Banjos have been a staple of American music since their invention in the 19th century. Today, there are dozens of companies around the world that specialize in manufacturing and designing high-quality banjos. In this article, we will explore the history of banjos, the different types of banjos available, and the top banjo makers and manufacturers in the industry today.
Banjo Makers and Manufacturers
History of Banjos
The banjo is a stringed instrument that originated in Africa and was brought to the United States by enslaved Africans. Its unique sound and style quickly caught on, and by the mid-19th century, the banjo had become a popular instrument in minstrel shows and other forms of American entertainment. Banjos continued to evolve over the years, with various designs and styles emerging.
Types of Banjos
Today, there are several types of banjos available, each with its unique sound and style. The most popular types include:
- 5-string banjos: This is the most common type of banjo and is used in bluegrass and other styles of American folk music. It has four long strings and one short drone string.
- Tenor banjos: This type of banjo has four strings and is often used in Irish music. It has a shorter neck than a 5-string banjo and produces a higher pitch.
- Plectrum banjos: Similar to tenor banjos, plectrum banjos also have four strings but are played with a pick rather than fingers. They are often used in jazz music.
- 6-string banjos: This type of banjo has six strings, like a guitar, and is often used in folk and country music.
Top Banjo Makers and Manufacturers
- Deering Banjo Company: Founded in 1975, Deering Banjo Company is one of the largest banjo manufacturers in the world. They offer a wide range of banjos, including 5-string, tenor, and plectrum models, as well as specialty banjos like the Goodtime banjo, designed for beginners.
- Gibson: Gibson is a well-known guitar manufacturer, but they also produce high-quality banjos. Their Mastertone series of banjos is highly regarded among musicians and collectors alike.
- Stelling Banjo Works: Stelling Banjo Works is a family-owned company that has been producing banjos since 1974. Their banjos are known for their unique tone and beautiful craftsmanship.
- Vega: Vega is one of the oldest banjo manufacturers in the world, dating back to the late 19th century. Their Little Wonder model is a popular choice among banjo players.
- Ome Banjos: Ome Banjos has been producing banjos since 1960 and is known for their innovative designs and attention to detail. They offer a wide range of banjos, including 5-string, tenor, and plectrum models.
- Gold Tone: Gold Tone is a newer banjo manufacturer, founded in 1993, but has quickly established itself as a top player in the industry. They offer a wide range of banjos, from entry-level models to professional-grade instruments.
Banjos are a unique and beloved instrument, with a rich history and diverse range of styles and sounds. Whether you’re a beginner looking for an affordable entry-level banjo or a professional musician searching for a high-end instrument, there are plenty of options available from top banjo makers and manufacturers. From Deering to Gibson to Stelling and beyond, these companies have a reputation for producing high-quality banjos that will delight players and audiences alike.