Open Back Banjo Vs. Resonator: What Is The Difference?

The banjo is distinguished from other musical instruments by its distinctive cheery twang, without which folk and bluegrass music would be hard to conceive. If you need help deciding open back banjo vs. resonator, you should know their main distinguishing aspects.

What are Open-back banjo and resonator?

Before we continue, let’s define these two varieties of banjos and explain how they function.

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When it comes to tones, open-back banjos are typically relatively quiet.

As a result, they are more suited to clawhammer banjo playing. They also have a modest loudness since there is no sound chamber or pot at the rear.

Resonator banjos, on the other hand, contain sound chambers that push them forward, making them easier to hear and louder.

If you want to play professionally or at concerts or gatherings, open-back banjos may not be a viable option, even the best open back banjo.

Resonator Banjo Jameson Guitars Left Handed 6-String Left Handed Banjo Guitar  with Closed Back Resonator and 24 Brackets : Musical Instruments


We also offer resonator banjos, which feature an additional physical component known as the resonator.

The resonator is a bowl-shaped component attached to the rear of the banjo pot. The resonator is what makes fast banjos or resonator banjos sound louder.

Because they stand out and are perfect for leading instruments, resonator banjos are often employed in bluegrass music. As a result, if you want to play your banjo at a big gathering, a closed banjo is a safe choice.

Open-back banjo vs. resonator: What is the difference?

We will now list and examine several characteristics that distinguish open-back banjos from closed-back banjos.

1. Sound 

When discussing or comparing any instrument, the sound is the essential component overall. Try any open-back or resonator banjo and notice the difference after a few notes and chords.

The sound quality of each banjo kind is very distinct. This will become clearer when you play other genres.

Clawhammer banjo players like open-back banjos because they are not required to be in the forefront as they are used to.

On the other hand, Bluegrass banjo tuners prefer closed-back or resonator banjos because they appreciate the additional twang. Furthermore, the increased loudness goes a long way toward pushing the music toward the listener.

Another difference is that the sound on a resonator banjo is louder and more noticeable than on an open-back banjo.

This is due to the open-back banjo’s inability to resonate and intensify the sound. However, bear in mind that resonator banjos are heavier than open-back banjos because of the resonator.

2. Cost 

The cost of open-back and closed banjo tuners is an important consideration. We recommend getting an open-back banjo if you’re on a limited budget.

However, if you must compromise on quality, play professionally, or can stretch your budget, consider purchasing a resonator banjo.

The open-back banjos are less expensive because they use less material, resulting in lower production and labor expenses. As a result, choose the banjo based on your needs and budget.

Because of its basic construction, open-back banjo tuners are less expensive than closed-back tuners.

The 5-string banjo, on the other hand, accommodates practically all genres, so if you want versatility, we recommend the closed-back banjo.

3. String placement

While this may not seem a significant concern, string location is important to certain banjo players.

The string location on open-back banjos is often higher. However, this is not always the case. Lower-string locations are included on certain open-back banjos.

Because of the music performed on this banjo type, the strings are higher on open-back banjos.

Unlike bluegrass banjo songs, they are clawhammer style and need a distinct plucking manner.

The strings on most resonator banjos are located on the bottom side, closer to the neck and body of the instrument. This design aids the musician by making it simple for them to perform bluegrass melodies.

4. Design

The design of the open back and closed banjos will also be discussed. While we’ve previously examined the strings, a few more characteristics contribute to the banjo’s distinct sound.

A wooden bowl is installed at the rear of the sound chamber or pot on the closed-back or resonator banjo.

This sound chamber is responsible for directing the sound toward the audience. The closed-back banjo is louder than the open-back banjo since it just has it.

The open-back banjo also has a back and no covering for its sound chamber. With more wood on its back, the resonator banjo is heavier and may need help to handle it.

Because it is played clawhammer style, without fingerpicks, the open-back banjo’s strings are positioned such that they are separated from the fretboard.

5. Subgenres

Although we have explored which genres work well with whatever banjo type, and we will go into more depth in this section, resonator banjos are the favored option of most bluegrass musicians.

This is because closed-back banjos provide the desired loud, twangy sound.

When playing bluegrass with fingerpicks, the closed-back banjos generate a vibrant tone. Open-back banjos, on the other hand, provide a mellow, gentle tone.

Their sound chamber is directly next to the player. As a result, a portion of the sound gets absorbed into the player’s clothing or body, decreasing the loudness.

Most experts and players agree that open-back banjos perform best with mountain music and traditional genres since the tone does not have to contend with loudness.

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Beauty is in the eye of the beholder, and in this instance, the banjo player’s ear. However, the choice between open back and resonator banjo is simplified when the style of music to be performed is considered.

As previously said, if you want to perform bluegrass music, a resonator banjo is generally better for the louder, twangier sound most typically associated with that kind of music. Here are the top bluegrass banjos.

If you intend to perform old-time clawhammer music, an open-back banjo is your best choice.


Is an open-back banjo better than a closed-back banjo?

Clawhammer players often choose open-back banjos (an old-time style). Bluegrass musicians like the louder, more ringing sound of a closed-back banjo. You can play bluegrass in any manner (open or closed), so it’s a personal preference.

What is the function of a banjo resonator?

A resonator is usually included in a banjo built for bluegrass performance. A resonator is a wooden back attached to a banjo and reflects the sound forward. The primary function of a resonator is to make the banjo as loud as possible, but it also serves to tint the tone of the banjo.

Is it true that open-back banjos are louder?

The open-back generates a more mellow, softer tone, and since the sound chamber is against the player, part of the sound is absorbed into his clothes and body, lowering the loudness of the banjo.

Final words

Understanding and can answer the question: Open back banjo vs. resonator: What is the difference is essential for determining what style of music you want to play and, ultimately, which type of banjo to purchase.

Author: Geraldine Ben

Do you have any idea about what are some popular musical instruments? What about your favorite band? Do you know anything about any particular bands or musicians? There are so many musical instruments available for sale that it would be challenging and time-consuming for customers to compare many items among them and choose the best. I am Ben - a lover of all things musical. I synthesize the best instruments to help anyone with their equipment needs.

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