For many beginner players wanting an inexpensive but good quality banjo, an openback instrument is the perfect way in to playing. Openback banjos have a number of qualities which make them very suitable for beginner banjo players.
1. Openbacks offer the most banjo for your pound. Openbacks have fewer components. No resonator, no metal flange plate. You only pay for what you need. Typically openbacks can be 25% cheaper than equivalent resonator models.
2. Openbacks are lighter. No resonator or associated metalwork. There can be a kilo or more difference. This makes them more user friendly for beginners, or for anyone smaller in stature or who has issues such as back pain or arthritis.
3. Openbacks are smaller. Not in neck length but in 'bulk', because a resonator adds a couple of inches diameter to the whole banjo head, as well as an inch or so of extra depth. Many people like the compact feel of openbacks.
4. Openbacks are quieter. Resonators were invented to make banjos louder, so by definition openbacks are quieter. For beginners that can be a real advantage (nobody wants to learn to play whilst worrying that other people would like to turn you down). They also have a rather warmer, rounder tone, often described as 'plunky' which is very appealing.
5. Openbacks make great second instruments. Learn on an affordable openback and keep it when you upgrade to a better one, or move a resonator banjo. Your first openback is great to keep at hand to pick up at any time, or to take away on trips, without worrying about damaging your more expensive instrument. So a cheap openback from Banjos Direct is always an investment.