Difference between a Cheap Banjo and Good Banjo

There has always been a debate going on about good quality and cheap banjo.

What is the difference between a cheap and good banjo?

What are the demerits of a cheap banjo?

Why you should choose a good quality banjo over a cheap banjo?

The answers to the above questions need to be sorted upon the priority level of the banjo player. You may be confused about what I meant by the word “priority”!

We’ll explain it in a bit.

Difference between a Cheap Banjo and Good Banjo

How Cheap A Banjo Should Be For A Beginner?

A player who chooses to play banjo first needs to feel the banjo. There are often players who don’t like to play it after some time and the money goes in vain. Expert banjo players from all over the world suggest going with a cheaper banjo for beginners.

But, here comes another question – how cheap a banjo should be for a beginner?

Cheap banjos are often made in Asia. They do not offer quality material and good build. But, the sound is quite satisfactory for a beginner. If the sound is satisfactory and not too far from the actual chord sound, then the banjo should be good to go.

Banjo Quality in the Market

You’ll find 3 major banjo qualities in the market.

  1. Good quality banjo
  2. Medium quality banjo
  3. Cheap quality banjo

If you are a beginner, then you can choose a medium-quality banjo. It’ll be affordable for you and will also not sacrifice the sound quality that much. The reason behind choosing a medium-quality banjo is that you can enjoy the mesmerizing sound of a banjo.

Also, in case you don’t continue it, it won’t hurt you economically.

You can learn about the best banjo for the money.

Also, you can check out the best beginner banjo.

Quality Matters!

Players who are merely students go for cheaper instruments for obvious reasons.

But, because of affordability, they often miss the quality aspect.

So why does the quality matter?

Quality makes a difference because if you don’t have a good impression of the instrument, you won’t find the motivation to continue playing it. Cheap banjos often come from places like Asia, where the makers don’t know much about a banjo.

cheap vs good banjo

They just make it without understanding tuning and sound quality.

So, don’t just go for a cheap banjo just because you want to save money. Try to buy at least a medium-quality banjo that has a similar sound to a gig-ready banjo.

Before making your purchase, try to compare the price range of banjos to understand and compare it with your budget.

For pricing research, you can go through this article – How much does a Banjo cost?

Difference between a Cheap Banjo and Good Banjo

Better Playing Experience

The main and basic difference between a cheap and good banjo is that the experience of playing is different.  To put it in simple words, a banjo made of good quality materials will sound better than a cheap quality one.

A cheap banjo will create problems in making well-sounded chord progressions which will bother the player in the midst of playing.

Generally, a good banjo is made by manufacturers who have been making banjos for a long time. They breathe and live by these magical musical instruments.

As a result, their instrument will have the exact tune and sound experience you want from a banjo. So, the better experience will be a downfall for a cheap banjo.

Of course, there are always exceptions.

Quality Materials Build Quality Sound

A banjo doesn’t make a sound from the air. It’s a complete package made from the woods, resonators, metal, and strings. So, you can’t expect good sound without good quality materials and components.

A good banjo has better finishing and builds quality. A good quality resonator and the usage of mahogany wood in the neck will make the sound even more impressive.

Aesthetics Do Matter

A musical instrument isn’t just our day-to-day usable material. The emotion and love a musical instrument carries can’t be matched with anything else. An instrument should look aesthetic and soothing to the eyes as well.

The look should attract a player to play it and make music.

Aesthetic looks come with craftsmanship.

But amazing craftsmanship doesn’t come for free.

A well-crafted musical instrument will certainly cost you more, but the quality it will come with deserves the cost. Inferior parts and inferior build quality will not attract the player to play the instrument because of the presence of elegance.

cheap vs good banjo

Body

The basic difference between a good quality banjo and a cheap banjo is the body.

A banjo is usually made of a resonator, a wooden neck, and some metal parts.

The neck or the fretboard is an important part of a banjo. A cheap banjo doesn’t use good quality fretboard. As a result, we get a distorted sound which is quite disturbing and unpleasing to our ears.

Good banjo makers use mahogany as the neck of the banjo. Mahogany is very famous for its usage in musical instruments.

The metals that are used in the banjo also differ in quality. Good banjo makers ensure solid good quality metals to have good sound quality.

Strings

Strings play a very important role in the banjo. Before buying a string for your banjo, you should keep in mind the quality of the strings. There are three types of banjo string sets you will find in the market depending on the banjo. 

There are different types of strings for different banjo types like a plectrum, tenor, etc.

The string gauge is a term that indicates the string thickness of a banjo.

Thickness determines the sound quality and sound range of a banjo. According to the thickness, you’ll find light, extra light, and medium strings in the market.

The extra light ones are easier to play with as it’s lightweight. The light ones will make a deeper sound compared with the extra light ones.

The medium ones offer a bit of tonal depth to the banjo. The basic structure of a medium string is .010-.012-.016-.023-.010 inches.

A good quality will provide you with better strings than the cheap ones. Strings do matter greatly in a banjo. So, to get amazing sound and depth from the banjo you should choose a banjo that uses good quality strings.

banjo strings price

Know more about banjo strings from nylon vs steel banjo strings and check out the best strings for Deering Goodtime banjo

Also, learn about the best banjo strings for bluegrass.

Don’t Believe the Myths on the Internet!

There are many myths and old tales about banjos. Not only banjo but also other instruments have many myths tied with them. Don’t just go by the myths and dive in. Explore the reality and discover the true sound of a banjo.

One of the common myths about banjo is that cheap banjos don’t have any downfall. They claim that cheap banjos are quite similar to the quality of a good quality banjo.

This is DEAD wrong!

Don’t just think a good banjo maker is scamming you for profit. A good instrument requires a lot of hard work, resources, and skillset. Not to mention quality materials and components are also a necessary part of a quality banjo.

There are other myths about banjos such as – 

“Banjos are only ideal for one and two playing styles.” 

“Banjo can’t be played on sad music is some of them.”

Most of these myths are just baseless rumors that are produced by people who know nothing or have little knowledge about the banjo.

Banjo has a diverse range of playing styles to start with. So, don’t get sad when you hear banjo can only be played by bluegrass or clawhammer playing style.

One of the pathetic myths about the banjo is that this instrument can only be played in cheerful music but not the sad ones. This myth was generated by some players who don’t want to explore the emotional range a banjo offers.

You can learn more about it in myths about banjo.

Anyway, what I’m trying to say here is that choose your banjo carefully not based on internet myths, but research a little on the topic.

Here, you can research about best banjo for the money.

You can also learn about the best beginner banjo.

Banjo Recommendation (Cheap vs Good)

If you are looking for a cheap banjo you can go for, Jameson Guitars 5-String Banjo.

You can also buy it equipped with a gig bag. This is considered a decent beginner banjo.

If you want to buy a good banjo rather than a cheap one then you should try Deering Goodtime 2 which can be considered the best banjo for the money.

For the best overall banjo, you should consider Deering Goodtime.

If you want to go for the best Goldtone banjo then Gold Tone CC-100R Cripple Creek is probably the one for you.

Vangoa 5 String banjo should be the best affordable within good quality banjo.

5 string banjo

Conclusion

After reading all of these, you may have a basic idea of why there are so many differences between a cheap and a good-quality banjo. There are so many aspects that play an equal and vital role in making a good banjo. A good banjo produces good sound, a good sound quality will mesmerize you with its tunes.

So, when you buy an expensive banjo don’t hesitate for a bit. You have bought something that you’ll like playing. Something that will be close to your heart. 

You can go for a good quality banjo and get lost in the beautiful sound of the banjo.

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