Let’s face it. The world was made for right-handed people in mind. This is especially true when talking about music instruments, with almost all instruments being made for righty’s. With that in mind, we wanted to look out for the best left-handed banjo currently on the market.
Luckily many of the best manufacturers have started to produce their popular models in left-handed versions, but we did some digging to find each option available.
Before we run through our top picks for lefty banjo players, we answer a common question: Should I play banjo left or right-handed?
Should I play Banjo Left or Right-Handed?
For anyone planning to learn to play the banjo this is really a question only you can answer. Should I play banjo left or right-handed? Becasue the banjo tends to be a dominant and instrument, we normally will say that whichever hand is your dominant hand will probably be the best hand to use for picking the strings.
Fretting is important, but most banjos are played in a fingerpicking style that requires both good coordination and agility with your picking hand. This can definitely be developed with practice, but it will be much easier with your naturally dominant side.
The Four Best Left-handed Banjo Options!
Deering Goodtime 2 – Left-Handed
There is a reason that almost all of our Banjo lists have the Deering Goodtime banjo on them. They are simply the best value instrument for beginner to intermediate banjo players.
Bonus: Deering makes all of their instruments in America!
The Goodtime 2 we have chosen has a resonator, but if you would rather play an open back banjo then the Goodtime, which is the same instrument without the resonator.
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The Deering Goodtime 2 5-String Banjo for left-handers is the exact same instrument as the right-handed version with the peg switched, meaning it has a 3ply maple head and “slim” neck style for ease of play. Lefty, righty, it doesn’t matter. This is one of the best values you’ll find when buying any instrument.
- 3 Ply Maple Head
- Maple Resonator for expansive sound
- Beginner friendly slim neck design
- Deering name – Made in America
- Best Value instrument
- Expensive for a beginner instrument
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Gold Tone AC-5/L
The Gold Tone AC-5 Left-handed model has a maple neck, rosewood fingerboard and a setup out of the box that you will appreciate.
Gold Tone has a reputation for quality, but we were concerned when we saw they moved to a composite body and resonator for this model. Most of their instruments use a maple body construction that is tried and true.
The composite material used actually sounds better than we would have expected, and is something we’ve seen on a growing number of entry level banjos recently.
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This Banjo is definitely designed and manufactured for a beginner, but for the price it is hard to beat an instrument that sounds and plays like this. For a first banjo, you could do a LOT worse.
- Great Beginner Option
- Maple Neck w/ Rosewood Fingerboard
- Great Value from trusted Company
- Composite Body/Resonator
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The Savannah SB-100L is a new name in the Banjo market but brings this strong option at a great price to a left-handed banjo market that was sorely lacking options!
The neck and resonator on this instrument are both made of mahogany, which is not as traditional as maple, but a standard in guitar building and something we never mind seeing on our banjos.
The rim is a laminate maple, which while not as good as a 3-ply that you find on the Goodtime, we like this construction better than the composite you find on the Gold Tone.
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One note, this banjo does not come with the bridge installed. If you are handy there are plenty of videos on YouTube about installing a bridge, otherwise head down to your local music store, they will have no issues helping you out!
- Mahogany Neck and Resonator Construction
- Geared 5th peg
- Great price tag
- Laminate Maple Rim
- Bridge not shipped installed
- Relatively new banjo brand
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Oscar Schmidt OB5 – LH
The Oscar Schmidt OB5- LH banjo is another option where the right handed version has made it on more than a few of our “best of” lists.
Just like the Savannah, this instrument comes with a mahogany neck and resonator and a geared 5th string tuning peg.
The big upgrade you get with the OB5 is the Remo head and 30 bracket cast aluminum tone ring, both which help this banjo absolutely sing.
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The Oscar Schmidt OBS LH banjo is an affordable banjo with a great name behind it (made by Washburn). It also fits a great space on this list being less expensive than the Deering, but better sounding and higher quality than the other two instruments here!
- Mahogany Resonator and Neck
- Finish and Look Stands Out Wonderfully
- Remo Head
- Geared Fifth Tuner
- Bridge not setup when shipped
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How many Strings Should My Banjo have?
There are several types of banjos with a various number of strings which vary according to the banjo style. On this list we stuck with recommending 5-string banjos as they are the most popular and the traditional configuration, but lets look at your other options as a left-handed banjo player.
The 4-string banjo is designed in either tenor or plectrum style. The 4-string tenor banjo is like the plectrum but without the shorter drone string.
The 5-string banjo , which we’ve focused on here, commonly has 22 frets and a 5th string tuning peg located on the 5th fret and is available in two styles: one with a resonator or one with an open back. The resonator style banjo is sometimes referred to as the Bluegrass banjo and has a closed-back. The open-back has a softer tone and is on occasion referred to as a Clawhammer due to the way it is traditionally played.
Finally, there is also a 6-string banjo sometimes referred to as a banjitar. This one is very similar to a regular guitar. Musicians who are comfortable with guitars may find this one to be the easiest to switch to since it is normally tuned the same.
When you are considering the number of strings you want, consider how you want to tune the banjo. As we just mentioned, a guitar player may want to pick a six string banjo so the tuning is familiar. Someone coming from a ukulele may lean toward the four string tenor so it’s more familiar! Beginners have the benefit of choosing anything they want!
Resonator or Open Back Left-Handed Banjo?
The resonator on a banjo is a plate on the back of the instrument. It is usually in the shape of a bowl. The resonator allows the sound of the banjo to be projected forward out of the front of the banjo which makes the sound more powerful. When there is no resonator some of the sound is lost. Because there is nowhere for the sound to reflect the sound will not be as loud or resilient.
Not having a resonator on your banjo, however, does not in itself make it is a defective banjo, it just makes it different. In fact, many people like the sound without the resonator better. Banjos without a resonator also have the benefit that they are usually less expensive.
The Final Note
For the left-handed banjo player, our pick for the best left-handed banjo was the Deering Goodtime 2-LH, but that is not to say you won’t be happy with any of the instruments on this list! Depending on the type of music you plan to play with your banjo will help determine whether you want a banjo with a resonator or an open-back. In either case, the choice is yours. Happy strumming!
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!