Banjo Brands to Avoid (2023)

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When out there looking for the best banjos to buy, there are brands to avoid.

Abiding by a resourceful guide on how to buy your first banjo can help you not repeat the many mistakes beginner banjo players tend to make.

With this in mind, watch out for banjos with some of the following characteristics.

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Our Top Pick
Donner Banjo Full Size 5 String Tenor Banjolele Guitar with Banjo Kit Tuner Gig Bag, Stringed Musical Instruments for Adult Beginner,DBJ-200
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AKLOT 5 String Banjos Full Size Open Back Banjo Adjustable Maple Body Remo Head with 2 Tuning Wrench, 4 Picks, Strings, Tuner, Strap Ruler, Cleaning Cloth, Gig Bag for New Beginner Professional
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Kmise 5 String Resonator Banjo,Professional Sapele Back Full Size Banjos Starter Kit with Bag Tuner Strap Strings Picks Ruler Wrench Bridge
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Table of Contents

Banjo Brands with Poor Manufacturing

The brand you go for should have a good reputation in the market. It should be a brand that other banjo players don’t have any difficulties using.

The material used to manufacture your banjo should be top-quality. A poorly manufactured banjo means you’ll be finding yourself having to go shopping and pick a new brand all over again.

A low-quality banjo will be lacking in some of the fundamental features we cover in the rest of this article. You don’t want to pick a brand that will make it hard to learn how to play, regardless of the different types of banjos that you end up choosing to go with.

Cheap Banjo Brands

The brand you pick should not promise just an inexpensive banjo.

Even if it’s your first time buying a banjo or you have a tight budget, don’t just pick a design that you feel will save you extra money.

You want to use your banjo for a long time, and you want it to bring you satisfaction when you play.

So, don’t pick an excessively cheap banjo. Low prices usually mislead many people, and it’s wise to shun banjo brands that seem too cheap.

Learn how much a banjo costs.

The banjo brand and model you go for should stand out when it comes to its worth and quality. Many times, cheap instruments will give you cheap results.

On your hunt for the best banjos, generally avoid anything that is not Deering, Gold Star, Recording King, Donner, Gold Tone, Kmise, Jameson, AKLOT, or Oscar Schmidt. These brands make high quality and budget-friendly banjos. These banjo brands offer models that give pleasant tones, are comfortable to play, and will satisfy your banjo playing needs.

If possible, take the opportunity to play available banjos and compare brands for yourself before purchasing.

Of course, if you’re looking for a beginner banjo to learn on, that’s reasonably cheap, then by all means get yourself whatever works for your budget. Just don’t go over the top looking for a steal in price.

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PRO TIP: Whatever price range you go with for your banjo, try and pick up a hardshell case if you can. You’ll appreciate the extra protection over the years. This hardshell case is a solid (literally) option.

Why Pick Your Banjo by Brand

When out there looking for the best banjo, it’s wise to consider the brands at your disposal.

The demand for this stringed instrument has surged over the years, and there are plenty of options, so you should pick a brand that will satisfy your individual needs. It’s wise to research widely, consult experts, and seek recommendations on the best brands to buy.

Your friends, family members, or colleagues who have purchased a banjo before can recommend brands that they’ve had positive experiences with.

Don’t be afraid to get in touch with experienced banjo players either, as they can share with you the brands that they’ve had the best experiences with over the years.

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What Makes A Bad Banjo: What To Look For When Shopping Banjo Brands

No matter how big or small your budget is, if you’re saving to buy a new banjo, you’re going to want to make sure that your money is well spent.

It’s important that you end up with an instrument that is playable, and (most importantly) that you are going to enjoy playing for a very long time.

This could be your one and only banjo for decades to come, and could even become a family heirloom if you go with a high-quality choice and take the time to properly look after your banjo.

So, what makes a bad banjo? There are some key parts to a banjo that can render it less playable or even not playable at all; namely the tuning pegs, the neck, the tailpiece, and the bridge.

You’ll also want to carefully inspect the body for a couple of key elements which can negatively affect the banjo. Here is a closer look at what makes a bad banjo, from one end of the instrument to the other.


The parts which most commonly have problems on the headstock are the tuning pegs. These are the small mechanisms to which the ends of the strings are attached. By turning them, the banjo is tuned.

On a bad banjo, the tuning keys move too freely, and the instrument can’t be kept in tune for long.

The other part of the headstock which can cause some problems is the nut.

This is a small piece of plastic or wood which runs across the end of the fingerboard, propping up the strings so that they make the desired sound.

It’s usually glued to the headstock, and if the glue fails and the nut becomes loose, it can lead to problems keeping the banjo in tune as well.

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The neck of the banjo is one of the most important parts to take great care inspecting, as it can bring you the biggest grief as a banjoist if it’s not right.

Most banjo necks these days have a steel reinforcement rod, but the rest of the neck, including the fingerboard, is made of wood.

Since it’s a long, skinny piece of wood, the shape of it can warp over time, which causes problems with the intonation of the banjo.

If the intonation is poor, it becomes harder to press down on the strings, and increasingly difficult to play notes which are in tune with one another.


The fingerboard of the banjo should not be overly worn.

Most wear occurs on the sides or back of the neck, and some wear of the finish is to be expected if it’s an older instrument. If the fingerboard has bare or rough spots it can make it very uncomfortable to play.

The heel of the neck is the part where the piece of wood thickens up again to attach to the body of the banjo.

This should be properly affixed to ensure that there is no movement whatsoever between the body and the neck of the instrument.


The body of the banjo is where you’ll find the resonator, the tone ring, and the tension loop.

The parts which can cause problems are generally related to the strings, since tension has to be maintained in order to keep the banjo playable.

This means that the stability of the bridge is of the utmost importance. If the bridge becomes loose, your hand can cause all of the strings to shift as you play, putting the entire banjo out of tune and making it sound horrible.

The tailpiece is the part at the bottom of the body where the strings are attached.

If it is unable to hold the strings firmly in place due to wear, abuse, or simply because it is of poor quality, then the banjo will be rendered useless as an instrument.

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Whether your banjo is a four string or a five string, or whether it’s an ultra light-weight traveling banjo or one with a resonator, the overall sound of the banjo is one of the qualities that is among the most important.

The price can be a factor, but as long as you’re on the lookout for quality parts from one end of the banjo to the other, and especially if you’re able to try it out to ensure you’re happy with the sound, you can find a banjo that suits your budget and will last you a great many years to come, while still sounding great.

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PRO TIP: To maintain the best sound, pick up a tuner that is made specifically for the banjo. This tuner is a great option for banjo players.

Wrapping Up

You don’t have to be a talented stringed instrument player to pick the best banjo brand in the market.

That being said, although there is a wide range of banjos in the market, choosing the best banjo is never an easy undertaking.

You may find it daunting and taxing to decide on a four, five, or a six-string banjo.

The banjo brand and model you opt for will help you decide on the kind of music you plan to play. If you are undertaking banjo beginner lessons, go for a version that will help you master the art of making bluegrass, jazz, or folk music.

Once you’ve chosen the perfect banjo brand and model for you, mastering the art of playing this stringed instrument is not only fun, but can also promise great personal satisfaction.


Q: What are some common problems associated with low-quality banjo brands?

A: Low-quality banjo brands may suffer from poor sound quality, difficulty in tuning, and uncomfortable playing experiences.

Q: How do I know if a banjo brand is reputable?

A: Reputable banjo brands are typically well-known in the industry and have positive reviews from other musicians. They often use high-quality materials in their manufacturing processes.

Q: Can banjo brands affect the quality of my playing?

A: Yes, the quality of the banjo can directly impact your playing experience. Low-quality banjos can be more difficult to play, have poor sound quality, and may not stay in tune.

Q: How much should I expect to spend on a high-quality banjo?

A: Prices for high-quality banjos vary, but typically range from $500 to $3,000 or more.

Q: What materials are commonly used in high-quality banjo manufacturing?

A: High-quality banjos are often made from materials such as mahogany, maple, ebony, and rosewood. The head of the banjo is typically made of animal skin, such as goat or calf skin.

Q: Are all banjos made in the United States considered high-quality?

A: No, while there are many high-quality banjos made in the United States, not all banjos made in the country are of good quality. It’s important to research the brand and read reviews before making a purchase.

Q: Can I trust banjo brands that are new or lesser-known?

A: It’s possible to find high-quality banjos from new or lesser-known brands, but it’s important to research the company and read reviews from other musicians before making a purchase.

Q: What should I look for when shopping for a banjo?

A: When shopping for a banjo, look for brands that are reputable and have positive reviews from other musicians. Check for quality materials and craftsmanship, and make sure the banjo is comfortable to play.

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