Banjo players come in all shapes and sizes. Some are tall, some are short, and some are in between. Some have blond hair, some have brown hair, and some have red hair. But one thing all banjo players have in common is their love of the instrument.
In this blog post, we will discuss 21 of the best banjo players of all time. These players come from all over the world, and each of them has made a significant contribution to the world of banjo playing.
We hope you enjoy reading about these amazing musicians!
- List of the Best Banjo Players of All Time
- 1. Earl Scruggs
- 2. Béla Fleck
- 3. Noam Pikelny
- 4. Tony Trischka
- 5. Don Reno
- 6. Alison Brown
- 7. Bill Keith
- 8. Ralph Stanley
- 9. Steve Martin
- 10. Jens Krüger
- 11. J. D. Crowe
- 12. Abigail Washburn
- 13. Pete Seeger
- 14. Alan Munde
- 15. Barney McKenna
- 16. John Hartford
- 17. Sonny Osborne
- 18. Roni Stoneman
- 19. Roy Clark
- 20. Allen Shelton
- 21. Eric Weissberg
- 22. Jerry Garcia
- 23. Buck Trent
- 24. Pete Wernick
- 25. Danny Barnes
- 26. Bernie Leadon
- 27. Emily Robison
- 28. Doug Dillard
- 29. Grandpa Jones
- 30. Tony Furtado
- 31. Ben Eldridge
- 32. Herb Pedersen
- 33. Mike Seeger
- 34. John McEuen
- 35. Jim Mills
- Conclusion: Best Banjo Players of All Time
- Frequently Ask Questions
List of the Best Banjo Players of All Time
1. Earl Scruggs
Earl Scruggs is one of the most famous banjo players of all time. He was born in 1924 in North Carolina, and he began playing the banjo at a young age. He quickly became known for his unique style of playing, which combines bluegrass and country music.
Scruggs was a member of the bluegrass group The Foggy Mountain Boys, and he also played with country music singer Lester Flatt. He has released several solo albums, and he has won multiple Grammy Awards.
2. Béla Fleck
Béla Fleck is a world-renowned banjo player who was born in 1958 in New York City. He started playing the banjo at the age of four, and he quickly developed a love for the instrument.
Fleck is best known for his unique style of playing, which incorporates elements of jazz, bluegrass, and classical music. He has released more than 30 albums, and he has won 15 Grammy Awards. He is also a member of the jazz group Béla Fleck and the Flecktones.
3. Noam Pikelny
Noam Pikelny is a Grammy-winning banjo player who was born in 1978 in Illinois. He began playing the banjo at the age of eight, and he quickly developed a love for the instrument.
Pikelny is best known for his virtuosic style of playing. He is a member of the bluegrass band Punch Brothers, and he has also released several solo albums.
He has won multiple Grammy Awards, and he is considered one of the best banjo players in the world.
4. Tony Trischka
Tony Trischka is a banjoist, composer, and teacher from Syracuse, New York. He is best known for his innovative and influential style of three-finger banjo picking. Trischka has been a pioneer in the banjo world, helping to create new sounds and techniques that have influenced generations of banjo players.
Tony Trischka is a banjoist, composer, and teacher from Syracuse, New York. He is best known for his innovative and influential style of three-finger banjo picking. Trischka has been a pioneer in the banjo world, helping to create new sounds and techniques that have influenced generations of players.
5. Don Reno
Don Ren was one of the most influential bluegrass banjo players of all time. He is best known for his work with Red Smiley, which helped popularize the three-finger style of banjo playing.
Reno also had a successful solo career and released several albums. He was inducted into the International Bluegrass Music Hall of Fame in 1992.
6. Alison Brown
Alison Brown is best known in the jam grass world as the female banjo player and founder of the band The Alison Brown Quartet. She has won a Grammy award and numerous other accolades for her genre-bending banjo playing.
Brown is also a highly sought-after producer and has worked with some of the best in the business including Steve Martin, Dolly Parton, and Vince Gill.
7. Bill Keith
Bill Keith was born in Boston, Massachusetts on May 11, 1939. He started playing the banjo at age 14 and was soon considered one of the best young banjo players in the area.
He went on to study at the Berklee College of Music and then became a member of the Greenbriar Boys, one of the most popular bluegrass bands of the era. Keith is best known for his innovative playing style, which incorporated elements of jazz and classical music.
He has been a major influence on many other banjo players, including Béla Fleck and Tony Trischka.
8. Ralph Stanley
Ralph Stanley is one of the best bluegrass banjo players of all time. He started playing music when he was just a child and quickly learned how to play the banjo. He formed a band with his brother called The Stanley Brothers, and they became famous for their bluegrass music. Ralph Stanley
9. Steve Martin
Steve Martin is best known as a comedian and actor, but he is also an accomplished musician. He took up the banjo at the age of 17 and has been playing ever since. He is self-taught and plays in the clawhammer style. Martin has recorded several banjo albums and even written a how-to book on the instrument.
In 2010, he was awarded the Steve Martin Prize for Excellence in Banjo and Bluegrass by the Foundation for the Preservation of the American Banjo.
10. Jens Krüger
Jens Krüger is a German banjo player who is best known for his work with the band Bellowhead. He has also worked as a session musician and producer for a variety of artists.
11. J. D. Crowe
J. D. Crowe is a bluegrass musician best known for his work with the bands The Earl Scruggs Revue and J. D. Crowe and the New South. He is considered one of the best banjo players of all time. J. D. is another one of the famous banjo players in the music industry.
12. Abigail Washburn
Abigail Washburn is one of the best female banjo players, singer, and songwriter who has achieved great success in all three of those fields. She was born in Illinois in 1977 and first came to prominence as a member of the folk band Uncle Earl, with whom she won a Grammy Award in 2010.
She has also recorded three solo albums, the most recent of which, the City of Refuge, won the 2016 Grammy Award for Best Folk Album.
13. Pete Seeger
Pete Seeger was an American singer-songwriter and social activist. A fixture on nationwide radio in the 1940s, he also had a string of hit records during the early 1950s as a member of the Weavers, most notably their recording of Lead Belly’s “Goodnight, Irene”, which topped the charts for 13 weeks in 1950.
A multi-instrumentalist, Seeger played the five-string banjo, guitar, and autoharp. He is best known for his activism, his work on behalf of the civil rights movement, and his support of American folk music.
14. Alan Munde
Alan Munde is a legendary banjo player who has inspired many other musicians over the years. He is known for his innovative playing style and his ability to cross over between bluegrass and country music.
15. Barney McKenna
Barney McKenna was an Irish musician best known as a founding member of The Dubliners. He played the tenor banjo, melodeon, mandolin, fiddle, and guitar.
16. John Hartford
John Hartford was a banjo virtuoso, an excellent fiddle player, and a singer-songwriter of great note. He wrote the Grammy-winning song “Gentle on My Mind” and his 1967 hit “A Boy Named Sue.” Hartford’s music was often described as postmodern Appalachian.
17. Sonny Osborne
Sonny Osborn is one of the most iconic banjo players in country music history. He is best known for his work with Bill Monroe and Lester Flatt and has been a member of the Grand Ole Opry since 1964.
18. Roni Stoneman
Roni Stoneman is best known as a member of the Hee Haw TV show cast. She was inducted into the Grand Ole Opry in 1969 and the Musicians Hall of Fame in 2009. Roni is one of our favorite banjo players of all time.
19. Roy Clark
Roy Clarke is best known as a country music singer and guitar player, but he also played the banjo. He was born in 1933 and passed away in 2018. He was inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame in 2009.
20. Allen Shelton
Allen Shelton is a banjo player best known for his bluegrass and country music. He has been playing the banjo since he was a young child, and has released over 25 albums in his career.
21. Eric Weissberg
Eric Weissberg is an American musician who is best known for his work on the banjo. He has worked with a number of different artists over the years and has released a number of solo albums.
22. Jerry Garcia
Jerry Garci had a unique style that blended bluegrass, country, folk, and rock. He was best known for his work with the Grateful Dead.
He was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1995.
23. Buck Trent
Buck Trent is a banjo player from Tennessee who has been playing since the 1950s. He is best known for his work on The Porter Wagoner Show, where he was the featured musician for 17 years. He has also released dozens of albums and continues to tour today. Buck is one of the great banjo players of all time.
24. Pete Wernick
Pete Wernickek is best known as the banjo player, singer and songwriter for the bluegrass band Hot Rize. He has been a member of Hot Rize since it was formed in 1978 and is the only original member still with the band.
He has also played with many other artists, including Emmylou Harris, John Denver, Dolly Parton, and the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band. In addition to his work as a musician, he is also a noted teacher, having taught at workshops and camps throughout the United States.
25. Danny Barnes
Danny Barnes’s career has spanned over three decades and his approach to the banjo is completely unique. His style is a mix of bluegrass, folk, and country, with a healthy dose of rock & roll thrown in for good measure. Barnes has released twelve solo albums, two live albums, and one album with his band, the Bad Livers.
26. Bernie Leadon
Bernie Leadon is best known as a founding member of the Eagles, but he was also an accomplished banjo player. He was born in Minneapolis and raised in California, and he learned to play banjo from his father. Leadon was a member of the Byrds and Dillard & Clark before joining the Eagles.
He appeared on the Eagles’ first four albums, including “Desperado” and “On the Border.” Leadon left the Eagles in 1975 and went on to a solo career. He has since toured and recorded with various groups, including the Flying Burrito Brothers and New Riders of the Purple Sage.
27. Emily Robison
Emily Robison is one half of the Grammy Award-winning duo The Dixie Chicks, who picked up the banjo at an early age. After learning to play from her father, she quickly developed a love for the instrument and began playing with local bluegrass bands. She has since become one of the most respected banjo players in the music industry.
28. Doug Dillard
Doug Dillard was born in Arkansas in 1937. He started playing the banjo when he was just six years old, and by the time he was a teenager, he was already a sought-after musician. He played with the Dillards, one of the most famous bluegrass bands of all time, and he also recorded solo albums and played with other famous musicians.
29. Grandpa Jones
Grandpa Jone was a legendary banjo player and one of the best-known bluegrass musicians. He was known for his high, lonesome singing voice and his intricate banjo playing. He is one of the best banjo players in the world.
30. Tony Furtado
Tony Furtadohoas has been playing the banjo since he was a young child, and has developed into one of the most iconic players in the world. He is known for his incredible skill in playing a variety of styles, from bluegrass to jazz.
31. Ben Eldridge
Ben Eldridge is best known as a member of the bluegrass band The Seldom Scene. He was born in 1945 in Arlington, Virginia. Eldridge is an excellent banjo player and has won many awards for his skills.
32. Herb Pedersen
Herb Pedersen is best known for his work as a member of the country-rock band The Byrds from 1969 to 1972. He also played on Gram Parsons’ solo album Grievous Angel.
33. Mike Seeger
Mike Seeger was born in 1933 and is an American folk musician specializing in the banjo. He was one of the most influential figures in the American folk music revival of the 1950s and 1960s. He is also a half-brother of the late folk singer Pete Seeger.
34. John McEuen
John McQueen is best known for his work with the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band in the 1970s when the group had a string of hits including “Fishin’ in the Dark” and “Mr. Bojangles”.
35. Jim Mills
Jim Mills is a bluegrass banjo player and singer who has been active in the music industry since the 1970s. He is best known for his work with the band Hot Rize, with whom he recorded eight albums.
Conclusion: Best Banjo Players of All Time
These are just a few of the best banjo players in the world. There are many talented musicians out there, and this is just a small sampling of the greats. If you’re a fan of the banjo, be sure to check out these players and their music. You won’t be disappointed!
Do you have a favorite banjo player? Let us know in the comments below!
Frequently Ask Questions
Q: Who is the fastest banjo player?
A: There is no definitive answer to this question, as it depends on personal preferences and styles. However, some of the fastest banjo players in the world include Tony Furtado, Mike Seeger, and Ben Eldridge.
Q: Who is a famous person that plays the banjo?
A: Some famous people that play the banjo include Steve Martin, Earl Scruggs, and Alison Krauss.
Q: What style of banjo does Tony Furtado play?
A: Tony Furtado is known for his ability to play a variety of styles, from bluegrass to jazz.
That’s all for the list of the great banjo players. You can also check out 50+ Best Banjo Songs of All Time (Ever Excited) and How Many Strings Does a Banjo Have (A Weird Question).