Banjo : How to choose your instrument?

Played all over the world, the banjo is a plucked-stringed instrument, which differs from the guitar by its characteristic round shape and its particular sounds.

Depending on the style and country, it has 4, 5 or 6 strings. Here is an overview of the best banjos on the market.

Banjo with 5 strings Vangoa

If you want to start learning the banjo and bluegrass style, don’t miss this Vangoa 5-string banjo, which is certainly one of the best value for money in its category.

Ideal for beginners looking for their first instrument, it combines sound qualities and aesthetics, a rare thing when it comes to the entry-level models on the market.

The tuner, which comes with the banjo, works quite well and is rather easy to use; it will only take a few minutes and a little patience to get used to it at first, but don’t be discouraged. Once it’s properly tuned, you won’t be able to do without it.

Stagg’s Black 6-string Banjo

With the Stagg 6 strings, we enter here in the category of high-end banjos. Still called guitar banjo, in relation to the number of strings it has – similar to that of a classical guitar – it is an ideal model for experienced guitarists who want to try out other rhythms and other sounds, without being too out of place compared to what they already know.

Made of high-quality mahogany and metal alloy materials, it offers sound qualities worthy of the best products on the market. Novice, amateur or confirmed, this 6-string banjo adapts to all styles and all levels. An ideal alternative if you have the budget for it.

6-string banjo with Remo skin

Delivered with its padded storage and transport bag, this 6-string guitar banjo guitar is also a particularly interesting option, especially for the good quality-price ratio it offers.

Made of superior quality mahogany, rosewood and maple, it certainly requires some initial adjustments before it can be satisfactory; but once tuned and the skin stretched, you will be able to make the most of its powerful and efficient sound, with pleasant North American folk tones.

What’s more, thanks to its range of up to 150 meters, you won’t need an amplifier. An intermediate option that will make more than one happy among the (many) lovers of plucked string instruments.

What is a banjo?

Known for more than 400 years, the banjo is a member of the plucked-string family of instruments; if its origin is still unclear, it is known that the instrument, as we know it today, was inspired by West African lutes brought by black slaves to the Caribbean. It was in the 19th century, however, that it began to gain the great popularity it enjoys today on the international scene.

Recognizable thanks to its particular muffled sounds, the banjo is played like a guitar: with the fingers, or a pick. Its round soundboard, covered with a stretched skin, gives it such a characteristic look. Although there are more than a hundred different types of banjos, the shape remains similar from one instrument to another.

How to choose your instrument?

Whether or not you are a beginner in the field, the banjo is a very pleasant instrument to play. However, there are a few criteria to take into account when buying a banjo, in order to choose an instrument with a good quality-price ratio.

the type of banjo: as we have seen, there are generally three types of banjo, with 4, 5 or 6 strings. While the 4-string banjo is more often used in jazz orchestras, the 5-string banjo is perfect for beginners. It is with the 5-string banjo that the classic banjo sounds that we are used to hearing are produced, as well as the famous bluegrass style. As for the 6-string banjo, or guitar banjo, it is ideal for advanced guitarists who want to start learning the banjo without changing their style too much. Its chords are in fact identical to those of a guitar.
The materials used: the best banjos on the market are made of maple or mahogany wood.  If you want an amplified and better quality sound, you will have to turn to a banjo with a solid back, which produces rounder notes than banjos with a hollow back.

The best banjo players

The Americans Pete Seeger and Earl Scruggs contributed greatly to the banjo’s fame throughout the world, popularizing the instrument at the end of the Second World War. For his part, the Mauritian musician Karl Grasse is considered one of the most talented banjo players in the world.