4 Best Banjo Pickups for Stage Performances & Studio Recording

As a banjo player, you’ll already be well aware of the beautiful sounds that this iconic instrument can create.
However, while this sound can be easily enjoyed while you’re playing by yourself or with a small group of people, it’s not so easy for a live audience to enjoy while on stage, or if you’re trying to record in a studio environment.

Like all electronic stringed instruments, you’re going to need to invest in a pickup. These are small devices which can be attached or installed onto your banjo that ‘picks up’ the string vibrations you’re making and then converts them into a digital sound. This can then be amplified through speakers or recorded onto a computer.

However, to ensure that you have the best experience, you’ll want to make sure that you’ve got the right tools for the job. This means getting out there and finding the right pickup for you.

There are also several things you’ll want to consider. This, of course, includes the price you’re willing to spend, how easy it is to attach the pickup, install it onto your device, the amount of control you get over the sound you’re producing and, most importantly, the quality of the sound.

To give you a helping hand when it comes to finding the best pickup, we’ve searched through the very best pickups on today’s market and narrowed them down to our top four. This means you can explore the very best of the best banjo pickups available today that will provide you with the best electric banjo experience.
The Feather Banjo Pickup with Flexible Micro-Goose Neck

The Feather Banjo Pickup with Flexible Micro-Goose Neck

To start off this list, we’ve chosen what is easily one of the highest rated banjo pickups in the industry. This pickup works as a high-definition microphone that simply clips on and off to your banjo whenever you need it, giving you the picked up sounds you need to perform, amplify or record.

What we love is that this pickup is called ‘The Feather’. That’s due to the fact that it’s completely lightweight and won’t weigh you down like some other banjo pickups, especially other microphone versions, will. This also means you’ll be able to connect to any other of your similar stringed instruments, such as ukuleles, so you can amplify to a digital signal.

Easily the best feature of this microphone pickup is the micro-goose neck. This is a completely flexible neck which is tipped with the microphone. This means you’ll be able to effortlessly position the location of the microphone. This is perfect for finding the best source of the sound, so you can enjoy the best quality digital audio.

While this microphone is battery powered, which means that it can run flat with excessive use, the battery source is included with your purchase, so you can get going as soon as you receive your pickup.

Also with your purchase, you’ll find absolutely everything you need, including the mounting hardware and instructions on how to use it. The device itself is even compatible with most wireless recording and preamp hardware, so you can perform on stage or in your studio without having to worry about trailing cables.

Of course, the sound quality you’ll receive from this premium-quality device is rich, clear and undistorted, providing you with an oustanding level ofcomplete clarity, with no risk of unwanted interference or feedback.

PROS
  • Can be used with all acoustic instruments, including your banjo
  • Everything you need to install, power and use your pickup
  • Outstanding pickup sound produced which is ideal for stage and studio performances
  • Flexible microphone neck for optimal positioning
CONS
  • Premium-quality price tag
  • Battery-powered (included with purchase)

Schatten BJ-02 Player Series Banjo Pickup with Jack

Schatten BJ-02 Player Series Banjo Pickup with Jack

If you’re looking for another premium-quality banjo pickup, but for half the price of a premium quality pickup, the Schatten BJ-02 is the ideal choice for musicians of any skill level. This rail-mounted pickup is incredibly easy to install and simply clips onto any location of your banjo.

This doesn’t even matter what banjo you may own, whether that’s a 5-string, 6-string or even a Tenor banjo, this is a pickup that guarantees to be compatible. That means there’s no drilling or modifications that need to be made. In fact, the installation will not take longer than 10 minutes!

Thanks to this easy application, you’ll be able to position your pickup where is best for you for the best sound feedback.

However, you’ll also receive instructions with your purchase, so you can see exactly where Schatten recommends that you place your pickup for the best results. That’s in addition to the two-year warranty that comes with every purchase.

Despite this affordable price tag, this pickup stands out from the crowd due to the superior sound quality that it produces. The microphone used is completely non-damping, which results in absolutely no unwanted interference or distortion, so you can enjoy rich and clean banjo sounds and chords.

As the title of this pickup suggests, it comes with a jack. This means you’ll be able to plug your banjo into any speaker system or preamp hardware, so you can record or amplify your sounds effortlessly, regardless of the audio hardware system the venue or studio is using.

However, this does mean that you’ll have to learn to avoid the restrictions that come with using a wired system.

PROS
  • Two-year warranty with each purchase
  • Incredibly easy to install onto your banjo in any position you like
  • Non-damping build for no interference or unwanted distortion
  • Superior sound quality for a mid-range device
CONS
  • Wired hardware which may be restrictive to some musicians
  • May not work well when using metal string/metal pick combination

Sunyin Transducer Acoustic Instrument Pickup

Sunyin Transducer Acoustic Instrument Pickup

While a premium quality pickup is guaranteed to give you the best results when it comes to amplifying your banjo’s sounds, these pickups aren’t always ideal for those who are buying on a budget. This is where the Sunyin Acoustic Instrument Pickup comes into play.

This incredibly affordable pickup is designed to be used on any acoustic instrument, including guitars, ukuleles, violins and, of course, banjos. This pickup is insanely easy to install since you simply stick it onto your instrument in any position when you can then find what works best for you; it’s that simple.

While this pickup does use a wired connection, a 10-ft standard guitar cable is all you need to ensure you’ll be able to seamlessly connect to your speakers or amplifier hardware in the studio or while you’re up on stage.

There are also several features that stand out on this device, including the padded clip guard. Since you may be wanting to move your pickup around until you find the best position, this padded guard means that you’ll be protected against unwanted damage to your instrument. There’s even a custom volume control built into the device!

The other feature includes the fantastic sound quality that you’ll get from this device, despite the affordable price tag. This all comes together to provide you with a great quality pickup that surely won’t leave you disappointed.

PROS
  • Lightweight microphone that’s painless to install
  • Integrated volume control setting on the pickup device
  • Incredibly affordable price tag
  • Can be used on any acoustic instruments
CONS
  • Wired connection to speakers or amplifier
  • Sound quality not as great as premium quality pickups

Fishman Classic Series Banjo Pickup

Fishman Classic Series Banjo Pickup

If you’re in need a specially designed banjo pickup that provides a superior quality sound from your banjo, regardless of what system you’re plugged into and what volume you’re playing at, the Fishman Classic Series Pickup is the device you’ve been looking for.

What really sets this pickup apart is the fact that it doesn’t use a microphone like the other models on this list, but rather your classic pickup design featuring neodymium magnets and a humbucking coil for the best string response and pickup.

This is used to detect the vibrations of your banjo and ultimately converting them into a digital soundwave in the best quality possible. The magnet pickup is designed using a special preamp for the purpose of a banjo. This means you’ll be able to retain and maintain the natural sound that your banjo has which is perfect for captivating your listeners.

While this model has been specially designed to fit dual-coordinator rod instruments, easy modifications can be made so it can fit a single-rod, ensuring this pickup has universal compatibility. While you’ll be able to install this device yourself, the company suggest that you use a professional installation service for the best results.

PROS
  • Superior 5,000+ battery life
  • Outstanding sound quality thanks to high-quality neodymium magnet build
  • Retains natural and fantastic clarity of your banjo
  • Company has been leading the industry for over 30 years
CONS
  • Extra cost when using a professional installation service
  • Modifications needed for single-rod instruments

Summary

As you can see, when it comes to finding a pickup device for your banjo, there are so many options out there for you to choose from.

Whether you’re looking for an affordable device to get you started, or a premium quality device that will stay with you for many years to come, the four pickups we’ve listed above are sure to give you everything you need and tick all the boxes.

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