Plectrum vs Tenor Banjo – Which is the best buy?

We wind up describing the various types of banjos over and over again, to the music director or a 20-something 5-string player who kept misleading others. This experience reminds that numerous thing that was basic among banjo players when we were no longer a kid.

So here’s a breakdown of why various types of banjos exist, and why a few almost identical instruments require such different styles and produce different sounds. If you don’t play banjo or guitar as of now, these parts might be hard to follow but we suggest you peruse on to explore more about plectrum vs tenor banjo.

Based on how you explain the history, most banjos had 5 strings during 1885, which included a drone string located close to the least string on the banjo. The 5th string was rarely fretted or often it wasn’t much over the fretboard, so it generally played a similar note.During 1900, the banjo had worked its direction into all North American folk traditions and established standard scale lengths and tunings.

There were two significant styles to play the banjo:

  • Finger-picking styles (the ancestors of modernized Bluegrass patterns)
  • Strumming styles (similar to later Dixieland styles)
tenor vs plectrum banjo

Plectrum vs Tenor Banjo – The difference

The main difference between the tenor vs plectrum banjo is, the tenor banjo is quite shorter in scale length compared to the plectrum banjo. While the plectrum banjo is on a similar scale as the 5 string banjo but played with a level pick. We find these banjos do share a brilliant sound while reviewing plectrum vs tenor banjo. They are usually played in Dixie Land jazz bands.

As early Jazz music advanced, it was just natural that the banjo would turn out to be important for the sound. The jazz players dropped the drone string down since it was contrary to most keys and harmony examples of early Jazz. Strumming conquered fingerpicking because the banjo was played as a rhythm-keeper, and strumming helped the classic open-backed banjos battle with brass instruments in volume.

Strumming was generally finished with a plectrum (the ancestor of the flat packs). Every one of the 4 strings was strummed without a moment’s delay, often very fast. In the long run, the 4-string banjos and quick strumming styles became natural for Dixieland playing, and to the Tin Pan Alley music that imitated Dixieland.

For example, “Has Anyone Seen My Lady?” or “Alexander’s Ragtime Band” are Tin Pan Alley songs that use a strummed banjo style. When such songs became famous, the 4-string banjos had discovered their direction into many homes also.

When different sorts of banjos and banjo playing styles came, this style of banjo got known as a plectrum banjo, to recognize it from banjos that were planned to be played without plectrums. Initially, the plectrum banjos kept the long necks of their 5-string brethren. The scale lengths were 26 – 28 inches, and there were usually 22 frets between the nut and the head.

While Dixieland banjo styles turned out to be more demanding, the manufacturers experimented with a more concise scale to offer the low barre chords easier to play, going down as low as 21 3/4 inches.

They additionally experimented by going down to 17 frets but that didn’t offer Dixieland banjoists enough reach to play the tune on the top string. Therefore, they went to 19 frets, and a scale up to 23″. This is currently being considered standard tenor banjo although numerous 17-fret banjos are still made.

Tenor vs Plectrum Banjo – The Playing Style

As we mentioned earlier during the discussion about tenor vs plectrum banjo, the plectrum is played with a flat pick with a down-strum on the down-beat. Frequently the strums come pretty quick, including 30 seconds notes for certain tunes.

When a plectrum player plays a single string solo, the person keeps on using a flat-pick. On a slow performance, the banjo player frequently uses a quick picking approach like that of a European mandolin player.

If the right hand has it nearly simple, the left hand has it a lot harder. It’s because of the complicated chord designs of Dixieland and Tin Pan Alley tunes, plectrum banjo players need to know as many jazz harmonies as the normal jazz guitarist – significantly more than most banjo or guitar players.

plectrum vs tenor banjo

To add a bit more challenge, numerous Dixieland banjo performances are played by picking chords that have the tune note at the top of the chord. Thus, you will use one Eb chord for when the tune goes down to an Eb, another for when the song goes to G, another for when the tune goes to Bb, and another for when the tune goes to high Eb or so.

But remember that advanced players never use open chords. As a result, 95% of the chords they play are made by sliding a similar twelve or so chord that shapes up and down the neck. However, the short version is that Dixieland banjo isn’t pretty much as basic as it looks or sounds.

To dig deeper into the discussion of plectrum banjo vs tenor, let’s look at some of these brands here.

Best Plectrum Banjos Up to Date

At a Glance –

  • Best Overall Plectrum banjo – Gold Tone CC
  • Best Budget plectrum banjo – Rover RB- 20P
  • Best Value Plectrum banjo – Goldtone PS-250

Gold Tone CC-Plectrum Cripple Creek Plectrum Banjo (Four String, Maple), Natural

Gold-Tone has been manufacturing some best plectrum banjos and other string instruments so far available on the market. They consider every bases, beginning from amateur, more reasonable banjos to halfway and professional level instruments. Their capacity to blend innovations with the vintage design is the thing that keeps them going for quite a long time.

The CC-Plectrum Cripple Banjo is a staggering instrument that we would suggest to any beginner, intermediate, and even advanced player. It is perhaps the best banjo in its price point by featuring quality craftsmanship, tone wood, and functional hardware.

Great craftsmanship
Good action & bridge
Great volume

Huge spacing between strings
Might be expensive for beginners

Rover RB-20P Plectrum Open back 4 String Banjo

The Rover RB-20P is a type of banjo that is an incredible choice for price-sensitive players!
The composite 11-inch rim is similar to what you will discover on the tenor banjos available on the market. This plectrum banjo comes with a metallic dark finish that truly stands out, particularly when combined with the Vega-style armrest. The neck is additionally made of similar construction using mahogany with a rosewood fretboard. This combination is found on a variety of stringed instruments, which functions admirably.

Rover RB-20P is a great choice for the banjo player who is searching for a decent beginner instrument that is made with decent quality. It is unquestionably the best budget plectrum banjo available on the market.

Mahogany neck
Rosewood fretboard
Guitar style tuners
Great plectrum banjo at a reasonable price range

Composite rim

Gold Tone PS-250 Plectrum Special Plectrum Banjo (Four String, Vintage Brown)

Goldtone PS- 250

By a wide margin, this plectrum banjo is the most expensive banjo on our list. Why did we include it? It’s because we wanted to feature a banjo for the true intermediate player searching for a redesign from their original strings!

Despite the number of strings your last banjo had, if you are changing to a plectrum banjo and looking for a solid instrument, the Gold Tone PS-250 has all the quality of the cripple creek in addition to bells and whistles. The instrument brings a multiply maple rim, maple neck, and a rosewood fingerboard, which is constructed for the ideal tone.

The PS-250 is a staple of the Gold Tone line, its excellent tone, punch, and sustain will make any banjo player smirk. This is a significant instrument for any genuine player about picking 4 strings. The price point not being a choice, the best 4 string banjo on this list, undoubtedly.

Perfect tone with punch
Maple rim & neck
Vintage design
14-inch maple resonator
Advanced quality

Few customers have faced issues with shipping

Best Tenor Banjos Up to Date

At a Glance – Top Tenor banjos on the Market

  • Best Overall Tenor banjo – Rover RB- 20T
  • Best Budget tenor banjo – Deering Goodtime2 19 Fret
  • Five star tenor banjo – Goldtone CC-Irish tenor

Rover RB-20T Resonator Tenor Banjo, Open back

Rover is a genuinely new banjo brand that is bringing a wide choice of significant worth choices for beginner banjo players. Most banjos under $200 dollars are not decent enough, while decent quality banjos are around $500.

It leaves new banjo players with a decision. The banjos are below average quality or more expensive than they would like. Rover is giving players an alternative in the center.

The composite rim is one way they are doing this. Another of these is the mahogany neck and rosewood fingerboard. You will actually get great features like a customizable truss rod, guitar-style tuners, and mahogany resonator. If you are on a tight budget plan, this is the tenor banjo we suggest.

Great sound
Simple, functional hardware
Great for traveling

Action is a bit high
You might have to replace strings

Deering Goodtime 2 19Fret Tenor Banjo

deering goodtime 19 fret

Deering Goodtime banjos are simply that good that we included them again in our list If you lean toward playing Dixieland or jazz to Irish/Celtic music, the 19-fret design of the Goodtime instrument will be more as you would prefer than the 17-fret.

There might be an argument that we picked Deering 19-fret over the 17-fret version. We could have picked this one but we stayed with the other because of the availability on Amazon right now. It’s the price that mostly differs between the 19-fret and 17-fret.

Another big difference other than the additional two frets is the resonator that is included with this instrument which assists with projecting the sound. It is made of maple very much like the rim, neck, and headstock.

Maple resonator, rim, and neck
Deering goodtime quality
Made for Dixieland and traditional jazz musicians
A slender neck is comfortable for beginners

Expensive for a beginner, great for intermediates

Gold Tone CC-Irish Tenor Cripple Creek Tenor Banjo

If you know about Gold Tone banjos you recognize that the Cripple Creek is their entry-level setup. This line 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 additionally set with low string movement that assists beginners with playing the instrument.

The maple headstock, brass tone ring, and dark binding on the neck and resonator make this one of our number one looking tenor banjos. The resonator is likewise removable, offering you the choice 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 line

Might be expensive for a beginner

Also, don’t forget to see our post on 17 fret vs 19 fret tenor banjo.

Final Verdict

Plectrum or tenor banjo; Although they have differences, they are the amazing style to be played on different bands. We hope you explored their differences, playing style, and best plectrum banjos or tenor with us. To learn more about banjos, please browse our content section.

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