Open Back Vs Resonator Banjo: Which One is Right for You?

As a music lover, the banjo is probably not lost on you. Its unique sound can’t help but arouse musical curiosity in every adventurer’s heart. For those who want to learn how to play it or upgrade their playing style, choosing the right type of banjo is paramount. Banjos come in different forms and structures, each boasting its strengths and limitations.

When it comes to open-back vs resonator banjos, deciding which one is right for you could turn out tricky if you lack enough knowledge about their design and sound differences. To make an informed decision, let’s delve into these two types of banjos’ features.

Design Differences

When it comes to design, Open-back and Resonator banjos have some significant differences. The open-back banjo has an open back without any covering, while a resonator attaches to the back of the body. The open design of an open-back banjo makes it lighter in weight as compared to its counterpart. It also gives off a mellower tone that’s perfect for folk and old-time music.

With a resonator attached at the back, the sound is focused more forward instead of spreading in all directions like an Open-back version does. This enhances volume and brightness in the sound that’s perfect for bluegrass performances and similar genres where you need your notes to be heard loud and clear.

Moreover, due to their constructionary differences, there are variations between these two types when it comes to comfort level as well. An open-back banjo allows players room for their right arm freely while playing but when using standing positions such as those seen with strap use can prove somewhat uncomfortable due since they tend towards imbalanced neck weight distribution.

On comparison, Resonators balance out better on straps keeping everything centred giving players freedom from discomfort or shift restriction during performances allowing extended playtimes without breaks if necessary making them ideal picks especially if you’re considering gigs or live shows.

Overall, both models come with strengths individuality fitments over specific requirements making either stand out only in chosen areas depending on which features cater best suits personal needs or musical styles needed from them enhancing buying opportunities for enthusiasts looking into specifics before investing handsomely into what could be one of many cherished instruments over time deserving…of you!

Open-back Banjo Design

Open-back banjos are designed with an open back, as the name suggests. This design gives them a distinct lack of a resonator on the back of the banjo, which results in a unique tone and volume. These types of banjos typically have fewer materials overall due to their design, resulting in a more lightweight instrument that is easy to carry and play for longer periods.

The open-back design allows for improved bass response and sustain when playing fingerstyle or clawhammer techniques. It also produces a mellower sound than their resonator counterparts because they do not use any extra materials dampening vibrations which makes them perfect for folk music styles and smaller venues.

However, some players may prefer the added projection that resonator banjos can provide during performances at larger events or outdoor environments where ambient noise levels are higher than usual. It ultimately comes down to individual preferences regarding what type of sound output they desire from their instrument.

Overall, Open-back Banjo Design provides musicians with several advantages for specific genres while allowing greater ease-of-use compared to other designs without sacrificing quality or performance characteristics like resonance control or clarity making it an excellent choice for traditional players who want something authentic yet straightforward.

Resonator Banjo Design

The Resonator Banjo Design is characterized by a wooden plate that covers the back of the banjo, which gives it a louder, fuller and brighter sound. The resonator functions as an acoustic chamber to amplify the sound produced by the banjo’s vibrating strings.

Resonator Banjos are crafted with different materials such as mahogany, maple or other hardwoods that create different tones based on their inherent density and porosity. Some brands offer removable resonators allowing players to switch between open back and resonator models.

In general, Resonator Banjos have a heavier weight due to their additional components making them less portable than Open Back options but this added weight is necessary for producing more volume at higher frequencies.

Banjoists who play in bands typically favor the Resonator design over its Open-back counterpart because of its stronger projection volume which helps compete with other amplified instruments like guitars and drums on stage.

Overall if you’re searching for raw power, loudness clarity in tonality then choosing a Resonator design may be right up your alley!

Sound Differences

When it comes to banjo selection, the sound is a critical factor that every player should consider. The open-back and resonator banjos have distinct differences in how they produce sound.

Open-back banjos are designed without a back panel, allowing the sound to circulate freely inside the pot as well as projecting outwardly from the front side of the instrument. As a result of this design, open-backs commonly deliver less volume but with an airy and mellow tone that produces a classic traditional “old-time” bluegrass feel.

On the other hand, resonator banjos come fitted with a wooden plate affixed to their backsides intended at reflecting sounds outwards via apertures on it toward audience than inward into its chamber for richer resonance. Resonators’ resulting increased tightness and higher tension leads to slightly stiffer playability highly suitable for solo performers or bands where tonal clarity is crucial.

In conclusion, choosing between an open-back or resonator style depends mainly on personal preference rather than one being objectively better than another since both styles can be used differently by various genre performers even if common ones remain traditional old-time vs modern bluegrass music respectively.. So pick what works best for your playing preferences and let your ears make the decision.

Open-back Banjo Sound

Open-back banjos are known for their unique, mellow sound that can create a more traditional or melancholic vibe compared to resonator banjos. The open back design allows the sound to escape from the back of the instrument and gives it a softer timbre. It’s a perfect choice if you’re looking for an old-timey or folk sound.

With their open backs, these types of banjos have less volume projection than resonator types as well as fewer overtones. They are also renowned for having a brighter tone due to high-end frequencies being emphasized.

Another advantage of open-backs is fingerpicking sounds richer and fuller with this type rather than in comparison resonate models where flatpicking prevails. Also, its lightness enhances players’ comfort allowing performances lengthier without exhausting their arms.

Open-backs make great beginner choices due to their prices which tend towards lower points so would be excellent instruments when you’re still practicing your craft before investing in higher-priced options.

In conclusion, we recommend choosing an open-back banjo if you love playing folk music or want that classic American mountain-type twang frequently seen in old bluegrass recordings but bear in mind they’re better suited for home environments since performance stages may require amplification systems additionally as sustaining noise is challenging outdoors without artificial means beside feeling limited regarding genres excessively lively”’

Resonator Banjo Sound

When it comes to sound differences between open-back and resonator banjos, the main thing you’ll notice is volume. Resonator banjos are much louder than their open-back counterparts because of the added resonator chamber behind the back of the instrument. This feature projects more of the sound outwards, making it perfect for playing in larger venues or with a group.

But volume isn’t everything. Resonator banjos also have a brighter and more focused tone compared to open-backs. They’re great for genres like bluegrass that require precision picking and fast runs up and down the fret board. The clear tone of a resonator banjo will cut through other instruments on stage, allowing you to be heard even in complex arrangements.

However, if you’re looking for something with a softer, mellower tone, an open-back may be your best bet. Its sound is more diffuse than a resonator model due to its lack of amplifying chambers but can still produce rich overtones when played properly.

In conclusion, choosing between an open-back and a resonator banjo depends on your personal preference and musical needs. Whether you prefer loudness or subtlety in your music ultimately determines which one suits you best as they both offer unique qualities that can enhance any performance.

Choosing the Best Banjo

Choosing the right banjo for you is no simple feat. Your personal playing style and preferences are paramount factors to keep in mind. Are you aiming for a traditional or modern sound? Would you rather rock out with a sharp, lively tone or bask in a softer, rounder vibe? These are good starting points to consider.

On top of that, mobility plays an essential role too; if you’re always on-the-go with your instrument, an open-back design could offer greater convenience due to its lightweight build. However, if power projection is what stimulates your senses the most, then investing in a resonator model may provide higher output levels more suitable for your aspirations.

In addition to these aspects come aesthetics choices such as wood finishes and intricate designs that can amp up the texture and sophistication of your beloved musical companion.

But don’t be daunted by this process! There are many delightful options catering for both categories – take Gold Tone’s CC-100R Plus Cripple Creek Resonator Banjo: maple body delightfully crisp clarity emanating from its 11″ Rim making it an excellent choice revered among beginners; while Deering Goodtime Midnight Special Open Back opens up fresh new standards bringing unmatched value-for-money offering with hard-to-beat quality straight off the shelf.

Ultimately finding the perfect match depends on unique circumstances – reading product reviews carefully including listening examples will enlighten any decision-making process.

Factors to Consider

Various factors need to be considered when choosing between an open-back and resonator banjo, such as the type of music one wants to play. If your heart lies with old-time or traditional melodies, then an open-back accommodation might be a prudent choice owing to its mellower sound that perfectly syncs with such genres.

Alternatively, if you’re keen on producing boisterous and forceful tunes suitable for bluegrass or country music, then a resonator harmonizing device could endear itself more to you. The presence of a rear-firing component adds weight and amplification by projecting the sound towards the front.

Another vital aspect linked with determining your cue type is one’s playing style; whether it follows intricate finger-picking mechanisms- better served by open-back variants- or elaborate chord-based methods which would thrive on resonators.

Financial concerns are also worthy contenders when making this decision as both models come equipped with vastly divergent price ranges. It’s wise not just to consider yourself but also account for any travel requirements now or in future since a substantial variation exists in transportability—resonators typically being more cumbersome than their counterparts.

In conclusion, all facets outlined above ought-to-be weighed-in deftly before arriving at a mindful verdict catering tastefully depending on specific preferences while aligning correctly within these overarching considerations listed hereinabove during final selection evaluation stages.

Top Open-back Banjo Picks

Finding the perfect open-back banjo can be a daunting task, with so many incredible options available. Luckily, thorough research and careful consideration can lead you to an instrument that suits both your playing style and budget.

For those captivated by the classic sound of bluegrass music, vintage Gibson RB-3 or RB-75 models from the 1930s present rich tones and warm resonance harkening back to American folk music’s roots. For something more contemporary yet retaining an old-school vibe, Deering’s Goodtime series offers various beginner-friendly models as well as intermediate instruments for upgrading players.

If affordability is a top priority for you starting on your fingerstyle banjo journey or exploring traditional Americana melodies, Epiphone MB-100 is among our top choices; featuring sturdy mahogany design at wallet-friendly price points without sacrificing looks nor quality.

In summary, regardless of if you prefer tradition or innovation; high-end craftsmanship or cost-effective considerations – we have selected only elite picks to steer you towards choosing an exceptional Open-back Banjo tailored fit for pursuing all your ambitions – boundless musical marvel adventure awaits!

Top Resonator Banjo Picks

When it comes to choosing the best resonator banjo, there are a lot of factors to consider that can make the process overwhelming. From head material and bridge design to string gauge and rim thickness, every detail plays a crucial role in determining the final sound.

For those who prefer a big, powerful tone with lots of projection and sustain, opting for a high-end option such as the Deering Calico is an excellent choice. With its curly maple neck and resonator construction combined with top-quality hardware components like its 20-hole bell brass cast flathead tone ring, this banjo delivers some of the loudest, most expressive bluegrass sounds on the market.

For those seeking something more versatile without sacrificing volume or clarity, we recommend looking at models like Gibson’s RB-175 Deluxe . Featuring mahogany necks and resonators along with an elegant flange assembly coupled with stunning mother-of-pearl inlays adorning everything from its fingerboard to headstock faceplate – this banjo offers players smooth playability matched by unmatched visual appeal.

If you’re on tighter budget but don’t want any compromises when it comes down to quality sound production then check out Fender FB58 Deluxe model. Equipped alongside P-100 Resonator installed under Remo Weatherking Head for rich tonal clarity which leaves an impact not just visually due Matte “Vintage” Blonde finish but also extraodinary resonance when played mid-song transition between complicated picking patterns.

With so many top-notch options available today, anyone who enjoys playing banjo will have no trouble finding their dream instrument whether they prefer open-back or resonator designs!


At the end of the day, your banjo choice is all about personal preference and playing style. If you’re into soothing, old-school vibes with a toned-down twang, then go for an open-back. These models are also lighter on the wallet and easier to haul around – ideal for beginners or road-trippers.

Now if it’s volume and resonance you crave – think bluegrass jam sessions – then the resonator model is calling your name. The closed back amps up projection while giving off that signature bright sound we know and love. Just be mindful of added weight and price point before pulling out your wallet.

Before making any investment, consider what type of banjo matches your skill level, budget, music tastes, desired audio quality and frequency of usage (for plays versus casual strumming). Whether you choose an open back or a resonator model from our top picks like Deering Goodtime 2 Open-Back Banjo, Gold Tone CC – OT Cripple Creek Open Back Banjo , Gibson Earl Scruggs Signature Resonator Banjo , Recording King RK-R20 Songster Resonator Banjo have confidence in knowing both types offer unique benefits to enriching your musical experience.

Michael Southard

Michael is a multi-instrumentalist with extensive knowledge of audio production. He loves trying new gear to discover gems to create unique sound.