Banjo vs. Guitar: Which Instrument Should You Learn?

Banjo vs. Guitar: Which Instrument Should You Learn?

Banjo vs. Guitar: Which Instrument Should You Learn?


Have you ever found yourself enchanted by the twang of a banjo or the strum of a guitar, and wondered which instrument you should learn? Both the guitar and banjo are popular stringed instruments with rich histories and unique sounds, but they also have distinctive differences. In this article, we'll delve deep into the world of banjos and guitars to help you make an informed decision.

The Guitar


The guitar is an incredibly versatile instrument with a wide range of sounds, capable of producing everything from gentle acoustic melodies to energetic electric riffs.

Learning the Guitar

The guitar might seem daunting to a beginner because it generally has six strings compared to the banjo's four or five. However, the layout of these strings makes sense musically and, with practice, you can learn to play a variety of chords and tunes.

Pros and Cons

The guitar's advantages include its versatility and popularity; you can find a wealth of online resources and community support. The downsides might include its physical demands; it can be larger and harder to hold than a banjo.

The Banjo


The banjo, with its unmistakable twang, is integral to genres like country and bluegrass. It usually has four or five strings, and its design gives it a distinctive, bright sound.

Learning the Banjo

After choosing the perfect banjo, learning the banjo can be a bit challenging initially due to its unique picking styles. However, its fewer strings can make it simpler to understand than a guitar.

Pros and Cons

On the plus side, banjos are relatively light and compact, and their unique sound can be a joy to play. The cons? Banjo music resources can be less abundant than those for the guitar, and the instrument itself is less versatile.

Comparing the Guitar and Banjo

Sound and Music Style

Guitars can adapt to many musical styles, while banjos have a more specific sound profile, usually associated with folk, country, and bluegrass music.

Learning Curve

While both instruments require practice, the guitar may offer a more intuitive layout for beginners, despite having more strings.


In terms of versatility, guitars might have an upper hand as they are more accepted and versatile in various music genres.

Popularity and Community

Guitars, being more mainstream, have a larger player community and more learning resources.


The cost for both instruments can vary greatly, but beginner guitars can often be found at lower prices than beginner banjos.

Choosing the Right Instrument for You

Personal Preference

When it comes down to it, the instrument you choose should be one you love the sound of and feel excited about playing. Try listening to more music from each instrument to determine which you prefer.

Musical Goals

Consider the style of music you want to play. If you're interested in rock, blues, or pop, the guitar might be your instrument. If country, folk, or bluegrass is more your style, consider the banjo.

Time and Commitment

Both instruments require time to learn and master. Consider how much time you're willing to dedicate to practice.


Choosing between the banjo and the guitar is a personal decision based on individual preferences and goals. While the guitar may be more versatile and popular, the banjo's unique sound and style might call to you. Ultimately, the best instrument for you is the one you feel most drawn to and excited about learning.


Is the banjo harder to learn than the guitar?

It largely depends on the individual. Some find the banjo's fewer strings and open tuning easier, while others find the guitar's layout more intuitive.

Can I switch from guitar to banjo or vice versa?

Absolutely. While they're different instruments, skills learned on one can often be transferred to the other to some extent.

How much should I expect to spend on my first instrument?

For both guitars and banjos, beginner models can range from $100 to $300. The price can increase for higher quality or professional models.

Is it necessary to have a musical background before learning these instruments?

While having a musical background can help, it's not necessary. Many guitar and banjo players start with no previous musical experience.

Which instrument is louder, the banjo or the guitar?

The banjo is typically louder than the acoustic guitar due to its resonator, which amplifies the sound. However, an electric guitar with an amplifier can be much louder.

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