Best 5-String Banjo: Overview of 5 Models

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The most popular type of banjo is the 5-string one. This is not surprising because, if you choose the best 5-string banjo to play, you will have a versatile instrument with a unique, sonorous sound in your collection.

First of all, you need to take into account all your needs when choosing. Are you looking for a banjo for travel or a gift for a child, with a stylish eye-catching design or a laconic model? In this review, I will tell you about different, captivating options, their advantages, and disadvantages.

Best 5-String Banjos Reviewed

The list of banjos in this review is not randomly selected. Below are models that appeal to both beginners and experienced musicians. The quality of these instruments is excellent, and the sound is outstanding. Each of them also has its distinctive features. I advise you to make a list of the characteristics that are most important to you and use it when choosing your best banjo with 5 strings.

1. Jameson Guitars 24-Bracket: Best Banjo With 5 Strings Overall

Top Material Type: Mahogany
Back Material Type: Mahogany
Number of Strings: 5
String Material Type: Alloy Steel

The top instrument on the list is from the Jameson Guitars brand. When describing this model, I tried to be objective and find at least one minus. It has a place of honor in my collection, and I recommend this banjo for its quality and sound.

It is designed for right-handers, but left-handed musicians are also comfortable when playing it. The neck is made of 7-ply maple and mahogany, and the maple bridge looks like this instrument costs a lot more.

Folk, country, bluegrass: You can choose any style as this model has a removable resonator. It also features a high-quality Remo head and geared 5th string tuner.
In sum, this option is perfect for both beginners and experienced musicians. It looks amazing and brings an iconic sound. Of the minuses, the banjo is quite heavy (9.6 pounds). Thus it is hardly suitable as a gift for a child or as a travel banjo.

Things You’d like
  • It looks amazing
  • A rich sound
  • It has a removable resonator
  • A quality Remo head
Maybe You'll be confused
  • Somewhat heavy
  • Not recommended for children

2. Mulucky Mini: Best 5-String Banjo for Beginner

Top Material Type: Sapele
Back Material Type: Sapele
Number of Strings: 4
String Material: Steel

The banjo from the Mulucky brand is versatile: You can use it as a resonator instrument or as an open-back one. The drumhead is made of elastic polyester; the strings are steel. The body is made of high-quality sapele. Maple, nato, sapele, and ebony are used in the back part. This variant is small and light (4 pounds), making it the best gift for children who want to learn the banjo.

It is also convenient to take such an instrument with you if you are going on a trip. My friends always take this little banjo with them on trips to play music by the fire or by the river. They usually play on this instrument even without a resonator. My friends say that the sound is bright and authentic in this case.

I think this compact model is not suitable for owners of large hands. As a result, it is a great option for both beginners and experienced musicians.

Things You’d like
  • It has a removable resonator
  • Well-constructed
  • It is a perfect option for beginners, especially for kids
  • Ideal for trips
  • It has a bright tone
  • A compact size
Maybe You'll be confused
  • It might be uncomfortable for musicians with big hands
  • No armrest

3. Luna Celtic: Best Premium Design of Banjo

Top Material Type: Rosewood, Walnut, Mahogany
Back Material Type: Mahogany
Number of Strings: 5

This model by Luna has a unique design: Just by looking at it, you can notice that the Celtic motifs look amazing. The design and traditional sound also make this banjo ideal for performing Celtic music.

The body, resonator, and neck are made of mahogany. This model has a high-quality, clearly resonant head. The weight is surprising — only 2 pounds. Here’s a little pro tip: Using a pick gives a unique Celtic sound.

This is an ideal option for such a price. A minor disadvantage is that it might be difficult for you to place the bridge, as it comes separately if you are inexperienced in this deal. It does not have a tonal ring.

My friend, with whom we go to rehearsals, has such a model. It looks amazing and gives a unique sound to the composition. He is waiting for the opportunity to take it to a concert.

Things You’d like
  • It is eye-catchy
  • The sound is loud and twangy
  • It has a resonator
  • Lightweight
  • Ideal for playing Celtic music
Maybe You'll be confused
  • No tonal ring
  • You should place the bridge

4. Costzon 24-Bracket: Best 5-String Banjo for the Money

Top Material Type: Rosewood, Sapele
Back Material Type: Sapele
Number of Strings: 5

This model is versatile: You can play country, folk, bluegrass, and even modern rock on it. The low price doesn’t mean bad quality: Its mid-range closed handle fits various people, and there is also a wood panel, sapele back, and side. The glossy surface looks stylish. Geared 5th tuner and fingerboard of ma qiao rosewood, which is corrosion resistant, contribute to a great build for little money. The instrument comes with 3 picks, which is a nice bonus for beginners.

The weight is relatively light (6 pounds). I bought this banjo for my teenage nephew who wanted to learn how to play. He was very happy with such a gift; the setting is easy even for a beginner. Due to not having the lightest weight, this option is suitable for older children; I think it might be inconvenient for 6-10-year-olds.

Experienced musicians are also pleased with this model: It has a solid classic tone, an expensive look, and holds tuning. Of the minuses, although the model is made of high-quality materials, the picks and a case that come with the kit might soon have to be replaced with more expensive and high-quality ones.

Things You’d like
  • It has a stylish and expensive design
  • The price is low
  • It’s ideal for beginners
  • A classic tone
Maybe You'll be confused
  • Accessories with the banjo in the kit are not very useful

5. Vangoa Remo Head: Best Instrument for Clawhammer Style

Top Material Type: Walnut, Mahogany
Back Material Type: Mahogany
Number of Strings: 5

This model has a removable resonator, which is very convenient because you can adjust it to different styles of music. It’s equipped with a neck, high-quality mahogany back, and a Remo head on the body. The instrument provides a sweet tone. It has amazing wood grain on the surface. The manufacturer has added 24 chrome brackets to the design, so it stabilizes the top for ideal performance.

The weight of the model is standard: neither too heavy nor extra light (6.22 pounds). It is compact, so it is suitable as the first instrument for a child or camping. This model is efficient for playing clawhammer music. My friend who performs compositions in this style advised me to include this model in the list of the best banjos. He has been playing the instrument for about a year and knows everything about it; he does not even want to replace it with a more expensive model. He says that this instrument sounds perfect in different settings.

Of the minuses, you will need help if you are a beginner while installing a bridge on this banjo. A tip: Experienced musicians recommend tuning this model to open C (cGCEG). This setting fully reveals the potential of the sound.

Things You’d like
  • It might be either a banjo with a resonator or an open back
  • It looks aesthetic
  • Suitable for trips
  • It’s ideal for playing clawhammer style
Maybe You'll be confused
  • You need to set up a bridge

Banjo With 5 Strings Buyer’s Guide

I understand how difficult it might be to choose your instrument, but as a result, the right choice will please you for a very long time. I recommend first paying attention to the main characteristics for you, for example, the size and presence of a resonator.

How to choose a 5-string banjo

The criteria for selecting a banjo are individual, but I will tell you which characteristics you should pay attention to first.

1. Decide on priority features

When choosing a banjo, you need to focus on your preferences and wishes. You shouldn’t buy a too cheap banjo even if you are a beginner. This will spoil the first impression of the instrument. In the middle-price segment, there are a lot of high-quality models with excellent sound and durable design.

2. Open back or resonator

If you want a loud, ringing sound, then the resonator banjo is your best bet. Choose between an open-back model or one with a removable resonator for authentic, soft sound.

3. Appearance

Design is an obvious point to consider. Choose an instrument the appearance of which appeals to your eye. It is important as the banjo can please you for a long time, so choose models made from high-quality woods. They look solid and ensure the long life of the banjo.

4. String material

An important point is the material of the banjo strings. When selecting, it is best to try to play the instrument to understand which material suits you best. They are usually metal or nylon. Without any doubt, steel strings give a loud sound and rip less often.

Five-string banjo choice
5-String Banjo

Banjo accessories that you will need

Accessories are essential to improve the quality of your playing and to replace the parts that are worn out or which you don’t like. It is very useful for beginners to know what accessories you will need first.

Banjo case

Think about how you will transport your instrument. If you only need protection from dust, for example, on expensive collectible banjos, then a cover made of lightweight material will suffice. If you are a musician who often takes a banjo to rehearsals or concerts, the best choice for you is the case made of dense, hard material, preferably with a lining and a durable strap. Don’t forget that the case protects the most fragile part of the instrument — the thin neck.

String set

Strings can rip if pulled too much. It is especially important to have extra ones for musicians who perform on stage. It is recommended to change the strings at least once a month because the grease and dirt from your hands will muffle the sound.


Special metal picks are usually used for a banjo with 5 strings. They are worn on the fingers. Such picks give an excellent sound and do not allow fingers to slide along the strings. Always have a spare few nearby, if you suddenly lose one. You can also use regular flat guitar picks for other playing techniques.

These accessories are important, and many of the banjos in my review come with a starter set. This is beneficial because you do not look for them separately and save time. There are many more accessories: tuners, capos, straps, armrests, etc. You can buy them if needed.

FAQ on 5-String Banjos

Below are short answers to the most common questions by beginner banjo musicians. I hope my responses will be useful to you.

What is easier to play: a 4 or 5-string banjo?

If you are a beginner, it will be easier for you to master the 4 strings since playing the 5 strings requires experience and a lot of practice. But finding a teacher and repairman for 4-string banjos is quite difficult. Therefore, if you are ready to work hard and have a great desire to play a 5-string banjo, don’t worry. Finding a teacher is easy, and you can also use free online learning resources.

What are the notes on a 5 string banjo?

The standard 5-string banjo tuning is called “Open G.” Notes are located from the last 5th string to the first: G, D, G, B, D. If you want to sound like a guitar, tune the banjo like this — E: gEGBE. All in all, there are no rules in music, experiment with settings if you want to find your unique style.

Can you play a 5-string banjo with a pick?

Traditionally, a 5-string banjo is played by fingers. However, experienced performers also use picks, though this technique takes practice. It is called “3-finger style”(or “Scruggs style”). The musician plays using the pick and 2 fingers with metal fingerpicks. Many players also use a flat guitar pick. Benefit from the possibilities of the extra string.

The Best Banjo for Your Masterpieces

Each banjo is unique, and each musician has a unique style. Thus it’s essential to choose the right instrument that suits your requirements. Five strings make it possible to play various melodies and, at the same time, produce an authentic sound.

Of all the models presented, I recommend the top banjo by Jameson Guitars for its iconic sound, quality build, and appealing design. But opinions differ, and the choice is yours; I’m just an assistant on your difficult path to the perfect sound and mastery of your favorite styles.

What 5-string banjo player do you admire? Which banjo feature is your priority?

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About the author

Country Music Singer, Tayo Reed, grow up listening to Country Music as a child in sweet home, "Alabama". "I am authentically a true country girl at heart. I have only desired to sing one style of music. I have never wavered, in spite of disappointments, delays, rejections, and detours."

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