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  • Deering Goodtime Two Plectrum Banjo

    Deering Goodtime Two Plectrum Banjo

     
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    MSRP: Old Price $779.00 Discounted Price $679.00 Save: $100.00 (12.84%)

  • Deering Goodtime Banjo Beginner Package

    Deering Goodtime Banjo Beginner Package

     
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    MSRP: Old Price $699.00 Discounted Price $629.00 Save: $70.00 (10.01%)

  • Deering Sierra Mahogany 5-String Banjo

    Deering Sierra Mahogany 5-String Banjo

     
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    MSRP: Old Price $2,999.00 Discounted Price $2,699.00 Save: $300.00 (10%)

  • Deering Sierra Maple 5-String Banjo

    Deering Sierra Maple 5-String Banjo

    MSRP: Old Price $2,999.00 Discounted Price $2,699.00 Save: $300.00 (10%)

  • Deering White Lotus 5-String Banjo

    Deering White Lotus 5-String Banjo

     
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    MSRP: Old Price $2,799.00 Discounted Price $2,499.00 Save: $300.00 (10.72%)

  • Deering Goodtime Blackgrass 5-String Banjo

    Deering Goodtime Blackgrass 5-String Banjo

     
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    MSRP: Old Price $1,199.00 Discounted Price $1,079.00 Save: $120.00 (10.01%)

  • Deering B-6AE Boston 6-String Acoustic-Electric Banjo

    Deering B-6AE Boston 6-String Acoustic-Electric Banjo

     
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    MSRP: Old Price $2,999.00 Discounted Price $2,699.00 Save: $300.00 (10%)

  • Washburn B6-A Americana Series 6-String Open Back Banjo

    Washburn B6-A Americana Series 6-String Open Back Banjo

     
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    MSRP: Old Price $604.90 Discounted Price $339.00 Save: $265.90 (43.96%)

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  • Recording King RKOH-05 Dirty 30's 5-String Open-Back Banjo

    Recording King RKOH-05 Dirty 30's 5-String Open-Back Banjo

    MSRP: Old Price $333.99 Discounted Price $249.99 Save: $84.00 (25.15%)

  • Recording King RK-R20E Songster Resonator Banjo w/ L.R.Baggs Custom Banjo Pickup

    Recording King RK-R20E Songster Resonator Banjo w/ L.R.Baggs Custom Banjo Pickup

    MSRP: Old Price $933.99 Discounted Price $699.99 Save: $234.00 (25.05%)

  • Deering Goodtime Six-R 6-string Banjo With Resonator

    Deering Goodtime Six-R 6-string Banjo With Resonator

    MSRP: Old Price $929.00 Discounted Price $829.00 Save: $100.00 (10.76%)

  • Deering Goodtime Six 6-string Banjo

    Deering Goodtime Six 6-string Banjo

    MSRP: Old Price $699.00 Discounted Price $629.00 Save: $70.00 (10.01%)

  • Deering Goodtime Banjo Tenor Scale Ukulele

    Deering Goodtime Banjo Tenor Scale Ukulele

     
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    MSRP: Old Price $669.00 Discounted Price $599.00 Save: $70.00 (10.46%)

  • Recording King RKOH-05E Dirty 30s Open Back Banjo w/ L.R.Baggs Custom Banjo Pickup

    Recording King RKOH-05E Dirty 30s Open Back Banjo w/ L.R.Baggs Custom Banjo Pickup

     
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    MSRP: Old Price $533.99 Discounted Price $399.99 Save: $134.00 (25.09%)

  • Recording King RKH-05E Dirty '30s Resonator Banjo w/ L.R.Baggs Custom Banjo Pickup

    Recording King RKH-05E Dirty '30s Resonator Banjo w/ L.R.Baggs Custom Banjo Pickup

     
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    MSRP: Old Price $733.99 Discounted Price $549.99 Save: $184.00 (25.07%)

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    History of the Banjo

    The roots of the banjo go back a long way. It's an instrument which, at its base, is similar to many others—taught strings over a resonant body. However, the modern banjo (and its similar predecessors), create a specific, recognizable tone, which sets it apart from its guitar and violin relatives.

    Early forms of the banjo originated in West Africa. When slaves were taken from the continent and brought to North America, the instruments came with them. Tracing back to these beginnings, we find a number of banjo-styled instruments. There's the ngoni and the xalam for instance, two hide-covered stringed instruments which bear resemblance to the banjo—but they're just two of more than 60 similar plucked stringed instruments found in the West African region.

    Nonetheless, one of these stands out—the akonting. It's a three-stringed instrument with a long neck, and gourd body with goat skin stretched over it. Aside from its build, it's played in a strikingly similar way. Players use the index finger to strike down on one of the long strings and the thumb hits the akonting's short string as the hand moves back upward.

    While its exact origin isn't clear, it's easy to imply a direct connection from the akonting to the modern banjo. But back on this side of the Atlantic, the latter path of the banjo is a bit more obvious. The instrument developed and was disseminated across the newly formed United States of America. Even though in present day it's commonly thought of as a bluegrass instrument, the banjo actually played a role in many music genres throughout its history.

    The banjo has had a modern resurgence over the past decade. Avant garde artists and bands have risen to prominence by incorporating various traditional stringed instruments into their sound—including the twangy tone of a banjo. Of course, you can still find the banjo in the context of bluegrass and similar genres, as well as conspicuously featured in many soundtracks and audio effects on southern-themed television shows.

    Features of the Banjo

    Banjos today most commonly have 5 strings, though there are also a fair amount of 6-stringed banjos available. On a 5-string banjo, the top string is shorter and provides a unique sonic dynamic for the instrument. The strings are somewhat close together and are strung over a thin-styled neck, at least compared to a guitar. Like a guitar, the banjo also features tuners on one end of the strings, which run over a nut, and connect to a bridge/tailpiece at the other end.

    The banjo's body style does however differ from guitar. It's built from a rim, tone ring, and head. The rim, or "pot" as it's sometimes known, is usually made of maple or a similar wood. Some banjos also have metal rims. Positioned above the ring is a tone ring, which changes the banjos tonal range and dynamics. The head is the covering over the top of the banjo's body. It is often mylar, like drum heads, or calfskin for a mellower sound. Some banjos also have a resonator, or metal plate which is mounted to the back of the banjo and projects the sound forward.

    Popular Banjo Brands and Models

    Deering: Deering is one of the premiere banjo makers in the industry. Deering doesn't make anything other than the highest quality banjos, in a variety of versions. Their entry level series, the Goodtime, is already miles ahead of many other beginner banjos. Above that line are the excellent quality Flagship and Eagle series. If you're a real serious player and you want the best of the best in the banjo world, you'll also want to check the Golden series. Many Deerings make it into our Guitars of Distinction series.

    Washburn: Washburn gives new banjo players a great starting point, while also giving intermediate and expert players something to hang their hats on. With a few affordable options, Washburn gives you all you need. They have solid 5 and 6 string options, with resonators and open backs, so the sound you find most pleasing can easily be yours. You can move on up to a nice intermediate banjo with the B16K Americana. And if you're looking for something grand in sound and style, the Washburn B17K Americana is a great option.

    Recording King: Awesome for the beginner and intermediate banjo player, Recording King Instruments won't break the bank, but will give you great sound and a comfortable playing experience. The RKOH-05 Dirty 30s 5-string is one great option for your first banjo. It comes with and without a resonator. They also have a great intermediate option in the RK-R20 Songster with resonator.

    Gold Tone: Gold Tone is another great brand in the banjo world. They have a lot of options which span many price ranges. They have a number of solid options at the entry-level, like the AC-1 and the BU-1. If you're looking to move up into the midrange, there's the AC-6+, with steel tone ring, and the CC-Carlin 12" Old Time. Slightly above that, you can find the intermediately-priced, expertly-made, BG-150F and the MM-150 open back. If you're ready to step into the expert range, the Gold Tone OB-150R Orange Blossom has what you need.

    Ibanez and Epiphone also have banjos available, which bring their instrument crafting expertise to banjo.

    Why A Banjo?

    Banjos are a lot of fun. Clearly, they are less conventional than guitars and thus have their own unique potential in different musical scenarios. And with the rise in popularity of the instrument, there also seems to be no limit to where you can fit it in—from old jazz to folk rock.