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How Do I Choose the Best Beginner's Banjo?

Lori Kilchermann
Lori Kilchermann

In order for you to choose the best beginner's banjo, you must find a banjo that both sounds good and is easy to play. Most beginner's banjo designs are similar, so you need not worry about spending the most money to obtain a good banjo. You should concentrate your efforts on finding a beginner's banjo with strings that are easy to press while making chords. Look for a banjo that has the strings very close to the neck the entire length of the neck. You may also wish to find a banjo that sounds crisp and clean when you pluck the strings, and any buzzing or rattling should be an indicator to keep searching.

Many of the beginner's banjo packages on the market come from the same manufacturer, regardless of the name on the banjo. The key to finding the best beginner's instrument lies in the banjo's ability to make music. A banjo that does not sound good will not motivate a beginning player to keep playing. The most important area that you should investigate when choosing a beginner's banjo is the sound. A string should sound bright and crisp when plucked or struck with a pick. Signs of buzzing, rattles or a dull-sounding banjo should be passed over.

Man playing a guitar
Man playing a guitar

The second most important part of a banjo is the neck. The banjo's neck should look straight when viewed down the top of the neck, and any bowing could indicate a warped neck. This can make proper chording impossible, thereby rendering the banjo virtually useless to the beginning player. It is important that you concentrate primarily on the straightness of the neck at this point in the search. Once a straight neck is found, the positioning of the strings in relation to the fingerboard will be the next area of concern.

As with any stringed instrument, sore fingers on the chording hand is the primary reason a beginning player abandons the banjo. The best beginner's banjo will have the strings very close to the fingerboard. This allows the player to press the strings of the beginner's banjo into chords with the least amount of resistance. A beginner's banjo that has the strings raised high above the fingerboard will feel like a cheese cutter to the soft, beginner's fingers as he attempts to form chords. Most music stores will have a professional setup person on staff that can properly set up a beginner's banjo so that the strings are as low as possible to the fingerboard without creating buzzing on the lower frets.

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