With this month’s web focus on banjo-ukuleles, we’ve gathered up some roundups and reviews of different instruments we’ve published over the years to give a sense of the different types of instruments available today. Included here is a roundup as well as a few individual reviews from Ukulele magazine.
The banjo-ukulele is one of the most powerful spices in the ukulele world. For decades, this marriage between a banjo body and a ukulele neck and tuning was something of a novelty to most players, but it also found a few dedicated advocates. Whether you call it a banjolele, bangolele, banjo-uke, or any other type of portmanteau, it seems this plucky little instrument is in the midst of a resurgence.
We’re seeing more players using them and more makers offering them. It’s bold, fun, sounds old-timey and maybe even a little goofy, but it has a unique flavor of sharp attack, quick decay, and plonky twang that you just can’t get anywhere else. Even if a banjo-ukulele is not your first (or third) ukulele, it’s a great taste to have when you want to mix up your playing and explore new sounds.
In the article below, we gathered a wide variety of banjo-ukes to highlight the versatility of this instrument.
Gold Tone’s Little Gem line of concert-sized banjo-ukes is available in a handful of outrageous colors. It has with a distinctive plucky tone to match, which is clear and bright with mountains of penetrating volume when you dig in. The Little Gem is probably heavier than most ukulele players are accustomed to, so a strap would probably help with this one.
Here’s a pair that didn’t make it to our offices in time for the roundup, but were worthy of checking out nonetheless. The Duke Uke has a tenor-scale mahogany neck attached to a very rigid plastic rim. This not only gives the instrument a sense of indestructibility, it also makes the Duke very light for a banjo-ukulele. And the Gold Tone BU-1 is a scaled-down, tastefully basic version of the Gold Tone DLX included in the roundup.
The Deering Goodtime Banjo-ukulele shines brightest when fingerpicked. It boasts an 11-inch, violin-grade maple rim, three-piece rock maple neck inlaid with walnut position markers, and the company’s patented floating bridge and bridge plate. It also makes use of Deering’s “quiet metal” technology for the tailpiece and coordinator rod—no small consideration when trying to maintain the ukulele’s traditional warmth.