Buying a stringed instrument is tough. Buying a banjo is arguably the hardest of all to shop for. We want to help, that’s why we’ve assembled this list of the best banjo brands.
These companies are known for durability, affordability, and quality. There are other great Banjo’s out there, but by starting with these brands you’ll cut out a lot of lower quality instruments.
Although not as important, we also tried to select banjo manufacturers that give you a good selection regarding how many strings you’d like and a choice between open back or resonator.
What Are The Best Banjo Brands?
The best banjo brands include Huber, Stelling, Goodtime, Gold Tone, Oscar Schmidt, Fender and Recording King. Not all of these banjo manufacturers are right for all of our readers, so we narrowed it down a bit.
What We Considered
Brands like Huber and Stelling deserve to be on this list, but many banjo players will never get to the level where the price or limited availability of one of these instruments makes sense. Both of these companies would be on a list for best professional banjo and make some of the best banjos in the world, but we left them off this list. With that being said, we judged companies on three factors.
There are also several brands you can find on Amazon that are cheap and poorly made, so if you don’t see it on this list it may be a banjo brand to avoid.
Many people are either to inexperienced or have to tight of a budget for many of the high-end, custom build manufacturers. While it would be nice to list the Hubers, Gibsons, and Stellings of the world, it wouldn’t do our average reader much good.
The brands on our list all have one thing in common. A reputation for quality. Several of them are better known for other styles of stringed instruments, but the quality and value of their banjos is unquestioned.
It would be pretty cool to own a limited edition, numbered, specially made model from a small shop that produces 20 banjos a year. But just like price, that isn’t realistic for many of our readers. These manufacturers can be found at your local music shop or at online sources like Amazon.
If you are looking for a Stelling, Huber, Gibson, or many of the other high-end manufacturers we recommend a used music shop. Not only will the price be more appealing but you’ll get to play the instrument before you buy.
For more specific information on individual models, you should jump over to our list of great beginner banjos and find the instruments we recommend!
Deering Banjo Company
It is pretty easy to recommend Deering in any Banjo list. Founded in 1975, Deering has a reputation for high quality, great sounding Banjos that is well earned. They are also still handmade in the U.S. at their plant just outside of San Diego.
Not only does the company make a top-notch banjo it makes them in almost any configuration you’re looking for. Huge bands like Mumford & Sons even use models from the Southern California manufacturer.
Deering starts with a value brand line called Goodtime Banjos. While these banjos are produced with a beginner or limited budget customer in mind, they are an amazing value for a quality instrument.
From the basic Gootime Banjos to some of the fancier lines like the Artist, Eagle, and Private Collection, you’ll never outgrow the quality or selection Deering has to offer.
Gold Tone Music Group
Started as Gold Tone Banjo in 1993, this company specializes in high quality instruments for acoustic players of all levels. While we love, and will concentrate on, the banjos, the company has expanded to make a great offering of guitars, mandolins, bass, and ukulele.
They also offer one of the best selection for “folkternative” instruments. Hybrid instruments like the banjola, the Bela Fleck (baritone banjo), cello banjo, and banjitar add a great variety for good string instrument players.
The Gold Tone CC-50 is often rated as one the best banjos for beginners, and the quality of the instrument could demand a much higher price than it normally does.
Similar to Gold Tone, Oscar Schmidt makes a wide selection of stringed instruments. They are better known for their guitars, but the quality and experience of crafting fine instruments they’ve learned in over 100 years as a company shines through on all their products.
Oscar Schmidt has yet to put out a truly high-end banjo, but with instruments like the OB5 (pictured), beginner and intermediate banjo players could do much worse with a first or 2nd instrument than an Oscar Schmidt.
We also like Oscar Schmidt banjos because they fit a really nice price point. They are better in quality than some of the cheaper banjos you can find, but they don’t carry the price tag you’ll find on an entry level Deering!
Another brand normally associated with guitars, Fender has expanded to the banjo market and made some noise doing so. They have taken the quality and the expertise they learned by building guitars and made themselves into a very popular banjo manufacturer.
Fender has developed a huge selection of instruments as well, priced all the way from around $200 well into the thousands. They are a banjo brand for beginners all the way to expert and professional level players! A great beginner/intermediate banjo, like the Concert Tone, is available for under $400 in most places.
Like their guitars, these instruments are backed by a lifetime warranty as well.
Recording King Banjos
Recording King has a rich history as an American instrument manufacturer. Starting as a house brand for Montgomery Ward in the 30’s, they’ve been mastering their craft ever since.
Recording King is the best vintage banjo brand bringing a modern twists to this old time instrument. A perfect example is the LBL Starlight Series, that could easily be mistaken for a 50’s style instrument if not for the light blue paint that adorns it’s headpiece and body!
The Final Note
There you have it! If you shop from our list of the best banjo brands you are guaranteed to get a banjo that will last years to come and yet not cost you an arm and a leg!
Did we miss a brand you love? We’d love to hear about it! Comment below and let us know!
A ukulele player pretty much from birth, Edward has gone on to play banjo, lead guitar, and bass for a number of bands and solo projects! Edward loves talking, teaching and writing about music!