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Thread: Jazz: Banjolele vs Banjo? Help me decide.

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Mar 2012
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    2

    Default Jazz: Banjolele vs Banjo? Help me decide.

    Hey guys! I could use some help.

    So here's the problem, I love New Orleans/Dixieland Jazz and I've been really wanting to learn to play jazz rhythm parts on either Banjo, or Banjolele.

    I play ukulele well, so transitioning to Banjolele wouldn't be hard, however I don't know if I should choose banjolele over learning the 4 string tenor banjo, the type usually used in jazz. I'm fine with learning new chords and scales, and I'd love to have experience of playing banjo but I'm not sure if it's the right choice. Therefore I want you guys, The ukers (or if somebody out there plays tenor banjo, too) to help me with the decision. Give me some advise of which to play and back it up with reasoning, please.

    I've posted this on Banjo Hangout forums, so the banjo players can give their opinion, too.

    Also, what if I were to play other genres.. what should I pick?

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Sep 2009
    Location
    Los Angeles, CA
    Posts
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    Default

    Good question... Mark Twain said a gentleman is someone who knows how to play the banjo and doesn't, but he didn't mention the banjolele. On a serious note, they are two different animals. Different sounds, different technique, different strings, etc. My suggestion: Get both!
    Ha'ina 'ia mai ana ka puana - Two octaves and the truth!

    http://www.youtube.com/ukecantdothat

  3. #3
    Join Date
    May 2010
    Location
    Central Illinois
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    Default

    I play uke, banjolele, 5 string banjo and trombone. I love dixieland music too. IMO the banjolele can do anything the tenor banjo can do. but it is a different sound. You'll have to judge for yourself and go with whichever calls out to you. Here's some videos of me with my banjo uke.




    Mainland Red Cedar Tenor
    DS Gill Tenor Pineapple spruce/mahogany
    Goldtone Concert Banjo Uke (BUC)
    Blueridge BR-40T Tenor guitar tuned DGBE
    Kala U-Bass
    Gold Tone CC-OT 5 string banjo
    ********************
    Come visit "CB's Pickin' Place"

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Mar 2012
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    2

    Default

    Thanks guys, I think I'll try out banjo at a music store and see how it feels. Thanks for responding.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Jun 2009
    Location
    Clearwater, FL
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    572

    Default

    Mark Twain was likely talking about the 5-string

    I'd go with the tenor banjo. It has more of that jazz sound and quite a bit more range...but it's whatever you prefer.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Jul 2010
    Location
    London, United Kingdom
    Posts
    577

    Default

    I play in a New Orlens/Dixieland Jazz band. We have a tenor banjo/tenor guitar player and I play the uke. I mostly use my resonator, my banjo and one ADF#B soprano. They are not exclusive, they are complementary.

    You should buy MORE ukes.
    1920s Ludwig Wendell Hall Professional (For sale) ● 1960s Martin Style 2 ● 2017 Hamano H100-T

    My blog (in portuguese) | Group: Ukulelistas Brasileiros
    www.washboardlou.com/en

  7. #7

    Default

    Unless you really really want to learn a whole new instrument.. I would go with what I know.

    For instance, if I joined a rock band, I would play my electric ukuleles, not learn to play a 6-string electric guitar.
    Why relearn a whole new instrument when you've already got skills in one that can totally be used in the setting?

    A banjolele will fit perfectly well in that band setting, and you will be able to shine immediately since you can already play it.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Aug 2010
    Location
    New York City
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    Default

    Well...you could always get a tenor banjo and tune it in "Chicago Tuning" which is DGBE - same as the treble four strings of the guitar and the same as a baritone ukulele. Then you'd get the sound of the tenor, and you don't have to lear the chord patterns for the tenor, which are formidable and require a large finger spread for basic chords. It is a LOT easier if you already play uke, because essentially, you'll be playing a really big uke.

    Use lightest gauge guitar strings if you go that route. Some folks use nylon, but the sound is very different. You may decide you like it, just be aware it will sounds very different.

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Jan 2009
    Location
    Florida Space Coast
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    For a little extra, Goldtone will put a tenor banjo or baritone banjo uke neck on an 11 1/2" standard banjo.....best of both worlds

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Jun 2011
    Location
    Rochester, Vermont, USA
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    Keep in mind that tenor banjos can easily be tuned to GCEA just like a low-G uke and sound fantastic that way. I recently put together a gauges list for alt. tenor tunings:

    http://antebelluminstruments.blogspo...tar-tenor.html

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