4 Best Beginner Banjos Under $500

There are a variety of reasons you might be picking up a banjo. Maybe you need a break from the guitar, maybe your band is trying out some bluegrass tunes, or perhaps banjo is just the first stringed instrument you’ve ever wanted to learn.

Regardless of the reason, there are a multitude of things to consider before making your purchase, like build quality, number of strings, open back vs resonator – the list goes on. We’ve broken it down into the five best choices for 5-string beginner banjos, including both resonator and openback options.

Model Type Best For Price On Reverb
Deering Goodtime 5-String Banjo Openback Beginner looking for just the basics. $379-$460 Shop Now
Gretsch G9410 Broadkaster Special Resonator That vintage feel. $349-$480 Shop Now
Recording King RK-R20 Songster Resonator Sharp attack, minimal sustain. ~$500 Shop Now
Fender Concert Tone Resonator The whole bundle. $279-$350 Shop Now

Deering Goodtime 5-String Banjo

Deering is a big name in banjos. They manufacture top-of-the-line professional models all the way down to very basic beginner models.

Their beginner “Goodtime” banjo series is a great place to start, not only for first-time banjo players but for experienced players on a budget, too.

Weighing in at only four pounds, this banjo is super portable and a great choice for children just starting out. It’s made in America with a fast and slender maple neck and a violin quality three-ply birch and maple rim, giving it a bright and sparkling sound. As an openback model, it won’t be as loud as a resonator, so take that into consideration before buying this model if you’re planning on playing with a full bluegrass band.

Gretsch G9410 Broadkaster Special

The G9410 banjos from Gretsch are designed after the classic banjos of the early 20th century, giving them a distinctly vintage vibe at a significantly lower price point.

These banjos are also resonator models, meaning that they’re louder than their openback alternatives. This makes them more attractive for banjo players playing with a full band, as you can guarantee you’ll still be heard even if you step out for a solo.

The G9410s are constructed with quality in mind, featuring a mahogany neck, resonator and rim. It also features a tone ring made of rolled brass and new Remo Renaissance heads held together by 24 chrome brackets. The fretboard is made of rosewood with high-contrast snowflake inlays. They also feature the classic 1950s Gretsch headstock and traditional tailpiece adding to the throwback vibe.

Recording King RK-R20 Songster

The Recording King RK-R20 Songster is another great beginner resonator model.

It’s known for its punchy, sharp attack and minimal sustain, making it a banjo with a tone that cuts through to the front of any mix without overstaying its welcome.

Weighing in at just over 10 pounds, it might not be the lightest banjo on our list but it does rival for the most beautiful. The neck and resonator are both made of mahogany while the rim is laminated maple and the tone ring is rolled brass. The fretboard is made of rosewood with beautiful mother-of-pearl seven peghead floral inlays. The banjo features a Remo Fiberskyn head, a nickel-plated flange, and a Kershner tailpiece.

Fender Concert Tone

This choice is for the true beginner who desires more than just a banjo to get started.

Bundled in this pack is Fender’s 5-string Concert Tone banjo, a gig bag, a tuner, multiple picks, extra strings, and instructional materials.

The banjo itself is a modern interpretation of Fender’s Concert Tone banjos from the 1960s and calls back to those instruments’ warm tone and classic looks. The banjo is made from laminated mahogany with a rosewood fretboard and dot inlays. The rim is made of chromed steel with chrome hardware. This banjo is an elegant, cost-effective, no-frills choice for the budding beginner.

Banjos Under $500 Shop Now

Looking to get started with the banjo? Check out this beginner banjo guide from Deering.

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