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About Banjos

The first-ever guitars came into being in the fifteen hundred. But the origins of banjos date much farther back than that. Even though it has been forgotten from the pop scene for a really long time, they are making a comeback. 

Historians believe that the first banjos were made by the African natives at least a thousand years ago. When they were taken to the Americas, they also brought the knowledge of this ancient instrument with them a well. But the banjos as we see them today started their journey in the earlier part of the nineteenth century. Traditionally, they were considered an exclusive part of the folk music genre. But these days, even the most famous music artists are playing them on the stage. Read this article to know more about them. Having a better understanding of this instrument will help you make the right choices when you are shopping for them. 

A beginner’s guide to banjos 

Whether it is banjo or any other musical instrument, it is imperative that you look at the glorifying history of the instrument. It doesn’t matter whether you are buying out of interest or for professional needs. The knowledge will make you more curious and honest about learning the instrument. Because banjos have existed for so long, they have a rich history and changes that come naturally. That being said, you can see types of banjos with different construction, strings, tonal rings, and more. This article will give you a basic idea of all of them. In this, you will also find some tips that you can use while shopping.  

Resonator  

These banjos have a sound box that is fully enclosed. Because of this design, the sound of the string’s reflects back and forth inside the box and creates a fuller and louder sound. However, this type of instrument is more modern than traditional banjos. As the enclosed box design requires more material, this type is considerably heavier as well. You can see country artists these days playing this instrument in their music videos. It was pretty common to find the rock bands like Led Zeppelin and The Eagles playing the banjos on stage.  

Open back  

Traditionally, all banjos had an open back design. The lack of the enclosed casing results in a softer and less loud sound that is distinctive of the traditional banjos. While it is not possible to say that one is better than the other, some musicians exclusively use open back instruments because of the traditional quality of the sound. Another advantage of the open back design is that it requires the use of less material, and hence the instrument will be lighter than the ones with the enclosed design. The pricking style that musicians usually use for this instrument is the clawhammer style or frailing.  

Number of strings 

Unlike guitars that always have six strings, the number of strings in a banjo can range from four to six. But that being said, five-stringed ones are the most popular ones. And the four and six-stringed versions are like speciality instruments. Four stringed ones are usually used as instruments to create melodies rather than as bass instruments. In the case of six-stringed banjos, they are more like guitars. However, the characteristics of the notes that you get out of them are unique. Just like other banjos, you can find these models in both closed and open back designs. 

Accessories for banjos 

 The purpose of accessories is to enhance the playing experience. And, sometimes, also to protect your expensive instrument. Some of the really useful accessories you can buy are straps to securely hold the instrument while playing, capo to raise and lower the overall pitch of the instrument depending on what kind of music you are playing, cases so that you can safely and comfortably store and transport the instrument, and tuner. All these accessories come in a variety of price ranges and qualities. But keep in mind that there are even more accessories you can get for your instrument.

Tips on buying Banjos

One way to find a good quality instrument is to look at the brand. However, considering the brand of the instrument alone might not get you the one that works the best for you or meet your needs. In fact, finding the right type of banjos can be harder than you might think. This is because there are so many different types of them with a wide range of features. However, selecting the right one can be easy if you know what to look for in them. Here are a few tips that you can follow in order to find the right banjo for you.

  • Open back vs Closed-back – First, you need to decide what type of banjo you want. And that entirely depends on what kind of music you want to play. Closed-back ones are suitable for the modern style of music. Even some modern rock and pop bands use this style. Open back ones are for performing traditional folk music.
  • Number of strings and their material – Even though every part of the instrument affects the characteristics of the tone, strings are undoubtedly the most important part. So, you have to look for strings made out of the best alloys that can accurately produce the tones without any humming sounds.
  • Finish – While it is true that the finish of the instruments does not affect the quality of the sound or the performance of the instruments, the finish is not something that you should overlook in an instrument. You can find banjos with different finishes like glossy, matte, metallic, wooden and many more. Some manufacturers let you choose custom designs as well.
  • Quality and price – The factors that determine the quality of any instrument are the accuracy of the notes that it can produce. But there is more to it than that. It should be easy to tune the instrument back when it goes out of tune. This can be really difficult if the instrument-built quality is poor. Another thing to look for is the overall sturdiness of it. Although you cannot expect an instrument to sustain a fall from a considerable height, it should not be too flimsy or brittle.

There are so many different types of instruments out there besides banjos. These include guitars, keyboards, pianos, drums, flutes, saxophones, cellos, claves, giros, cabas, handbells, kazoos, chimes, mandolins, and whatnot. You can find any of them easily using our shopping search engine. That way, you can also compare the prices and features of different products and pick the best one among them. Finally, don’t forget to check out other amazing products from the Musical instrument’s category.

Question & Answer

Why are banjos so heavy?

Contrary to what most people think, most of the weight of a banjo is not from its wooden parts. Rather it is because of all the metal inclusions in it. A typical banjo will have much more metal parts than a typical guitar. It can weigh even more if it has a tone ring. Tone rings are usually made of solid bronze that are denser than steel. You will find this ring around the resonator box in bluegrass style instruments. It is this ring that gives bluegrass banjos their distinctive bright and rich sound characteristics. But there are those banjos that are lighter as well. If you are looking for a lighter instrument, then look for an instrument with an open box design that does not have the tone ring.

Are closed back banjos better than open back ones?

It is not possible to say that one is better than the other between open back and closed back banjos. Instead, it is all about the difference in the style of sound that they produce. However, if you are interested in a specific kind of musical genre and want an instrument that suits that genre, then it is possible to say which kind of banjo will be best for you. The function of a closed-back instrument with a resonator is to reflect the sound many times so as to make it louder and fuller that is suitable for modern music. Open back design produces sharper sounds that are not as loud. If you are looking for a more modern instrument than the closed-back style will suit you the best, otherwise, go for an open back one.

Is it hard to play the banjo?

It takes time to master any kind of instrument. This is true for banjos as well. However, some of them are easier to play than others. One type of banjo that is really easy for beginners is the five-stringed model. This is because the standard tuning of the instrument sounds good enough for a person to start playing. So, you can learn to finger the chords without concentrating on changing the chords. Another tip that will be useful for beginners is to use the three-finger style to pluck the strings instead of the clawhammer style. It is easier to learn if you follow the three-finger style at first.

If you are looking to buy banjos online in the UAE, look no further as you are in the right place. There are more than 500 shops and brands offering them here on Shops.ae. These shops offer products from popular brands like Epiphone, Dean, Gretsch, Ludwig, Remo, Slingerland, and Cort.