The Modern Banjo
Don't forget to look in on our Banjo Accessories....
The modern banjo can be bought in four, five and six string versions. The six-string version which is tuned and played similarly to a guitar is gaining in popularity. There are many different playing styles for the Banjo but it is probably most noted for its fast plucking to generate single notes, rather than chords.
The banjo comprises a neck which can vary in length, a circular rim made of wood or metal and a tensioned "skin", similar to a drum head. The head used to be made of animal skin but they are now made from synthetic materials. The banjo uses metal strings (not nylon) and is tuned with planetary gear tuners, rather than the worm gears as used for guitars. It is possible to purchase fretless banjos by those wishing to execute glissando or replicate sounds of the early playing styles, but by far most modern banjos provide frets.
We have set out below some basic information about the 6, 5, and 4 stringed banjos.
The 6 String Banjo
Fundamentally, the 6 string banjo is a guitar shaped banjo tuned and played like a guitar, and is popular with guitar players looking to generate a banjo "sound".
The 5 String Banjo
Standard 5 string banjos have 22 frets with a 5th string tuning peg located at the 5th fret. When fitted with a resonator this banjo is often used to play folk music but the resonator can be removed to create a softer sound at a lower volume.
The 4-String Banjo
The 4-string banjo is called a "plectrum banjo" and is played with a guitar pick and can be used to pick individual notes (melody) or strum chords. It is also known as a "tenor banjo" and standard 4 string banjo has 17 frets.