There is something magical about this little string instrument called banjo. It epitomizes country music in so many ways, yet has an ability to deliver a unique sound that will drive you to experiment and do your absolute best to utilize it in different environments and sonic surroundings.
If you’re a banjo newbie, there are many factors to consider, the main one being that the instrument you’re about to sink your teeth into is capable of delivering a decent sound (preferably high quality), while sporting a fair and affordable price tag.
We took the liberty of sifting through all the items on the market to bring you the best beginner banjo money can buy. Plenty of choices, plenty of alternatives, and in our humble opinion these four are the best of the best.
Name the best beginner banjo
To find the best banjo for beginner musicians, you will have to consider a few significant factors. We will details these in a few moments, but right now we’d like you to give a warm round of applause for these four instruments – Rogue Travel Banjo, Epiphone MB 100, Pyle Pro PBJ 60, and the Jameson Guitars Five-String Banjo. Give it up!
We’ll get the party started with Rogue’s very convenient and practical Travel Banjo. Also known as the Starter Banjo, this instrument offers a top-notch sound at a very nice price.
The instrument utilizes a set of 18 brackets, a top-quality, vintage-style head that also happens to be one of the instruments strong points, an open back structure, a sleek satin finish, and a set of first-class string tuning machines. The item is quite durable and comes with a convenient weight of just 6.8 lbs.
This dude is instantly playable right out of the box, which is a crucial feature for beginner musicians. Speaking of which, this instrument is very beginner friendly on all fronts – it has a strong set of tuners that keep this five-string bad boy in tune at all times, and the sound is strong even without significant adjustments and alterations. In a nutshell – you can focus on practice and not worry about things that can go wrong with the banjo itself.
Epiphone is a renowned company, and the MB 100 banjo model does little to tarnish its reputation. On the contrary, this instrument gives its manufacturer’s reputation a significant boost as a clever mix of affordability, durability, and high sonic quality.
The instrument utilizes a set of four strings, a mahogany body, a strong URemo head top, a classic rosewood fretboard, and a 26.25 scale.
Also included in the mix is a very light weight of 3.9 lbs, and an open back design, earning this fella plenty of kudos from musicians and producers as one of the best starter banjos on today’s market. The MB 100 is perfectly suited for travel due to its light weight. The instrument also boasts a traditional floating rosewood bridge, and an elegant set of chrome hardware.
In the sonic department, this banjo offers a punchy sound packed with strong mids and a bright treble section. The basses are hardly lagging behind, and the low end segment can only be described as warm and well-rounded. For a rookie player, this product has all the necessary features, and then a little something extra.
Another fine contestant comes in the form of Pyle Pro’s PBJ 60 model, a versatile 5-string banjo featuring quality materials and a fair price tag. This instrument has earned some very positive remarks not only from beginner musicians, but from banjo teachers from around the globe, who gave the PBJ 60 nothing but kudos for being easy to use, for delivering a good sound and vibe, and for offering a great value for money. Experts have agreed, you will get more than you’ve paid for with this little dude.
The instrument features a 7.2 lbs weights and sports top-notch Remo drumhead material, a slim, slick and very playable mahogany neck, along with high quality mahogany back and sides. Also included in the mix is a standard rosewood fingerboard, a maplewood idge, and an elegant set of chrome plated hardware.
In the audio department, the listed components guarantee a bright, yet very strong sound. The punch and low end warmth are also there, but its the blazing treble that makes this fella stand out. This makes the instrument perfect for those fast paced scale rundowns and solo bits, something every music oriented cowboy should yearn for.
We will round it up with a pinch of Jameson. This five string banjo is frequently considered an intermediate instrument.
This five string full size banjo features a geared fifth tuner, along with a closed mahogany back, 24 brackets, along with a slim and easy to play neck. The price is amazingly low if you find the right retailer, so by all means – keep your eyes peeled.
Also included in the mix of this customer favorite is a three ply maple rim, a top-notch mahogany resonator with thumb screws, the aforementioned slim mahogany neck, a classic rosewood fretboard, a nickel plated armrest, a solid multi piece resonator back, and a 5/8 inch hard maple bridge.
When it comes to audio output, the sound of this fella can be described as very versatile and very well rounded. The trebles are bright, the mids are punchy, and the basses are warm. Although banjo typically targets a single particular type of sound, this model will allow you to stray from the designated path and experiment a little bit as well.
If you’re a kind of musician that enjoys pushing the envelope, we highly recommend giving this Jameson a more thorough look.
What should I look for in a beginner banjo?
Much like every beginner musician out there, beginner banjo players aren’t guaranteed to stick in the business for too long. The fact is, the majority of musicians keeps their skills at a beginner level and only pursue music in their spare time.
Therefore, a beginner banjo should do the following: 1) It shouldn’t cost you too much, and 2) It shouldn’t sound awful or be difficult to play.
The first factor is pretty obvious – you don’t know if you, or the dude or gal you’re buying the instrument for will stick to their current musical inspiration. So why should you spend hundreds, or maybe even thousands of dollars on something that might end up gathering dust in a matter of a few years, if not months?
Additionally, having a high-end instrument stand out as a seemingly unreachable goal is something every musician should have as one of those long-term goals and things to strive to apart from musical super-stardom.
As for the second factor, you shouldn’t be too much of a cheapskate and get a low-quality instrument either. You need something that offers a decent sound and a good picture of what a banjo can deliver as an instrument.
If an instrument is too difficult or too frustrating to play due to having a poor component or two, such as a crooked neck or a poor body that can’t resonate properly, the player can get very demotivated and quit playing just because of the bad equipment. And no one wants this.
So we kindly invite you to consider all the factors and then bring in the third key element to the mix – personal taste. You know what they say about opinions, so although the listed two factors apply to everyone, there is also a matter of taste to be considered. Once you know what you want, it will be easier for you to obtain it.
Therefore, you should listen carefully to your favorite banjo players and read about their style and vibe. This way you will know what to look for when you browse instruments online or in you local music store, and that is much better than just pointlessly looking around without having an idea about what it is that you really want to get.
And that steadily brings us to a conclusion of our little article here. What we have just presented to you are bonafide best beginner banjo instruments. Each of these models is top-notch, and offers more than the price indicates. There are plenty of decent banjos out there, but very few are capable of giving something extra like these four guys.
Therefore, we highly recommend that you check them out more thoroughly and then make a purchase based on your personal preferences and sonic needs. You can’t go wrong with these bad boys, highly recommended, a major thumbs up. Get a banjo in your hands, time to get ripping now!