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Why play the banjo-ukulele?

If you find yourself reading this, you might be asking yourself why should I consider this rather niche instrument? I believe there are some pretty compelling reasons to give this mashup of banjo and ukulele a closer look. Let's dig in a little deeper and see why it makes sense.

Folk, americana, bluegrass and roots music all benefit from the unique melodies that only a banjo can provide. Perhaps you've developed a certain level of mastery on the ukulele or guitar and don't relish the idea of starting over on an entirely new tuning, learning new chord shapes, etc... The banjolele bridges this gap and allows you to use the skills you already have and apply them directly to the banjo platform for some versatility.

However, maybe you're not a guitar or uke player but instead just looking for the right fit among a plethora of instruments you could possibly choose to master. I'd ask you to consider this instrument from a different angle. Do a quick google search for famous banjolele players. You'll probably see a reference to George Formby in the 1930s but very little in the way of any modern virtuosos. Do you know of anyone? The banjolele is very unique but incredibly underrepresented in today's music scene. This isn't because of any inherent limitations of the platform itself, It's more a matter of history, changing needs and the market. Let's examine this.

Throughout about the last century and a half, the design of the banjo uke has remained relatively unchanged. Historically, the utilization of a small undersized banjo body was the recipe to gain added volume and projection for your ukulele in pre-amplification days. However, tone was necessarily sacrificed to gain the needed volume. Today most manufacturers still rely on this same dated design while missing the point that the players needs have completely changed. Modern musicians have access to amplification when needed and instead value tone and playability over sheer volume.

Because of this design mismatch, players have had very little reason to be excited about the modern banjolele up until now. Since the major manufacturers see low sales volumes of their current offerings, they have very little incentive to invest in new designs. They just produce more of the same but at a cheap price point. These often end up being a novelty type of instrument that doesn't accomplish much in the way of banjo tone and certainly doesn't compare to the tone of a proper ukulele. Today's players are left then to choose from a small variety of imported banjoleles that can often be pretty uninspiring.

My goal is to stop and take this in a completely different direction! As a small volume banjolele builder who focuses solely on this style of instrument, I see huge potential here for the modern musician. The banjo ukulele just needs to be approached in a completely new way. I've spent years designing and refining my own version of the tenor and now baritone banjolele. It is unlike the others out there and has a few design features that revolutionize things and really transform it. Probably the most noteworthy design element would be the significantly larger solid wood 10" rim but there's clearly a lot more going into this design. The tone and aesthetics are completely different from other banjo ukuleles. I've also, streamlined as much as I can to make it affordable for the working musician, while still keeping everything top quality for a lifetime of durability on the road.

Do you have the creative urge to be unique and innovative in a completely untapped and wide-open realm? Need to integrate a unique tone for your next recording session or performances? You have the ability and now the means! Hopefully this new take on the banjolele will offer you an inspiring tool to take things to the next level!


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