Best Banjo Strings: How to Buy What You Need

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When the question of replacing strings becomes urgent, one of the most challenging tasks arises, which is how to choose the best banjo strings. For the beginner, this is especially difficult because, at first sight, all models are the same, only the packaging is different. In this article, I give a definition of “what is a banjo string,” explain their properties, and how to choose your first option.

10 Best Strings for Banjo Reviewed

Since I’m into banjo playing, I have a lot of like-minded people around me. I was wondering what strings they use for their musical instruments. I’ve gathered some information and want to share it with you.

Models for Five-String Banjo

In this section, I present a review of strings for the most popular type of banjo.

1. D’Addario EJ69B: Best Banjo Strings From Bronze

String Material: Nickel Plated
String Gauge: Medium

D’Addario phosphor bronze-plated strings are popular among experienced players. They provide a warm, bright, and balanced tone.

A colleague of mine chose them for his banjo based on online reviews. They were said to hold the tuning well and sound great. The medium-size option is comfortable for a five-string banjo and for playing bluegrass and clawhammer styles.

The product holds tuning for a long time. Also, the items are sold in special protective packaging to prevent corrosion. Unlike the previous models, these strings with the spherical end provide a universal fit and optimal tension.

The company has been making strings since 1974. Its products are synonymous with a balanced, warm sound thanks to its phosphor bronze coating.

Things You’d like
  • High quality
  • Easy to tune
  • Stay tuned for a long time
Maybe You'll be confused
  • I haven’t found any

2. GHS Americana Series: Best Banjo Strings From Stainless Steel

String Gauge: Light
Gauges: L10, L11, L13, LW20JD, L10

This is a set of five stainless steel strings with cryogenic treatment for long service and good sound. They are suitable for performing music in bluegrass, blues, etc.

A friend of mine bought this option from GHS. Since she is a beginner, she is comfortable playing soft strings such as the GSH. She guesses that these are the best banjo strings for beginners. She also noted that the strings sound good. Their advantage is the special cryogenic treatment, which allows the strings to last longer.

GSH has been making strings since 1964. They draw on the experience of past years and follow innovations to ensure the consistently excellent quality of their products. The company is attentive to each customer and always stays in touch.

Things You’d like
  • Suitable for playing various styles
  • Great tool for beginners
  • Cryogenic treatment ensures durability
Maybe You'll be confused
  • It is frequently out of stock

3. Elixir Strings: Best Banjo Strings From Coated Steel

String Material: Coated Steel
String Gauge: Medium

This model is from nickel-plated steel wire. The special Polyweb coating gives it a pleasant sound and a smooth surface that does not scratch your fingers.

A buddy of mine has been playing banjo for several years. He has bought quite a few strings from different manufacturers. Elixir strings are medium thick, but it is just as easy to play as soft strings. I didn’t get any complaints about the sound.

The Elixir strings are a salvation for those who do not like to change strings often or play the banjo quite rarely. With them, one can forget about buying a new set even for a few months. Unlike other options, the special coating is applied even in the gaps between the skeins, which prolongs their life.

The Elixir company came into existence in 1997. They weren’t just making strings but striving to create the best product possible. It took years of research, testing, and collecting feedback from banjo players until they invented the one coating that allows the strings to last longer and sound great.

Things You’d like
  • Smooth coating
  • Pretty soft
  • Long service life
Maybe You'll be confused
  • The cost

4. Martin Guitar Vega: Best Banjo Strings From Nickel Steel

String Material: Nickel Steel
String Gauge: .009

Experienced musicians from all over the world choose these banjo strings. These nickel and steel strings are suitable for any style of banjo playing.

I used them. They produced a bright sound, and my fingers slid easily over the strings. They will suit those who like to experiment with the sound, as they add brightness to the odd banjo settings and sound delightful in different styles.

These strings are not expensive, and the sound quality is not inferior to more expensive analogs. The Martin Guitar collection has similar ones but of medium size. These are also good for beginner’s immature hands.

Martin & Co. is a company with a long history. Soldiers played their guitars during the Civil War. It’s a family business that has passed down its values from generation to generation. Martin & Co. products are time-tested, which is why they are the choice of experienced musicians.

Things You’d like
  • Smooth coating
  • Soft
  • Bright sound
Maybe You'll be confused
  • Sound tinny to some users

5. Aquila New Nylgut: Best Banjo Strings From Nylgut

String Gauge: Medium
String Material: Gut

These Italian Aquila strings are much more than simple nylon ones. The plastic combination of the three components is one of a kind. The Nylgut strings provide gorgeous sound and stable tuning.

My neighbor has been playing the banjo for a long time and has often bought Aquila strings. This time, he decided to try Nylgut strings. Their sound is less metallic than regular ones but pleasant and deep. His fingers glide smoothly on the strings, and he can play without a pick.

The advantage of these strings is that they absorb much less moisture than the nylon model. The disadvantage might be that they are softer than their counterparts and can easily break on sharp edges. Before tuning, you should make sure that the string holder has a smooth surface and polish it if necessary.

This set includes a dedicated red fourth string to help balance the tuning. Musicians often choose premium strings from Aquila. The manufacturer continues to research to improve their product. New Nylgut strings are the best proof of their commitment to excellence.

Things You’d like
  • Smooth coating
  • Soft strings
  • Bright sound
Maybe You'll be confused
  • Easily torn by clinging to sharp corners

Strings for Four-String Banjo

Among the four-string banjos, I will highlight these options.

1. D’Addario EJ63: Best Nickel-Plated Banjo Strings

String Material: Nickel Plated
String Gauge: Light

Four-string banjo strings are from nickel-plated steel with a loop at the end for easy tuning. The medium-sized model is smooth to the touch and has a bright sound.
My friend plays banjo very well, and like many experienced musicians, she prefers D’Addario products. She likes the medium-size strings because it feels like they hold the line longer. After the first tuning, they should be given a little “rest” and repeat the action.
The advantage of these strings is holding the tuning longer than those from other companies and sounding brightly in different playing styles. This set is designed for tuning the CGDA on a 4-string banjo. Music legends trust them for their authentic tone and reliability in use.

Things You’d like
  • Long service life
  • Bright sound
  • Easy to tune
Maybe You'll be confused
  • Might be too bright for solo compositions

2. Alice Banjo Strings: Best Model From Silver-Plated Copper

String gauge: .009, .016, .023w, .030w
Full string set includes: A-1st, D-2nd, G-3rd, C-4th

Strings A & D are made of high-quality clad steel, and the wound strings G & C are of silver-plated copper alloy. The daughter of an acquaintance of mine used them. She commented that they were easy to tune, smooth to the touch, and sounded great.

In my opinion, the advantage of these strings is good value for the money. Their main job is to sound great, and they cope brilliantly. Alice’s vision is to innovate beyond time and contribute to the development of the music industry.

Things You’d like
  • Long service life
  • Bright sound
  • Easy to tune
Maybe You'll be confused
  • Might get snapped during the replacement

3. Ernie Ball: Best Banjo Strings For Easy Tuning

String Gauge: .010-.030
String Material: Stainless Steel

The stainless steel strings are made in the USA. Each one has a loop at the end for easy tuning. They sound great and allow you to hit clear high notes.

My sister is learning to play the four-string banjo and decided to try these strings. They were in perfect condition because of the specific packaging. The manufacturer claims that these strings are durable and sound vibrant. I can say that the purchase met her expectations. The only thing my sister said is that they are a little stiff and make her fingers get tired faster.

The advantage of these ones is that they are longer than many other strings. This is a plus for beginners who can’t tune their banjo the first time.

The company has been making strings for electric guitars and bass since 1962. Its main mission is to produce high-quality products at affordable prices.

Things You’d like
  • Long service life
  • Bright sound
  • Easy to tune
Maybe You'll be confused
  • Beginners might find the strings stiff

Strings for Six-String Banjo

In this product category, I have prepared a review of two models of strings.

1. Gold Tone Banjitar Strings: Best Banjo Strings With a Loop

String Material: Nickel
String Gauge: Medium

Nickel-plated steel provides a clear sound and durability. The eco-friendly corrosion packaging preserves the properties of the strings.

My friend Rose plays a six-string banjo. She decided to buy a set from Gold Tone. These strings are not cheap, so she expected them to sound great and last a long time for the money. She had no trouble while tuning them, and the strings held their tone for quite a long time. The product does what the manufacturer says it is supposed to do.

The advantage of the strings is the loop, which helps with faster tuning. They don’t stretch too quickly, which is also a plus.

The company’s founders were folk musicians in the 1970s. Having a great passion for music, they wanted to support every musician in their quest to make music. Their products are of consistently good quality and are aimed at beginners and professionals.

Things You’d like
  • Long service life
  • Bright sound
  • End with a loop
  • Easy to tune
Maybe You'll be confused
  • Pricey

2. Picato: Best Thin Banjo Strings From Nickel

String Gauge: Light
Size: 4/4

This nickel-wound product is perfect for those who like to strum on thin strings. My sister’s husband bought this set, expecting to get everything that the famous brand claims. It indeed sounds great. The thin size is perfect for beginner’s fingers.

A six-string banjo set rarely comes with loops. The advantage of these strings is that they have a loop at the end for easy tuning.

The company has been around since 1997. Their policy is high-quality strings, fast service, and affordable cost. If you need a new option right now, Picato will get it to you as soon as possible.

Things You’d like
  • Long service life
  • Bright sound
  • Thin
Maybe You'll be confused
  • Not as popular as other models on the list

Banjo Strings Buyer’s Guide

The right strings will allow you to play your banjo comfortably and give you a top-notch sound. They have different features, and you can determine the best model for your musical instrument only by trying several options.

It is difficult for beginners to choose strings because, without any experience in playing, a beginner usually behaves like a blind kitten in a great variety of products. My little guide should help you understand the criteria for choosing a suitable product and find what you need.

How to choose the best banjo strings

You need to know about the types of strings and how they differ. Below, you will find their essential characteristics.

Types of Banjo Strings

The material of the strings determines the way they sound. Therefore, each type is suitable for a specific style of music and kind of banjo.

  • Nylon. It sounds bright and is most suitable for small banjos and ukuleles;
  • Nickel-plated. That’s a classic option for many types of banjos. These strings sound bright and accurate;
  • Stainless steel. It provides a bright sound and can last long because of its corrosion resistance;
  • Coated strings. They can hold tuning even longer than stainless steel ones. But some musicians think that the special coating harms the sound;
  • Phosphor bronze. It sounds good and has a deeper, brighter tone. Such strings need to be replaced more often, as they are more susceptible to corrosion than steel or nickel-plated strings.
Banjo strings
Banjo strings

Number of strings

Depending on your kind of banjo, you need a specific set of strings. How many strings does a banjo have? There are 4-string, 5-string, and 6-string banjos.

Five-string banjos are the most popular. There are many offerings on the market for this type of banjo. If you are a beginner, you can safely experiment and find the perfect one for you.

Gauges of banjo strings

The thickness of the product is also an important criterion because it determines the tone of the music. There are three types of string thickness:

  • Light. The caliber of these ones comes in the following sizes: 010-.013-.020-.095. Thin strings are the most popular for banjo because they sound bright. Beginners should pay attention to the light ones, as they are easier to play;
  • Medium-Light. These strings will be in the 0.011-0.012-0.020 range. They are tighter but sound just as bright;
  • Medium. They are preferred by experienced musicians when they want to enhance the sound. They are available in the following sizes .010-.012-.016-.023. Before using these strings, you should check the characteristics of your banjo. It has to be able to withstand the extra tension.

How to change banjo strings

Any string, even of the best quality, will fail. If it’s time to restring, this short guide will help you find out how to string a banjo correctly.

  1. The strings should be changed one by one, starting with the fifth string. That will help you maintain the bridge tuning, which is not attached to most banjos.
  2. Loosen the string on the side of the tuning pin and remove it.
  3. Slide the new string through the string holder and gently pull it toward the tuning pegs.
  4. Slide the end of the string through the tuning fork and turn it to the desired tension.
  5. Take your time to cut the end of the string. Some options stretch after the first tuning; they need time to settle in, so re-tuning is often unavoidable.

FAQ on Banjo Strings

I advise you to pay attention to these frequent questions. They will help you to avoid mistakes in choosing strings.

How often should you change banjo strings?

How regularly you do this depends on how often you play. The quality and care of the strings are important as well. It can absorb humidity and is subject to corrosion. Musicians usually restring the banjo every one-two weeks. Beginners can do it more rarely.

Can you use 5-string banjo strings on a 4-string banjo?

I don’t recommend doing this because each string has its sound. If you just remove the fifth one and put the other strings on a five-string banjo, you can’t be sure you’ll hit the right note.

What is the difference between light and medium banjo strings?

Medium gauge strings are thicker and feel more when you play them. You will have to play the medium gauge strings with more force. Also, medium gauge ones will sound more muffled.

Feel Free to Experiment With Buying Strings

I hope I have managed to cover the subject of string selection. Now you know a little bit more about them and the main criteria for successful choice. You need to buy some sets to determine the ideal model for you. Follow my comprehensive guide to make a well-informed decision.

What strings do you buy for your banjo? Why did you choose them? Please, leave your thoughts and share your experience with other readers in the comments box.

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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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