Among the many instruments out there, perhaps no instrument has been compared to each other more than the banjo and the guitar. And while there's no denying the similarities between the two, there are some subtle differences. For one, the banjo has always been associated with the musical genre of bluegrass, but, just like the guitar, it can be widely used in different genres – not just bluegrass, but also jazz, blues, country, folk, and even rock and pop.
It can be said that both musical instruments lend a unique and in-depth sound to any music, and did you know that even some classical musicians made use of the banjo in their compositions when it first came out in the 1800s? If you were to ask which is the best instrument, it's hard to say – each has its versatility and style that makes the instrument unique. But which is easier to play: the banjo or the guitar? Here's what you need to know.
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When it comes to difficulty, the banjo is often pointed as easier to play because it has a smaller neck than the guitar, and there are fewer strings with the banjo. Particular banjos may be a bit heavy for the player, though, especially if they are small children.
As for pressing down on the instruments' strings, remember that the strings can be adjusted based on the gauge used – the thinner the strings, the easier they are to play. Acoustic guitars normally have heavier strings than banjos. The instrument's tuning will also make a difference in how easy it is to play. A guitar is tuned so that you need to finger the fretboard with the left hand to get a chord. The banjo, on the other hand, is tuned in open G. This means that when you start strumming a banjo, it will already make a pleasing sound, simply because the strings are tuned to a chord – and that is why it is easier to learn banjo for beginners.
Learning chords and playing them
When you are trying to learn to play in an open tuning on the banjo, there are only two to three basic chords you must know so you can start playing bluegrass music. It is important to remember that the first chords you will learn are G, followed by C and D, and these chords can be played with just two fingers. Learning the chords to play on the guitar is more difficult because the instrument has more strings, and also you will need to fret at least three of them to get a chord. You can play a lot of songs with just three chords, whether you play guitar or banjo. Once you have confidence playing a few chords you can add more chords into your repertoire to make it more interesting.
Which is best for you?
Of course, the final call will still be up to you – which one makes you happy? Which one do you like playing more and gives you more joy when you play it? Whichever you choose, remember that you can use the same skill set in learning the guitar or banjo at a later date. You can satisfy your curiosity about either instrument by taking lessons in each – and decide then. But no matter which you decide to take, it's a journey that's worth it.
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