• Learn to say 'no' to the good so you can say 'yes' to the best. John C. Maxwell

Learn to Play the Banjo



African American slaves brought their music with them, and 1 of their instruments was the Banjar. The Banjar was made of a gourd with a neck and strings. Today, banjos are made from a drum with a neck attached and 4 to 8 strings. If you have decided to play this instrument, it's important you understand the different types of banjos and some banjo basics before buying your first banjo.

Decide What Banjo Style you Desire to Play

Listen to different banjo music to select what type of banjo you'd like to play. When buying a beginner banjo, you want to purchase the right style of banjo

There are basically 4 types of banjos, and each has a unique sound and playing style.

Select a clawhammer, or frailing banjo, if you like the old time banjo sound

  • Clawhammer banjos have 5 strings and an open back. They weigh less than other banjos because they do not have a resonator.
  • Frailing banjo style is played with the thumb and back nail of your first or middle finger. The banjo strings are spaced wider than other banjos so you can pluck the individual strings with the back of your finger or thumb.
  • Clawhammer banjos have a higher action, the distance between the strings and fret board, than other banjos.

Choose a Bluegrass banjo if you want to play bluegrass music

A Bluegrass beginner banjo has 5 strings and a resonator, which makes them heavier and louder.

  • Bluegrass banjo strings are closer together and the action is lower than a clawhammer banjo.
  • Bluegrass banjo style is played with 2 finger picks and a thumb pick. Picks slip onto your finger and produce a louder sound than a fingernail.

Pick a plectrum or tenor banjo if you want to play with a flat pick

Flat picks are the type of picks used with a guitar or mandolin.

  • Plectrum and tenor banjo style is used to play jazz music or rock and roll.
  • Plectrum and tenor banjos have 4 strings and come with an open back or with a resonator.