We Review the Best Tenor Banjos Under $500

It’s not impossible to get a 4-string banjo under $500. We’ve grabbed what we consider the best 5 favorite 4-string banjos under $500 for this list. They’re all terrific choices for the beginner who doesn’t want to break the bank with a learning instrument. These will keep up with you while you learn and grow as a musician, so you won’t have to replace the banjo in the near future.

SX Country 4 30G NA Banjo

This is a great beginner banjo because it’s good for anyone with small hands. If you have a child who wants to start playing the banjo, this is a great starter instrument. It’s also pretty inexpensive compared to some other banjos that are considered starter banjos. It’s well-constructed with wood that is known for its beautiful tone.

Features

  • Tenor tuned
  • Chrome armrest
  • Rosewood and mahogany construction
  • Resonator
  • Gig bag

This affordable banjo costs around $180, weighs less than 7 pounds, and comes with a gig bag. When you’re ready to take your music on the road, this banjo is ready to travel.

Read our full review of the SX Country 30G Banjo


Rover RB-20P Plectrum Open Back

When you want to start playing the 4-string tenor or plectrum banjo, you want an instrument that is relatively inexpensive. It doesn’t make sense to start on an expensive instrument if you’re not sure you’ll enjoy learning. This lightweight banjo is tuned to plectrum chords, but that’s an easy change if you want to learn the tenor.

Features

  • Adjustable truss rod
  • Rosewood and mahogany construction
  • Grooved tension hoop
  • Gun metal gray finish

This banjo has guitar-style geared tuners, so if you’re coming from the world of guitars, you should be fairly comfortable. The standard tuning of C, G, B, D applies to this banjo. You’ll spend approximately $225 for this banjo. We believe that’s a very good deal.

Read our detailed review of the Rover RB-20P Plectrum Banjo


Kay KBJ40 Tenor 4-String Banjo

The Kay Irish Rose Tenor Banjo is a 4-string tenor banjo with a shorter neck than what you’d find on some banjos. It’s perfect for those who are a step above beginner and want to stretch their legs with the banjo in public. It’s a beautifully constructed and finished instrument that you’ll love to show off to friends and family as you play your favorite songs.

Features

  • Pearl inlay
  • Mahogany resonator
  • Banjo strap
  • Chrome armrest

The instrument has pearl fleur-de-lis inlay that gives the dark colored banjo a bit of style and shine. It’s a sleek instrument that you’ll enjoy playing. The banjo comes with pitch pipes for tuning and a hardshell wood case for travel. The banjo is the middle of the road in terms of price at approximately $365.

Read our detailed review of the Kay Irish Rose Tenor Banjo


Deering Goodtime 17-Fret Tenor Banjo

The entire body of this banjo is constructed of maple wood from the maple neck to the 3-ply maple rim. It’s been left without color to allow the natural beauty of the wood shine through. Maple is a great wood for banjos since it’s a natural tone wood.

Features

  • Nickel plated
  • Geared tuning machines
  • Slender neck
  • 3-ply maple rim

The tenor banjo can definitely be tuned in other ways for a variety of music. It’s perfect for Irish/Celtic music, folk, or Dixieland jazz. You have a choice of musical genres when you play the banjo. This banjo is made by a company that’s well-known for its instruments. You’ll spend around $450 for this banjo, but it’s worth that price compared to more expensive options that can reach into the thousands.

Read our full, detailed review of the Deering Goodtime Tenor Banjo


Gold Tone CC-Plectrum Cripple Creek Banjo

Last on the list is the Gold Tone banjo. It’s a 4-string banjo done in a beautiful hard maple. This instrument has plectrum tuning, but as we’ve mentioned before, the tuning isn’t set in stone. You can always change the strings and the tuning to tenor if you want to play different songs and sounds. A music shop can help you make the switch the first time. You can learn to do it yourself after that.

Features

  • Hard maple neck
  • Black binding on the resonator
  • Binding on the neck
  • Convertible resonator
  • 2-way adjustable truss rod

This banjo is an incredible deal even if it’s the highest priced on our list. It’s still about $500 for this banjo. Some banjos can climb up to the thousands, but this is a comparable banjo at a much lower price point. As a beginner or an amateur learning and ready to play in public, you won’t be sorry with the purchase of this banjo.

Read our full review of the Gold Tone CC-Plectrum Cripple Creek Banjo


All of the banjos on this list are approximately $500 or less. The 4-string option for banjos gives you less strings to learn to play while some of them have 17 or 19 frets. You can pick a banjo under $500 that can keep up with you as you grow into your musical talents.

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