The banjo is a string instrument, that was first played by African slaves in the United States a few hundred years ago. The idea came from other African instruments.
The name banjo may have come from a Kimbundu word: mbanza, but it could have also come from a Senegambian word for the bamboo stick used for the banjo's neck.
Conway, Cecelia (1995). African Banjo Echoes in Appalachia: A Study of Folk Traditions, University of Tennessee Press. Paper: ISBN0-87049-893-2; cloth: ISBN0-87049-892-4. A study of the influence of African Americans on banjo playing throughout U.S. history.
Gura, Philip F. and James F. Bollman (1999). America's Instrument: The Banjo in the Nineteenth Century. The University of North Carolina Press. ISBN0-8078-2484-4. The definitive history of the banjo, focusing on the instrument's development in the 1800s.
Katonah Museum of Art (2003). The Birth of the Banjo. Katonah Museum of Art, Katonah, New York. ISBN0-915171-64-3.
Linn, Karen (1994). That Half-Barbaric Twang: The Banjo in American Popular Culture. University of Illinois Press. ISBN0-252-06433-X. Scholarly cultural history of the banjo, focusing on how its image has evolved over the years.
Tsumura, Akira (1984). Banjos: The Tsumura Collection. Kodansha International Ltd. ISBN0-87011-605-3. An illustrated history of the banjo featuring the world's premier collection.
Webb, Robert Lloyd (1996). Ring the Banjar!. 2nd edition. Centerstream Publishing. ISBN1-57424-016-1. A short history of the banjo, with pictures from an exhibition at the MIT Museum.
Bailey, Jay. "Historical Origin and Stylistic Development of the Five-String Banjo." The Journal of American Folklore 85.335 (1972): 58-65.
Costello, Patrick (2003). The How and the Tao of Old Time Banjo. Pik-Ware Publishing. ISBN0-9744190-0-1. Instruction in frailing banjo. Available online under a Creative Commons license on several web sites including ezfolkArchived 2007-11-17 at the Wayback Machine.
Scruggs, Earl. "Earl Scruggs and the 5-String Banjo". Hal Leonard Corporation. ISBN0-634-06042-2. Instruction in Scruggs or 3 finger style 5 string banjo.
Seeger, Mike (2005). "Old-Time Banjo Styles". Homespun Tapes. Seeger teaches several old-time picking techniques - clawhammer, two-finger, three-finger, up-picking and others.
Seeger, Pete (1969). How to Play the 5-String Banjo. 3rd edition. Music Sales Corporation. ISBN0-8256-0024-3. The seminal instruction book, still in print decades later. Seeger has since recorded an instruction video, available on DVD.
Wernick, Pete (1985 DVD). Beginning Bluegrass Banjo. Full course in the basics of Scruggs style.
Wernick, Pete & Trischka, Tony (2000). Masters of the Five-String Banjo. Acutab Publications. ISBN0-7866-5939-4. 70 banjo pieces from Scruggs, Reno, Osborne and Crowe to Fleck, Munde, and Cloud. Technique, improvising, set-up, learning, backup, favorite banjos, practice tips, equipment.
Winans, Robert B. "The Folk, the Stage, and the Five-String Banjo in the Nineteenth Century." The Journal of American Folklore 89. 354 (1976): 407-37. 14 Sep. 2006.