12 Best Banjos in 2017

The banjo is a unique instrument that many of us associate with ancient, nostalgic music. It belongs to a very old family of instruments as its existence was initially documented in 1678. Since old instruments have a distinct charm that is unmatched, playing the banjo is an enjoyable, traditional activity.

You reading this means you’re one of the many people fond of this kind of music and finding a quality banjo in your price range if a top priority.

Considering that you don’t intend on purchasing a banjo every day, you need to make a sensible decision and choose a qualitative instrument that fits your expectations.

If you’re not an expert in this realm, you’ll certainly find our buying guide helpful: we have taken the preliminary steps of reviewing the best banjos on the market.

Top 12 Banjos Ultimate Table

DesignNameWeightNr. of StringsRating (1-5)
  1. Gold Tone CC-100R Cripple Creek Banjo with Resonator 6.5 pounds 5 4.8
  2. 5-String Banjo 24 Bracket with Closed Solid Back and Geared 5th Tuner By Jameson Guitars 9.9 pounds 5 4.7
  3. 5-Deering Goodtime 5-String Banjo 4 pounds 5 4.6
  4. PYLE-PRO PBJ60 5 String Banjo with Chrome Plated Hardware 7.2 pounds 5 4.5
  5. 6 String Banjo Guitar with Closed Back Resonator and 24 Brackets 10.4 pounds 6 4.4
  6. SX Country 5-String Banjo with Closed Back and Carry Bag 7 pounds 54.4
  7. Epiphone MB-200 Banjo, Red Brown 5 pounds 5 4.3
  8. Recording King RK-U25-BR Madison Banjo Ukulele 3.2 pounds 4 4.1
  9. Washburn Banjo, 5 String 6 pounds 5 4.1
  10. Oscar Schmidt OB5 Gloss Mahogany 5-String Banjo 8.9 pounds 5 3.9
  11. Pyle PBJ20 8-String 23-Inch Total Length Mandolin-Banjo Hybrid with White Jade Tuner Pegs 4.2 pounds 8 3.4
  12. Appalachian Banjo Pickin’ Pac 7.5 pounds 5 3.1

Things to Consider

While looking for the best banjo, you should do much more than merely look at the brand of the product and its popularity. Even though the manufacturer’s reputation is essential as well, other elements should also be considered.

  • Cost – There is a growing interest for banjos; nonetheless, they aren’t as mass produced as other more popular instruments, such as acoustic guitars. That will be mirrored in the price, since banjos tend to be quite expensive.

If you’re still unsure whether the banjo is the instrument for you, we advise you to consider renting an instrument and see how you get along. That will aid you to take the right decision. Buying an instrument is an investment, and should be treated as such.

  • Weight – Although it may not seem like it, some banjos tend to be quite heavy, which makes playing them quite challenging, especially for a beginner.

That being said if you’re struggling with back problems, you should definitely consider the weight of the instrument before making a purchase. Playing a couple of hours with an instrument weighing up to 12 pounds can be quite tiring.

  • Sound – The fundamental reason you’re buying a banjo is to enjoy the music it produces. On that note, you want it to sound beautiful.

If you cannot play the instrument in person, make sure you look at a sound clip of the instrument. Gladly, the majority of manufacturers provide sound clips on their official websites.

Do bear in mind that each banjo sounds differently, which is why it’s compulsory to make sure the sound appeals to you.

Open Back or Closed Back Banjo?

Novice players might not know whether a closed back banjo is a better choice than an opened back banjo. In order to clarify that, we will outline the differences. The major distinction between the two is the volume.

Firstly, a closed back banjo will deliver a loud, rich sound, which is preferred by individuals who enjoy performing in public, especially when there isn’t amplification available.

This type of playing is often linked to the Bluegrass tradition, played with other instruments such as fiddle, mandolin, acoustic guitar, and double bass.

On the other hand, in the case of open back banjos, one may require an amplifier, for a better sound.

These are more popular with folk style tunes that are typical of American rural communities, due to the warm, nostalgic sound that they produce.

Top 4 Best Banjo Reviews

1. Gold Tone CC-100R Cripple Creek Banjo

This banjo sounded excellent from the very start, which pleased us immensely. We also found that the resonator is easy to use, which comes as a significant advantage.

Its appearance and the sound it delivers are of the highest quality. The maple construction and the notable attention to craftsmanship are details that make the world of a difference.

We consider that this banjo is ideal for beginners, considering that it isn’t exactly pricey; however, it does have a warm and clear sound to it.

Additional features include maple rim, hard maple neck, guitar-style tuner, a rolled brass tone ring, and a rosewood fingerboard.

2. 5-String Banjo By Jameson Guitars

This beautiful instrument presents all the features you would expect from a banjo twice its price. That’s why we loved it.

It looks impressive, it is easy to play, and the sound is mind-blowing. Seasoned musicians and beginners alike will find that this banjo is surely an investment.

It also comes with a mahogany resonator, a geared fifth tuner, an adjustable hinged tailpiece and 24 brackets. All in all, this is an excellent bluegrass banjo!

3. Deering Goodtime 5-String Banjo

Deering is a prominent manufacturer in the banjo department. The Goodtime 5-string banjo is a great instrument fitted for beginners and advanced players alike.

It is incredibly lightweight (4 pounds), which makes it portable and suited for children as well.

The instrument delivers a clear and crisp sound you’ll surely enjoy. Considering that the frets are precise, the intonation while playing is always on point.

The minute you’ll put your hands on this banjo, you’ll be able to tell that it’s incredibly well-made and feels sturdy. Since the tuning keys are easy to handle and they hold tight, you won’t have to re-tune it on a regular basis.

4. PYLE-PRO PBJ60 5 String Banjo

This 5-string banjo is composed of high-quality components: mahogany neck, side and back, a REMO drumhead, Maplewood bridge, and a rosewood fingerboard. Overall, this banjo looks great and qualitative, and the price tag is also attractive.

Weighing only 7,2 pounds, this instrument could undeniably be fitted for a child.

Due to the beautiful chrome plated hardware, this banjo has a professional, sleek finish.

All in all, we could wholeheartedly affirm that this is one of the very best 5-string banjos on the market, especially if you’re on a budget. You won’t be disappointed; that’s for sure.

Finding the best banjo and learning how to play this instrument can appear challenging, at first. Still, it shouldn’t be this way. We crafted this buying guide so that you can save time and find the right instrument, without any headaches.