Best Open Back Banjo: How to Choose a Great Instrument for Yourself

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Buying a banjo is always a great opportunity to extend your instrumental arsenal. However, as with any musical instrument, you should pay attention to many nuances before buying it. And finding the best open back banjo might become a real mess, seeing how many positions there are on the market. 

Open back banjos have a great design, soft, mellow, less loud sound, and, of course, cost less than classical resonators. Finding a proper musical instrument is extremely hard. 

For that reason, we are going to examine the most popular open back models on the market to see which one would be better for your needs.

10 Best Open Back Banjo Reviewed

1. AKLOT 5 String Open Back Banjo: – Best Choice For Beginners

Dimensions: 41.34 x 5.91 x 16.93 inches
Top Material Type: Maple

This banjo behaves smoothly when playing it. Being a perfect musical instrument for beginners, it provides you with the best conditions for learning the ins and outs of open back banjos.

This banjo is a maple wood instrument that provides a clear soft sound. Remo drum head gives an opportunity to set the banjo the way you want to, while the size is common: 41.34 x 5.91 x 16.93 inches, which would be suitable for the majority of people.

After my friend bought AKLOT he got surprised by how easy it is to play AKLOT. Nonetheless, he also noticed the weakness of the strings, so he had to buy the extra set. And when our left-handed colleague wanted to try it, he could not cope with it. But there were the only issues we could see.

Things You’d like
  • Great Price
  • Rich set of additional devices
  • Low weight of the banjo
  • Good sound of the instrument
Maybe You'll be confused
  • No opportunity to play with a left hand
  • Weak default strings

All in all, this is a good open back banjo under 500, which would fulfill the majority of your needs.

2. Deering Goodtime Open Back Banjo: – Golden Classic For Banjo Players

Dimensions: 37.75 x 11.75 x 3.75 inches
Top Material Type: Top frosted mylar

Old good Deering banjos. This instrument was the one I used to play for a long time, and it still feels like a great option for me.

This great maple open back banjo remains the one that provides the best quality for a great price. And when one of my mates is looking for a beginners’ banjo, this one is always recommended. 

However, you should understand that you will not get something phenomenal for this cost. This is just a fancy-looking default open back with a good and soft sound. 

The thing you can be disappointed with is the lack of different additional gadgets. The only thing you will be provided with is the additional pack of strings.

Things You’d like
  • Affordable price
  • Banjo is ready to be played right from the box
  • Soft and nice sound
  • Great for both experienced and novice players
Maybe You'll be confused
  • Lack of additional devices
  • Finding a bag for it might be difficult

This ready-to-play instrument is fully recommended for those who want to have the best open back banjo for the money.

3. AKLOT 23-inch Ukulele Banjo: – Great For Experimenting

Dimensions: Banjo Ukulele Concert Size
Operation Mode: Manual

An ukulele banjo is something fascinating. This is an uncommon experience using this one because playing the banjo, you get the sound of different musical instruments, which is a bit confusing.

In fact, this common maple banjo is a regular open-back one. AKLOT provided its users with a 23-inch good-working instrument, which is also combined with different devices, including a tuner, bag for a banjo, strap, picks, ruler, and wrench.

It would be a perfect experience for those who are looking for some new experience with their banjo use. True adepts would find it an opportunity to extend their sound experience.

And this one would be a sort of similar to the classic open-back version. However, this one I’ve tried had issues with the tuner, so it was a disappointing point.

Things You’d like
  • Very beneficial price
  • Plenty of additional devices
  • Clear ukulele sound
  • Working right from the box
Maybe You'll be confused
  • Weak strings
  • The tuner didn’t work well

In fact, this banjo-uke is more like a toy for some people, who would like to experiment a little with their musical skills. A great product for the ones who are looking for some new sight on the ukulele sound.

4. Mulucky 5 String Banjo: Top Beginners Choice

Instrument: Banjo
Top Material Type: Maple, Ebony

The experience of using the Mulucky banjo was familiar to me because my novice friend decided to buy this one. Playing it was a really joyful experience for me due to its soft sound and comfortable playing.

We did plenty of experiments with it, including playing with a left hand. It did a great job, though the plank for the hand rest was on the default spot. But that was no issue, the banjo sounded great, and I felt comfortable playing it.

Things You’d like
  • Lightweight
  • Adjustable
  • The low weight of banjo
  • Opportunity to play with a left hand
Maybe You'll be confused
  • Novice banjo with a common sound

This banjo doesn’t provide you with some fantastic sound, and it would be only suitable for those who want to experience playing an open back one. Having it for training, or just as the banjo you would like to take outside would be great. It is not professional, rather a beginner open back banjo.

5. Kmise 5 String Open Back Banjo: Greatly Balanced Instrument

Dimensions: 39 x 11 x 2 inches
Material: Rosewood, Okoume

This banjo surprised me. The combination of a great design with a soft and mellow sound did make me happy playing it. Buying this one, I wasn’t expecting something fascinating. This was more like an experiment.

Kmise provided me with a banjo made of a combination of rosewood, sapele, and okoume. It was a surprise not to see a common maple. It is light. You literally feel it as the part of your hand, not an instrument, which gives some additional feeling to it.

Even more so, the banjo is provided with nylon strings, so you will have no issues getting used to it, but such strings ruin the sound of an instrument. And changing them can be a sort of risk.

Things You’d like
  • Very pleasant price
  • High-quality materials
  • Soft sound
  • Plenty of good-working additional devices
Maybe You'll be confused
  • Default nylon strings
  • Not the best choice for concerts

Playing this banjo, you can be sure that you will get the comfortable experience of using the open back one. I recommend to change strings to metal ones for a great sound. For the price it comes, you will be able to get good experience.

6. Oskar Schmidt 5 String Open Back Banjo: The Choice of Banjo Adepts

Dimensions: 24 x 2.75 x 8 inches
Materials: Alloy Steel

This banjo is the one that can be easily called a high-level chic model. This is the instrument you would buy only when you are already an experienced player who has many additional devices and developed the feeling of an instrument. 

The one I used was made of rosewood and mahogany, and it was a perfect one. The sound of metal strings added real vibes of a banjo, and I was able to enjoy the experience of using it. 

The only disadvantage was the price, but as I have mentioned earlier, it is not a banjo for beginners. This one is for those who are going to take real care of it. 

Things You’d like
  • The perfect soft sound of an open back banjo
  • Great materials and overall design
  • Strong metal strings
  • A great choice for acoustic concerts
Maybe You'll be confused
  • Price
  • No additional devices

It is the choice of professionals who know what they want to get from an open back banjo. This is not the one you are going to take with you on some picnic, but it’s a great option for holding evenings with live banjo music. 

7. Rover Open Back Banjo: Banjo With Ambitions

Dimensions: 37.5 x 12 x 3.5 inches
Material: Frosted Mylar

Rover gives you a variety of different resonator banjos, but we are here for an open back model. Luckily they have one, and I had an opportunity to use this on my own. 

When my mate was about to buy one, she was truly amazed. First of all, a pleasant surprise was a bag for a banjo, which came with the instrument. She had one already, but that was a good bonus. 

Moreover, the banjo was ready to be played right immediately, so she had no issues with starting testing it from the start. 

The material is also good. Rosewood and mahogany create a strong combination. And what is more important, it is really light. It gives you as much comfort as possible. 

For me, this banjo isn’t about anything innovative or fantastic. The sound is good, it is comfortable, but it is not even the same as Deering or Oscar Schmidt banjos. No, this is just a common one, which would be suitable for somewhat experienced banjo players. 

Things You’d like
  • High-quality strong materials
  • The low weight of the banjo
  • Good design
  • Good sound of the banjo
Maybe You'll be confused
  • Lack of additional devices
  • No way to play with a left hand
  • Nothing interesting for the price

It is a good banjo, but it is not that great to compete with real leaders, and it is not that simple for novice players. That’s it. Someone, like my mate, would really find it joyful to use it, but I was a little disappointed because I had high hopes.

8. Deering Good Time 5 String Banjo: Best Choice For Pros

Dimensions: 48 x 8 x 18 inches
Material: Maple

Back to Deering, here we have another beautiful example of great banjos. This one brought me real satisfaction because of the sound, design, and the overall feeling. 

This banjo made of maple is a 4.5 pounds masterpiece, which provides the best sound ever. If I have a concert to play, this one is my choice. This one lies to my hand as a part of it, creating the best conditions for playing. Its soft sound is always under my control, so even if I want to, I will not be able to make a mistake. 
The price is high, no doubt. But you simply get the best open back banjo under 1000. Moreover, being a southpaw is no issue for this one, because you can just specify the type while ordering.

Things You’d like
  • Great and soft sound
  • Comfortable proportions of the banjo
  • Great design of the instrument
  • The low weight of the banjo
Maybe You'll be confused
  • Mostly made for experienced players
  • Mostly made for experienced players

This banjo is the best way to make your collection wider in terms of sound. It would not be that useful for those trying to learn the classic variant of the instrument because it is not a basic model. The players who really enjoy the sound of banjo would be satisfied.

9. Gold Tone Cripple Creek Banjo: Best Traveling Banjo

Dimensions: 30.5 x 3.5 x 9 inches
Material: Maple-Nickel

This one is the ukulele in the world of banjos. And not because of the sound. This banjo is too little as for a banjo. The length of it is only 30.5 inches, which makes it comfortable for many people to bring it with them on trips. 

This maple banjo is a great option for the ones who want to have a portable instrument with them. It is small and light, which would not create any additional difficulties carrying it with you. 

My friend has one of those, and he always takes it to any event. It is not that great sound if you would ask. As for me, this is rather a way to not forget how to hold the banjo, because when I tried it, it was more like some training instrument for me. 

It would be great for new banjo players, or those who are always on the road but not for people who want to have the best sound of banjo ever. It is still OK, but not great at all.

Things You’d like
  • The small size of the banjo
  • Opportunity to take it with you anywhere you go
  • Low price of the banjo
  • Good materials
Maybe You'll be confused
  • Not the best sound of banjo
  • Mostly for novice players

This is not a universal instrument. The only purpose is to take it with you on trips, but you will not get the best banjo experience while using exactly this one.

10. Vangoa 5 String Banjo: Best Choice For Concerts

Dimensions: 38.58 x 13.15 x 3.94 inches
Material: Walnut, Mahogany

This one is really interesting and important for me. It has its honorable place in my collection, though my first experience playing it was at a little concert, where I had no other choice. 

This is an electric banjo made of walnut and mahogany. The length of it is only 38 inches, which is really compact. Though, it provides a magnificent sound of a great banjo. 

On the other hand, this banjo is for some narrow purposes. This is more of a concert device with an electric adapter, which makes it more universal but still not for everybody. 

If you are looking for an original banjo sound, you should look at the Deering one, while this one would only give you some interesting experience. 

Moreover, when I bought myself this Vangoa banjo, I was really amused with the variety of different additional gadgets.

Things You’d like
  • Good price as for an electric banjo
  • Rich set of additional perks
  • Good sound
  • Universal at use
Maybe You'll be confused
  • Lack of original banjo sound
  • Only for narrow concert purposes

This banjo is a great option for experienced players, who want to find an interesting sound for them and make their experience at concerts really bright. 

However, it would not be suitable for the majority of banjo players, including novice ones. 

How to Choose the Best Open Back Banjo

Choosing a banjo, you should take care of some special characteristics, which would mean that the banjo is great.

Quality

The quality of the banjo can be really judged by the reviews. This way, you can really inspect what people say of it. A high-quality banjo would feel comfortable: You have to feel it like a part of your hand, while the sound of it has to be really pleasant for you.

Material

Choosing the material, you should pay attention to maple. These banjos are regular, and they will provide you with a great, long-lasting instrument. However, if you have an opportunity to buy yourself one made of rosewood or walnut, you should pay attention to them. These would allow you to have a high-quality banjo.

Strings

To have the best sound of a banjo, you should use metal strings. Of course, they are tougher, which would make it harder for novice players to get used to them. But they are more lasting than the nylon ones and provide the real soft sound of an open-back banjo.

Resonator

The resonator banjo would provide you with a louder sound of an instrument and the audience will get great music. So, you have to choose the banjo with a maple resonator. This is a default one, but you will have a great experience of using a resonator banjo. On the other hand, walnut would also be a good option for your needs.

Sound

The sound is a very individual feature of the banjo. As for me, the best sound comes from the open-back banjo with metal strings. This way, you have a soft and mellow sound of an original banjo. Though, a resonator banjo would bring loudness to the sound, making it more clear and more satisfying for your audience.

Brand

Choosing a brand is simple. For getting the best banjo, you should pay attention to Deering or Oscar Schmidt banjos. However, novice players, who just want to know more about the instrument, should use AKLOT banjos. It would provide them with good sound for less money.

Price

The cheaper, the better, right? No, this is not the rule of buying yourself a banjo. If you are looking for the one to learn to play banjo, AKLOT would be great because the price of a banjo is about $150. However, to have the best item on the market, you should choose the ones starting from $300.

Open Back vs Closed Back Banjo

Resonator vs open back banjo was always a topic to discuss. On one hand, a closed-back, or resonator, would be a great option for those who want a real loud banjo sound. This way, you will get yourself the best way of playing it. Though, it would be a little heavier for you.

On the other hand, open back banjo gives you an opportunity to have the softest sound of a banjo. They are light, comfortable, and a little quieter. These banjos give the best experience of control of a sound. It’s fully your decision to choose an open or closed back banjo.

FAQ: What Else There Is to Know

Can you add a resonator to an open back banjo?

Adding a resonator to an open back banjo is possible. For example, Deering Goodtime banjos have an option to add a resonator, which makes them even more universal for the majority of banjo players.

How to put a strap on an open back banjo?

It’s simple. Just slide one side of a strap beneath hooks on a rim, tie both sides together, and that is it. However, don’t forget to measure first whether it would be comfortable for you. If something is wrong, you will have to do the routine from the start. And be careful while sliding the strap.

How to measure open back banjo for a case?

The measurement is simple. First of all, you have to find half-inch block to place the tail of the banjo on it. Use your ruler to find the diameter of the rim and the length of the banjo.

Moreover, make sure to find out the height of the banjo. This way, you can contact every shop, giving them your measurements. Most cases for resonator banjos would be suitable for you.

Is It Simple to Find a Banjo?

Finding yourself a banjo could be a challenge sometimes. Everything depends on what you want to get buying yourself this instrument. On the list, you will be able to learn more about all the banjos for both novice and experienced players and see which beneficial features they have.
The only universal thing you have to keep in mind is your own comfort. If you love the instrument you hold, don’t waste your time and buy it. This way, you will get the best personal experience.

Have you tried banjos on the list? Let me know about your experience using it!

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About the author

Hi there! I’m Jack Little – an avid country music fan with tons of live country performances in the past. I used to play banjo in a country band with my best friend John Peters, who’s a true country harmonica master. Those were great years and I’m still mastering new banjo playing techniques, writing my own country songs and lyrics, and collecting banjos!

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