5 and 6 String Banjos Reviewed (Updated For 2024)

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In the world of music, there are instruments that captivate our attention and pique our curiosity. One such instrument is the banjo. Known for its distinctive sound and unique design, this stringed wonder has been an integral part of various genres, from folk to bluegrass. And if you happen to be a banjo enthusiast, you’re in luck! In this article, we present to you an updated list here of 5 and 6 string banjos reviewed that will leave you spoilt for choice. These banjos offer a myriad of features and quality that’s sure to enhance your musical journey. So, if you’re on the hunt for a top-notch 5 and 6 string banjos that caters to your specific needs, keep reading to discover our handpicked selection of instruments.

What is a 6 string banjo?

​With regards to banjos, most people are familiar with the traditional 5-string instrument. However, there’s another type of banjo that deserves attention – the 6-string banjo. As the name suggests, a 6-string banjo has six strings instead of the usual five.

The addition of the sixth string opens up a whole new world of possibilities for banjo players. It allows for more versatile playing and enables the banjo to tackle a wider range of musical genres. With an extra string, banjoists can experiment with various chord voicings, play complex melodies, and even incorporate fingerpicking techniques commonly associated with guitars.

The 6-string banjo is a hybrid instrument, bridging the gap between the banjo and the guitar. It combines the twangy and resonant sound of a banjo with the familiarity and playability of a guitar. This makes it particularly appealing to guitarists who want to explore the unique timbre and techniques of the banjo without having to learn a new instrument from scratch.

The 6-string banjo is an exciting addition to the world of banjos. Its six strings offer greater flexibility and allow for creative exploration in various musical genres. Whether you’re a banjo enthusiast or a guitarist looking for a new musical adventure, the 6-string banjo is certainly worth considering.

Can you play regular banjo tabs on a 6 string banjo?

​One question that often arises among musicians is whether regular banjo tabs can be played on a 6-string banjo. The answer is both yes and no. While the 6-string banjo maintains the same basic structure as its traditional counterparts, the extra strings provide an extended range of notes. This means that regular banjo tabs can be played on a 6-string banjo, but some alterations may be needed to accommodate the additional strings.

The use of regular banjo tabs on a 6-string banjo can be a great way to explore new sounds and push the boundaries of traditional banjo playing. It allows for more complex melodies and intricate fingerpicking patterns. Additionally, the extra strings provide a wider tonal range, allowing for more versatility in playing styles and genres.

However, it is important to note that some advanced banjo techniques specific to the traditional 4 or 5-string banjo may not translate well to the 6-string version. This is because the additional guitar-like strings on a 6-string banjo alter the instrument’s overall sound and playability. Therefore, while regular banjo tabs can be played on a 6-string banjo, it is essential to approach them with an open mind and a willingness to adapt.

In conclusion, playing regular banjo tabs on a 6-string banjo is entirely possible. The 6-string banjo offers a unique opportunity to explore new sounds and expand one’s musical repertoire. However, it is important to understand the differences between the two instruments and be open to making adjustments to accommodate the additional strings. With some practice and experimentation, players can unlock the full potential of the 6-string banjo and enjoy a whole new world of banjo playing.

Is there a standard tuning for 6 string banjo?

​The tuning of a six-string banjo will largely depend on the player’s preference and the style of music they intend to play. Some players may choose to tune their six-string banjo in a similar fashion to a guitar, while others may opt for alternative tunings to achieve unique sounds and explore different musical possibilities. This flexibility in tuning allows players to experiment and create their own distinct banjo sound.

One common tuning for a six-string banjo is open-G tuning, similar to the four-string banjo. In open-G tuning, the strings are tuned to G, D, G, B, D, and G from low to high. This tuning is often preferred by players who want a familiar banjo sound while also having the flexibility of additional strings. However, it’s important to note that open-G tuning is not the only option, and many other tunings are used by six-string banjo players.

To conclude, there is no standard tuning for a six-string banjo. The tuning of a six-string banjo can vary depending on the player’s preference and desired musical style. While open-G tuning is a common choice, there are many other tunings that players may explore to create their own unique banjo sound.

Do I need to use special picks when playing a 6 string banjo?

​Some banjo players prefer using fingerpicks on their 6-string banjos to achieve a bright and crisp sound. Fingerpicks allow for precise picking and control, making it easier to navigate the strings and play intricate melodies. However, using fingerpicks may require some adjustment if you’re accustomed to playing without them.

On the other hand, many 6-string banjo players opt for using a flatpick or a thumbpick instead. Using a flatpick can add a different tonal quality to your playing, providing a more rounded and mellow sound. Thumbpicks, on the other hand, offer a good balance between using fingers and picks, allowing for a versatile range of picking styles.

Ultimately, the choice of picks for a 6-string banjo depends on your individual preferences and the style of music you’re playing. Some players find it helpful to experiment with different picks to find the one that feels most comfortable and produces the desired sound. Whether you choose to use fingerpicks, flatpicks, or thumbpicks, the most important thing is to find a setup that allows you to express your musical ideas with ease and precision.

What styles of music are best suited for the 6 string banjo?

Firstly, folk music is a natural fit for the 6 string banjo. With its origins deeply rooted in traditional folk music, the banjo’s distinctive twangy sound adds a rustic charm to the genre. This instrument is often associated with Appalachian folk music and can recreate that authentic mountain sound. Whether it’s strumming chords or playing intricate fingerpicking patterns, the banjo can capture the essence of folk music in a captivating and soulful manner.

Additionally, bluegrass music is another style that perfectly suits the 6 string banjo. With its fast-paced, high-energy rhythms and intricate melodies, bluegrass demands an instrument that can keep up. The banjo, with its drive and percussive qualities, is a staple of bluegrass ensembles. Its precise picking patterns and ability to cut through a mix make it an essential component of any bluegrass band.

Lastly, country music is a genre where the 6 string banjo truly shines. Its bright and resonant tone adds a lively and cheerful flavor to country melodies. In country music, the banjo often takes on a rhythmic role, accentuating the backbeat and providing a lively accompaniment to the vocals. The banjo’s versatility allows it to fit seamlessly into both traditional and contemporary country styles, making it a popular choice among country musicians.

Why would you want a 6 string banjo over another type of banjo?

​One of the main advantages of a 6-string banjo is its similarity to the guitar. If you are already proficient in playing the guitar, transitioning to a 6-string banjo will be a lot easier. The addition of two extra strings allows guitarists to utilize their existing skills and techniques on the banjo, opening up a whole new world of creative possibilities.

Another advantage of the 6-string banjo is its expanded range. With the additional strings, you have a wider tonal range and more versatility in playing different genres of music. This makes the 6-string banjo a great option for musicians who want to explore different styles, such as folk, blues, jazz, or even rock. The added strings also allow for more complex chord voicings and melodic variations, adding depth and richness to your playing.

While the traditional 4-string banjo has its own unique charm, the 6-string banjo offers a more familiar playing experience for those coming from a guitar background and a wider range of musical possibilities. Whether you’re a guitarist looking to expand your skills or a banjo enthusiast looking for new avenues of expression, the 6-string banjo is worth considering. Its versatility, tonal range, and ease of transition make it an appealing choice for banjo players of all levels.

What should I look for in a good 6 string banjo?

​First and foremost, pay attention to the build quality and materials used in the banjo. Look for a banjo made from high-quality wood, such as mahogany or maple, as this will greatly impact the sound and durability of the instrument. Additionally, check for solid construction and attention to detail, such as tight frets and a smooth neck, which will contribute to better playability.

Another important aspect to consider is the sound. Different banjos produce different tones, so it’s crucial to find one that suits your musical style and preferences. Some banjos have a warmer, mellower tone, while others offer a brighter and sharper sound. Take the time to try out different banjos and listen to their sound to ensure it matches your desired style.

The setup of the banjo is also worth considering. A well-set-up instrument will have the strings at a comfortable height, making it easier to play and reducing the risk of buzzing or discomfort. Look for a properly adjusted bridge and a well-installed tailpiece to ensure optimal playability.

Lastly, consider your budget. While there are fantastic banjos available at every price point, it’s important to set a realistic budget and stick to it. If you’re a beginner, you may want to start with a more affordable option and upgrade as you progress.

How much does a 6 string banjo cost?

​The price of a 6-string banjo can vary depending on several factors, including the brand, materials used, and overall quality. Entry-level models can be found for as little as $200, while higher-end options can range anywhere from $500 to several thousand dollars. It’s important to keep in mind that more expensive banjos often offer better sound quality and craftsmanship.

When shopping for a 6-string banjo, it’s also worth considering whether you want to purchase a new or used instrument. Used banjos can sometimes be found at a lower cost, but you’ll need to carefully inspect the instrument for any defects or signs of wear.

Additionally, it’s a good idea to visit local music stores or browse online marketplaces to compare prices and find the best deal. Many reputable music retailers will allow you to try out different banjos before making a decision, so you can select a model that fits your playing style and budget.

Is the 6 string banjo easier to learn than 5 string?

​One of the main advantages of the 6-string banjo is that it is often tuned like a guitar, which means that guitar players will find it easier to transition to the instrument. The familiar tuning allows for a quicker grasp of chord shapes and finger placement, making it more accessible to those with prior guitar experience. Additionally, the extra string on the 6-string banjo provides more range in terms of notes and more possibilities for exploring different musical styles, making it a versatile choice for musicians.

On the other hand, the traditional 5-string banjo offers its own unique advantages for beginners. The 5-string banjo is typically tuned to an open G tuning which allows for the creation of the signature “Scruggs style” sound. While this tuning may be more unfamiliar to beginners, it offers a distinct and recognizable banjo sound that many aspire to achieve. Furthermore, the 5-string banjo’s design with an open back allows for a lighter instrument that is easier to handle and carry around.

Ultimately, the question of whether the 6-string banjo is easier to learn than the 5-string banjo depends on the individual. If you are already a guitarist or feel more comfortable with guitar-like tunings, the 6-string banjo may be a better fit for you. However, if you love the traditional sound of the 5-string banjo and value its portability, then that may be the right choice for you. Regardless of which type you choose, both offer their own unique playing experience and the potential for endless musical expression.

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Best Budget Resonator Banjo

Vangoa Mahogany Resonator Banjo

The Vangoa Banjo 5 String Acoustic Electric Full Size Closed Back Set is a fantastic option for beginners and adults looking to explore the world of banjos. With its mahogany resonator and Remo head banjoe, it provides rich and resonant tones. The 24 brackets and geared 5th pegs ensure excellent tuning stability, making it easier for beginners to play.

One of the standout features of this banjo is its acoustic electric capability, allowing you to plug it into an amplifier or PA system for live performances or recording purposes. The closed-back design enhances the sound projection and produces a deep, warm tone. Made by Vangoa, a trusted brand in musical instruments, this banjo is built to last and provides excellent value for money. Whether you’re a beginner or an experienced player, the Vangoa Banjo is definitely worth considering.

Decent sound quality for the price
Playability
Great acoustic sound
Built-in pickup and preamp

Not the best for bluegrass
Buzzing from tone ring

Size: 38.58 x 13.15 x 3.94 inches
Strings: 5
Material: Mahogany
Fretboard Material: Walnut
Gauge: Light
Weight: 8.8 pounds
Proficiency Level: Professional

Instrument Alley Deering Goodtime

The Deering Goodtime 5-String Openback Banjo from Instrument Alley is an excellent choice for both beginners and experienced players. It comes as part of a package that includes a padded gig bag, True Tune tuner, mute, and picks, making it a great value for the price.

The quality of the banjo is exceptional, with a stunning openback design and a beautiful sound. The instrument feels solid in your hands and the neck is comfortable to play. The True Tune tuner is simple to use and helps keep the banjo perfectly in tune, while the mute is a nice addition for practicing silently.

The padded gig bag is a nice touch, providing protection and convenience for transporting the banjo. It has enough space to store the banjo and other accessories easily. The inclusion of picks in the package is also a thoughtful detail.

Overall, the Deering Goodtime 5-String Openback Banjo Instrument Alley Package is a fantastic choice for anyone looking for a high-quality banjo. Whether you’re a beginner or a seasoned player, this banjo will surely impress with its sound, craftsmanship, and added accessories.

Tuner and mute included
Excellent tone, volume, and sustain
Good, loud sound
Enough volume for all non-pickup-playing situations
Excellent banjo for beginners or travelers

Lacks a resonator for increased volume
Lacks resonator for increased volume

Size: 39.5 x 18.1 x 7 inches
Number of Strings: 5
Weight: 7.83 pounds
Design: Fiddle Shaped Peghead
Back Material: 3-Ply Maple Rim
Feature: True Tune Tuner

Kmise 5 String Full Size Banjo

The Kmise 5 String Resonator Banjo is a professional-grade instrument that is perfect for both beginners and experienced players. The banjo features a sapele back for a rich and resonant sound, and its full-size design ensures comfortable playing for individuals of all hand sizes. The banjo comes with a comprehensive starter kit, including a bag, tuner, strap, strings, picks, ruler, wrench, and bridge, making it a great value for money.

The Kmise brand is known for its high-quality musical instruments, and this banjo is no exception. The craftsmanship is excellent, with attention to detail and a sturdy construction that ensures durability. The sound produced by the banjo is crisp and clear, with great projection that fills the room. Whether you’re playing bluegrass, folk, or country music, the Kmise 5 String Resonator Banjo is a fantastic choice.

Comes with a truss rod, a really good arm rest and a resonator
Includes carry bag, tuner, strap, picks, and extra stringsRemovable resonator

May need some professional setup
Can be difficult to learn to play

Model: 5 string
Type of batteries: 1 AAA type
Guitar Weight: 16 ounces
Strings: 4
Brand: Kmise
Top Material: Okoume
Size: 11 inches
Color: Full Size Banjo

AKLOT Banjo for Beginners

The AKLOT 5 String Banjo is a fantastic option for both beginners and professionals alike. The full-size, open-back design gives it a classic and authentic sound, while the adjustable maple body ensures optimal playability. The Remo Head provides a crisp and clear tone, making every strum enjoyable.

This package is not only inclusive of the banjo itself but also comes with various accessories, such as 2 tuning wrenches, 4 picks, strings, a tuner, strap, ruler, cleaning cloth, and a gig bag. These extras are convenient and helpful for players of any skill level.

Overall, the AKLOT 5 String Banjo is a great investment for anyone looking to explore the beauty of banjo playing. The combination of quality craftsmanship and comprehensive accessories makes it a top choice in the market.

Includes everything you need to start playing
Gig bag, strap, tuner, picks, and cleaning cloth included
Maple body and neck for bright tone
Remo head included

Somewhat heavy at 11.5 pounds
Guitar-style tuners could be better

{‘Battery model’: ‘CR2032’, ‘Strings’: ‘4 Picks’, ‘Brand’: ‘AKLOT’, ‘Weight’: ‘8.2 pounds’, ‘Strings number’: 5, ‘Material Type’: ‘Maple’, ‘Instrument’: ‘Banjo’, ‘Size’: ‘Full’}

Deering Banjo G6SR

The Deering G6SR Goodtime Six w/Resonator Banjo is a true game-changer in the world of banjos. This banjo, from the reputable Deering brand, offers exceptional quality and craftsmanship, making it a top choice for any banjo enthusiast.

With its resonator, the G6SR Goodtime Six produces a rich, resonant sound that is simply captivating. Whether you’re playing in a small gathering or on stage, this banjo delivers a powerful, yet balanced tone that is sure to impress.

The craftsmanship of this banjo is also worth mentioning. Made with precision and attention to detail, the Deering G6SR Goodtime Six is a durable instrument that is built to last. From its solid construction to its smooth playability, each component has been carefully selected to provide the best banjo-playing experience.

Overall, the Deering G6SR Goodtime Six w/Resonator Banjo is a top-notch instrument for banjo players of all levels. Its exceptional sound quality and craftsmanship make it a true gem in the world of banjos.

Resonator for increased volume
Sounds pretty good
Factory-made electric banjo Goodtime 6 variant
Can use guitar chords, fingerings and tablature
Resonator for improved volume

Tuning can be challenging
6-string setup can be inconvenient when used for traditional banjo playing

Strings: 6
Material: Nickel
Weight: 1 pounds
Size: 3 x 3 x 3 inches
Manual Mode: Yes
Fingerboard: Pau Ferro
Usage: Tuned and played just like a guitar

Deering Goodtime DECO Banjo

The Deering Goodtime DECO Series Openback Banjo with its 1920’s Art Deco Inlay is a true beauty. Made in the USA by Instrument Alley, this banjo combines exquisite craftsmanship with a touch of nostalgia. The art deco inlay adds a unique and stylish look to the instrument, making it a standout choice for banjo enthusiasts. The banjo itself is of exceptional quality, producing a rich and vibrant sound that is perfect for both beginners and professionals. The package includes an Instrument Alley hard case, providing optimal protection for the banjo during transport. With its stunning design and superior sound, the Deering Goodtime DECO Series Openback Banjo is an excellent investment for any banjo player.

Made in the USA with 6-year warranty
Goodtime tone with a touch of maple brightness, as banjos go, it’s a looker

Loud and resonant

Shorter neck may not be suitable for all players
Open-back design lacks volume

Brand: Instrument Alley
Strings: 5
Design: Art Deco inspired
Material: Maple
Finish: Hand rubbed polyurethane with carnuba wax
Warranty: 6 years
Neck: “D” shape with 22 pressed in nickel silver frets

This post may contain affiliate links. As an Amazon Associate, Guitar & Music Institute may earn commissions from qualifying purchases.

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