Comparing Open-Back vs Resonator Banjos: What’s the Difference?

Open Back Vs Resonator Banjo Both are one of the most delicate instruments to opt for if you get into the music zone. It is a five-string instrument that produces all the classical tunes and notes. Invented in the 1800s, this instrument is typical for playing country and folk music. It belongs to the guitar family, which is why it is sometimes used for rock music. There are various kinds of Banjos available, and it might confuse us when we go looking for the best one. It could be an open back Banjo or a resonator Banjo. Before you invest your money into it, you need to understand what is what and which one is better than the other.

Should I get a resonator or open back Banjo?

Should I get a resonator or open back banjo

Since resonator and open-back Banjo resemble a lot in their physical forms, you need to be clear with the differences before you go buying one.


Having Open Back Vs Resonator Banjo, the resonator Banjo is a little different than the open back Banjo when it comes to design because it has a bowl at the back of it on the sound chamber, which helps in resonating the sound towards the audience.

Open back Banjo doesn’t have anything on its back, making its sound appear to be lesser than the resonator Banjo, but it is a lighter instrument to carry because of the lack of wood on its back.


Since open back Banjos don’t have a complex design, they are typically cheaper than the resonator Banjo. Resonator Banjos provide a lot more flexibility than open-back Banjos, so if you want to learn a more comprehensive type of music, you should go for it.

String Position

Strings are usually placed higher in an open back Banjo as compared to the resonator Banjo. Open back Banjo is used for clawhammer-type music, so the string placement is like that.

When the question arises as to which one is a better option, it gets trickier. Your choice of Banjo should depend on the type of music you are playing. If you want to play bluegrass music mostly, opt for the resonator, but the open back Banjo is the best for you if you are into clawhammer music.

Is open back Banjo better?

Banjos are loud instruments, and if the tones and sound aren’t well controlled, they can irritate. This is something you can alter easily in an open back Banjo where the music will come towards the player’s side, ensuring that some of it gets absorbed. The tones which are produced are softer and melodious without harming anyone’s ears. Open back Banjos are a better choice because they are also cheaper and lightweight. So, if you are a beginner, these are the best for you.

Can you play bluegrass on an open back Banjo?

Yes, you can play the bluegrass music on an open back Banjo. It would take some practice and perfection to master it, but it can be done relatively quickly. The sound won’t be as rich as in a resonator Banjo, but it will be worth it.


1. Can you put a resonator on an open back Banjo?

A resonator amplifies the sound produced by a Banjo, and it goes towards the audience to listen to it more clearly. You can add a resonator in an open back Banjo, but not all the Banjos support it, so you need to keep that in mind while buying.

Also, check out How to restring a Banjo, if you are curious about how to restring a Banjo and know more.