Today, you can find 4- and 5-string banjos and 6-string banjos. The 5-string successor to Sweeney’s banjo is the most widely used today.
Many of the most common banjo types are available in both open-back and with resonator-equipped versions. Resonator banjos are equipped with a plate that is fastened to the back or “pot”, as it is often called. This plate serves to improve the instrument’s sound and volume when it is in an ensemble setting. Bluegrass musicians as well as other banjoists prefer resonator-equipped instruments.
Open-back banjos produce an easier, more soothing sound that can be played in quieter settings. They are lighter and more affordable than their resonator equipped counterparts due to their simpler construction. American old-time music fans love the open-back 5-string banjos. These banjos are played using various versions of the claw hammer technique.
Today’s banjos have a circular wood frame that surrounds them and a tensioned head of synthetic material. It resembles a drumhead. These modern heads are not affected by temperature and humidity, unlike older banjos with membrane- or animal skin-covered heads.
Modern banjos have metal strings, with the fourth string wrapped in an alloy. Nylon strings can sometimes be used to make a softer sound.
Banjo tuners are not like the worm gear-based tunes found on guitars. They are either of the planetary gear type or friction-type pegs. Smooth operation of its tuners is a sign of a high-quality banjo. This allows for quick tuning and maintains tuning stability.