Banjo vs Guitar: A Comprehensive Comparison and Guide

A musician, beginner, or professional must have different musical instruments for different genres and purposes. Some essential musical instruments are Banjo, Guitar, Drums, Piano, etc. Speaking of banjos and guitars, many people have this question of banjo vs guitar as they both are much-needed instruments in a musician’s collection. Many musicians wonder about the difference between banjos and guitars. And if you are wondering too, then let’s have a dive into the differences between both instruments. 

A Guitar is a wooden stringed musical instrument with up to six to twelve strings played by strumming the strings with fingers or with a pick. 

A Banjo, belonging to the guitar family, is a stringed musical instrument with a round drum-like body with up to four to six strings played by strumming the strings of the instrument with fingers or with a pick. 

Banjo vs Guitar difficulty

Banjo vs Guitar

Are you a beginner in the world of musical instruments and want to know which instrument is fit for you the banjo vs guitar? Then it might be a bit difficult to reach a proper decision as both instruments have a similar and interesting sound and tone, which can be used for multiple similar genres. 

In the context of size, banjos have a neck that is much smaller than guitars with fewer strings. However, some banjos might be heavy as compared to guitars which might be tough to carry for some adults and children. 

In the context of strings, the ease of strumming the strings depends on the measure of strings, which can be easily adjusted on the banjos and guitars. 

In the context of tuning, the tuning has great effects on the level of ease of playing the instrument. On one hand, the banjos are tuned into an open tuning known as ‘Open G tuning’ I.e. G, D, G, B, and D creating an open chord. On the other hand, the guitars do not have an open tuning to create an open chord.

 Guitars are generally tuned in to a ‘Standard tuning’ which refers to notes like E, A, D, G, B, and E. Hence, when a banjo is played by plucking its strings, it produces a pleasurable sound/tune because it has been already tuned in. This is a similar case with a style of a guitar named Dobro which is tuned to an ‘Open G tuning.’

Is banjo different from a guitar? 

In the debate of banjo vs guitar, it is essential to note down the elements that make them unique from each other. 

A banjo is a round-shaped stringed musical instrument typically comprising four, five, or six strings. It was designed by Joel Sweeney in the 1800s. A guitar is a wooden stringed instrument comprising up to twelve strings designed by Gaetano Vinaccia in the late 1800s. 

The musical genres played by banjos are Folk music, Bluegrass, Jazz, Dixieland, Pop, and Rock in modern years. The musical genres played by guitars are mainly Country, Metal, Folk, Pop and Rock, Mariachi, Bluegrass, etc. 

The banjo is smaller than a guitar. A classical guitar produces a deeper sound/tune as compared to a banjo. A guitar is stronger than a banjo and has strong music/sound waves which are typically used for huge events and concerts. Whereas, a banjo is used for smaller events and smaller crowds. 

The banjo has up to four, five, and six strings. Whereas, a normal guitar will have four strings up to twelve strings. The lesser the strings the better and easier it is to play the instrument. 

The tuning of a banjo and guitar is different. The banjo has an ‘Open G tuning’ which is an open tuning, and a guitar has a ‘Standard tuning’ with each string placed in a specific order like E, A, D, G, B, and E. Due to this reason, when a banjo is played without tuning it, it produces a very pleasant sound, unlike a standard guitar. 

When it comes to the price, banjo, and guitar highly differ. A standard guitar costs more than a banjo as it requires more amount of materials and items to make a good guitar like the kind and amount of wood used, the materials needed to make the strings, etc. If you know how to play the guitar, then a banjo is going to be an easy instrument to play because playing the guitar is more complex to learn than a banjo. 

Is Banjo easier to play than guitar? 

The structure of a banjo is more complex than a guitar but the strumming of strings is easier in the banjo. The strings in a banjo are thinner than a guitar which makes it less painful on fingers and easier to play. Apart from that, the number of strings in a banjo is less than a guitar due to which banjos are easier to learn and play. 

The tuning of both musical instruments also plays an essential role as discussed earlier. However, it hugely depends on the genre and styles that you want to learn. Both the instruments have their unique features and difficulty level. It also depends on your personal preference and the way you are learning it. It is a different experience for everyone! 

Final comment 

 When it comes to the discussion of banjo vs guitar, it is essential to keep many different aspects in mind that make both musical instruments different from each other. Banjo or guitar, the working, and method of learning are surely unique and the difficulty level for both is decided based on your personal choices and preferences and what resonates with you the most! So this was all about banjo vs guitar.


Frequently asked questions 

1. Is it easier to learn the banjo or guitar? 

~ A banjo might seem easier to learn than a guitar due to strings or open tuning, it highly depends on the style and genre of music you want to learn and the amount of experience you have with both instruments. 

2. Are banjo and guitar chords the same? 

~ There might be a slight difference in the chords. However, guitar chords and banjo chords are similar on the two, three, and four strings.


Also, check out our detailed posts on How to Read the Banjo Tab? and How to Tune a Banjolele? that might interest you.