So, which banjo should I choose?
The answer really depends on what type of player you are and what style of music you’re playing. Clawhammer banjo playing is a traditional style that generally lends itself well to an open back banjo. Clawhammer playing employs a percussive technique where the index or middle fingers are used to strike the strings rather than finger picks – with the hand in a ‘claw’ shape. This technique naturally produces a softer sound than ‘Scruggs’ playing (we’ll get to that in a moment), and therefore suits an open back banjo’s sound and timbre. You can learn more about common tunings used in Clawhammer playing HERE
Whereas open back banjos and their common Clawhammer style of playing make for excellent accompaniment instruments, resonator banjos are generally used for styles such as bluegrass where the banjo sits at the forefront of the overall sound. ‘Scruggs’ playing is a term used to describe the bluegrass style after Earl Scruggs introduced a new pioneering way of picking the banjo on his 1945 appearance on the Grand Ole Opry with Bill Monroe and the Bluegrass Boys. The Scruggs style uses three-fingers with fingerpicks on the index and middle fingers and a thumbpick for a fast-tempo and lively style best suited to thebrighter and louder resonator banjo.