A musical instrument using steel or gut strings which are picked or strummed. The defining charactaristic of a banjo is that the body of the instrument is essentially a tightened drum head, which gives the banjo its distinct tambre.

There are many different types of banjos, but the most popular, or at least well-known is the 5-string banjo, which is played most commonly in American Folk, Country, Western, and Bluegrass music. The 5-string is usually played by individually plucking the strings in a fast, rhythmic, "rolling" motion using individual finger picks.

Other common varieties are the Tenor Banjo, which has only 4 strings and is tuned in 5ths like a mandolin or a cello. Similar to the Tenor banjo is the Plectrum Banjo, which also has four strings but is tuned slightly differently.

The Tenor and Plectrum Banjo are more commonly found in early Jazz music, and were usually just strummed rather than picked, much like a rhythm guitar. Plectrum and tenor banjoes were quite common in popular music during the later half of the 19th century until around the mid-1930's. They are now considered more of a specialty or novelty instrument and are not often seen outside of nostalgic jazz bands.

There is also the Banjo Ukulele, which is a very small banjo that is tuned like a ukulele, the long-neck banjo, which is similar to the regular 5-string, but has a much longer neck (big surprise), and the 6-string banjo, which is basically the neck of a 6-string guitar and the drumhead body of a banjo.

Because of the banjo's common appearance in folk music (mostly the 5-string banjo), especially in bluegrass and music which originated in mostly rural or undeveloped parts of the united states, especially the more mountainous parts of the southeastern United States, it has become a symbol of the (arguably well-deserved) stereotypes associated with those parts of the country, such as being unhygenic, backwards, ignorant, simple, inbred, incestuous, and bigoted. The banjo has long been associated with hillbillies. The infamous 1972 motion picture "Deliverance" played a large part in galvinizing the banjo's association with the uneducated, inbred, redneck hillbilly with a scene featuring a boy (or growth-stunted young man) who appears to possibly be the product of incestuous union. The "boy" does not appear to be able to speak or communicate, in fact hardly seems capable of having facial expressions, but is an absolute savant at playing the 5-string banjo.

Because the many variants of the Banjo have been largely present in antiquated or venerated styles of music, mainly those of American origin, the banjo is also associated with being old-fashioned.
"Oh, Susanna, now don't you cry for me
For I come from Alabama with a banjo on my knee."

"Someone's in the kitchen with Dinah strummin' on the old Banjo."

"That guy's so inbred, all he can do is play the banjo."
by Christopher Olsen October 13, 2006
Top Definition
A bluegrass instrument which is given as an apology in the American south.
Brad was hit in the face by Ronnie. Ronnie got him a banjo to say i'm sorry.
by Banjo Brad January 03, 2011
an incredibly pimped out instrument that picks up mad bitches. requires skill to be played and cannot be improved by computers in order to make it sound listenable (like every other type of music).
i was playing my banjo last night and this girl wanted to throw me some brain. so i let her.
by daftdon November 25, 2003
A instrument played by young girls around campfires and sounds good with songs like "somewhere over the rainbow".
sropes: ima go and play ma ukulele and jam out.
jdubs: ummm...i think thats a banjo...
by JDUBS9757 October 08, 2011
A blowjob under the table at a Nando's restaurant
Dude, i took sarah for some chicken last night, and got an awesome banjo!
by Lord G-Dawg March 04, 2012
The Small Bit Of Skin Behind The Bellend Of The Penis. Usually Snaps After Sex Or After Finishing Puberty.
Refered To As A Banjo As It Looks Like A Banjo String.
Ohh Dude.. I Shagged Sarah Last Night And Snapped My Banjo!
by Josh Nadin March 08, 2008
An overweight individual - often female - who erroneously refers to themselves as "curvy." Banjos are typically delusional about the state of their appearance and desirability.
"She told me she had an hourglass figure, but she was a banjo."
by RamsesThePigeon December 06, 2014
The only instrument that you cannot play a sad song on.
Woohooo, sheeit son, ya damn near had meh hwhoopin' and hollain' with that there banjo playin'!
by the_bayest December 16, 2008

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