic jam sessions, you will most likely never require a pickup. If you going come be play live at coffee houses, theaters, churches, or other tool to big venues, you can find a pickup will make amplification much simpler than trusting the sound human to mic it increase well. If you’re play loud bars or clubs, you might want to consider a mostly solid body instrument, favor the Gold ton EB-5, which will certainly be much more resistant to feedback.

There space plenty the after-market pickups you can add to an instrument, so if you not certain if you require one right now, girlfriend can constantly pick one up down the road.

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Anything else?

While we’ve covered most of the best banjo buying concerns, we’ve just scratched the surface ar in terms of options. Some choices, choose the type of wood used for the rim and the neck, have the right to greatly impact the ton and/or feel of the banjo. Other choices, like fingerboard inlay, are practically entirely aesthetic, but likewise factor right into the decision. We recommend make the efforts as countless banjos as you can. If you have the right to make the expedition to our renowned showroom in Lansing, Michigan, we have actually hundreds that banjos that you deserve to take because that a test drive. If friend can’t do it here in person, you have the right to use our website to explore and focus her choices, or offer us a call, and also our beneficial staff will certainly be happy to help you find an instrument that suits your needs and also budget.

Finally, don"t stress too much around getting the perfect banjo right now. Your tastes and also preferences will construct as girlfriend learn, and also what works for friend today could not be ideal down the road. Uncover something the you deserve to learn on, and also you can always trade that in later on when it"s time to upgrade. Great luck!