The banjo is usually considered to be a uniquely American instrument as they first appeared in this country from several vague African (slave) roots.The earlier instruments did not have the distinctive fifth string (with its tuner on the side of the neck), and the musical style was elaborately strummed chording only. The fifth string arrived with a new picking style called "Claw-Hammer" which accented playing melody as well as chording. Both musical styles remain popular to this day. The large banjo bands favor the four string model while folk and country/western enthusiasts prefer the five string model
The most obvious characteristic of the banjo family is the drum-head face which adds volume to the players efforts. In all banjos the neck passes all the way through the body (as a brace-rod hidden behind the face) to the tail piece. This avoids allowing the string tension to distort the drumhead.
In the early part of the last century the banjo attained such popularity that it underwent a lot of experimentation. The six variants detailed below represent the most successful ones.
Four string Banjo
Five String Banjo