The banjo is a four- or five-stringed instrument (or rarely, six) with a neck like a guitar but with a tambourine-like body, which is a round frame with a thin membrane stretched over it like a drumhead.
The banjo is of African origin descended from a family of instruments that are like drums with strings stretched over them. It was popularized in the United States during the minstrel era, and has evolved to be closely associated with bluegrass and other U.S. folk music. The banjo is also played in jazz ensembles.
Banjos are generally easy to play as an adult especially with the benefit of music lessons at home, even without coming from any instrument. This is in part because learning banjo does not require the player an ability to read notes. Most of what is written music for the banjo is in tablature form, an easy-to-read number system that indicates instrument fingering rather than musical pitches.
What banjo requires is a sense of timing, which a metronome can help develop for those who don't naturally feel the tempo.
Unlike the guitar, the strings on a banjo do not range from lowest to highest across the fingerboard. The lowest note begins on the fourth string, followed by third, second, first and fifth, which is called the "thumb string" (because it is almost exclusively picked by the thumb).
The banjo is held by the left hand with the right hand strumming (or in the case of the Scruggs style, finger-picking). Finger-picking, which is used in bluegrass music, typically uses only three fingers, with picks on the thumb, index and middle fingers. The ring and smallest fingers are anchored firmly on the skin of the banjo top, and should not move.
Whether you are learning off the internet or through in-home music lessons, the three-finger style is the easiest style to get started on the banjo because it is the most popular form, making it easier for the player to find others to jam with. The three-finger style is also simple, yet delivers rhythmic music in a straight forward manner. From here, the player can move on to play using the claw hammer style often used in American old-time music.
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