Open Back vs Resonator Banjo

Open Back vs Resonator Banjo – Which Banjo is Right for You?

Open back vs Resonator banjo is an ongoing debate. Do you want to learn how to play the banjo? If so, you’re probably trying to figure out which type of banjo is right for you. There are two main types of banjos: open-back banjo and resonator banjo. Both have their unique tones and benefits, so it can be tough to decide which one is right for you.

This blog post will help explain the differences between open back and resonator banjos so that you can make an informed decision about which type of banjo is right for you. Happy picking!

What is an Open Back Banjo?

Open Back vs Resonator Banjo

Open-back banjos are probably the more common type of banjo. They consist of a drum with a thin, wooden rim and four metal strings that run horizontally. This banjo is commonly used for bluegrass music because its bright and loud sound is perfect for lively dance numbers and complex chord progressions.

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What is a Resonator Banjo?

Open Back vs Resonator Banjo

Resonator banjos are a relatively new invention that originated in the early 20th century. They consist of a drum with a thin, wooden rim and four metal strings that run horizontally across it, just like open-back banjos do. However, resonator banjos also have an extra component: a metallic disc (called the “resonator”) fixed to the back of the drum. This part gives resonators their unique tone and volume, which makes them perfect for bluegrass music and country and folk genres.

Differences Between an Open Back and Resonator Banjo:

There are a few differences between open-back and resonator banjos, making them perfect for different kinds of music. Following are some aspects where Open back banjo differs from resonator banjo:


Resonator banjos usually have a different shape than open-back banjos. Resonators are slightly taller and more rectangular in appearance, while the drum of most open-back banjos is flatter and rounder.


Open back Banjos produce a brighter tone that’s great for dance numbers and more complex chord progressions, while resonators have a deeper resonance that makes them the perfect choice for blues and folk music. Open backs also tend to be quieter than resonators, making them easier to carry around without disturbing people and better suited to playing with groups rather than performing solo or recording with bands.


Open-back banjos are relatively less expensive than resonator banjos because of the manufacturing details; open-back banjos use less material in design than resonator banjos.

Playing Style

Because open-back banjos are generally quieter than resonators, they’re usually played with a pick because strumming the metal strings tends to be too loud. For example, reservations are famous for bluegrass musicians who prefer to play with their fingers or brushes because the sound is softer than an open-back banjo.

Open back vs Resonator Banjo – Which Banjo should you choose?

It’s important to remember that the type of sound you want will be mainly determined by the different styles of music you enjoy playing or listening to. However, there are a couple of general rules of thumb to help you decide.

If you want a rich and warm tone that complements folk and bluegrass banjo, then resonator banjos are perfect for you. If you’re more interested in playing fast-paced country music, then open-back banjos will likely be better for your needs.

Open-back banjos are generally less expensive than resonators, but they’re also usually louder. Resonator banjos are costlier, but they produce a better sound for playing blues and folk music. So it might be helpful to figure out what kind of music you want to play before deciding between open-back and resonator banjos.

Which One Should You Buy if You’re a Beginner?

Because open-back banjos are usually cheaper and easier to play, they’re great for beginners. You can start learning on an open-back banjo without spending too much money. Later, if you decide that bluegrass isn’t suitable for you, it’s easy to upgrade later on with a resonator instead of having to buy an entirely new drum. So, for example, suppose you’ve already got some experience under your belt or feel confident about leaping playing with picks. In that case, resonators are probably the right choice for you because they produce richer tones.

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When both options are available at your local music store or online retailer in the open back and resonator banjo, it’s easy to find what will perfectly fit your needs! Which kind do you think would work better for you based on your current level of skill? Shop accordingly.

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