Best Banjos For Beginners In 2018 – Buyer’s Guide And Reviews

If you're looking for a superb beginner banjo then here's your dream ticket. The Oscar Schmidt OB5 Bundle has everything to get you plucking away with the best of them. Lovely sounding, reliable, high quality (for the price), it's a versatile little banjo. With this package you get a veritable treasure trove of Banjo essentials too, such as tuner, case, strap etc.

Our Pick

Oscar Schmidt OB5 Mahogany 5-String Banjo Bundle with Gig Bag, Tuner, Strings, Strap, and Austin Bazaar Polishing Cloth

Everything you need to get plucking

Oscar Schmidt OB5 Bundle

An impressive bundle, including a tuner, case, strap, and everything else you need to get started playing the banjo.

Budget Pick

5 String Resonator Banjo with 24 Brackets | Closed Back and Geared 5th Tuner | Resoluute

The best value for money

5 String Resonator Beginner Banjo With 24 Brackets By Resoluute

Easy to use and comes mostly assembled: all you need to do is tighten the head.

For the more budget constrained, then our choice for the budget option would be the 5 String Resonator Beginner Banjo With 24 Brackets By Resoluute.

This beginners banjo is easy to use and comes mostly assembled: all you need to do is tighten the head. It certainly still packs a punch and is definitely worth considering as a beginner banjo.

The best banjo for beginners are going to be versatile, good quality, budget friendly and easy to get started on. Here are our 5 top picks!

At a Glance: Our Choice Of The 5 Best Banjos For Beginners On The Market

Preview
Budget Option
5 String Resonator Banjo with 24 Brackets | Closed Back and Geared 5th Tuner | Resoluute
5-String Banjo 24 Bracket with Closed Solid Back and Geared 5th Tuner By Jameson Guitars
Morgan Monroe RT-B01 Rocky Top Hoedown 5 String Resonator Banjo
Editor's Choice
Oscar Schmidt OB5 Mahogany 5-String Banjo Bundle with Gig Bag, Tuner, Strings, Strap, and Austin Bazaar Polishing Cloth
Ibanez B50 5-String Banjo Natural 888365960265
Product Name
5 String Resonator Banjo with 24 Brackets | Closed Back and Geared 5th Tuner | Resoluute
5-String Banjo 24 Bracket with Closed Solid Back and Geared 5th Tuner By Jameson Guitars
Morgan Monroe RT-B01 Rocky Top Hoedown 5 String Resonator Banjo
Oscar Schmidt OB5 Mahogany 5-String Banjo Bundle with Gig Bag, Tuner, Strings, Strap, and Austin Bazaar Polishing Cloth
Ibanez B50 5-String Banjo Natural 888365960265
Customer Rating
Budget Option
Preview
5 String Resonator Banjo with 24 Brackets | Closed Back and Geared 5th Tuner | Resoluute
Product Name
5 String Resonator Banjo with 24 Brackets | Closed Back and Geared 5th Tuner | Resoluute
Customer Rating
Preview
5-String Banjo 24 Bracket with Closed Solid Back and Geared 5th Tuner By Jameson Guitars
Product Name
5-String Banjo 24 Bracket with Closed Solid Back and Geared 5th Tuner By Jameson Guitars
Customer Rating
Preview
Morgan Monroe RT-B01 Rocky Top Hoedown 5 String Resonator Banjo
Product Name
Morgan Monroe RT-B01 Rocky Top Hoedown 5 String Resonator Banjo
Customer Rating
Editor's Choice
Preview
Oscar Schmidt OB5 Mahogany 5-String Banjo Bundle with Gig Bag, Tuner, Strings, Strap, and Austin Bazaar Polishing Cloth
Product Name
Oscar Schmidt OB5 Mahogany 5-String Banjo Bundle with Gig Bag, Tuner, Strings, Strap, and Austin Bazaar Polishing Cloth
Customer Rating
Preview
Ibanez B50 5-String Banjo Natural 888365960265
Product Name
Ibanez B50 5-String Banjo Natural 888365960265
Customer Rating

Note: The links above take you to more information, current prices and customer reviews on Amazon. If you do purchase something we get a small commission, which has absolutely no effect on the eventual price that you pay.

Buyer's Tips: What to look for in a banjo?

  • You can get 4, 5 or 6 string banjos, but the most popular is the 5 string. The fifth string on these instruments is shorter, typically used as a drone, and plucked with the thumb. It's why you see a tuning peg half way down the neck on banjos! Tuning: G B G B D.

  • These strings rest on a plastic head, like a drum head, and – obviously – cover a fret board. These plastic heads vary in quality so it is best to go for a professional name like Remo.
  • The (preferably Remo) heads are tightened using brackets, which vary in amount, but 24 hooks is standard and reliable.
  • The fretboards are commonly maple or rosewood, with rosewood being most popular, due to its warm, rich tones. However, maple offers a brighter tone, which may suit some people.
  • There are two kinds of 5 string banjo: resonator (closed back) and open back:
    • Resonator banjos are most popular amongst beginners and lend themselves towards the bluegrass style. 
    • Open backs, on the other hand, are most often used for 'clawhammer' style playing: where, rather than plucking upwards with your fingers and downwards with your thumb, you get your hand into a claw-like shape and always strum down-down-down!

Best Banjo For Beginners

1. 5 String Resonator Beginner Banjo With 24 Brackets By Resoluute

5 String Resonator Banjo with 24 Brackets | Closed Back and Geared 5th Tuner | Resoluute

Click to learn more / buy from Amazon

This beginners banjo is easy to use and comes mostly assembled: all you need to do is tighten the head.

It is a closed back / resonator (mahogany), making it perfect for bluegrass. This is removable, though, should you wish to change style!

It has a maple fretboard for a bright tone, and its head is tightened using 24 brackets.

  • Remo Head
  • Removable Mahogany Closed Back
  • Budget Friendly

  • Maple rather than Rosewood fretboard (this might be a Pro to some!)
  • Intonation not as good as on higher end banjos
  • Tuning pegs not as high quality as on higher end banjos

Let's take a look at this product...


2. 5-String Banjo 24 Bracket with Closed Solid Back and Geared 5th Tuner By Jameson Guitars

5-String Banjo 24 Bracket with Closed Solid Back and Geared 5th Tuner By Jameson Guitars

Click to learn more / buy from Amazon

This best selling, budget friendly banjo has a closed back, with a mahogany resonator. It has a quality maple bridge and professional Remo head, tightened with 24 brackets.

The fretboard is rosewood, for a rich tone, and this banjo comes set up and ready to play!

  • Remo Head
  • Rosewood Fretboard
  • Set up, ready to play!


  • Designed only for closed back
  • Accessories come separately
  • Lower quality than higher end banjos


Let's take a look at this product...


3. Morgan Monroe RT-B01-OP Rocky Top Hoedown 5 String Open Back Banjo

Morgan Monroe RT-B01-OP Rocky Top Hoedown 5 String Open Back Banjo

Click to learn more / buy from Amazon

This is the only open back banjo included on the list, due to its popularity amongst beginners.

Of course, it is less versatile than those with removable resonators, but if clawhammer style is what you are after, then why mess around removing backs?

On its maple neck rests a rosewood fretboard, for a rich tone, and the head is – again – Remo. 18 brackets are used to tighten the head.

  • Rosewood Fretboard
  • Remo Drum Head
  • Mellow Tone



  • Limited to open back
  • Less brackets than standard
  • May need setting up



Let's take a look at this product...


4. Oscar Schmidt OB5 Mahogany 5-String Banjo Bundle

Oscar Schmidt OB5 Mahogany 5-String Banjo Bundle with Gig Bag, Tuner, Strings, Strap, and Austin Bazaar Polishing Cloth

Click to learn more / buy from Amazon

This banjo is the main part of an impressive bundle, including a tuner, case, strap, and everything else you need to get started playing the banjo!

It has a rosewood fretboard on a nato neck, for a smooth and rich tone. This is another closed back banjo, perfect for bluegrass, with a mahogany resonator.

It also has a trusty Remo head, which is tightened using 30 brackets! A lot of people like the look of more brackets, but whether they are necessary is debatable.

  • Rosewood Fretboard
  • Remo Head
  • Comes with accessories




  • May need setting up
  • Designed only for closed back playing
  • Bundle of accessories lower quality than separate buys




Let's take a look at this product...


5. Ibanez B50 5-String Banjo Natural

Ibanez B50 5-String Banjo Natural 888365960265

Click to learn more / buy from Amazon

This Ibanez is made fully of mahogany, for a quality, warm tone. It has a rosewood fret board to complement and enhance this.

Adding to the quality of this instrument is its Remo head – tightened with 24 brackets.

It typically comes with low action, making it easy to play.

  • Rosewood Fretboard
  • Remo Head
  • Bright Tone





  • May need setting up
  • Accessories come separately
  • Designed only for closed back playing





CANNOT FIND A VIDEO FOR THIS PRODUCT


So which is the best beginner banjo?

All of these banjos boast a number of qualities: impressively they all include Remo heads, and high quality woods!

However, if what you are looking for is the most budget friendly, reliable, high quality and versatile banjo... ...The Oscar Schmidt OB5 Bundle! It might not be the most budget-friendly on the list, but it offers a warm tone with its Rosewood fretboard, and the bundle it is a part of means both value for money and an easy playing experience!

Its head is also tightened using 30 brackets, for extra security, aesthetics and tightness!

This is the perfect banjo to begin your bluegrass journey!

Image Credits:

Featured image source: Mark Walz / CC BY-SA 2.0

Roz is a music teacher and our go-to person for anything music theory! When she’s not teaching or writing for Zing, Roz writes and plays in alternative/ psyche /art rock band The Roz Bruce Infusion.

Leave a Comment