Skip to content

27 "Clickable" Banjo Chords for Beginners

Below are 27 essential banjo chords for beginners. If you already know a few of these chords, plug them into this Search Engine. You'll find tons of easy songs. But if you don't know any banjo chords yet - start with the sequence below. Every diagram is clickable (with songs).

For example:

  • Click the 3rd diagram (in red) to see 3-chord songs with G, D, C.
  • Click the 6th diagram (in blue) for tunes that use the first 6 chords.


Click Any Banjo Chord Diagram Below

The songs you'll see are mostly from guitar/ukulele sites. And there are duplicate tunes between instruments.

1-Chord Songs with G Major

Click any song below to play along with the video.

  • Everyday People - Sly & the Family Stone - 1969 - (Slightly out of tune.)
  • U.S. 41 - Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers - 2010

To see chord diagrams for guitar, ukulele, mandolin, or banjo, click here.

1

2-Chord Songs with D & G

Click any title to see the chords and notation.

Click any artist for a video.

There are also lots of folk tunes & nursery rhymes with these 2 chords.

To see chord diagrams for guitar, ukulele, mandolin, or banjo, click here.

2

Why Start with These 27 Beginner Banjo Chords?

The Chord Genome Project is a collection of 750K+ songs from some of the largest music sites only (mostly guitar and ukulele). Learning all these songs requires mastering several thousand banjo chords - including obscure ones like Am6add9 or C#sus2.

But…

To play roughly half this music (i.e. 375,000+ tunes), you only need the 27 banjo chords above. And learning these beginner chords in the exact order shown maximizes the number of songs you can play at every stage.

For example, G + D + C gives you the most music of any 3-chord combination. And adding Em gives you an unbeatable collection of 4-chord songs to choose from.

Need Help Playing These Banjo Chords?

I play the guitar and ukulele - but not the banjo (yet). However, I remember the frustration I used to feel when trying to learn basic concepts (like beginner chords). If you're also having trouble, here are some resources that might help.

It also helps to understand what “enharmonics” are and how they work. Just as “tonight,” “tonite,” “2night,” and “2nite” are different ways of writing the same word – A# and Bb are different ways of writing the same banjo chord sound and fingering. For consistency, the diagrams above are listed as natural or sharp (with no flat chords). To learn more, check out guide to enharmonics.

Finally, there are many different ways to play the same banjo chord. And the diagrams above are merely suggestions. If you prefer using different chord fingerings, knock yourself out. This comprehensive resource is a great place to start.

Do You Have to Start with the G Major Chord?

G major is the only banjo chord that doesn't use any fingers. And with it, you can play a surprising number of 1-chord songs. But you don't have to start with G major. For a list of other potential "starting" places, be sure to check out the dictionaries of:

If you'd like to see banjo diagrams that aren't in the chart above - check out the free resources below:

No matter which chord(s) you start with, you can create your own path. Use this site's free Search by Chord tool to quickly find easy songs using any combination of chords you want. And then use the Next Best Chord tool to see what new chord to add to your practice.

Thanks for Reading

If you found this resource helpful, spread the love and share it with other aspiring banjo players.

Thanks for reading. And happy strumming.

What Songs Can I Play
with the Chords I Know?

To find out, use the Search tool below.

Search Songs by Chord

Add your chords to the search bar below.

Type chords here or import from My Library

Instrument
Filters

You’ll Become Addicted to Playing Again

(GUARANTEED)

Learn how to overcome the biggest hurdle(s) holding you back.

Boredom

Tired of playing the same songs?

Take the chords to that tune and run a search. You’ll see tons of music you could be playing instead.

For example, here's a Sample List of Classic Rock songs with G, C, D, Em.

Plug in your own chords, genres, and decades, and you'll NEVER be bored again.

It's impossible.

Better still, you'll pick up your instrument more often - and hold onto it a little longer every time.

And that's the secret to improving - i.e. time spent with your craft.

Frustration

My progress is slow and painful.

When you're frustrated, it means you're trying to play music you're not ready for yet.

Here's a better approach:

  • Run a search of all the chords you're comfortable with. You'll see a massive list of songs that use those exact chords.
  • This list represents your comfort zone. But it's only a starting place. You'll eventually grow tired of those songs and be ready for slightly harder music.
  • When you're ready to "improve," try adding a Wildcard to the chords you already know. You'll see a huge collection of songs that are just outside your comfort zone. Every tune is literally one chord away.

If you can establish a baseline and add just one more chord (and then another) - you'll NEVER be frustrated again.

Motivation

Playing just isn't fun any more.

In the beginning you wanted to play. Now you feel like you should play.

Music has become a chore. And it no longer brings you joy.

The secret lies in finding that Goldilocks Zone of music that rewards and challenges you.

When you have instant access to hundreds (if not thousands) of songs that all use chords you know, you won't be able to put your instrument down.

And when you add a Wildcard, you'll see thousands of songs that are well within your reach.

Follow this simple formula, and you'll become addicted to playing again - guaranteed.

Knowledge

I don't know enough chords yet.

You need at least 3 chords to run a search. And with those chords, you can do a LOT of damage.

For example, here are sample lists of 3-chord songs with G,C,D and A,D,E and C,F,G and DGA.

If you don't know any chords yet, start here. You'll see easy tunes with 1, 2, and 3 chords (for your instrument). And you'll be playing music in no time.

Once you know 3 (or more chords), come back here and run a search.

Confusion

I don't know what to do next.

That's easy to fix.

Add whatever chords you know to the search tool above. You'll see a huge list of songs with those exact chords.

Start there and enjoy yourself.

Then, ask for the Next Best Chord and run a new search.

You'll see even more amazing songs - all of which are 1 chord outside your comfort zone.

Rinse and repeat.

To see what that looks like, here are INTERACTIVE examples for Guitar, Ukulele, Mandolin, and Banjo.

Injury

It really hurts when I play.

Callouses on the fingertips are normal. And your arm will get tired from strumming all day. But if you start to feel muscle or nerve pain - STOP.

Never play through pain.

In fact, using my site will only make things worse (the whole point of the Chord Genome Project is to get you addicted to your instrument).

It sounds like reverse psychology, but it isn't. I absolutely want your money and would love for you to stay onboard for a long time. But that won't happen if you're sitting on the sidelines (temporarily or permanently) nursing an injury.

Rest. Recover. Then come back.
  • Add a Wildcard Chord, and you’ll see songs slightly ABOVE your skill level.
  • This is the Goldilocks Zone - i.e. music that is both challenging and rewarding.
  • Stay in this Zone, and you’ll constantly improve (and have fun in the process).

"Finding songs that have only the chords I know is HUGE for a beginner."
- Jason S

"Its a great idea. In 25 years of playing in bands (I'm a drummer) I've never seen this concept before."
- Dan P

"Easy access to songs you can play at your level....whatever that level is."
- Nico

How to Find Easy Songs Quickly

  • Start typing any chord until you see it in the dropdown.
  • Clicking that chord will add it below the search bar.
  • You need at least 3 chords to run a song search.