Music

The Greatest Banjo Players of All Time  

Ranker Music
12.4k votes 3.9k voters 97.1k views 96 items

List Rules Vote up the all time best banjo players in history

Who are the best musicians to have ever played the banjo? The banjo is a four or five string instrument. Early versions of the banjo were created by Africans in Colonial America, but today it is most closely associated with bluegrass, folk, country, and traditional Irish music. A mainstay of old-time American music, the banjo is a popular instrument, even today.

The greatest banjoists ever are from different eras and genres but are all hugely talented on their instrument. These best banjo players have spent years honing their skills to become the best. These musicians often helped define their respective genres, and many teach others to play the banjo as well.

The greatest banjo players of all time are from all over the world and include musicians such as Charlie Poole, Bela Fleck, Earl Scruggs, and Pete Seeger. Even comedian Steve Martin plays the banjo!

Vote up the best banjoists in history on the list below, or add a musician who you think is the best banjo player ever, if he or she isn't already on the list.
list ordered by
1
Earl Scruggs is listed (or ranked) 1 on the list The Greatest Banjo Players of All Time
Bluegrass, Gospel music, Country
2
Béla Fleck is listed (or ranked) 2 on the list The Greatest Banjo Players of All Time
Rock music, Folk music, Folk rock
3
J. D. Crowe is listed (or ranked) 3 on the list The Greatest Banjo Players of All Time
duststang1 added Progressive bluegrass, Bluegrass
4
Don Reno is listed (or ranked) 4 on the list The Greatest Banjo Players of All Time
John N Annette Egan added Bluegrass
5
Noam Pikelny is listed (or ranked) 5 on the list The Greatest Banjo Players of All Time
Progressive bluegrass, Bluegrass
6
Ralph Stanley is listed (or ranked) 6 on the list The Greatest Banjo Players of All Time
Traditional bluegrass, Old-time music, Bluegrass
7
John Hartford is listed (or ranked) 7 on the list The Greatest Banjo Players of All Time
David Sekac added Folk music, Bluegrass, Country
8
Ranker Video
dabowd added American Folk
9
Tony Trischka is listed (or ranked) 9 on the list The Greatest Banjo Players of All Time
Roots, Bluegrass
10
Alan Munde is listed (or ranked) 10 on the list The Greatest Banjo Players of All Time
Bluegrass
11
Sonny Osborne is listed (or ranked) 11 on the list The Greatest Banjo Players of All Time
Paul Kosiewicz added
12
Steve Martin is listed (or ranked) 12 on the list The Greatest Banjo Players of All Time
Bluegrass
13
Grandpa Jones is listed (or ranked) 13 on the list The Greatest Banjo Players of All Time
MarkTimothyPierce added Old-time music, Bluegrass, Gospel music
14
David
15
Alison Brown is listed (or ranked) 15 on the list The Greatest Banjo Players of All Time
Americana, Jazz, Bluegrass
16
Bobby Thompson is listed (or ranked) 16 on the list The Greatest Banjo Players of All Time
RobertHomes added Bluegrass

Backed up Linda Ronstadt on "Love is a Rose"; chosen by Earl Scruggs as tour replacement; helped develop 3-finger "melodic" or "Keith" style alternative to "Scruggs style" (https://www.nashvillescene.com/arts-culture/article/13011840/bobby-thompson-19372005)

17
Bill Keith is listed (or ranked) 17 on the list The Greatest Banjo Players of All Time
Steve Gallagher added Bluegrass, Country
18
Raymond Fairchild is listed (or ranked) 18 on the list The Greatest Banjo Players of All Time
roger-dvorak added Bluegrass
19
Bill Emerson is listed (or ranked) 19 on the list The Greatest Banjo Players of All Time
Bjoe added Bluegrass
20
Barney McKenna is listed (or ranked) 20 on the list The Greatest Banjo Players of All Time
Folk music of Ireland
21
Eddie Adcock is listed (or ranked) 21 on the list The Greatest Banjo Players of All Time
Bluegrass
22
Ron Block is listed (or ranked) 22 on the list The Greatest Banjo Players of All Time
Bluegrass, Alternative Country
23
John McEuen is listed (or ranked) 23 on the list The Greatest Banjo Players of All Time
David Sekac added Rock music, Country
24
Pete Wernick is listed (or ranked) 24 on the list The Greatest Banjo Players of All Time
Bluegrass
25
Pete Seeger is listed (or ranked) 25 on the list The Greatest Banjo Players of All Time
Folk music