Banjos are best known for their use in folk, country, and bluegrass music.

The Best Banjo for Folk Music is one that can be tuned to the right pitch, has a good tone, and has an open back. The choice of the banjo will depend on the style of folk music you are playing. You may need an instrument that is more or less expensive depending on your budget.

Nowadays there are many different styles of Folk Music, so it’s impossible to claim that any specific type of Banjo would be “the best”.

Here are 5 of the Best Banjo for Folk Music you can find in 2022-

  1. Deering Goodtime 5-String Banjo
  2. Oscar Schmidt OB3-O-U Open Back 5-String Banjo
  3. Rover RB-20 Open Back 5 string banjo
  4. Deering Goodtime 2 5-string banjo
  5. Gold Tone 5-String Banjo (AC-1)
best banjo for folk music

Comparison Table for Best Banjo for Folk Music

ModelBack TypeDimension (Inch)WeightStringsPrice
Deering Goodtime 5-String BanjoOpen back37.75X11.75X3.754 lbs5Check Latest Price
Oscar Schmidt OB3-O-U Open BackOpen back24X2.75X81 lbs5Check Latest Price
Rover RB-20 Open Back 5 stringOpen back33.8X13.8X45 lbs4Check Latest Price
Deering Goodtime 2 5-string banjoMaple38.75X13.88X4.256 lbs5Check Latest Price
Gold Tone 5-String Banjo (AC-1)Mahogany38.5X11.5X41 lbs5Check Latest Price

Things to Consider Before Buying

When we are talking about the best banjo for folk music, there are a few factors to consider before you should buy.

Let’s have a short discussion before you make the decision – 

Open Back vs Resonator Banjo

Usually, the banjos that are selected for folk music are decided by whether it’s open back or resonator type banjo. Resonator banjos have a wooden bowl or pot attached to the back. This wooden pot is called the resonator.

This device reflects the sound of the banjo and amplifies it. That’s why sound from a resonator banjo is louder.

On the other hand, open-back banjo’s have no cover on the back. 

open back or resonator banjo
open back vs resonator

Because of that, there is nothing to reflect the sound of the banjo. As a result, we get a softer and mellow sound. This is the main reason open-back banjos are preferred for folk music.

But it doesn’t mean that resonator banjo can’t be used for folk music at all.

You can learn more about this from Open Back vs Resonator Banjo.

Tailpiece Material

The function of the tailpiece on a banjo is to anchor and angle the strings of your banjo. This way the strings put maximum pressure on the bridge and transmit sound into the head of the banjo.

You should choose a banjo with a tailpiece made with nonvibrating material. 

This is to make sure that the tailpiece won’t vibrate with the tone and make unnecessary sounds that won’t match. You should avoid tailpieces made with bronze and brass.

Tuners

You should look for geared tuners while buying the best banjo for folk music. This kind of tuner can handle the tension created by vibrating strings.

Try to find tuners with a 14:1 gear ratio because there are easy to use.

Frets

Avoid using narrow frets that don’t sit right above the banjo fingerboard. This cause lots of problem and you have to give extra effort. Try to find banjos with taller fret wires. It’ll provide you with a pleasant experience.

Wood Type

This is one of the prime factors you should consider while buying a banjo for folk music. Depending on the wood material the sound of your banjo will vary in different ways.

Maple, walnut, and mahogany are the most popular wood material used for manufacturing banjos. Maple wood will project a natural bright tone from the banjo. Many will give warmer and sweeter sounds.

Banjos made with walnut wood will provide something in between.

So look out for banjos constructed with these three types of wood material.

1. Deering Goodtime 5-String Banjo

The Deering Goodtime banjo is a very popular musical instrument that you will get at a fairly moderate price. It’s initially manufactured in the US. It only weighs 4 pounds for you to carry it easily in places when you are on a tour. 

Addressing the first-timers who love folk music, this banjo is preferable because of its lively and soothing tone. The features and description of this banjo are down below.

Product Description

This 5 string Goodtime banjo owns a polished blonde slender neck made of rock maple which will give you a feeling of comfort while playing in any position.

The 22 frets topped with nickel silver that it contains are detailed as well as unerring that provide an overall vibrant sound, especially for the bluegrass banjoist. The strings have a precise coordinator rod which you can adjust according to your way to press it precisely.

It appears with a pegboard that is fiddle in shape with geared tuning machines.

The banjo features a three-layered 11-inch maple rim with a steel tension hoop and a peak crown head. With the 11-inch measurement that the rim contains, this feature outdoes all other banjos ever made, still it holds such a low price.

The bridge is 5/8 inch in size along with an ebony tipped maple. The ebony-wood is generally harder than any other wood that supplies clean as well as polished music ultimately providing a pleasant tone.

Addressing the tailpiece it includes, it is a Deering patented Goodtime tailpiece that is powerful enough to supply excellent quality music and it is easily adjustable too.

Pros & Cons

Let’s go through the pros and cons of this banjo to let you decide on the perfect one for you.

Pros

  • It’s light-weighted and portable.
  • The cost is reasonable.
  • Easily adjustable neck and tailpiece.
  • Pleasant melody.
  • It’s quite long-lasting with a warranty of 6 years.

Cons

  • The neckpiece is small to hold.
  • The neck of the banjo is a little clumsy.

Some Direct Reviews from the Customers

  • A 5 star rated customer has expressed gratitude after playing and using this banjo.
    He mentioned that there is almost no reason to reject this piece of instrument.
  • According to another customer, this banjo is ideal for both beginners and intermediate players. She also mentioned that the structure is standard.

2. Oscar Schmidt OB3-O-U Open Back 5-String Banjo

If you are a novice and new to this sort of music, this instrument is perfect for you. 

The Oscar Schmidt OB3 has a very low budget which will make you feel instant gratification.

Product Description

The neck of the OB3 banjo is prepared with nato which is another name for eastern mahogany wood. The neck wood is reliable enough to be able to bear a standard tone quality.

It contains 22 frets along with a fretboard made of hardwood with a smooth texture as a part of comfortable use.

A geared 5th string tuner works perfectly with this banjo which is adaptable and you are free to install it the way you desire.

The Remo head of this instrument which is covered with one layer of mylar film appearing with a textured surface on the top provides the OB3 with a polished appearance. The handcrafted maple rim has a gloss finishing that also contributes here.

Pros & Cons

Here are some of the major pros and cons for you to decide on your banjo.

Pros

  • Lifetime warranty.
  • Handcrafted polished design.
  • Affordable price.
  • Eye-catching 
  • Preferable for people who are fond of American folk songs.

Cons

  • You have to install the bridge and tuner by yourself

Some Direct Reviews from Customers

  • The majority of the customers has mentioned that this banjo is one of the popular instrument for novices and it is quite comfortable too.
  • One customer has mentioned that the banjo is very well made according to its price. He also added that it is quite playable as an instrument.

3. Rover RB-20 Open Back 5 string banjo

The banjo which is normally played by advanced beginners having a professional background is Rover RB-20 Open Back five-string banjo. It’s well prepared for bluegrass musicians and folk enthusiasts which usually has a unique style and tone.

Product Description

The Rover RB-20 Open Back 5 String Banjo is composed of 11’’ inch rim and an adjustable tension hoop of 3.5’’ inch. The hoop here is bodily prepared of nickel which lets the hoop have a tough texture and it also makes it long-lasting.

The banjo neck is prepared from the sharp and burnished mahogany wood that gives you a feeling of smoothness while touching it. 

The fretboard is an Indian east rosewood material board that is soft enough to produce a clearer tone. It has got position markers with an adjustable truss rod.

The banjo contains 5 strings which are topped with alloy metal supplying strength and durability.

The rover contains 5 peg gear-style tuners. 

This brings a comfortable approach to this playable instrument.

This banjo is so light weighted that you may give this to a kid and he/she can handle it with pretty ease. But the cause of lightweight is not related to the overall quality of the banjo, rather it furnishes it.

Pros & Cons

Let’s go through some strengths and weaknesses of this banjo to let you decide the perfect banjo for you to buy.

Pros

  • This banjo is very delicate.
  • It is quite light-weighted.
  • Standard and effective hardware.
  • Suitable for traveling.
  • Preferred for competent banjoists.

Weaknesses

  • The top nut that holds the string is of a bit poor quality.

Some Direct Reviews from Customers

  • A user said that the banjo is pretty expensive but it plays very well in terms of its high price. He also added that the installation of the tuner was very easy.
  • One customer complained that the string nut of her banjo snapped after some days of buying it, adding that the parts were of very low quality.

4. Deering Goodtime 2 5-string banjo

The Goodtime banjos were designed by Greg Deering with a purpose for beginners to learn this instrument at an awfully low price. The Goodtime banjo 2 is manufactured in the USA and its handcrafted design is quite impressive.

Product Description

Goodtime 2 banjos have a neck constructed of slender rock maple which is very reliable and because of this, the weight is 6lbps which is almost equal to a load of a banjo.

The banjo is a 19 fret tenor along with a maple fretboard that supplies you with world-class sound quality. 

It‘s composed of sealed tuners that add the feature of beautifying the tune.

The banjo contains a single bound maple resonator that amplifies the sound with a soothing tone. The three-ply maple rim helps the sound to resonate through the waves, resulting in a crisper tune for this banjo.

The Goodtime 2 banjo owns a very well-crafted tailpiece that anchors the strings tightly smoothening the playability of the instrument.

Pros & Cons

Let us go through some strengths and weaknesses of this banjo to let you decide the perfect banjo for you to buy.

Pros

  • It has a low budget
  • Durability with a 6 years warranty
  • Superb workmanship
  • Made for travelers

Weaknesses

  • The finish is dull

Some Direct Reviews from Customers

  • One buyer said the banjo is a very high-quality instrument and that it has a great tone. He also mentioned that it feels great on hand.
  • Another one mentioned that it is very suitable for professional banjoists who are also very budget-friendly.
  • Although other customers were practically satisfied with the product, one opposed and mentioned that it was not worth the money.

5. Gold Tone 5-String Banjo (AC-1)

This is one of the best beginner’s choice banjo which is feather weighted and provides a very mellower sound. This banjo is structurally rich and affordable at the same time.

Product Description

Gold-tone 5 string banjos are composed of a mahogany neck which is strong and dense but very light weighted. It comes along with an ebony fingerboard that allows a brighter tone.

The banjo contains 5 strings along with a tuning machine which can be easily installed.

It owns 22 frets topped with nickel silver and its satin neck is polished enough to produce a mellower tone.

The banjo is made of 11 inches top-high crown with a 4-5 inch ebony-tipped Goodtime bridge.

The rim and resonator are manufactured of composite materials which are tough, long-lasting, and compatible.

It also comes along with a customized tailpiece which has a mark of Deering patented good time, it beautifies the banjo an absolute finishing.

Pros & Cons

Let us go through some strengths and weaknesses of this banjo to let you decide on the perfect one for your convenience.

Pros

  • It’s very light weighted
  • The truss rod is two wayed.
  • It is durable with a 6-year warranty.

Cons

  • It’s a bit expensive.

Some Direct Reviews from Customers

  • One consumer said that if anyone is ready to pay for an expensive banjo, then this banjo is a steal for the money, and maybe even better.
  • Another buyer recommended this banjo for beginners, adding that it is very worthy of its price.

Read More: Popular Goldtone banjos in 2022

Frequently asked questions (FAQ)

Does Folk Music Have Banjo?

Yes, folk music does have Banjo. In fact, Some banjos are specially made for folk music.

What Type Of Banjo Is Used for Folk Music?

Banjos like Oscar Schmidt OB3 open back banjo, Rover RB open back banjo, etc. are made for American folk music.

What Is The Easiest Banjo To Play?

The banjos containing 5 strings are very easy to play. That is why it’s also the most popular banjo type among newcomer banjo players.

Is Banjo Harder Than Guitar?

Banjo is not hard compared to guitar. It’s the total opposite. If you are a banjoist, then banjo will be piece of cake for you. Banjo is easier than guitar because it has fewer strings.

Recommendation

Even though we already shortlisted only the 5 best banjos for folk music, we want to specify our recommendation even among the best.

So we recommend:

Deering Goodtime 5-String Banjo

This banjo is an open-back type so it’s naturally good for folk music. It’s also easy to carry because of its low weight. The reviews from the customers are also very good.

Alternative Suggestion

Here is a list of alternative options for banjo’s you can purchase in case there is a product shortage in the market –

  1. AKLOT Adjustable Full Size Maple Banjo
  2. Kmise 5 String Resonator Banjo
  3. Mulucky 5 String Banjo

Final Thoughts

Banjos are important to the folk music genre but are not always the perfect instrument for every player. The best banjo for folk music is one that suits your style of playing.

It is hard to find out what the best banjo for folk music is because everyone has different opinions about it. If you are a beginner, you should start with a reliable model that will last for many years. If you are an intermediate player, then it might be better to try out some models before settling on one specific model.

For advanced players, there is no need to worry about quality as long as it sounds good enough and suits their needs.

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