The banjo is about as iconic of an instrument as you can find. It’s distinct, plucky tones have crossed over into many different genres of music too, and have been played in as wide range.
If you’ve never played a banjo before, you might be wondering just how much does a banjo weigh?
So how much does a banjo weigh? The average banjo is around 12 pounds, but there are so many other characteristics to these wonderful instruments that weight should not really be a factor unless you have restrictions on how much your body can handle for an extended period of time.
What’s most important is to find a sound you love, start plucking away, and enjoy all this magically classic and unique sounding instrument has to offer!
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Why Are Banjos So Heavy?
At a glance, they don’t look like they’d weigh more than an acoustic guitar, or perhaps another instrument of the same approximate size.
But you’d be surprised to find out that there’s actually quite a bit of variance when it comes to the weight of a banjo. Now you might be wondering, what factors go into determining how much a banjo weighs.
The manufacturing of banjos, like so many other things, has also led to a wide range in quality.
You can get a beginner’s instrument, mass produced, lower quality, but still a playable banjo, for less than $200 these days. Or you can spend several thousand and purchase a well engineered, well crafted banjo, with high quality parts that will not only sound great, they will last a great many years with proper care and maintenance.
And, of course, there is a full range of instruments that fall in between these two price ranges.
Do Good/Quality Banjos Need To Be Heavy?
Can price point be a factor in determining the weight of a banjo? Since the price of a banjo often indicates the quality of the materials used to make the instrument, price can influence the weight of the instrument.
So what are some of the materials that vary so much? The tone ring is one of the most variants of the parts in determining a banjos weight.
The range of weights for the tone ring alone is typically 12 to 14 pounds. Bell bronze cast tone rings weigh more than wood tone rings for example, and each type will give your instrument a distinct sound.
The flange and bracket shoes also contribute to determining how much a banjo weighs. Since these can be made from different types of metals or alloys, the weight variance can be very heavy, or extremely light.
This can lead to a banjo with weight as low as 6 pounds, or as heavy as 14 pounds.
The neck, tuning keys, strings, and bridge, among other banjo parts, do contribute to the overall weight, but generally speaking the variance in weight on these parts from banjo to banjo do not contribute to a significant difference in weight overall.
The bulk of the difference comes from the tone ring, which is of course an integral part in determining the sound and the quality of the banjo.
Are there heavier banjos out there? Well, to be sure, there are legends of heavy banjos weighing 20 pounds or more, but in reality the heaviest banjos weigh in around 13 to 14 pounds, depending on the weight of the tone ring.
The question most people ask is whether or not a banjo needs to have a lot of weight in order to be considered a good quality instrument.
The answer to that question is no, as with any other artistic item, the beauty is in the eye of the beholder. Wonderful tonal qualities can be found in banjos that weigh less, even as little as 3 or 4 pounds.
When selecting a new banjo, the important thing is to try as many instruments as you can, and find one that has the tonal characteristics you’re looking to add to your music.
In conclusion, banjos weigh anywhere from about 5 to 20 pounds but there are a lot of things to consider especially about which type of banjo it is. Heavier banjos do not mean that they are better and lighter banjos don’t mean that they are not quality.
Understand how much weight you can carry for long jamming sessions and you will be fine.