5 Best Tenor Banjos For Beginner To Expert

Tenor Banjos are fun and friendly instruments. They're short in length, have narrow necks and are lightweight, making them the perfect beginner banjo. However, they're not just for beginners. Tenor banjos are an important part of Irish music, where they are most commonly heard as part of an ensemble.

Tenor banjos or Irish Tenor banjos – the difference being that Irish Tenors are often smaller, and always tuned to GDAE – have 4 strings.

The standard tuning on these instruments can be either GDAE – which is the same as a violin or mandolin, and the Irish way, or CGDA which is the same tuning as a viola, and is often the tuning used for traditional music.

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

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 Should I Look For When Buying A Tenor Banjo? 

  • When shopping for a Tenor Banjo, stand out features like a Rosewood fretboard for a smooth playing experience, a mahogany resonator for superior resonance, and geared tuners for tuning stability are worth looking out for!

  • Low action is also always a bonus. Some of you might be looking for budget friendly banjos, and don't fear – we've found the best and put them here.

Here are our top 5 tenor banjos in 2018, considering value for money, quality of build and sound, and stability of tuning.

Tenor Banjo Reviews

1) Gold Tone CC-Tenor Cripple Creek Tenor Banjo (Four String, Maple)

Gold Tone CC-Tenor Cripple Creek Tenor Banjo (Four String, Maple)

The Gold Tone is a trusty model, featuring geared tuners – for stability of tuning – and a low action for an easy, smooth playing experience.

There is also a beautiful satin finish, and the adjustable truss rod gives you extra controllability over your neck.

This banjo is perfect for the intermediate/advanced player, who wants a professional level instrument.

  • Adjustable Truss Rod
  • Geared Tuners
  • Low Action
  • Quite Expensive
  • May Need Setting Up

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

2) Rover RB-35T Tenor Resonator 4 String Banjo

Rover RB-35T Tenor Resonator 4 String Banjo

The Rover RB-35T boasts a mahogany resonator, for superb resonance.

There is also a Rosewood fingerboard, for a smooth and rich playing experience, and geared tuners to promise your banjo stays in tune!

This beautiful banjo tends to sell at a mid-range price, and the value you get for your for money is impressive.

  • Mahogany Resonator
  • Geared Tuners
  • Rosewood Fingerboard
  • Quite Expensive
  • Might Need Setting Up

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

3) Trinity River TRTB1 4-String Tenor Banjo

Trinity River TRTB1 4-String Tenor Banjo

This budget friendly option is an impressive buy and even comes with a gig bag!

Sometimes 'cheap' instruments are just that, but this one will take you by surprise.

It holds its tuning well, sounds great and is easy to play.

This banjo is great for beginners.

  • Budget Friendly 
  • Keeps In Tune Well
  • Comes With Gig Bag
  • Less Sound Quality Than Higher End Banjos
  • Needs Setting Up

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

4) Deering Goodtime 2 19-Fret Tenor Banjo

Deering Goodtime 2 19-Fret Tenor Banjo

The Deering Goodtime banjo has a beautifully slender neck, for a smooth and easy playing experience even for smaller hands.

There is a maple neck, for a high quality, high-range-inclusive sound, and the geared tuners ensure that this instrument stays in tune well.

It's not cheap but this is the kind of banjo that will last you a lifetime, due to the quality of both materials and build.

  • Maple Neck
  • Geared Tuners
  • Slender Neck
  • Expensive
  • May Need Setting Up

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

5) Recording King RKT-05 Dirty Thirties Tenor Banjo

Recording King RKT-05 Dirty Thirties Tenor Banjo

The Recording King is an exceptional budget friendly option.

Despite its wallet friendly price, it has a Rosewood Fingerboard – for smoothness of play and richness of sound – and a high quality maple neck.

It will need setting up when you purchase it, but getting it done so by a professional will ensure the greatest possible playing experience.

Though this banjo is probably aimed at beginners, its quality is beyond what you would expect from a banjo of this price.

Highly recommended for the banjo-newbie.

  • Budget Friendly
  • Rosewood Fingerboard
  • Maple Neck
  • Less Sound Quality Than Higher End Banjos
  • Needs Setting Up

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

And The Winner Is...

After considering the pros and cons of all of our favourite tenor banjos, our ultimate pick has to be the Rover RB-35T Tenor Resonator 4 String Banjo.

This banjo won us over with its Rosewood fingerboard, mahogany resonator and its stable, geared tuners!

If you're a beginner on a budget, the Recording King or Trinity River might suit you better. These instruments offer superior quality at a surprising price!

The trusty Deering or Gold Tone models might also be more suited to your style. If you can't resist a slender neck, the Deering may win you over. Similarly, the beauty of both the satin finish and the low action, which comes so naturally with the Gold Tone, might have made your mind up for you.

Whichever banjo you decide is the best for you and your playing, we hope that you have a great time with it!

Happy Strumming!

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.

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