Banjos have a long history, and some of the earliest banjos were made from animal skin. It took decades before people realized that using cow skin was a lot better (more durable and easier to keep in tune), and now modern banjos are made from sheepskin. Banjos are played differently throughout the world, but the two most common forms of playing are clawhammer and five string.

What is a Banjo?

The banjo is a stringed instrument, most often used to play American folk music and bluegrass music. This is a fiddle played with a rubber strap instead of a bow. The rims on the banjo heads are called strings. Clawhammer Banjo A clawhammer banjo is played using four fingers on each hand, with a pick held in the left hand. Picking the strings produces a bow-like sound. The thumb and the four fingers of the right hand help to strum the strings. The clawhammer banjo was developed in the early 1800s as an alternative to the fiddle. The other modern banjo is generally referred to as a five-string banjo. The first five-string banjo was built in 1874 by the Prest-O-Lite company in Ohio. This banjo was popularized by the banjoists Pete Seeger and Ralph Stanley.

What are the different types of Banjos?

By far the most common banjo in the United States, it is the eight-stringed banjo. Also known as a tenor banjo, the eight-string banjo is what most people are more familiar with. Five-string banjos are becoming increasingly common. Though relatively new to the banjo world, five string banjos are actually the same as nine-stringed banjos. Five-string banjos are more difficult to play, and even the great and powerful Earl Scruggs learned to play them. The six-string banjo is another version of the eight-string banjo. Here’s a look at some of the most common banjos you can find today: Eight-stringed banjo Five-string banjo Six-string banjo There is a specific type of banjo called a “chain” banjo, which is actually a banjo that has several different tunings to choose from.

How do you play a Banjo?

Learn The Basics Learn the basic chord shapes, bass notes, rhythm, single and double stops, and the basic strumming pattern to the same song over and over until you are playing the song perfectly in the same position. Learn To Play Better Than Others No matter how you play, if you play better than the average person, they will start to get upset and try to compete with you, so you need to practice without competing. Practice the exact same things and do it without competing. Learn the music and make it your own. Find Your Voice When you hear your song being played by another person, they will usually play it with the same tone you do, which is called your style. Learn to play your style and find your own unique playing voice. Sing You can use your voice to complement your playing.


Banjos are an instrument that is easy to learn and is a ton of fun. You can be in tune in no time and a decent player in no time at all. Playing them is not only relaxing, but also highly beneficial. Check out my video of learning to play the banjo here.