Banjo vs. Guitar: (Know Which One Is For You!)

The debate between the guitar and banjo is endless, especially if you are new to the two instruments. If you want to start learning and you are in a dilemma on which between the two is right for you to start learning first.

This article provides a brief description of the differences in banjo and guitar, allowing you to have a clue on how easy or hard to learn each.

There are, of course, some similarities on guitar vs banjo, which causes some confusion to many beginners. They are both bellied for sound amplification, and belong to strumming musical instrument.

Let’s take a closer look into both these amazing instruments and see which one is for you.

Table of Contents

Difficulty: Which One Is Easier?

Just like some people find strumming in guitar easier than finger-picking in banjo, many others feel plucking is way easier. If you are learning on your own, then the guitar has many materials online and more players than banjo.

Although learning to play the banjo is like a piece of cake as compared to learning guitar, the mastery of musical guitar is sweeter than a lifetime!

In both cases, you need determination and hardworking, and that is what makes the whole process worthwhile. Your commitment and persistence will be rewarding soon when you master the art of playing both instruments.

Differences Between The Banjo and Guitar

Banjo. Banjo is an instrument in the music industry that has a round body and a fretted neck. You can play banjo by plucking or strumming the strings.

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Guitar. Just like banjo, guitar is also a stringed instrument with a fretted fingerboard and six strings. To play guitar, you can use custom plectrums or free fingers.

Size Difference

The common easy to note the difference between guitar and banjo is their size. Banjos are smaller in size than guitars, and that’s the fact you can physically tell. The banjo size is one of the reasons, it is the beginners best alternative. Creating Notes and chords in the guitar is not an easy thing unless you are a professional player because; it has frets that are far from the strings.

If you are a beginner or a young player, the banjo can be a more straightforward instrument for you to learn.


Another way you can differentiate the guitar from banjo is their sound. One thing that makes the guitar have a significant cost difference is the sound it produces. Quality guitars produce a beautifully rich yet deep tone, and for this reason, most experienced players don’t need to have a banjo to achieve a specific note. You can, therefore, choose to play either guitar or banjo, depending on the quality of the tone you want. First-time learners start with banjo because it also offers a smooth transition to guitar playing.

Number of Strings

The two musical instruments do not have the same number of strings, and that is a big physical difference. Except for the bass guitar that has 4 strings; standard guitar has a minimum of 6 strings, whereas banjo has 4 strings and a maximum of 5 strings.

In all musical instruments, the ease of playing is inversely proportional to the number of strings; this means that the fewer the strings, the more the ease of playing. Since guitar has more strings than banjo, you can learn to play banjo faster than you can master notes in guitar.

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Fingering And Fretting

If you compare how easy it is to move fingers over fingerboard or frets, you will realize it is harder to work on guitar than banjo since banjo has fewer strings. The fact that guitar has more strings that are closer to each other makes it hard, especially for beginners, to pluck or strum a precise chord. However, due to a variety of strings in guitars, they produce a fair sound than banjo.


The general rule is that quality is ever proportional to price. So how do producers set prices? In any device or item that comes from manufacturing, the produce computes the cost of production, plus the expected profit. So arriving at a given price is just based on the cost of production, unless moderated by the state regulatory bodies.

Since guitars have many strings, it is more versatile than banjo that has fewer strings. By versatility, I mean instrument can be playing many genres of music. For, apprentices, the banjo is good, but if you are professional players and you can afford, guitar should be your best option.

Learn how much banjos cost.


As in any strummed or plucked instrument, tuning is the first step you should learn, else you will never know how to play any.

A standard 5 string banjo is tuned to an Open G tuning’ that is G, D, G, B, D while a typical guitar is tuned to E, A, D, G, B, E. It is easier to strum and make a banjo sound good when it is open-tuned because you will just be playing only a G chord.

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Therefore even if you have never played a banjo, by just tuning it, you will have played the first chord. For guitars, you cannot play when it is open-tuned, for it will sound dissonant.

Music Styles

There is always misconception, where many people think guitars are the only versatile instrument and that banjo is limited to folks and bluegrass music. No banjo, too, can be used in unimaginable music from rock, jazz hip pop, and almost all today’s genres. Thus it would be advisable if starters pick banjo as the first instrument to begin learning and pick guitar later.

Should You Learn The Guitar or Banjo First

The ultimate decision is yours because nothing can stop you from picking the instrument that makes you happier. When you decide to start with a given musical instrument, you will find motivation to press on.

You can always learn the other instrument after. You can never stop learning how to play different instruments.

Click here to see the best banjos for beginners.


Finally, after understanding the above differences between guitar and banjo, there will be no confusion whatsoever.

You can just go ahead and buy the instrument you wish to start first. Banjo is many beginners options; however, if you are really determined, you can learn guitar, and learning banjo later will be a smooth process.

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