Washburn Americana B9 Banjo Review: A Solid Option for Beginners and Beyond

When you're choosing a banjo for beginner and intermediate players, there are many options and choices out there. The Washburn Americana B9 banjo is a popular choice in the banjo community, specifically for players who are looking for a higher quality instrument than the basic models but aren't looking to spend a vast amount of money.

I've played the banjo since I was a teenager, and in my years of banjo playing I've tried countless models – and I've really learned the nuances between different banjos.

Having owned a Washburn Americana B9, I have to say that I really recommend these for any intermediate banjo players. The quality is fantastic for the price, and they feel and sound significantly better than cheaper models in the sub-$200 range.

In this review, I'm going to share my experience of playing the Washburn Americana B9 banjo, explain what type of players I think it's the most suitable for, and suggest some alternatives to look into!

Washburn Americana B9 Banjo: Overview & Specs

Washburn Americana B9 Banjo

Average Rating: 4.25/5


  • String Count - 5
  • Body Style - Resonator
  • Top Head - Remo Banjo Head
  • Bridge Material - Maple with Ebony tip
  • Tuners - Closed gear Remo tuners


  • Fingerboard Material - Rosewood
  • Nut Material - ABS
  • Nut Width - 1.18"
  • Body - Mahogany
  • Neck - Mahogany
  • Scale Length - 27.5"
  • Fret Count - 22
  • Hardware Material - Chrome

Why I Like It

  • Great value for money, especially for beginners.
  • Sturdy construction using high-quality parts, offering comfort to both beginners and experienced players.
  • Creates a bright, clear sound with plenty of dynamic range and volume.

What I Think Could Be Improved

  • The tuning stability could be improved.
  • Some hardware elements could be better for stability and longevity, like the tuning pegs.

The Washburn Americana B9 Banjo is an affordable, entry-level 5-string banjo that promises excellent sound quality and playability for beginners and guitar players alike. Compared to market leaders as well as its previous versions, the B9 stands out as a cost-effective option that does not compromise on build quality.

One aspect that sets this inexpensive banjo apart is its exceptional combination of affordability and quality. The inclusion of an aluminum tone ring and an aluminum rim helps produce a bright, clear sound that many inexpensive banjos lack – and it sounds good for a range of banjo playing styles.

Additionally, the traditional tailpiece and grooved tension hoop maximize volume and string resonance, making this Washburn banjo an excellent choice for beginners and amateurs alike.

I think this makes a really nice banjo overall that pros and amateurs alike won't be disappointed with – especially for the price. Washburn has been building banjos for decades, and all of their musical instruments offer great quality and sound at very reasonable prices.

Now let me share my opinion on this banjo in more detail.

Washburn Americana B9 Banjo Features & Benefits

Washburn Americana B9 Banjo

Build Quality 4/5

The first thing I noticed when I unboxed my Washburn Americana B9 Banjo was its solid construction. It felt very sturdy and reliable in my hands and didn't have that light, flimsy feel that many inexpensive banjos have.

The mahogany resonator adds a touch of class and warmth to the overall look and sound of the banjo. I've always appreciated the durability that mahogany brings to an instrument, and the B9 doesn't disappoint. The aluminum rim is lightweight yet robust, which makes it easy to handle, especially during long practice sessions, and adds a bit more shine to the tone.

The traditional tailpiece and grooved tension hoop are well-designed and help the banjo stay in tune, which is a huge plus for me. That said, the B9 doesn't have the best tuning retention out of every banjo I've tried, which is one area for improvement.

Overall, the build quality of the Washburn B9 gives me confidence that this banjo will last for years, and will withstand the strain of a touring or busking musician's lifestyle.

Playability 4/5

As someone who's been learning the banjo, I found the Washburn Americana B9 incredibly easy to play. Right out of the box, the setup was nearly perfect, with a comfortable action that makes pressing down the strings a breeze. The neck feels smooth and allows for easy movement up and down the fretboard, which is essential for amateur players.

One of my favorite features is the chrome armrest. It not only looks sleek but also provides extra comfort, allowing me to play for extended periods without discomfort. You don't always see these on the lower-priced models, so I think it's a nice touch.

While I find banjos to generally be a bit fiddly to play (coming from a guitar background) I think the neck here was still pretty comfortable and not as narrow or fiddly as other banjos that I've tried. It still takes me a little while to adjust to the smaller neck width, but this is just the general experience of switching between guitar and banjo, and isn't a fault with this particular model.

As a guitar player who dabbles in banjo, I found the B9’s playability to be generally great. The action was good, the neck was comfortable, and the armrest and body size made it comfortable to hold.

Overall, the Washburn B9 offers a playing experience that is both enjoyable and accessible, whether you're a novice or a seasoned musician.

Sound Quality 4.5/5

Washburn Americana B9 Banjo

When it comes to sound quality, the Washburn Americana B9 Banjo exceeded my expectations.

The aluminum tone ring contributes to a bright, clear, and resonant sound that really stands out compared to many banjos in this price range. Whether I’m practicing alone or playing with a group, the B9’s sound projection is impressive. The banjo produces a rich and vibrant tone that is perfect for a variety of musical styles, from bluegrass to folk.

Of course, it doesn't have the volume to compete with electronic instruments, but it has the perfect range for an unplugged, acoustic jam session. The articulation and dynamic range were also impressive. Unlike many cheaper models, it still had a nice resonance when played quietly, when I find that a lot of banjos in this price range need to be played at full volume to sound their best. This will give you a bit more dynamic range potential in your performance, hopefully allowing for a more expressive performance.

The mahogany resonator adds depth and warmth to the sound, balancing the brightness of the aluminum tone ring. This combination results in a well-rounded tone that I absolutely love. The volume is more than adequate, ensuring that the banjo can hold its own in any setting. While it isn't as rich or loud as more expensive models, it definitely doesn't disappoint for the price tag.

In my opinion, the sound quality of the Washburn B9 is exceptional, especially considering its price point.

Value for Money 4.5/5

One of the best things about the Washburn Americana B9 Banjo is its value for money. As someone on a budget, I appreciate that it offers features typically found in higher-end models without the hefty price tag. The quality build, excellent playability, and outstanding sound make it a fantastic investment for banjo beginners and guitar player converts like me who are looking to expand their musical instrument collection.

The B9 provides a professional feel without breaking the bank, making it accessible to a wide range of players. The inclusion of features like the tone ring, resonator, and armrest at this price point is impressive. These elements contribute to a playing experience that feels far more expensive than it is.

For anyone starting out on the banjo or looking for a reliable, affordable option, the Washburn B9 offers unbeatable value. It's hard to find a better deal in this price range.

Best Alternatives to Washburn Americana B9 Banjo

While this Washburn B9 model is clearly a fantastic choice for many players, I would also suggest looking at some of the other similar models on the market. There are a bunch of other great intermediate banjos that I would recommend looking into before buying - in case one is more suitable to your tastes!

Epiphone MB-100 vs Washburn Americana B9

The Epiphone MB-100 is another beginner banjo that I've tried recently. While it comes with a much more streamlined build and feature set, it also is about 2/3 the price of this Washburn B9 model.

If you're looking for something a bit more affordable, but still want to get a decent tone quality, this one might be worth looking into. But I think that the B9 is a better investment overall. Check out the full MB-100 review to learn more.

Deering Goodtime vs Washburn Americana B9

Deering Goodtime

If you're looking for a more professional banjo, I would highly recommend looking into the Deering Goodtime. The company has a rich heritage of banjo manufacturing, and makes this particular model by hand in the USA.

This has a massively improved tone, playability, dynamic range, and build quality, but is also more than 2x the price of the B9, making it a more serious investment.

Recording King RK-R20 vs Washburn Americana B9

Recording King RK-R20

The Recording King RK-R20 offers a robust tone and reliable construction at a slight price increase over the B9. It features a largely similar design style, albeit with better hardware and materials.

I found the tuning stability of this was much better than the B9, as was the tone and overall quality. Also being a resonator model, it has great projection and a sweet sound.

Final Verdict

Washburn Americana B9 Banjo

Overall, I'm a big fan of the Washburn B9. I think it's in that pricing sweet spot, where it's not so cheap that you're making a big quality sacrifice, but it's not too expensive to price more budget-conscious players out of buying it.

It offers very reasonable value for money in terms of playability, and it sounds great with an outstanding tone in its price range. The Washburn Americana B9 Banjo solves the problem of finding an affordable yet high-quality beginner banjo. It is a great fit because of its solid build, excellent sound quality, and comfortable playability.

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