When talking about the difficulty level of playing the guitar versus playing the banjo, it will depend on a few factors. This includes whether you’ve played any stringed instrument before or if you’re a complete beginner to world of instruments.
The type of banjo will make a difference in the ease of learning. With the acoustic guitar, you have a set number of strings. The banjo might have 4, 5 or 6 strings depending on the style of music you want to learn. The guitar’s number of strings won’t change with the genre, although, the way it’s played will change. In a traditional acoustic guitar, there are 6 strings that are tuned to certain keys.
Good Things About the Banjo
The most common type of banjo for playing is the 5-string variety. It’s the easiest to start playing in terms of all the banjos. It’s tuned to open G. That means when you strum down the strings without holding anything, you’re playing the G chord. With a few minor finger adjustments, you can learn two more chords to start playing many familiar tunes.
Difficulties with Learning the Banjo
It’s easy to learn a few chords, but when you’re playing, it’s in a finger style that can be tough on the fingers. The strings of the banjo are sharp and tight. When you’re learning to play, you can end up hurting your fingers unless you have finger picks. The style that you play will matter for the type of songs you want to master.
There are certain styles of playing based on the type of music you want to produce. For traditional banjo, there’s the clawhammer style. This style received its name because you have to shape your hand like a claw and down-pick the strings with the first two fingers while popping the 5th string with your thumb. This is the kind of style that most folk artists have mastered in their work. The Scruggs style is used for Bluegrass and involves three-finger picking with a thumbpick.
What’s Great About the Guitar?
The guitar has 6 strings that are tuned to certain chords for each string. It’s easy to strum the guitar and get a pleasant sound out of it. This is encouraging to the beginner who won’t feel discouraged while learning. It takes some time to learn any instrument, of course, but the guitar sounds great while you’re learning. Instead of a sharp, strident note played wrong like with the banjo, the guitar’s wrong notes are not as noticeable when playing in a group.
The Guitar can be Difficult, too
The guitar might seem like the easier of the two instruments because strumming is simple to get a pleasant sound. There are still 6 strings to learn with both of your hands. You’ll have to learn to hold down the strings in a certain position to strum out the right chord. It can take months before you’re able to really pick up the finger placement for certain chords.
There are way more finger styles for the guitar than there are for the banjo. You can learn to strum the guitar, fingerpicking, alternate picking, sweeping, gypsy rhythms, and tapping.
What if You Learn one Before the Other?
If you’re able to learn one instrument, you’re definitely able to learn the other. The key to learning any stringed instrument is finger placement and learning how to work your hands together to produce the sounds you want. Many people learn the guitar before venturing into other instruments like the banjo. This allows them to learn the second instrument with all the strumming and picking knowledge they have from the first instrument.
Style of Teaching
The way you learn the instrument will have an influence on whether it’s hard to learn. You’ll have an easier time finding a guitar teacher than you would a banjo teacher. There are more guitar videos and books to teach guitar than there are banjo instructional videos and books. This all makes learning guitar a bit easier than learning the banjo.
It takes a long time to master an instrument. The ease with which you learn the instrument will depend on the style of music you want to learn. The guitar has more notes and finger athletics to master than the banjo. This will make it harder to learn the banjo than the guitar for some people. The banjo has fewer strings, which can make it a bit easier to play.
The ease of learning really depends on whether you’ve had any experience with a stringed instrument, if you have a good teacher, and the style of music you are trying to learn. The determination and persistence of the student matters to how easily he or she learns an instrument, too. Many people put down the guitar after a few months if they haven’t learned it properly. A banjo player who practices for a few months can really enjoy the playing and won’t quit until they’ve enjoyed playing their favorite songs.