How Hard Is It To Learn the Banjo?

You’ve heard it in various types and styles of music for your entire life. 

It makes you feel like home. It’s cool sound is a warm comfort emanating from the south.  You start to ask yourself “How hard is it to learn the banjo?”

The first factor in determining how hard learning the banjo is you. How much time do you have? How strong is your desire to learn? What style of music do you enjoy? If you have an hour a day to learn and practice banjo techniques, then learning the banjo will be a breeze. 

If you can commit to learning the chords, scales, and techniques, and your desire to learn is strong, you’ll pick it up quite quickly and be able to pluck a tune in no time. 

It’s much like any other instrument, if you have the time and dedication you can learn the basics quite quickly, and advance as much as you’re willing.

How To Lower The Difficulty Level

Another thing to consider when thinking about how hard it is to learn the banjo is who your teacher is. Are they well informed about teaching techniques? Do they play well themselves? Are they able to recommend songs and skills to help you progress in learning how to play the banjo? 

These can be important questions to consider, and finding the right teacher is an important factor, but it’s not the only option.

Many excellent banjo players are self-taught, and online courses are also available. Whether you plan to learn as a student of a teacher, with an online app, or with books or Youtube videos.

Find a style of learning that suits your personality, your schedule, and most importantly your learning needs.

Learn how long it will take you to learn.

Get a Good Banjo To Learn On

The next thing to think about when thinking about how hard it is to learn the banjo is the instrument itself. 

Selecting a quality instrument is important, to be sure, but most importantly you’ll want to find a banjo that at the very least inspires you and gets you excited to play.  Read our article about the best banjo for beginners here.

This sounds simple, but having a banjo with a faulty tuning key that doesn’t stay in tune can make learning the banjo not only difficult, but also frustrating and unenjoyable. 

Many affordable options exist, but be selective when you’re in the music store. How hard is it to learn the banjo on a poorly crafted instrument? It’s way harder than on a well crafted one, that’s for certain

Cost

You’re a new student, you’re in love with the music and the sound, you’re trying to understand how difficult it is to learn the banjo, and you find yourself in a music store, staring at a wall of beautiful perfect banjos. 

The prices range from affordable to collectors items, and you’re not sure just how to choose a banjo on which to start learning. 

Quality

One thing to look for is the quality of the tuning keys. Can you pluck the strings for an extended period of time, and does the string stay in tune? Eventually, it will start to lose its pitch, but it should be able to hold it for quite a long time.  

Another thing to look for is the straightness of the neck. Like guitars, banjos must be maintained over time, and one of the maintenance tasks of any banjo technician is intonation, which affects how easily you can press the strings down onto the fingerboard.  

It is mainly the setup of the bridge position that affects intonation, so be aware of what to look for with the way that the bridge is set up. 

Tone

Finally, make sure the banjo you’re selecting has a tone that you’re in love with. Tone is unique to each and every instrument, and is very hard to change once you’ve settled on which banjo to take home. 

That plucky, twangy, completely distinct sound that sounds like no other instrument on the entire planet of Earth. That’s why you want to learn the banjo right, because who doesn’t love that sound?

So take some time, try out as many banjos as you can, and find the tone that suits your desires and the type of music you wish to play.

A five string banjo is typically the easiest, with an open “G” chord tuning you’ll be playing in no time. 

But you may wish to consider a four string tenor banjo, or perhaps a smaller banjo. 

Whichever instrument you start out on, you’ll probably find that the skills are transferable from one banjo to another, and with a little bit of time you may find yourself with a collection of different types and styles of banjos in your house or studio.

Banjo vs. Other Instruments

If you’re considering other instruments to learn, you’ll probably ask yourself how hard is it to learn the banjo compared to the guitar, or perhaps the ukulele? 

While the answer really depends on your desire to learn, your previous musical experiences, and your commitment to playing every day, the banjo falls in the middle, typically not quite as difficult as the guitar, but more difficult than the ukulele. 

Of course, if your desire is to be the fastest bluegrass plucker in the state of Kentucky, it will take you some time to learn and build up your chops, but generally speaking it’s not too difficult when compared to other instruments.

Conclusion

So how hard is it to learn the banjo? The choice is yours about how far you take it, the instrument you choose, and the style of learning you decide to employ. Read more tips for beginner banjo players here.

Make no mistake though, you’ll love learning this beautiful, unique, and distinctive sounding instrument, and your new skills will be a welcome addition to sing alongs, parties, and campfires.

Leave a Comment