4-string banjo

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4-string banjo
4-string banjo
String instrument
Other namesbanjo, banjar
Classification string
Inventor(s)African slaves
Timbrevaries with setup
Volumemedium to high (acoustic)
Playing range
Banjar range
Related instruments
guitar, mandolin, ukulele, viola
Eddie Peabody, Harry Reser, Charlie Tagawa, Buddy Wachter
Bacon Banjo Co.
Deering Banjo Company
Vega Company
Wildwood Banjos
More articles
banjo, banjo music

The 4-string banjo is any one of a number of long-necked lute-like stringed instruments with a hollow resonator body and four strings.


See: American Banjo Museum

The instrument was particularly popular in the United States in the early 20th century, and extensively used in jazz. It was also available as a hybrid banjo-ukulele.[1] It enjoyed a brief renaissance in the late 1940s with Mike Pingatore's hit, a revival of "I'm Looking Over a Four-Leaf Clover".[2]


A four-string banjo has a number of different tunings. Popular ones include CGDA, DGCE, DGCD and CGBD.[3] The samba banjo has the same tuning and range as the cavaquinho, but its timbre is quite different, sounding like a traditional banjo but pitched higher. It is played with a pick for rhythm accompaniment, with sophisticated strumming beats; thus it is a primarily a rhythmic instrument, and virtuosity is sometimes considered to be based on breaking repetitive patterns and surprising the listener with unexpected and inventive rhythmic figures, while keeping the rhythm steady.[citation needed]


In Brazil it is an important instrument also known as "Samba-banjo" or banjo-cavaco, derived from the cavaco, and is especially associated with Samba and its variants. The Brazilian 4-string banjo was first introduced by musician Almir Guineto in the late 1970s and early 1980s, attending on one hand the necessity for a louder instrument similar to the cavaco, and on the other, the drive for innovation.[4]

Associated music[edit]

Four-string banjo


  1. ^ Randel, Don Michael, ed. (2003). The Harvard Dictionary of Music. Harvard University Press. p. 83. ISBN 9780674011632.
  2. ^ Linn, Karen (1994). That Half-barbaric Twang: The Banjo in American Popular Culture. University of Illinois Press. p. 111. ISBN 9780252064333.
  3. ^ Conway, Cecelia (1995). African Banjo Echoes in Appalachia: A Study of Folk Traditions. University of Tennessee Press. p. 234. ISBN 9780870498930.
  4. ^ McGowan, Chris; Pessanha, Ricardo (1998). The Brazilian Sound: Samba, Bossa Nova, and the Popular Music of Brazil. Temple University Press. p. 51. ISBN 9781566395458. almir guineto banjo.