Differences between 17 and 19 fret tenor banjo [Explained]

When the banjo originally emerged in America from its African origins, nobody realized it would develop into the huge prominence the instrument faces today.

Banjos produce a great sound you can’t discover anywhere, and it’s a simple instrument to play for a wide range of music styles.

Filling in reputation in recent years, more individuals are running to the banjo interestingly.

However, the vast majority don’t know there are more things to consider than simply the well-known 4-string and 5-string banjo models.

Yes, you’re getting it right! In this post, we will show you all you require to know to track down the right kind of banjo for you.

17 fret vs 19 fret tenor banjo

Irish Tenor Banjo

With regards to Irish tenor banjo, it is difficult to characterize precisely what sort of banjo that is. Indeed, it is a 4-string tenor banjo. However, the question remains about the 17-fret vs 19-fret tenor banjo. Is it a resonator or is it open back? How could it be tuned – standard tenor tuning C, G, D, An or Irish Tuning G, D, A, E?
After playing and conversing with Irish tenor banjo players, we have established that there is no definite pattern in spite of the fact that there are a few speculations.

17 fret vs 19 fret Tenor Banjo

17-Fret Tenor Banjo

A 17-fret tenor banjo is regularly viewed as the Irish tenor banjo since it’s tuned to G, D, A, E from the 4th to 1st string. The tuning is like a fiddle or mandolin. The principal difference between the 17-fret and 19-fret tenor banjos is the number of frets and the scale length. 17-fret tenor banjos have around 20 or 21 inches of the scale length, making them a shorter version.

They are likewise common than some other type of banjo, and you will see these tenor banjos for sale broadly. Possibly the reason for their reputation is because of their adaptability of the strings.

You can play Celtic or Dixieland music with the 17-fret. But it will depend on the type of the strings and how you tune it.

It’s a fact that a 17-fret is the best banjo for you if you want to play Irish music. The fast-paced fiddle-like tunes are easier to play with this instrument, and most Irish banjos are open-back banjos. The tenor banjos are frequently practiced in classic Irish/Celtic, and early jazz music from dance hall numbers to Ragtime, Dixieland, and even Tin Pan Alley tunes.

You might hear the 17-fret in jazz patterns like Alexander’s Ragtime Band and pup playing Irish bands like the Clancy Brothers that motivated the present Mumford and Sons. The kids and women may likewise lean toward a shorter-size banjo.

19-Fret Tenor Banjo

Unlike a 17-fret tenor banjo, which is more ideal for Irish music, the 19-fret tenor is better for classic Dixieland jazz. Having two notes more than the 17-fret. 19-fret is the normal 23-inch scale length, which implies the instrument sounds less like a violin and requires all the more a fiddle fingering style to play.

You can still use a 19-fret in the Irish tenor banjo, however, this banjo is commonly set from the 4th to 1st chords like C, G, D, A. Numerous players select the 19-fret for versatility.

The balanced tuning of a 19-fret is like a mandolin, but mandolins do play in the G chords. For example, jazz music consistently uses a C harmony. The music you play all depends on the way you tune the banjo.

The 19-fret tenor banjo is more probable played by advanced players and in Dixieland Jazz. In any case, you can tune the banjo to the G harmony to likewise play Irish music as your requirement.

The 19-fret tenor banjo is quite popular among bands like the Dropkick Murphy’s, albeit the instrument is more normal in jazz. If your plan is to interweave melody in combination with the chords like in jazz music, you may likewise pick a 19-fret.

Now we would say the 17-fret banjo is more common, but it doesn’t mean that it’s the standard. Using a 17-fret tenor banjo makes the scale of the instrument more limited. This limited scale makes it simpler to play those fast fiddle tunes, which regularly use numerous triplets in the phrases. This scale is nearer to a violin scale, so you can use a large part of a similar fingering a fiddle player may use.

19-fret tenor banjos are used often among expert players. It gives you two additional notes, which can be significant in certain tunes. The downside is that it makes the size of the instrument bigger so it is considerably more eliminated from that of a violin scale and using a similar fingering as a fiddle player is more troublesome.

Also, don’t forget to see our post on top plectrum banjo.

17 fret vs 19 fret Tenor Banjo Models of 2022

In a hurry? – Here are the best 17 & 19 frets tenor banjos on the market:

  • Best Choice for Irish Music – Deering Goodtime 17 Fret
  • Most beautiful Tenor Banjo – Goldtone CC Maple 17 fret
  • Best Overall Tenor – Rover RB- 20T
  • Best 19 Fret tenor banjo – Trinity River 4 string

Deering Goodtime 17-Fret Tenor Banjo: Musical Instruments

The Deering brand is viewed as perhaps the best brand in the United States. Their 17-fret tenor banjo right befittingly satisfies its status. It has a slim neck and its 17-fret configuration keeps things easy for beginner banjo players.
For experienced players, the character of this banjo will keep their content for quite a while. However, it is famous for the Irish/Celtic style of music, this banjo is ideal for anyone.


Has a great fame
Great value at this price point
All geared tuning pegs
Maple neck
3 ply maple rim

No resonator option

Gold Tone CC-Irish Tenor Cripple Creek Tenor Banjo (Four String, Maple)

If you recognize Gold Tone banjos you know that the Cripple Creek is their entry-level setup. This brand brags more than 7000 sales since its introduction 12 years prior.

This 17-fret Irish tenor banjo actually sings while featuring a maple rim, neck, and resonator. These banjos are also set with low string movement that supports beginners with playing the instrument.

The maple headstock, brass tone ring, and dark binding on the neck and resonator make this one of our recommended tenor banjos. The resonator is also removable, offering you the alternative to play this instrument open-backed if you would like.


Maple Rim and neck
Removable maple resonator
Attractive finish
Cripple Creek is a famous and most loved instrument lin


Might be expensive for a beginner

Rover RB-20T Resonator Tenor Banjo, Open back

Rover is a new banjo brand that is offering a wide range of worth choices for beginner banjo players. Although most banjos under $200 are not decent enough, decent quality banjos are around $500. It leaves new banjo players with a choice. The banjos are below average quality or more expensive than they would like.

And here, Rover is giving players an alternative in the center. The composite rim is one way they are doing, and other of these is the mahogany neck and rosewood fingerboard. You will actually get excellent features like a customizable truss rod, guitar-style tuners, and a mahogany resonator. If you are looking for a banjo at a limited price range, we suggest this tenor banjo.


Great sound
Simple, functional hardware
Great for traveling


Action is a bit high
You might have to replace strings

Also, don’t forget to see our post on tenor vs plectrum banjo.

Trinity River TRTB 1 4-String Tenor Banjo

Trinity River Music is an instrument producer out of Texas, who doesn’t share that much data via social media or web pages. This 4 string tenor banjo has a resonator, in contrast to most tenors. If you want a 4 string tuning or sound but with a ton of projection and volume, this could be the banjo for you.

The reviews are not excessively fulfilled nor are they horrible; they appear to be a brand creating a good standing. At this cost, you ought to get a strong build and fair sound. Obviously ensure you don’t need a 5 string, since, supposing that if you do spend somewhat more and get that.


It is a whopping 43 inches and 8 pounds
It has 18 brackets, a Remo’s head, open tuners It comes with a custom gig bag
The neck wood is mora & the resonator is nato


The sound might not satisfy you

Final Verdict

When this is the end of the discussion about the 17-fret vs 19-fret tenor banjo, ensure you review the product description since more affordable choices don’t come ready to play. Even if you manage one, there are chances that will not be exactly how you like it, which implies the strings might feel awkward to play, and the instrument’s intonation might be inaccurate. Don’t worry! It’s fine since you can generally ask a music shop to set it up for you.

We hope you enjoyed this post. Please feel free to reach out to us about more banjo reviews or don’t forget to take a tour to our content section.

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