What Is a Banjo Pickup?

Magnetic pickups under the strings – found on many otherwise quality banjos – provide reliable and responsive performance while remaining virtually immune to feedback. Unfortunately, their sound more closely resembles that of an electric guitar than of a banjo.

Our Jones-Hatfield BP-1 piezo pickup features an extremely lightweight wooden sensor and fits multiple coordinator rod instruments perfectly. It boasts an extremely quiet humbucking coil with powerful neodymium magnet assembly, as well as a custom preamp that strengthens and preserves natural tone.


Magnetic banjo pickups transform the sound waves your banjo emits into an electrical signal that can be amplified. They consist of one or two magnets with wires wrapped around them that are placed close to your strings so when they vibrate electromagnetic pulses are created which are detected by the pickup and sent through to your guitar jack where it can be amplified further.

Amplifier kits provide an innovative and straightforward method of amplifying banjos while still preserving its authenticity. You can purchase one complete with everything needed or have one installed by a banjo repairman or manufacturer directly.

Banjo players have access to several magnetic pickup options for banjos ranging from simple magnetic coils up to EMG ACB-5 models which feature three distinct pickup elements. First the magnetic pickup senses string vibration; next it detects steel sensing element on your banjo head; finally it features acoustic chambers which enable sound waves to resonate around coil walls for an authentic tone that no other magnetic pickup has ever achieved.

Magnetic coils provide the best option for most people when selecting an amp for a Deering or Gold-tone banjo, and are easily attached via coordinator rods and can be moved between neck and bridge for desired tones. They require no soldering or drilling holes into your banjo rim for installation, and can even be adjusted so as not to touch head during unplugged playback.

Kavanjo offers humbucking magnetic pickups similar to those used on electric guitars that allow you to compete with guitarists while maintaining your banjo’s unique character in large venues. While these options may cost more, they’re reliable and simple to install – providing another viable choice.

If you opt for a magnetic pickup, be sure that your strings are made from nickel (steel). Phospher or bronze strings do not register a good signal due to not providing enough iron elemental content necessary for such pickups to function efficiently.


An amplifier banjo pickup can be an ideal way to enhance the sound of your playing and record its performances in a wide variety of situations, from open mics at bars to recording sessions. When selecting the microphone for your banjo, be sure to pick one which doesn’t interfere with its natural tone – this means trying different polar patterns and placement options until finding what best suits your instrument’s needs.

Some pickups require that you install them yourself while others come ready-to-use from the box. For newcomers to amplification, if possible invest in an easy-to-follow instruction manual for best results during installation and removal. Furthermore, when playing banjo with other instruments it would also be beneficial if your pickup was easily removable/reattachable when necessary.

There are various mic banjo pickup options, from clip-on mics and microphones mounted directly on the banjo head, to microphone pickup systems like those made by Sennheiser that fit directly onto its fret board. Each type has their own set of advantages and disadvantages; when it comes to picking out one that suits your unique situation best. Clip-on mics may be ideal for beginners due to being easy and quick to set up; however they can cause feedback problems if placed incorrectly.

If you prefer more permanent solutions, microphone banjo pickups offer another solution. A popular example is Myers Pickups Feather which mounts onto the back of the banjo head and offers lightweight operation without interfering with natural tones of banjo music. Furthermore, its use doesn’t require batteries or preamps and makes for easy usage!

Pick-Up the World (PUTW) banjo pickup is another choice that easily attaches to the coordinator rod with adhesive, providing lightweight and thin performance without interfering with sound quality of banjo. Plus, its high-quality microphone and preamp make this an excellent starter choice for amplified playing!


Piezoelectric banjo pickups differ significantly from magnetic guitar pickups in that instead of sampling sounds coming through strings and vibrations of wood and hardware, they instead pick up directly the string sound itself for a sound that more resembles that of an acoustic instrument than those produced by magnetic pickups.

Piezoelectric pickups offer another benefit in that they’re less likely to cause feedback issues, since their design utilizes piezoelectric material that generates electricity when compressed or stretched microscopically, creating electricity whenever string vibrations pass through an undersaddle pickup and generate electrical signals that get passed on to an amplifier or mixing board.

One drawback of piezoelectric pickups is their tendency to produce frequencies unevenly, creating “quacky” or clanging tones that may require correction by way of preamp or equalizer adjusting frequency response. Since piezoelectric pickups usually have lower output levels, a high gain amp should be used in order to produce your desired sound.

There are various companies that manufacture piezoelectric pickups for banjos. One popular model is the Deering Kavanjo BP-1, featuring an integrated piezoelectric pickup and instrument jack that makes installation simple; furthermore, this pickup provides natural tone that complements virtually all amplifiers.

Preamps designed specifically to work with magnetic banjo pickups are another popular option. Similar to regular preamps, but featuring a filter designed to reduce feedback and distortion caused by magnets in a magnetic pickup. These types of devices are particularly helpful in loud environments where feedback issues may arise from magnet-powered pickups; however microphones remain the superior solution for playing acoustic instruments in large venues or loud settings.

Solid State

At a time when many manufacturers produce excellent pickups, it might be worthwhile to consider solid state options as an option. There are various models on the market; 12 Bar Blues Pickups in Connecticut has one excellent solid state model; their Todd Taylor Signature banjo pickup can be mounted inside its pot just clearing its head while connecting via coordinator rods to coordinator rods as well as featuring an onboard preamp/volume control that mounts on bracket hooks for additional versatility.

The KNA BP-1 is an ideal choice for five string, tenor, or six string banjos of any variety. Its unique method of sound capture captures natural tone without risk of feedback like with microphone pickups; and easily installs in bridge without modification to instrument. Plus, its lightweight rosewood jack housing securely clamps to tension rails of head via two screws just like any nut would; plus accepts standard 1/4″ cables!

A banjo’s sound stands apart from most acoustic instruments due to the way its head is constructed; choosing the appropriate head type and crown height are critical in creating its distinct tonal qualities. A sturdy head may help sustain longer while playing fingered notes while having less low notes when using a flatpick.

The Schatten BJ-02 Player banjo pickup works on any acoustic banjo – open back, resonator or five string. It features non-damping capabilities and installation can be accomplished simply by screwing its sensor to the nut of the head using existing holes on both neck and flange of instrument. Furthermore, this system uses Schatten’s highly-regarded sensor, walnut bodied jack assembly and preamp that work seamlessly with any amplifier acoustic or solid state.