Harley Benton BJ-55Pro 5 String Banjo


5-String Banjo

  • Bluegrass Series
  • Body: Mahogany
  • Neck: Nato
  • Dark blackwood fingerboard (Pinus Radiata)
  • Heart fingerboard inlays
  • 22 Frets
  • Scale: 670 mm
  • Nut width: 32 mm
  • Bindings
  • Headstock inlay
  • Remo haed
  • Brass tone bracket with 24 lugs
  • Deluxe machine heads
  • Nut: Graphite
  • Bridge: Maple/blackwood (Pinus Radiata)
  • Colour: Dark Cherry Sunburst
  • Suitable replacement head: Article no.: 156789 (not included)
Available since December 2014
Item number 345288
Sales Unit 1 piece(s)
Number Of Strings 5
Body Mahogany
Open Back No
Neck Nato
Frets 22
incl. Case No
Incl. Gigbag No
Pickup No
B-Stock from $170 available
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High-level features, entry-level price

Bluegrass and Folk music are very much "en vogue", and the banjo is one of the key instruments in these genres - though as anyone who has already set their sights on a banjo will know, these instruments have a tendency to be on the expensive side. However, rules are made to be broken, and accordingly, Harley Benton's BJ-55Pro five-string banjo gives musicians an instrument that is both extremely affordable and provides a combination of features that are often difficult to find even in much higher price brackets - including a tone ring and resonator - combined with extremely classy looks. Altogether, the BJ-55Pro has everything banjo players need for a truly authentic playing experience.

Convincing arguments

The Harley Benton BJ-55Pro is a "Bluegrass" banjo and as such has four strings of normal length together with a fifth, shorter string. The body is made from mahogany, and the tensioned head conceals a metal tone ring which, as on all other instruments with similar features, is responsible for the banjo's reassuring weight. The 11" head (made by renowned manufacturer Remo) is tuned using 24 tension hooks - a higher number than found on most other banjos - that guarantee a uniform level of tension across the whole surface. The neck is made from nato and features a fingerboard made from a specially treated pine known as blackwood. At 67cm, the scale length is slightly longer than that of a guitar, and precise tuning is ensured by four banjo-style machine heads on the headstock and a special machine head for the shorter string.

Broad shoulders required!

The Harley Benton BJ-55Pro's pleasingly affordable price is an indication of its target audience: This is primarily a banjo for beginners and especially for those who love Bluegrass, a genre to which the five-string banjo is virtually exclusive. That is not to say that it cannot be used for other styles, however, as countless banjo players prove on a daily basis. The most noticeable thing aside from its affordability is the quality of the workmanship, which is susprisingly high for this price point. Both of these aspects together make it possible for musicians on a budget to get their hands on an authentic Bluegrass instrument, and guitarists who dream of taking up the banjo as a second instrument should also take a look at the BJ-55Pro. All players considering this instrument should be advised, however: A banjo of good quality can tip the scales at close to five kilogrammes, so a wide strap and a pair of strong shoulders are essential.

About Harley Benton

Since 1998, the Harley Benton brand has been catering for the needs of numerous guitarists and bassists. In addition to an extensive range of stringed instruments, Thomann's house brand also offers a wide choice of amplifiers, speakers, effect pedals, and other accessories. In total, the range includes over 1,500 products. Built by established names in the industry, all Harley Benton products combine quality and reliability at attractive and affordable prices. The continuous expansion of the range ensures that Harley Benton always provides new, exciting, and innovative products that keep players perfectly in tune with the musical world, day after day.

A specialist with universal appeal

Being a five-string banjo, the Harley Benton BJ-55Pro is designed specially for American music styles like Roots and Bluegrass, as characterised by the standard "open G" banjo tuning that together with the shorter, high string allows those famous "banjo rolls" to be played. The BJ-55Pro's tone ring and resonator also mean that it can hold its own in a band context or as part of an ensemble thanks to its ability to cut through when played alongside other instruments and when there is background noise, which also makes it a great alternative instrument for busking. It is advisable to get on the neighbours' good side before playing this banjo at home, however! Removing the resonator produces a smoother and slightly quieter sound that is perfect for "Oldtime" and Roots music.

154 Customer ratings

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111 Reviews

Helge the Norwegian 25.12.2020
The first thing I understood about this banjo from the pictures that it is a very good looking one.
When the box arrived quick and problem free for Germany, I react upon the very ligth weigth. I have owned 2 banjos before and they was really heavy. This was like....almost no weight in comparison. I would later find out why.
This banjo have no tonering. I was not put off by that, actually I like the sound of a let say Gibson tb 11 that has also no tonering. I set up the banjo, the tailpiece was tighten down so brutal I had to use a plumbers wrench to unscrew it. Not so good, this is suppose to be tightened by fingers only. The skin was tighten Ok. Someone had use a toll I think to measure equal tightening around the rim, because the tone was as it should be, the same all the way around. many players will say you shall be able to push down the middle of the skin about half an inch with no problem. This is much tighter than that but it's Ok, I leave it as is.
The sound:
I have been a professional musician some years ago and I know exactly what I want from a instrument. A banjo without tonering will not have a large portion of the sound placed in the very ultra highest frequencies, like we all have heard from many bluegrass recordings. many prefer that, the high pitches all the time can be a bit much for many. I was hoping for a more plucky "quacky" quality over the tones, This banjo has that. It is also very loud.
Then the biggest surprise. The netpage say the banjo body ( resonator) are mahogany. It is not ! It is plastic ! Or composite material to make it sound nicer. Therefor the light weight. This is against the consumer law in my country. description must tell facts on the product.
At least they made a fantastic job in making it look like mahogany. It fooled me. So do I now have a toy ?
No, many instruments like Ovation guitars f.eks use composite materials, many banjos these days comes with synthetic resonators. But they tell the truth on what their product is. All this being said, the banjo has its own sound. I like the sound. Those people who have heard it, like the sound also.
Small things to be expected, the neck needs adjustment, the action are low at your left hand and like almost 1 cm. high at the right hand neck. A beginner will struggle withthis, I just fixed it. Tuners are simple, I needed to tigthen them as well so they should hold the string in position.
All in all I will use this banjos at places we play. For the price I am contented, I got a banjo that had a bigger not so -jump in you face-high pitched banjo sound.


BJ-550PRO. Third time lucky ?
Simon C 10.12.2017
First one arrived damaged in transit, signs of a rough ride from the carrier. Second banjo had damage along side of neck / edge of fret board which I believe was caused in the factory when the frets were being finished. This should not have got past "QC" and by now I'm looking close, so it had to go back.

Thomann have responded well, handled the shipping and correspondence but it has taken a little while.

So Banjo no.3. Arrived safe and sound and reasonably finished. I say reasonably, there are areas that could be better and the build quality is a bit 'iffy'. I suspect that with budget instruments coming from the far East, the priority is external appearance, but when you look close up...

This is my first banjo and maybe this is how they are but I find the further up the fretboard you go the duller the clarity of the note played. So I'm trying to improve the 'set up'. The action was very high on arrival - to adjust you remove the resonator back and turn the connector rod. Having opened up the banjo, I am disappointed with the build quality, the fitting of some of the components is not too clever - not a precision instrument at all. At this point I also realise that some of the chrome fittings are in fact plastic. If they were metal the instrument would be even heavier but as a result I can foresee changing or adjusting tension of the head becoming a problem.

Lower action, better string/fret 'breakover' , it is sounding a little better, but still a bit dead above say the 9th fret - I'll try different strings. Tuning is tricky, it seems very on-off with these tuners. The fact that they are a bit notchy does not help and a couple unwind of their own accord - learnt via the net, you adjust the screw in the middle of the key to increase the 'brake', so that's sorted.

I'll try and sum up. I realise, now that I own one, a full resonator 5 string banjo is a complex piece of equipment and to sound good / be well built inside and out, it has to cost some money - wherever it was manufactured. Having read plenty of positive reviews about the quality/value for money of the Harley Benton range I decided to buy the top of "their" range, full fat model. If your going to have one...... and I liked the added decoration etc. But fundamentally it's too cheap. 198 euros is not an inconsiderable sum of money but can you really build an instrument of this complexity for this price to a reasonable quality.

I had hoped that the "Pro" in the title meant I'd be getting something reasonable. I do not believe a professional musician would be happy with this instrument. I am a novice looking to amuse myself in the garden and annoy the neighbours, so for that the banjo will suffice. Value for money at 198 e - not sure.

Finally if you order one check it over carefully on arrival. The body is very heavy ! but the neck and bridge are very delicate. I have discussed the internal packing with Thomann, which in my opinion could be improved. If it gets bounced by the carrier I believe it is bound to suffer.


I am very Happy
Paul Lion 15.01.2019
Yeah the Harley is wicked, looks good and has a way of bonding to you.
I have been a musician since i was 6 years old, and i play lots of instruments, trust me when i say, for the price this Banjo i is brilliant.
Ok yes the tone is clunky but thats is the nature of a wooden metal tone ring. There is more of a round sound than a metal pot banjo and its cool.I it does not matter they are all loud and very expressive instruments, its all down to what moves you. what vibe you want and how you want to be heard. I have been playing the Banjo for two weeks now yes i had one years ago but its only now i understand what makes it tic. The thing is that when a Banjo is set up properly you will find that it plays really good just like the expensive ones. This Banjo has become my friend and i feel that any one who buys it will feel the same as i do, I LOVE IT..


Excellent for the price.
LandroverSteve 23.03.2021
Well built and very nicely finished. Good tone. Needed a bit of setting up, string height and head tension, but nothing major.
The tuners were a bit loose, but worked smoothly with no notches.
All in all, I'm quite impressed.
The only bad thing is the two tools supplied. An Allen key which isn't needed anywhere and the head tensioning wrench which is way too shallow to reach the nuts on the J hooks. Fortunately I have small sockets to do it otherwise you'll have to go shopping. A really stupid oversight which Thomann should have picked up on by now.