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You are here: Home > Banjos > Banjo Buying Guide & Tips
What you need to know before buying a banjo:

  • Open back and closed back.  There are two main types of banjos, open back and closed back (resonator.)  The resonator back is a wood piece that covers the back side of the body (pot) of the banjo.  Some banjos have a removable resonator, giving you the option to play it open or closed. Open back banjos generally sound mellower than banjos with resonators, which helps to project the sound of a banjo.
  • Size and weight:  A classic banjo has 5 strings, but there are many different sizes and variations of banjos.  Banjos are deceptively heavy instruments, and a resonator adds weight. Some banjos have 6 strings to play similarly to a guitar, and some banjos have 4 strings such as the tenor banjo. 
  • Picks:  Some styles of banjo playing can use picks.  Most banjo techniques require independent use of the fingers and thumb, so a guitar pick would not work.  A thumb pick secures onto the player's thumb without being held. 
  • Tuner options:  There are two main types of tuners: planetary and tuning pegs.  Planetary tuners are fully enclosed and the inner gears are not exposed.  These are different than guitar tuners, but serve the same purpose.  Tuning pegs are friction-fit ebony pegs, the same type that are used on violins.  Tuning pegs are used on older and traditional banjos, but most banjos today use planetary tuners.