I have a confession to make here! I first started teaching the banjo about 1991 when I put an ad in the local paper for Guitar and other instruments teaching.
A lady from a Music school in Blackburn asked if I taught Banjo, so I lied and said yes. Well, a pupil had bought a really nice Banjo, so I borrowed it, and worked my way through a Tutor book, one thing lead to another, the final outcome being leaving my job as a Librarian for the full time world of Music.
I found the Banjo to be a fascinating sidebar project, with so many different styles to study, and I’m still enjoying it to this day..
Most people just want to play “Duellin’ Banjos” or suchlike, but we always have a look at the Frailing and Clawhammer styles as well, which can be a revelation. I try to teach a way of playing which allows you to pretty much tackle any style, but you could do a PhD on styles and only scratch the surface.
For Jigs ’n’ Reels the instrument par excellence is the Tenor Banjo, tuned an octave below Violin. This is because Jigs were mainly played on Violin in the first instance, so they fit under the fingers better with this Irish Banjo Tuning. In my Ceilidh Band, I play Tenor Guitar tuned the same way for the same reasons .
I would definitely recommend you see me before buying a banjo, so I can show you what best to play. The five string Banjo is Far easier to play for anything other than Irish Music.
A lot of Music shops have a token Banjo on the wall, but they can be really dire instruments, not even fit to play. There aren’t any cheap Banjos: you really must spend a lot more than on a beginner’s Guitar.