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FAQ 4 String or 5 String

FAQ Category : 4-String or 5-String?

  • What''s the difference between a tenor banjo and plectrum banjo?
  • I just got a banjo and i noticed that most of the chords are written in without the fifth string... meaning i''ve only seen 4 notes written for 4 strings on the chord charts.
  • What''s the difference between a 4-string and a 5-string banjo?

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    What''s the difference between a tenor banjo and plectrum banjo?
    Great question! The tenor banjo has either 17 or 19 frets and the plectrum has 22 frets. Generally the tenor banjo is best known for its ability as rhythm instrument in Dixieland bands and the plectrum is the choice of many soloists. The neck of the tenor banjo is shorter and requires more use of inside chords to reach all of the melody notes without getting too far up into the upper reaches of the fretboard where things can get some what squeaky. The longer neck of the plectrum allows for more notes to be reached on the first string. In addition the first string does not need to be stretched as tightly to be brought into tune. This allows for a somewhat easier tremolo.

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    I just got a banjo and i noticed that most of the chords are written in without the fifth string... meaning i''ve only seen 4 notes written for 4 strings on the chord charts.
    Your book is likely written for 4-string tenor or plectrum banjo players. If you have a 5-string banjo, you'll need a clawhammer or bluegrass book. Clawhammer is slower and more mellow; bluegrass is fast and hard-driving.

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    What''s the difference between a 4-string and a 5-string banjo?
    4-string (tenor or plectrum) banjos are used with Dixieland Jazz bands, often considered a genre of New Orleans. Artists include Louis Armstrong (Hello Dolly!) and Harry Reser. These banjos are strummed with a flat pick.

    5-string banjos are played in mainly two different styles: Clawhammer and Bluegrass. Clawhammer banjos have an open back, and they're strummed with one or two fingers. The style originated in the Appalachian mountain region; it's very mellow and folksy. Pete Seeger is one of the best-known clawhammer banjo players.

    Bluegrass music usually has a fast tempo. Bluegrass banjos have a resonator on the back that projects the sound forward. The banjo players uses two fingerpicks and a thumbpick and strives for speed and accuracy. Earl Scruggs is the pioneer, and he's famous for songs like The Beverly Hillbillies and Foggy Mountain Breakdown.

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