A banjo has different versions such as the 4-string version and the 5-string version. The 6-string version has achieved a lot of popularity because it can be tuned and played almost exactly like a guitar. Banjo playing is portrayed by a quick arpeggiated plucking in all of its forms however there are different playing styles as well.If you are still wondering how many strings does a banjo have or how many strings on a banjo, the short answer is that a banjo can have 4 strings, 5 strings or 6 strings.

5-string banjos are more common than the 4 or 6-string banjos. The strings on every type of banjo significantly affect the playability and the sound of the instrument.

So, you need to decide on the number of strands you can play to produce the best banjo sound. Five-string banjos are the first banjos and they were invented around the mid-1800s. Five-string banjos are used for all sorts of music on the planet and are mostly used in Country, Bluegrass, Jazz, Folk, Irish. They are increasingly getting mainstream in the new Indie category.

While the 6 string guitar is the most famous instrument in the western world, numerous guitarists who are captivated with the banjo. However, they want to apply their current guitar techniques to a banjo so that they can get a different sound.

The most important element that makes a 4-string banjo unique than other banjos is that you will play a smaller banjo considering the sound produced. Normally you can use a 4-string banjo to play Jazz, ballroom music, and Irish. Every banjo has its specialty so you need to figure out which banjo works best for you.


The Journey of Banjo


The modern banjo has been known to be used in the Caribbean from the seventeenth century by people who were taken as slaves from West Africa. However, written references to the banjo had appeared in North America during the eighteenth century.

From around the second quarter of the nineteenth century, the instrument turned out to be more and more available commercially. The banjo came to America with the slaves and the musicologists have since then looked in West Africa for its predecessors.

A huge part of the speculation has revolved around Ngoni and the Xalam which was two hide-covered stringed instruments from West Africa that has a similar look to the banjo. The banjo has a body which is similar to the tambourine and it has a hoop and a screw which secures the vellum belly to the frame. Screw stretchers are used to differ the tension of the belly.

how many strings on a banjo

The strings pass over a violin type, or pressure, bridge and they are hitched to a tailpiece. Joel Sweeney was the earliest star performer who used the banjo during the 1800s. It’s frequently claimed that he invented the modern banjo by adding frets to the neck and introducing the fifth string.

The earliest banjos had four gut strings. After that, five to nine metal strings were used. The banjo became more and more famous all through the United States and Europe because of the white entertainers, with different playing styles emerging and developing at the same time.

From the rhythmic role, the banjo played in the traditional New Orleans jazz to the fingerpicking sound of bluegrass that blossomed in the Appalachian Mountains. 

The standard banjo has five metal strings. Four of them are tuned from the head, for the most part to C′–G′–B′–D″ upward from middle C. Preceding the C string is the chanterelle also known as the drone or thumb, a shorter string which is fastened to a screw halfway in the banjo neck. It is tuned to the recorded second G above middle C. The main pitch is an octave lower than notated. 


The banjo has been around for a long time. The banjo is one of America’s most treasured instruments that runs profoundly into the country’s legacy. It is regarded as an important instrument in international folk music and bluegrass alongside the mandolin, fiddle and the guitar. The historical importance of the Banjo is a fabulous one that can expand your appreciation about this instrument. 

Also, don’t forget to checkout our post on Best Beginner Banjo.


Modern Banjo – The Evolution


The modern Banjo is popular in jazz, fusion and also in classical contexts. The modern banjo has two major sections, the neck along with the pot assembly. The neck starts with the headstock which is a bit of wood and its purpose is to hold the tuners and give a base to the strings.

A banjo’s tuners stick out the back of the headstock except for the high G string. On the neck is a hard piece of wood called the fingerboard, which has frets and inlays mounted into the wood to make accurate pitches. The wood of the neck has a metal rod going through it known as the truss rod. Bending the truss rod allows you to make adjustments to the direction of the neck. 

The other fundamental part of the banjo is the pot assembly which is like a drum and gives the banjo an exceptional sound projection. The top of the pot assembly is a vibrating membrane. This fills in as the instruments’ main source of resonation, its soundboard. A moveable bridge holds the strings over the head. 

The essential structural component of the pot assembly is the rim which is a round piece of wood that gives a base for the other parts. The head stays in place because of a metal tension hoop, which goes over the head and can be tightened or loosened using a series of hooks and nuts.

Inside the banjo is a tone ring, which is made using either metal or wood. The material that is used influences the tone quality of the instrument. Nonetheless, the banjo is quite a famous instrument and is used by bands like Mumford and Sons.

how many strings in a banjo

The Four-String Banjos


The 4-string banjos have a long neck and are lute-like stringed instruments with a void resonator body and four strings. Mostly, you can use a 4-string banjo to play ballroom music, Irish and jazz. 

You can tune your 4-string banjo in a few different ways, an amazing feature that lets this banjo stick out. Turning considerations will vary with the music you expect to play. You can tune your 4-string banjo to make better tunes. It will work particularly well if you are using a tenor banjo to play folk, jazz or Irish. So, if you like playing on the flat pick, pick 4-string plectrum and enjoy.


The Five-String Banjos


The 5-string version is the most well-known banjo. It fits perfectly into Folk, Bluegrass, Jazz, Country, Irish. 

The fifth string in this kind of banjo plays noteworthy roles besides making your instrument effective and one of a kind. You need to use your thumb to pluck this string and create a greater sound. If you are new in banjo lessons then remember that you need to use the fifth fret, and remember to study the fingerboard.

There is a peg which is attached in the side of the banjo neck, and won’t influence playability. With time and broad practice, you will be able to master the art of moving your thumb as you play your preferred tunes.

There are various techniques used to play a 5-string banjo. Numerous players use clawhammer style, Flatpicking style, and fingerstyle. These methods make it simple to tune your 5-string banjo to a G chord, and the frets and length will change. The good thing about this instrument is that it is likely the most available banjo to pick if you are playing for the first time.


The Six-String Banjos


6-string banjos have a brilliant history. Johnny St. Cyr played a 6-string banjo in the Louis Armstrong band. His jazz chords and solid rhythm included a bounce and power to this popular group.

With this sort of banjo, you can appreciate the adaptability of a guitar. You should tune the strings of your banjo to sound like an acoustic guitar. You will begin with the lowest tuning to the highest adjustment. Fingerstyle players think that it’s simple to play a six-string banjo as they can decide on tuning which allows them to make top quality notes.

If you are familiar with playing a six-string guitar, you will find that it’s more intriguing to play a six-string banjo to make new tunes.


Banjo Hybrids & Variants


Whether there is a resonator in the banjo or not, modern banjos might be grouped into two categories, resonator-equipped and open back. A resonator is a metal plate which is connected to the rear of the pot that helps increase the effect of music by projecting sound forward acoustically.

how many strings does a banjo have

 The open-back versions don’t have the resonator and are more suitable for music that should is calmer and quieter. Open back banjos are lighter and less expensive than the resonator-equipped ones and are preferred by followers of country music. The Resonator Banjo is more expensive though it’s better for being played with a band and bluegrass because of its increased volume and more sound.

Plectrum banjos are like 5-string banjos but they don’t have the drone string and are played using a guitar pick. Plectrum banjos are well-known and ideal for Dixieland enthusiasts.

The tenor is popular amongst traditional Irish artists and has a shorter scale. These can be found in either 17 or 19 fret neck lengths.

The 12-string Banjo is an uncommon instrument and is played precisely like a 12-string guitar is. The sound it produces is fun yet light and its different than anything you might’ve heard.

Other hybrid variants of the modern banjo have become famous to adapt the instrument to various contexts and genres. The 6-string Banjo is like a guitar, and at times even borrows its neck. In different variants, the profile of an electric guitar is included, while holding the drumhead body of the banjo.

Final Thoughts About How Many Strings Does A Banjo Have


The banjo is an incredible and adaptable instrument and it can be rediscovered on numerous occasions with regards to various musical genres. It is one of those uncommon instruments that unite modern playing methods with the country music charm.





 In the question of how many strings does a banjo have or how many strings on a banjo,You need to understand the difference between different types of banjos available and see which playing techniques are ideal for you. It is also important to note which type of banjo is available for you and suits your playing methods.