Music

The Greatest Banjo Players of All Time  

Ranker Music
11.9k votes 3.7k voters 93.9k views 94 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.
Ranker may collect a commission from links on this page.
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
Noam Pikelny is listed (or ranked) 4 on the list The Greatest Banjo Players of All Time
Progressive bluegrass, Bluegrass
5
Don Reno is listed (or ranked) 5 on the list The Greatest Banjo Players of All Time
John N Annette Egan added 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
Ranker Video
dabowd added American Folk
8
Tony Trischka is listed (or ranked) 8 on the list The Greatest Banjo Players of All Time
Roots, Bluegrass
9
Alan Munde is listed (or ranked) 9 on the list The Greatest Banjo Players of All Time
Bluegrass
10
Steve Martin is listed (or ranked) 10 on the list The Greatest Banjo Players of All Time
Bluegrass
11
John Hartford is listed (or ranked) 11 on the list The Greatest Banjo Players of All Time
David Sekac added Folk music, Bluegrass, Country
12
David
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
Alison Brown is listed (or ranked) 14 on the list The Greatest Banjo Players of All Time
Americana, Jazz, Bluegrass
15
Pete Seeger is listed (or ranked) 15 on the list The Greatest Banjo Players of All Time
Folk music
16
Sonny Osborne is listed (or ranked) 16 on the list The Greatest Banjo Players of All Time
Paul Kosiewicz added
17
Ron Block is listed (or ranked) 17 on the list The Greatest Banjo Players of All Time
Bluegrass, Alternative Country
18
Barney McKenna is listed (or ranked) 18 on the list The Greatest Banjo Players of All Time
Folk music of Ireland
19
Bill Emerson is listed (or ranked) 19 on the list The Greatest Banjo Players of All Time
Bjoe added Bluegrass
20
Eddie Adcock is listed (or ranked) 20 on the list The Greatest Banjo Players of All Time
Bluegrass
21
Raymond Fairchild is listed (or ranked) 21 on the list The Greatest Banjo Players of All Time
roger-dvorak added Bluegrass
22
Pete Wernick is listed (or ranked) 22 on the list The Greatest Banjo Players of All Time
Bluegrass
23
Bobby Thompson is listed (or ranked) 23 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)

24
Abigail Washburn is listed (or ranked) 24 on the list The Greatest Banjo Players of All Time
Americana, Old-time music
25
Bill Keith is listed (or ranked) 25 on the list The Greatest Banjo Players of All Time
Steve Gallagher added Bluegrass, Country