Banjo is a plucked instrument that is commonly associated with the folk and country music of America. Numerous different kinds of banjos are used for creating different effects and sounds. They can cater to various styles of play.
What type of instrument is a banjo? How are banjos made?
Banjos are commonly made from wood frames covered in a taut skin or plastic head. Although the Older models of banjos are sometimes made using Steel frames.
The banjos have long necks with 4 strings that stretch the instrument’s length. This produces a very unique sound that boasts a lot of brightness and twang. It is made from many interchangeable and small parts, a unique trait of the banjo.
Although banjos are referred to as American instruments, they originated in Africa. They became immensely popular in America in the 19th century because the slaves who were taken into the country used to play the banjo. It became one of the most important instruments later of American country and folk music due to its unique playing styles, appearance, and sound of it.
Six main kinds of banjos are there that can be commonly seen being played nowadays in American folk and country music. They are:
- Resonator (Bluegrass) Banjos
- Tenor Banjos
- Open Back Banjos
- Electric Banjos
- 6 String Banjos
- Plectrum Banjos
The other kinds of banjos include Bass Banjos, Cello Banjos, Mandolin Banjos, and Ukulele Banjos. All types include various characteristics making them perfect for their unique tones or playing styles.
- RESONATOR (BLUEGRASS) BANJOS
Bluegrass, or Resonator Banjos, are traditional banjos including five strings. The fifth string is added to the left side of the fifth fret.
- TENOR BANJOS
These banjos include four strings & shorter scales as compared to the banjos of five strings, As they include seventeen to nineteen frets. They have the strings tuned to the true 5ths & are used commonly in the Dixieland, trad, and jazz circles today.
- OPEN-BACK (CLAWHAMMER) BANJOS
These are other five-string banjos. The primary difference between the resonator and open-back banjos is that the open-back banjos have an open-back body, but resonators have closed ones for louder sounds.
- ELECTRIC BANJOS
These banjos feature some kind of pick-up transducer on their tops for adjusting the volume of the banjo to the liking of the player. They are used commonly in modern music.
- 6-STRING BANJOS
These banjos are called guitar banjos. They are created for guitar players who do not wish to learn to play with the 4-string or 5 traditional Banjo layouts.
- PLECTRUM BANJOS
These banjos are played using a pick or a plectrum. They’re pitched lower than the tenor banjos & are used mainly by those who use many chords instead of the fingerpicking playstyle.
I own a music instruments shop. My go to instrument is a banjo. My business makes it easier for me to access the instruments from various brands and of various types. I will give my honest opinion here to help out others in choosing the right instrument for them.