Best Beginner Banjo Reviews (Top Brands)

The banjo is so criminally underrated that most people outside America forget that it exists! We usually associate the banjo with some Southern cowboy singing "Country Roads" while sitting beside his cornfield. Well, country music is not the only genre where the banjo is used. This versatile instrument is a staple in different music genres like bluegrass, folk, traditional Irish music, jazz and even modern rock.

Banjo

Starting from Taylor Swift to Matchbox Twenty, many popular artists incorporate the banjo in their music. Hence, if you master the banjo, you can learn any of these styles. Banjos come in different types, but the most popular ones are the five-string and the four-string banjos.

How you will choose your first banjo depends on whether you would like an open back or a closed-back (resonator) type banjo. Choosing a banjo as a beginner can be puzzling. Hence I'm here to list some of the best beginner banjo in the market!

10 BEST BEGINNER BANJO REVIEW

1. DEERING GOODTIME - BEST 5 STRING BEGINNER BANJO

Deering Goodtime - best beginner banjo

PRODUCT DETAILS

  • Slim Low-Profile Neck.
  • Three-ply maple rim.
  • Strong tailpiece.
  • Adjustable Action.
  • Satin finish.
  • Sealed gear tuners.
  • Hardwood bow-tie inlays.

Did you know that the Deering Goodtime banjo has approximately over a 20-year playing record? It is one of the best premium-grade banjos out there. The Deering Goodtime comes at the price of a best beginner banjo instrument but assures first-class quality.

This American-made instrument features a slender 22-fret rock maple neck, hardwood bow inlays, sealed geared tuners and an adjustable tailpiece. Along with that, there is an 11-inch maple rim attached with a steel tension hoop.

You do not need to worry about it being too big for children. The low-profile neck is easy to hold for both adults and children. The fretboard is designed in a way that ensures good finger coordination throughout the entire fingerboard.

It is easy to adjust the string height. Since you just need to put the coordination rod in place. The strings are close to the fingerboard, making it easy to press them down.

The strong tailpiece is easy to adjust to create different tones and sounds. The banjo also comes with 16 brackets and standard rim diameter, so adjusting and replacing the heads is a breeze. It is suitable for playing any type of music from bluegrass, country to Irish folk. It is a good choice for beginners and well-seasoned players to kickstart their musical careers.

Pros

  • Versatile sound.
  • Excellent performance.
  • Low-cost.
  • Perfect for both advanced and novice players.
  • Sturdy construction.

Cons

  • The neck might be too small for large hands.



2. ROVER RB-20 - BEST OPEN BACK BEGINNER BANJO

Rover RB-20 - best beginner banjo

PRODUCT DETAILS

  • Mahogany neck.
  • East Indian Rosewood fingerboard.
  • Frosted Mylar top.
  • Deluxe vega style armrest.
  • No-knot tailpiece.
  • 24 Flat hook and nut.
  • Standard 11" rim with the metallic gun finish.

Several years back, you could purchase a best beginner banjo at a price of less than $200. But in recent times, the price of banjos has reached a peak due to massive competition. But Rover seeks to make affordable entry-level instruments for beginners who want to buy a beginner banjo without spending a fortune.

The RB-20 is an excellent choice for a first banjo. It is an open-back 5-stringed instrument that delivers amazing performance with a Frosted Mylar top and an 11-inch rim in metallic grey finish with a grooved tension hoop.

It has a standard spacing using 24 flat hooks and nuts. With the deluxe vega style armrest and the traditional knotless tailpiece, you will be reminded of those Classical Art Deco pegheads that you used to get in the 1930s.

As a beginner, you will appreciate the tuning mechanism's smooth action, specifically the precision of the fifth-string peg. The mahogany neck fitted with East Indian rosewood fingerboard adds a vintage touch to it. It does need some upgrades if you want to play the banjo seriously.

The tailpiece is made of thin metal so I feel that replacing it might improve the quality. Otherwise, it is a good beginner banjo at a low-price.

Pros

  • Adjustable truss rod included.
  • Good sound.
  • Affordable.
  • Easy to tune.
  • Rim is very sturdy.

Cons

  • Tailpiece is flimsy.



3. IBANEZ B200 - BEST SOUNDING BEGINNERS BANJO

Ibanez B200 - best beginner banjo

PRODUCT DETAILS

  • Mahogany resonator.
  • Friction banjo tuner.
  • Chrome armrest with etching.
  • Glossy finish.
  • Basswood rim with 24-lug configuration.
  • Beautiful vine pattern mother-of-pearl inlay.
  • ABS-binding.

Ibanez has a reputation for their love of making banjos to the point of collaborating on a signature model with the late Earl Scruggs. The same brand brings you, the Ibanez B200. The B200 is one of the currently active banjo models.

This best beginner banjo is a 5-string banjo with a basswood block rim and a mahogany resonator. The mahogany neck features a dovetail joint and the fingerboard is made of rosewood. I love the vine acrylic pearl block inlay and the chrome armrest engraving since it adds a lot of charm and beauty to the instrument.

The entire banjo has a full-gloss finish. It has a full acoustic construction with the standard 26-3/8" scale. B200 also features a basswood rim with a configuration of 24-lug and a rolled brass tone ring. Coming to the sound, I must say that it is pretty decent for the price.

It has a bright and booming sound that will suit all types of folk music. The action is high and setting it up is not difficult. One thing that I feel is a potential drawback is its weight.

It is heavier than most banjos so carrying it for a long time can be burdensome. All in all, it packs good value for its price, making it a good option for beginners and intermediate students.

Pros

  • Good sound for the price.
  • The inlay work is beautiful.
  • Lots of detailing at a low-price.
  • Quality of the finish is good.
  • Easy to tune.

Cons

  • Heavy and not easy to carry.



4. KMISE 5 STRING - BEST FULL SIZE BEGINNER BANJO

Kmise - best beginner banjo

PRODUCT DETAILS

  • Removable Sapele back cover.
  • Okoume neck.
  • Pure polyester drumhead.
  • Aquila Strings.
  • Close-geared tuners.
  • Accessories- gig bag, clip-on tuner, polishing cloth, allen wrench and banjo strap.
  • Low-action required.

The Kmise banjo tries to offer all that you might require as a novice banjo player. This banjo comes with a removable Sapele back cover, which you can remove and put back on at any time. This ensures the versatility of the instrument. The Okoume neck and the Sapele back add durability to the banjo.

.The drumhead is made of pure polyester, which some people might not like. One reason might be related to beginner's assumption that such material reduces the instrument's "authenticity". However, in reality, the use of polyester does not sacrifice the banjo's sound clarity.

The real problem, however, is the tuning. This banjo does not hold the tune for too long and might need frequent retuning, which is a hassle most of the time.

It is equipped with Aquila Strings and has closed-gear tuners. It has a low action to be comfortable for beginners to learn as they do not have to press the strings too hard. However, low-action comes with the disadvantage of causing fret buzzing.

You can use the Kmise banjo to play both traditional resonator style or open-back style by removing the back. The resonator style would produce a mellow sound, while the open back style has a fuller sound.

The best part is that you will get loads of accessories like a banjo strap, a gig bag, clip-on tuner, polishing cloth, Allen wrench and banjo pics for free! It is a good investment for anyone who is starting out and wants to experiment with music.

Pros

  • Good-quality materials.
  • Comfortable for beginners.
  • Low-action.
  • Can play in both resonant and open-back styles.

Cons

  • Tuning is difficult.



5. MULUCKY B1102 - BEST MAPLE BEGINNER BANJO

Mulucky - best beginner banjo

PRODUCT DETAILS

  • 100% solid wood.
  • Scalloped design neck.
  • Anti-corrosion chrome plated pegs.
  • Fiberskyn drum heads.
  • 24 Brackets for even panel tension.
  • Adjustable skinhead.
  • Accessories included.

You might have tried banjos that disappointed you because they did not seem solid enough around the rim. However, Mulucky 5-string banjo is best beginner banjo that you can trust.

It is truly solid and will be durable enough to last for several years. It is an open-back style banjo with an ebony body and a maple neck. Using solid wood will protect the banjo from warping and corrosion. The anti-corrosion chrome plated pegs will furthermore add to the durability by keeping the strings in tune.

The Fiberskyn drum heads produce a warm, full-range tone and an enhanced low and mid-range resonance. Fiberskyn is a popular material because it combines 1-ply of 10 mil film laminate with a 3-mil poly spun fiber to enhance sensitivity and articulation.

This also makes the instrument highly durable for outdoor use. Moreover, you can even tighten or loosen the head according to your requirements by using the truss rod.

The banjo sounds beautiful as it produces a bold resonant tone that is clear and emphasizes each note. The only shortcoming is that it does not come with instructions on how to install the bridge. Otherwise, it is a beautiful best banjo for beginners at low budget that you won't regret buying.

Pros

  • Durable.
  • Made of solid wood.
  • Easy to tune.
  • Lightweight.
  • Easily adjustable.

Cons

  • No instructions on how to install the bridge.



6. OSCAR SCHMIDT OB3-O-U - BEST ELECTRIC BEGINNER BANJO

Oscar Schmidt OB3-O-U - best beginner banjo

PRODUCT DETAILS

  • Mahogany body.
  • Ovangkol fingerboard.
  • Nato neck.
  • Glossy finish.
  • Remo head.
  • Geared 5th string.
  • 18 Bracket tone ring.

Oscar Schmidt OB3 features an 18 bracket tone ring and its body is made of mahogany. It has an Ovangkol fingerboard with a nato neck. It has a glossy finish that I feel is a bit too much. It could have been a bit subtle. It is lightweight, so children can try playing it as well.

This best beginner banjo plays decently with good action, even though you do need to spend some time assembling it, which you can easily do by watching tutorial videos.

It has an impressive tune holding capacity, so you might as well keep it around for years. The sound quality is good. It is not as good as a Deering, but it is enough for a beginner to practice with.

One disadvantage of Oscar Schmidt over Deering is that the former has a more narrow fretboard than the latter, making people with large hands face problems while playing.

Pros

  • Holds the tune really well.
  • Lightweight.
  • Easy assembling.
  • Good sound.

Cons

  • Extremely narrow fretboard.


7. GOLD TONE CC-50 CRIPPLE CREEK BANJO

Gold Tone CC-50 - best beginner banjo

PRODUCT DETAILS

  • Straight Line Tailpiece.
  • Open-back Style.
  • Hard Maple Neck and Maple Rim.
  • Rosewood fingerboard.
  • SIngle coordinator rod.
  • Ideal for "old-time" banjo styles.
  • Light Nickel strings.
  • Brass tone ring.

The Gold Tone CC-50 banjo is an underrated option. It is an entry-level banjo designed to suit the needs of a beginner. It comes with a fingerboard made of rosewood, a straight-line tailpiece, Remo head open-back and chrome plating. The dark brown finish leaves the grain visible.

Overall, it looks fairly simple and old-school, so if that's the look you're going for, this banjo is absolutely for you! The banjo comes with light strings so beginners would not have to go through the pain of pressing down on the hard steel strings. The sound is great for its price with bright overtones.

If you are a beginner, you would usually start with the Frailing technique and for that, you would prefer a frailing scoop as efficient as the one that CC-50 offers. The tailpiece, in my opinion, can be replaced with a high-end option. Overall, this best beginner Banjo makes a huge difference in the tone and quality of the sound.

Pros

  • Great for learning frailing and clawhammer technique.
  • Good sound.
  • Looks simple yet antique.
  • Includes bag for carrying.

Cons

  • The tailpiece is not up to the mark.


8. VANGO VBJ-4E 5 STRING BANJO

Vangoa

PRODUCT DETAILS

  • Mahogany neck, sides and back.
  • Dual Feature of a Resonator and an Open Back Banjo.
  • Removable resonator and Flanges.
  • Removable resonator and Flanges.
  • Matching Remo head for bright snappy tones without unwanted sustain.
  • 24 Chrome-plated brackets.
  • Accessories included.

Next up in best beginner banjo list comes Vangoa's VBJ-4E electric-acoustic that has dual-features of an open back banjo and a resonator banjo. So you can switch between softer and fuller sounds according to your need. The banjo's arched back creates excellent vibration that adds to the tone required to play bluegrass, country, folk, and modern rock.

It also comes with a full kit with useful accessories, including a tuner, fingerpicks, audio cable, Allen key, strap, tuning key and starter manual. However, the thin width of the neck might not be suitable for those with very large hands. It is affordable and suitable for those who are musically adventurous.

Pros

  • Versatile.
  • The starter kit provides everything that a beginner needs.
  • Lightweight and portable.
  • Easy to tune.

Cons

  • Neck width is too thin.



9. MORGAN MONROE RT-B01

Morgan Monroe RT-B01

PRODUCT DETAILS

  • Composite cherry mahogany rim.
  • Abalone Heart Inlay Pattern.
  • Maple Neck.
  • Rosewood Fingerboard.
  • Remo Head.
  • 22 Nickel Silver Frets.
  • Rolled Brass Tone Ring.

The Morgan Monroe RT-B01 is a 5 string resonator type banjo. This means that the banjo produces a softer tone than an open-back banjo. It has a composite cherry mahogany rim design with Abalone Heart inlay pattern. The blackwood fingerboard adds a powerful punch to the sound, making it resonant and bold.

It has 22 nickel silver frets and a rolled brass tone ring. The mahogany neck has a Remo head with gold hardware. The Hoedown banjo delivers a tone that is suitable for most genres of music. I would recommend this best beginner banjo to anyone who wants to buy a good entry-level banjo.

Pros

  • Booming and powerful sound.
  • Nice finish.
  • Beautiful inlay and woodwork.
  • Can be used right out of the box.

Cons

  • The pot is made of soft plastic.


10. SPARSIFOLIA 5-STRING - BEST BUDGET BEGINNER BANJO

SPARSIFOLIA

PRODUCT DETAILS

  • Mahogany Head & Neck.
  • Rosewood Fingerboard & Bridge.
  • Faux Sheepskin Drumhead.
  • Sapele Back and Sides.
  • Nontoxic, Scratch-resistant, Corrosion-resistant and Abrasion-resistant.
  • Steel Strings.
  • 22 Cupronickel Frets. 
  • scale length is 26.4"/670mm.

The Glarry banjo is a 22-fret five-stringed banjo. It is an ideal gift to give to those who want to try their hands at playing the banjo. This 5-stringed banjo has a Sapele back and sides, mahogany head and neck, rosewood fingerboard and its drumhead made of faux sheepskin.

You do not need to assemble it as it can be played right out of the box. However, the neck is a bit bulky and wide. The string height is much larger than expected and the frets could have been a bit more polished. Otherwise, it is a great banjo for beginners.

Pros

  • Pleasing vibrant sound.
  • Great for gift-giving.
  • Lightweight.
  • Simple yet attractive design.

Cons

  • The string height is too large.



CONCLUSION

If you managed to read the entire article on best beginner banjo, then kudos to your dedication. You might have got some idea about banjos by now. There is no simple formula to find the best instrument out there. After all, as a customer, it is you who is the best judge of your needs.

All I can suggest is to find an instrument that falls within your budget. Spending too much on a beginner instrument is not wise unless you are sure of using it for a long time. Keep in mind the balance between quality and price and you'd be all set to follow your bluegrass dream!

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