Top Beginner Banjos Reviewed
Taking the step from wanting to learn the banjo to buying your own is a big step. It can be hard to figure out which is best for you to start off with. Instruments can get expensive and you want to ensure that you’re not buying something with features built for expert players that you’ll have trouble learning.
For that reason, we’re going to break down the best banjo for beginners or, rather, some of the best candidates for you to choose. Here, we’re going to look at factors you should keep an eye out for, what makes a good banjo, and what makes a good banjo for new players specifically.
What should you look for in a banjo?
Amongst any type of instrument, there are bound to be dozens of variations, if not more. Some of them are best suited for certain types of music, others are better suited for those with an advanced proficiency. Here, we’re going to look at a host of features and which you should look for as a beginner.
Price: There are banjos of all prices, which is affected by brand, material quality, features like resonators, string numbers, and more. As a beginner, you don’t want to invest a lot of money into an instrument that you might not end up using as much as you planned. We’ve ensured that all the banjos reviewed here are at a reasonable price for new players, for that reason.
String number: The number of strings controls not just how many notes a banjo can play, but are often chosen to play specific kinds of music. Beginners tend to choose 5 string banjos, which are the most broadly used. Six string banjos are often used to make it easier to play songs played on guitar, but if you’re buying a banjo to play banjo music, you might want to stick with 5-string instruments.
Ease of play: A lot of banjos aren’t built to be easy for beginners to play but are designed with advanced players in mind. As such, they may have thicker necks that are difficult to get used to. Look for D-shaped, slimmer necks that are easier to handle while you develop the muscle memory to play. After that, you can begin moving onto more advanced banjo shapes if you like.
Hopefully, the points above should help you browse the recommendations below being a little more informed as to why we’ve picked them out. With that that settled, it’s time to look at the best banjos for beginners:
Best Banjos For Beginners
A 24-bracket 5-string banjo featured a closed wood back and geared 5th tuner, this banjo comes with a comprehensive set for beginners, featuring a bag, strap, picks, and extra set of strings. As such, it’s one of the more expensive items we’re looking at, but arguable feature packed enough to justify it.
ADM specializes in creating instruments for musical students and beginners, and the material quality of their 5-string banjo fits their reputation well. The strings are nice and responsive, meaning they don’t take too much pressure to push down on, which makes them much easier to produce the sound you want with. The inclusion of a geared 5th tuner on this relatively inexpensive banjo (compared to those built for more advanced players) makes it much easier to tune, as well.
The lack of a beginner’s guide for new players is a slight downside, but tutorials are easier to find on the net than ever. Otherwise, adult male players might not find much use out of the smaller picks provided, but otherwise there are few reasons to complain.
- 5 String Full Size Banjo with Geared 5th Tuner
- Features 24 brackets, a maple bridge, an adjustable hinged tailpiece and a chrome plated arm rest
- A mahogany resonator and neck with a 7 ply maple and mahogany shell brings great sound
- Perfect for anyone who has always wanted to learn to play this iconic instrument
- Bundle includes: gig bag, tuner, extra set of strings, strap and 3 picks
A solid mahogany 5-string banjo with a tuner, strap, picks, an extra set of strings, and an add pick up, this banjo comes in at around the same price at ADM, but with added pick-up to give it a touch more value, too. But how does it compare in terms of quality or tone?
Mahogany’s a good material choice, creating a more durable instrument not likely to warp over long periods of use with a nice, glossy surface that makes it very comfortable to hold and play, as well. The removable resonator can turn it into an open-back banjo at will, so if you want to play songs outside of the bluegrass style, this might be a key feature for you.
If there are any issues to bring up, one of them is the lack of a beginner’s player guide which is, again, easily circumvented with the help of the internet. It is one of the smaller banjos we’ve looked at as well, so larger adults might find it not quite as comfortable as some of the other options we’ll look at.
- 1. REMO DRUM HEAD It uses high-quality Remo drum head as Banjo panel that can produce a sweet tone. You can also gently beat the head to fusion different timbres in your melodies.
- 2. ADJUSTABLE STRING HEIGHT It equips a truss rod that can adjust the string height, so that you will feel comfortable and perform fluently.
- 3. DURABLE MATERIAL Mahogany neck, sides and back have beautiful wood grain, hard and not liable to warp or corrode, making the banjo durable.
- 4. SMOOTH DECENT TOUCH It has a fine bright paint, glossy and smooth, giving you a comfortable playing experience.
- 5. ECONOMICAL KIT Coming with bag, guitar Tuner, Strap, Pick up, Strings, Picks, you can get these accessories which is suited to beginner one-off at a cost-effective price.
Jameson presents a high-quality 5-string banjo with a solid closed mahogany back, and a slender maple bridge with 24 brackets. Like the ADM, it has a geared 5th tuner, but is slightly less expensive, making it perhaps even a better deal. However, it does lack many of the extras that come with both the ADM and Vangoa, with an added cost to add a gig bag. As such, you might end up spending a little more to make your own complete kit.
One of the best features of the Jameson for beginners is that it comes complete out of the box, no need to install the bridge or fix the strings, simply tune them a little and they’re ready to go. Like the Vangoa, the resonator can easily be removed, making for a more versatile sound, as well. The stability of the tuning is impressive, too. With beginner banjos, a common problem is that they can get further out of tune the higher up the fret board you get, but that wasn’t a problem with the Jameson.
This banjo is slightly heavier than the others named here, so it might not be the best fit for younger players, but it is well sized for beginner adults.
- 5 String Full Size Banjo with Geared 5th Tuner
- Amazing Low Price on Best Selling Banjo
- 24 Bracket with Closed Mahogany Back; Nut Width - 1.25 inches
- Made by Jameson/Davison Guitar Company. Overall length - 38 inches
- Ships Fast - Top Seller - Customer Favorite
Around the same in price as the ADM and the Vangoa, this 5-string mahogany banjo is built with beginners in mind, lightweight, smooth and with a slim neck that makes for comfortable use. The weight makes it much easier for beginners of all ages to get started with, and to bring your new instrument on the road or to the campsite with you, as well.
The quality in texture of the materials is a plus when it comes to comfort, too. The layered wood rim makes for a nice difference compared to the aluminum you might find in other banjos of a similar price range. The added arm rest and adjustment tools make it a lot easier to get comfortable with no matter where you want to play it, as well.
One slight sacrifice is the lack of a geared peg for the 5th string tuner, instead coming with a friction peg. However, it’s not too difficult to replace if you’re so inclined. It also requires a little assembly, so if you’re not thrilled with that thought, some of the others reviewed here might be a better option.
- PREMIUM QUALITY - The rich wood and high-gloss finish are accented with white jade machine head tuner key pegs and chrome-plated hardware. Crafted with mahogany neck, back, and side, plus a rosewood fingerboard and Maple Wood bridge
- FABULOUS TONE - Brings you all the classic tones of a traditional 5 string banjo. Perfect for country, folk, bluegrass, and even some modern rock. It's designed to sound as good as it looks
- GEARED 5TH TUNER - Important for both tuning and playability. A premium feature usually found only on more expensive banjos this geared 5th tuner is an important upgrade over the common friction tuner
- LIGHTWEIGHT - Full scale & lightweight ideal for traveling, camping, hiking, taking to the beach. Whether you are pro, a weekend warrior, a hobbyist or a beginner: Start playing your favorite songs right away
- CLASSIC TRADITIONAL STYLE - Styled after the innovative models of the early 20th century, these new/old banjos are true players that exude undeniably providing a vibrant singing banjo tone in any situation
One of the more inexpensive items that we’ll be looking at, the Kmise 23-inch banjo comes with an additional bag, tuner, strap, picks, extra strings, and a few more accessories that make it an even better deal. The polyester drumhead might turn off a few beginners who are looking for a more “authentic” sound, but it doesn’t sacrifice any percussiveness of clarity, so it may be worth the drop in price for some.
As a banjo ukulele (or banjolele), this is a particularly good instrument for those who want to get experimental with their sounds. As a concert-sized banjo, this is built for adult hands, so children or smaller players might find some difficulty in managing the size. However, it is lightweight so if you can get used to the size, it’s relatively comfortable to play.
One slight issue is that it’s a little less stable when it comes to tuning than some of the other options, so frequent retuning may become a hassle. However, that doesn’t get in the way of the overall quality and workmanship. With a good size, weight, and sound quality, it’s a good fit for beginners.
- 1. The drum head of Kmise banjolele made of polyester with great elasticity has a quick response. Equipped with superior Aquila String from Italy and high quality closed geared tuners, this banjolele can not only produce a bright and percussive tone but also be in an accurate intonation and stay in tune well.
- 2. Compared with other banjoleles, Kmise banjolele with action 3mm at the 12th fret is very comfortable for beginners to learn because players do not need to press too hard with such a low action. Preset with truss rod inside the neck, players can adjust the action with the wrench as needed. Smooth fretboard and neat fret wires also offer comfortable touch and protect hands from being scratched.
- 3. Multifunctional strap with an adjustable length from 45.6'' to 66.1'' can release the pressure of the banjolele and set hands free to play. The strap equips with two hooks can allow players not to drill a hole on the banjolele but fasten the hook on the metal frame and tie the leather belt on either headstock or strap lock.
- 4. Kmise banjolele has various playing methods. It can be in a traditional resonator style or an open back style by detaching its back. Traditional resonator style produces a mellower, softer sound while the open back style has a brighter sound. The package also comes with a piezo pickup that can connect the recording equipment for stage performance, which makes Kmise banjolele a super playable and multifunctional musical instrument.
- 5. Kmise provides 90-day warranty for the banjolele and lifetime string replacement. If there is any problem with Kmise banjolele, please feel free to contact us and we will reply to you within 24 hours and help you solve the problem ASAP.
Banjo Lessons For Beginners
Here is a Youtube video that offers lessons for beginner banjo players:
If you’re looking for a truly economical choice, without compromising on the quality of sound, then the Kmise Concert Size banjo offers a very accessible way to get into the instrument. In terms of bang for your buck, however, you might be look at both sound quality, durability, and the overall package deal you get with the instrument.
For that reason, the Pyle 5th-string geared banjo might offer the best bang for you buck. Coming with a slew of accessories, a good sound, stable tuning, and a light-weight, thinned necked shape, it’s a great banjo for beginners even if you might want to invest a little more to replace the tuning peg.