Mandolin vs Banjo: A Comprehensive Guide to Choosing the Right Instrument

If you are a learner, the world of music can be overwhelming and mind-boggling, as many instruments look alike. There’s a lot of discussion on mandolin vs banjo and only trained personnel can tell the difference between the two though they look similar to a layman. However, with a little practice to your ears, you’ll figure out how the sounds produced are different from one another. These instruments are strikingly very similar and are also poles apart.

Banjo is a stringed instrument with a long neck and comes with four or five strings depending upon the chosen instrument. Its back can be attached to a wooden resonator or left open. Banjo is usually preferred for an intimate audience that prefers louder and deeper sounds that evokes one’s emotions strongly. The resonators in banjos help in making their sound louder and heard over the other instruments as they can be both loud and soft. It’s undoubtedly a unique instrument owing to the materials used in its construction. check here the guide to mandolin vs banjo.

The modern version of the mandolin has four pairs of steel strings. The tuning is similar to the tuning of guitar and its appearance is also close to a guitar. The pear shape, pegs, strings, tuning, bridge, all these make it a sibling of the guitar. Mandolin is usually preferred for a larger audience, say a concert. 

What is the difference between a mandolin and a banjo?

Mandolin vs Banjo

The key difference is the sound produced in the two instruments. Mandolin has 8 strings and the banjo has four to five strings that make the music distinctive from each other. A high-pitched sound is produced by the mandolin and the banjo produces a twang. Understanding the differences between the two will help you decide which one to learn. 

Is mandolin easier than banjo?

That depends on the instruments you can already play. If you know to play the violin or guitar, you can play banjo quickly. This saves you time to relearn the chords. Banjo is comparatively easier to play and you can choose to play via fingerpicking or frailing method. Mandolin aids you to play in multiple genres like folk, country, classical, etc., while banjo restricts you to playing specific genres only. So picking between mandolin vs banjo depends on your need and what instrument you already know to play. It’s a matter of personal choice and what you aspire to master. 


1. Are mandolin and banjo chords the same?

Mandolin has eight strings that are clubbed in pairs and act as four strings. So when you strike one string down, you are technically striking two strings at one time. So the note produced with two strings is different than the one produced with banjo which uses only one string at a time. The mandolin is smaller in comparison to the banjo so, the banjo sounds deeper than the mandolin.