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About Banjos

Whether you need a tenor banjo or a 5 string banjo with or without a resonator, we have an excellent range awaiting your perusal. We stock banjos from Deering, Goldtone, Ozark, Epiphone and Ortega and you will find examples in each of our stores.The whole range is also available online with a range of payment and delivery options.

Frequently Asked Questions about Banjos

Both styles are tuned differently (though that is up to you of course) and both have their merits. For starting out, we would recommend a reasonably priced 5 string resonator banjo since it is more versatile and gives more of that famous banjo tone. Something like the Ozark 2099G is a good example of what we mean.
A tenor banjo is a four string banjo with a slightly shorter 17" scale. It is traditionally used in early Jazz music as well as Irish traditional music and is played with a plectrum. Tenor banjos are generally tuned, low to high, to C, G, D & A.
Clawhammer style is a special technique used in playing the banjo. It refers to the right hand and involves using the thumb and either the index or middle finger. Essentially you make a claw shape with these two fingers and use the index finger to strike the string in a downward motion with the back of the fingernail, opposite to how one would generally pick an acoustic guitar. The finger also hits the drum of the banjo's body, bringing that special percussive element to the instrument. Master clawhammer players sometimes analogise this as being like 'bouncing off a trampoline'. This technique works on all banjos.
An open back banjo is a banjo that has no wooden back to its body. It is the alternative to a resonator banjo and produces a quieter, less bright sound than a resonator. Both models have their own uses and open back resonators are popular with musicians who play 'mountain' styles of folk music and other styles that involve relatively few musicians. Resonator banjos are much louder and hence sit better in a collective band setting with other instruments such as violin and acoustic guitar.
'Resonator' actually refers to a type of banjo. A resonator banjo, also known as a closed back resonator, has a wooden back, referred to sometimes as the 'bowl'. This wooden back projects the sound back out of the banjo, making it noticeably louder and brighter sounding than an open back banjo, which has no wooden bowl. Resonator banjos are heavier as a result but arguably make for more flexible instruments.