How Much Should You Spend on Your First Banjo?

How Much Should You Spend on Your First Banjo?

Buying your first banjo can be an exciting and life-changing event for musicians of any level. But first you’ll ask yourself questions like, “How much would a good beginner banjo cost?” or “How much should I pay to start out with?”

Both are very important points to consider when choosing a new banjo. To help you and other beginners through this dilemma, we’ve written this blog post to help you understand how much you should pay for your first banjo, and what you’re getting for it.

First Thing’s First

The first thing you should keep in mind is your own budget and how serious you are about studying the banjo. If you’re only looking for a casual hobby, or simply cannot afford a better banjo, that’s ok. However, you might purchase a cheaper banjo, and might need to change to a better banjo with time, which may cost you more in the long run.

The Ideal Price Range

While you can purchase a decent beginner’s banjo for around $250 – $270, it won’t be as sturdy, reliable, and sonorous as would a higher-end banjo. That said, you don’t have to shell out over a thousand dollars on your first banjo. You can find great banjos that will last you for years at around $500, right in the middle of the road. The Deering Goodtime Openbaack is the best you can possible buy in this price range. It is a great sounding instrument and will play easily and in tune.

We only stock quality banjos

You won’t find the really inexpensive imported stuff on our site. We only stock banjos that are well built and sound great. There are banjos for under $1,000 made to look like highly-detailed $5,000 banjos – again, we don’t carry these. These banjos are notoriously unreliable and are very likely to pop a flange while being tuned. 

The humble looking Deering Goodtime series is produced by the same American craftsmanship in the same shop as with the same rim and Deering’s high-end banjos. They sound amazing and the price is unbelievable considering the value. A used Deering Goodtime banjo is far superior to the least expensive imported banjos.

Think long term

It may sound pricey, but think of it as an investment into your life as a musician. For that price, you will get a banjo with great tone and playability; you may not even need another banjo for years! Trust us, learning to play on something that rattles, vibrates, and breaks is not enjoyable and causes many beginner players to just give up.

Should I Get Anything Else?

When you buy from Banjo.com, we include a free starter pack. You’ll get a tuner, basic strap, picks, and video lessons. You may want to consider a case or gig bag if you plan on doing any traveling with your banjo. 

You may want a nicer strap that will be more comfortable. Either something padded or a Huber leather strap.

Different picks so you can experiment playing in different styles or extra strings for replacement (or for finding the right gauge for comfort and tone).

A capo will be helpful as you start to play songs, some songs will specify capo placement.

You may even want to try different bridges to see how it affects the tone of the instrument.

Here are links to parts and accessories.

Barry Waldrep
Owner, Banjo.com

The owner of Banjo.com is professional musician Barry Waldrep. Barry has toured professionally for the past 30 years. Raised on traditional Bluegrass, and a forerunner on the Jam Band circuit. He has toured and recorded with many artists such as The Zac Brown Band, Randy Travis, Joey & Rory and also has performed with bluegrass greats like John Cowan, Tony Trischka, Scott Vestal & Tony Rice. Read more.

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