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greg_usa
01-19-2010, 10:29 AM
Hey Gang - I was going to post this in 'buying tips' - but I wanted to get people's thoughts overall rather than just specific brand advice.

How does banjoele fit into everyone's collection? I LOVE the sound of a banjo. When I first heard about a Banjolele - I was like - wow- I'd be able to essentially play the banjo without having to learn a whole new instrument.

Anyway - anyone have thoughts? Does it sound very much like a regular banjo? Is it seamless transition to play if you're aleady able to finger pick and strum on a regular uke? Are they as cool as I imagine? LOL!

And lastly - what are some price range optins and brands out there. Is there any brand and model that stands out as a good bang for the buck above the rest?

Any input would be greatly appreciated!

Thanks!

greg_usa
01-19-2010, 11:19 AM
I see the music shop where I bought my uke has something called a 'Cumbus Ukulele' for $160. Anyone familiar with this brand or uke?
Cumbus Ukulele w/21" length, 19 fixed metal frets 4 metal strings each; two of which are wound, nut to bridge length of 12.5 inches. The body has a 9 inch diameter and is 4 inches deep.


They also have the 'Recording King Metal Uke' for $299.
Description: RECORDING KING RU-998 RESONATOR UKULELE & CASE! Metal body concert uke features nickel-plated brass body with a polished nickel finish, 6" biscuit bridge cone, mahogany neck, bound fingerboard and more!

Let me know what you think!

Blrfl
01-19-2010, 11:29 AM
Does it sound very much like a regular banjo?

Ask this guy:


http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6t28COxEp2k

One thing I don't like about 'em is they're impossible to play quietly.

Resonator ukes sound a little like banjos but more like what you'd be used to hearing in a resonator guitar. It's kind of the same principle, just applied differently. (Sorry, I know that makes no sense and is of almost no help, but that's the only way I can describe it.) Resonator ukes also weigh a ton.

--Mark

UKISOCIETY
01-19-2010, 01:53 PM
I see the music shop where I bought my uke has something called a 'Cumbus Ukulele' for $160. Anyone familiar with this brand or uke?
Cumbus Ukulele w/21" length, 19 fixed metal frets 4 metal strings each; two of which are wound, nut to bridge length of 12.5 inches. The body has a 9 inch diameter and is 4 inches deep.


They also have the 'Recording King Metal Uke' for $299.
Description: RECORDING KING RU-998 RESONATOR UKULELE & CASE! Metal body concert uke features nickel-plated brass body with a polished nickel finish, 6" biscuit bridge cone, mahogany neck, bound fingerboard and more!

Let me know what you think!

I had a cumbus (pronounced "JIM-bes") and didn't like it. Got it off Ebay. the frets were sharp on the edges and it just didn't play like a regular banjolele. I now own a Gold Tone and love it. Mainland will have a banjo uke soon, I'm told.

russ_buss
01-19-2010, 02:25 PM
i have the gold tone banjolele as well. it's a beautiful instrument but can be on the loud side. that's a good thing if you're looking to really project, but bad if you're playing with a group of other regular uke players and don't want to drown them out.

also have a Dixie banjolele that's all metal, smaller in size and open back (no resonator). they don't make them anymore but you can find them used on ebay for under $100.

pdxuke
01-19-2010, 04:11 PM
Played a Goldtone soprano(?) size last week. Loud. Fun. Banjoey. Thought the price was about right. Did not buy...yet.

Pukulele Pete
01-20-2010, 02:30 AM
That Mr.B is awesome. I can't stop watching it.

Tubedog
01-20-2010, 03:03 AM
Hi:

I just got a Bean Sprout Uke, and it's a banjolele. I'm finding it REALLY easy to play, and I'm finding I can play it quietly. I'm just learning to play it clawhammer style, but it's coming along nicely. It's an exquisite instrument, and the customer service from the people who craft them is great!! Check them out.

greg_usa
01-20-2010, 06:46 AM
Thanks guys! Looks like the Goldtone has a regular (no resonator) and deluxe (with a resonator). Any suggestions there? I'm not very familiar on how the resonator changes the sound. Do you need a resonator to get that unique banjo sound?

Mainland Banjolele?! Is this true?!

greg_usa
01-20-2010, 06:52 AM
and should I consider one of those resonator ukes also? Is it that similar?

wheelgunner
01-20-2010, 07:05 AM
Waverly Street makes a lot of banjoleles. Shouldn't be hard to do a search and find peoples opinion on them. I have one myself and while I consider it a specialty item which I don't play every day I do like to drag it out and play it from time to time.

Pukulele Pete
01-20-2010, 08:00 AM
I have an old banjo uke with no resonator and it is VERY loud

harpdog
01-20-2010, 08:39 AM
I wouldn't bother with the resonator on a banjo uke. Yes, it projects the sound more, but it adds a lot of weight and there is ALREADY so much sound.
Plus, without the resonator, you can vary the sound by the angle you hold the uke to your body.
I wouldn't buy that cumbus thing as a uke - not with metal strings.
Banjo uke sounds banjoey, but not quite the same as a tenor or 5-string banjo..

The resonator ukulele is a different sound, not as banjoey. Closer to a regular uke sound, with some metallic twang.

hoosierhiver
01-20-2010, 09:33 AM
After trying several different factories over the past year, I think I'm finally getting closer to being able to offer a Mainland Banjo-uke that I approve of. Keep your fingers crossed. I hope to have them out for the UWC.

dnewton2
01-20-2010, 10:07 AM
After trying several different factories over the past year, I think I'm finally getting closer to being able to offer a Mainland Banjo-uke that I approve of. Keep your fingers crossed. I hope to have them out for the UWC.

I don't know if I can wait that long. I have a pocket full of extra $$$ and all that NAMM coverage makes me want to acquire something soon. I hope you do have good luck finding a factory.

salukulady
01-20-2010, 10:20 AM
Consider an older model too. I just happened on a 1930's 6 inch Gibson last year and absolutely love it. It's loud like the eight inch but if you like a soprano uke, it's small like one. They are quite the attention getter, also. heres a pic.

Aunt Betty
01-31-2010, 03:22 PM
I also have an older banjo ukulele - an Avalon. It is perfect for bluegrass and George Fornby style music. It is a lot nicer on my fingers than a banjo, and even though it is loud for a ukulele, it is very quiet for a banjo. They are fun to play.

clayton56
01-31-2010, 05:58 PM
Thanks guys! Looks like the Goldtone has a regular (no resonator) and deluxe (with a resonator). Any suggestions there? I'm not very familiar on how the resonator changes the sound. Do you need a resonator to get that unique banjo sound?

Mainland Banjolele?! Is this true?!

that unique banjo sound came before resonators, it's a matter of the strings and the head. Resonators add fullness and bottom end. One of my favorite banjo sounds was the old Vega open back (Tubaphone), but I graduated to resonators and wouldn't go back. Hint, get the resonator model, and if you want to play it open-back, just unscrew a couple of bolts and take it off temporarily.

My experience with banjos is with regular banjos, not banjoleles, so consider that. I do have my eye on that Gold Tone deluxe.

GreyPoupon
01-31-2010, 06:41 PM
I have a gold tone banjolele without the resonator. For me, it's actually too loud. If I was playing on a street corner it would be cool but for a closed in living room it's too much.

rock_and_roll_camera
02-01-2010, 09:37 AM
That Mr. B is great, I love it! I've been after a banjo-ukulele for ages... since before I had a uke even infact! Always wanted a resonator model, proper George Formby stuff, but are open backs better then? I found this nice looking Ozark model for what seems a reasonable price? Seems to say SRP: 105.00, our price: 149.99 which is a bit odd but still, seems a good price!?

http://www.eaglemusicshop.com/details1.asp/ProductID/6372/sid/281/Ozark-2035-Ukulele-Banjo.htm

Where can I learn to play like that, like Mr. B?

heymelbs
02-11-2010, 01:10 PM
Aside from buying a used banjolele, are my options for getting one of these beauties at a reasonable price limited to Waverly and Gold Tone? I love the "classic" look of the Gold Tone banjolele, so that's the style that I would be looking at.

rasputinsghost
02-11-2010, 05:15 PM
Mike (Hoosierhiver) of Mainland Ukuleles has been working on releasing an affordable banjolele for quite some time, so I'm holding off my banjolele lust until that comes out!

heymelbs
02-11-2010, 05:45 PM
Mike (Hoosierhiver) of Mainland Ukuleles has been working on releasing an affordable banjolele for quite some time, so I'm holding off my banjolele lust until that comes out!

I have heard that, but me gets so antsy to own one of those.

hoosierhiver
02-12-2010, 04:30 AM
I think I'm making progress, I hope to have something out this summer.

rasputinsghost
02-12-2010, 04:41 AM
I think I'm making progress, I hope to have something out this summer.

yes!!!!! i hope you pick MGM as a purveyor for your ukes....

Papa Tom
11-01-2010, 06:11 AM
Please...PLEASE somebody make a good banjolele for under $300. I want one really badly but I don't think I'll play it enough to justify spending $350-500 in this economy!

PS: Thanks for all the input regarding the resonator. I always assumed I'd need one, but you guys have helped me save about $100.

hoosierhiver
11-01-2010, 06:47 AM
Supposed to get the first batch from the factory this month. $285 with a gig bag

Uke Republic
11-01-2010, 06:54 AM
Supposed to get the first batch from the factory this month. $285 with a gig bag

Mainland just keeps getting cool stuff! Can't wait to get these in the UR!

UKISOCIETY
11-01-2010, 08:14 AM
In case you missed it, here's my review of the new Mainland Banjo ukuleles:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=T0DVC7fqxcQ

jtafaro
11-01-2010, 08:20 AM
I have a Tyler Mtn. banjo uke. The resonator is so loud that I took it off. I like it the way it is now. I use it once in a while at the coffee house on uke night. It's the same animal as that rediculous video above. But the name has been changed to protect the guilty. They all come from China--where else? I really do like it but a Bean Sprout is a much better instrument but it costs way more than the Tyler Mtn. banjo uke. I have it reviewed on You Tube. look for jtafaro TMBU 200. They are hard to find in stock because of the uke boomj of the past two years.

Tudorp
11-01-2010, 08:25 AM
I am diggin this video. I haven't played my Banjole in some time, now I want to take it off the wall and vibrate its guts... Love it..




Ask this guy:


http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6t28COxEp2k

One thing I don't like about 'em is they're impossible to play quietly.

Resonator ukes sound a little like banjos but more like what you'd be used to hearing in a resonator guitar. It's kind of the same principle, just applied differently. (Sorry, I know that makes no sense and is of almost no help, but that's the only way I can describe it.) Resonator ukes also weigh a ton.

--Mark

spoonido
11-01-2010, 08:30 AM
My Lange banjolele is about 80 years old. I wouldn't dream of parting with it. Got it years ago on eBay. The vintage instrument market is pretty soft right now. Maybe you can pick one up cheap. (Buyer beware, of course.)

Another thing to keep in mind with these is when playing in a group you have the responsibility of watching your volume. Are you a proficient soloist? Do you often lead the group? If not, you may want to back off on being the loud one in the group and leave the banjolele at home; or else you could be told to sit further away. Much further. Volume is power. Use the power for good, not evil.

Papa Tom
11-01-2010, 08:57 AM
>>>>Supposed to get the first batch from the factory this month. $285 with a gig bag<<<

You'll be announcing it here, I assume? Have you had any reviews yet? Any demos online? Most importantly, will I be able to cash in my Amazon gift certificates for one????

Jnobianchi
11-02-2010, 05:46 AM
My Lange banjolele is about 80 years old. I wouldn't dream of parting with it. Got it years ago on eBay. The vintage instrument market is pretty soft right now. Maybe you can pick one up cheap. (Buyer beware, of course.)

Another thing to keep in mind with these is when playing in a group you have the responsibility of watching your volume. Are you a proficient soloist? Do you often lead the group? If not, you may want to back off on being the loud one in the group and leave the banjolele at home; or else you could be told to sit further away. Much further. Volume is power. Use the power for good, not evil.

:D - ain't this the truth. I play when others are home on a regular uke, when no one is home on of my banjo ukes. They are LOUD, and you do have to watch it. Great solo instruments, great with a band, but playing with other ukers almost demands they play BUs as well, or you switch over to a standard uke.

This thread has been active in a while, but I'd say, if you're going to try banjo uke and don't want to spend for a new Bean Sprout, you DO pick up a vintage Slingerland MayBell or Stromberg-Voisinet if you can; they're on the cheap side ($80-$200), but their tone and volume is excellent (Slingerlands have a tone ring) and the fretting on the S-Vs is particularly accurate. I know people recommend Dixies and on occassion as being cheap (-$100) and loud, but their tone is thin and their fretting (the neck is cast metal) is lousy - they don't stay in key up and down the neck, which drives me nuts (not a far drive, I'll admit).

With so many great vintage models out there, I'd recommend going low cost vintage to start and skipping the various Gold Tones, Countrymen and Ozarks, which aren't cheap anyway. If you decide you're serious, there's always the Bean Sprout and the (gulp) much more affordable and apparently excellent-sounding Mainland.

Personally, I like my vintage ukes, and I'm saving up for a Ludwig Wendell Hall, but if a UB-2 or UB-3 comes up, I'm all over it.

vacuousnacho
11-02-2010, 12:30 PM
That mainland banjolele looks awesome I need to get my bum ass a job.

Brewerpaul
11-02-2010, 12:37 PM
One more banjolele to add to the mix... I got a Wim van er Leden banjolele (from Holland) back in the summer and like it quite a lot:
http://www.banjolele.net/index.html

I think it's a bargain at around 140 Euro ($196usd)

TCK
11-02-2010, 04:11 PM
Got my Slingerland Maybell Banjo Ukulele about a month ago, and admit I was in over my head at first. I had to learn how to dress the worn old frets (they were played with steel strings I am sure), level them, adjust the tonehead and tailpiece, refit a new bridge etc. After about a week of work every night, I have a great banjo uke for $200 that is about 90 years old, and is all original aside from strings and bridge. She is not in perfect nick and her tiny little neck took some getting used to, but she has fast become my favorite Uke. An I can play it very quietly if need be- I just stuff something behind the tone head (shirt, undies, cat).
Doesn't matter though really- my wife loves the way it sounds and always comes into the room when I am playing it- guess loud doesn't bug her too much.
Here is a video of it...of course made by a rank amateur

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SvIF1EjjFXE

ADD
11-02-2010, 08:25 PM
I'm keeping my Cumbus as a weapon to ward off any intruders.

Oh, and my Waverly Street is beautiful, but loud, very loud.

ozbcoz
03-02-2011, 11:14 AM
Hi,

would you recommend the Wim van der Leden for a newbie who wants to be more :-) ?

cheers

Jim

harpman54
09-20-2012, 03:41 PM
Hi,

would you recommend the Wim van der Leden for a newbie who wants to be more :-) ?

cheers

Jim

Jim, I just got my Wim van der Leden. I realize the thread here is dated, but felt the question deserved an answer and it is a definite yes. My new tenor is beautiful, plays wonderfully, and sounds excellent. The sound is a part ukulele, part banjo, and has the crisp ring of a banjo while it keeps the uke sound we all love. I think anyone, newbie, or accomplished uker would appreciate it.

Bill

TheCraftedCow
09-20-2012, 08:13 PM
I sold a banjo to a fellow who had its kissin' cousin from GoldTone. He said apart from the price difference, they were so closely alike he thought they were from the same faactory just badges differently... I have a UB1 and a UB2 stye made by Madison -Monroe. one had a reflector on the back, and the other has the rim with a reflector which can be removed to make it an open back. I also have a travel 5 string by M/M which is Aquila strung as GDGBE. All still have the lifetime warranty which goes to the original owner. If you want me to send you pics of the actual instruments, send me a note to thecraftedcow@comcast.net. The M/M is tenor scale. The others are concert scale, and I also have an open back soprano scale.

bigchiz
01-22-2013, 08:44 AM
Have been eyeing a RECORDING KING RK-U25-BR OPEN BACK SERIES UKULELE BANJO BANJOLELE at the local music store. Today it's marked down to $179, might just have to go down there afterwork tonight and make the purchase. Any reason not to, people with experience of the instrument have thoughts about it?

Kestrel
01-22-2013, 01:36 PM
Jim, I just got my Wim van der Leden. I realize the thread here is dated, but felt the question deserved an answer and it is a definite yes. My new tenor is beautiful, plays wonderfully, and sounds excellent. The sound is a part ukulele, part banjo, and has the crisp ring of a banjo while it keeps the uke sound we all love. I think anyone, newbie, or accomplished uker would appreciate it.

Bill

Hey, I have had my Wim Van Der Leden Banjolele a few months now..
It is my first Ukulele Banjo (and stringed instrument..) and I love it..
Great Guy to deal with, very reasonably priced quality..

bigchiz
01-22-2013, 04:14 PM
Got the Recording King banjolele and played it at our semi-monthly ukulele jam. Well received, appropriate sound for some of the songs in the yellow book such as Five Foot Two. Nudged the bridge a little and now have good intonation on the 12th fret.

Yipee!

TheCraftedCow
01-22-2013, 10:19 PM
Eddy Finn has a soprano and two different models of concert banjo ukuleles.

I just put a reflector plate on the back of a little soprano. One model of the concert has the flat back and the other has the reflectorso the sound comes straight ou to the listener. I sold one to fellow who also had a Gold Tone. He said that they were probably made in the same factory. The only difference he saw was the amount of money needed to buy a Gold Tone. EF has a warranty that I do not see on any other brand. It is for banjo ukes as well as the 8 shaped ones. I have one of each of the models. Each type of back makes a sound difference. The flat plate style is easy to put on the soprano. It makes a big difference.

Banjo ukuleles can be played softly. Turn the palm of the strumming hand straight upand play with the side of the little finger. About the 15th fret is nice place to strum.

Barbablanca
01-22-2013, 10:50 PM
The Cumbus family are Turkish instruments. They comprise Mandolin, Uke and Guitar-like instruments with banjo-like resonators. However, the ones I looked at in Istanbul were all fretless!!!

The banjo uke, like the mandolin uke, is a hybrid and so has all the advantages of a mongrel (and I mean that affirmatively, not negatively :rolleyes:). I am not keen on the soprano Banjolele, because it just says "George Formby" to me and although I have nothing against GF in his time and place, it is a sound I would only pursue for novelty songs, not for my everyday playing.

However, inspired by Val (of this parish) I recently converted a Tenor Banjo I was not using into what I describe as a Baritone Ukulele Banjo and that (finger picked) does have a sound I really like. You can hear that here (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CoBhOGGpMFM).

TG&Y
01-23-2013, 05:30 AM
Whoa! that sounds really nice.

Oh great. Now I have to watch out for banjo rabbit-holes too...shoot.

Strummin simon
01-23-2013, 09:47 PM
my vote would be to pick up a vintage uke on ebay.
they come up cheap over there in the US.
they might need a bit of tinkering with, but will sound much better than these gold tone/eddie finn/mainland efforts.

but is a personal choice of what sound you like.
personally i dont like that mainland, it is a copy of a very cheap 70's japanese banjo uke. right down to the tailpeice.
look for something with 8-10 hooks on it, and a real skin, not a plastic head.
just my opinion

barefootgypsy
01-23-2013, 10:03 PM
my vote would be to pick up a vintage uke on ebay.
they come up cheap over there in the US.
they might need a bit of tinkering with, but will sound much better than these gold tone/eddie finn/mainland efforts.

but is a personal choice of what sound you like.
personally i dont like that mainland, it is a copy of a very cheap 70's japanese banjo uke. right down to the tailpeice.
look for something with 8-10 hooks on it, and a real skin, not a plastic head.
just my opinion

Agreed..... I recently played a brand new Luna banjo-uke in a shop - didn't like it at all. But there was a new one I did quite like - if only I could now remember the name! It'll come back to me... I'll post again when it does. But I love my two vintage banjoleles. Would not swap them for new.......

Strummin simon
01-23-2013, 10:25 PM
i've not seen the luna banjo ukes over here.
i wondered if they were any good.
are they actually made by Luna, or do they come from the goldtone/eddie finn/recording king/ozark/vintage banjo uke factory in china?

barefootgypsy
01-23-2013, 10:42 PM
i've not seen the luna banjo ukes over here.
i wondered if they were any good.
are they actually made by Luna, or do they come from the goldtone/eddie finn/recording king/ozark/vintage banjo uke factory in china?I saw this one in a music shop on the Charing Cross Rd, in London a couple of weeks ago. Transparent "vellum".... I don't know where they're made...... BTW, I gave your blog a "puff" yesterday in my blog! :)

Strummin simon
01-23-2013, 10:57 PM
thanks for the mention Lesley,
your blog is great, lots to read on there.
where you at blackpool with the dallas-d? i saw Caroline there sat with a lady with a dallas-d, right opposite me.

nice peice by Lewis too on the Gibsons, he is now the owner of the ub-3 that i restored. i am looking forward to seeing him playing it. apart from the andy eastwood, Lewis is the next best player i have seen.

barefootgypsy
01-23-2013, 11:05 PM
Simon, yes, that was me! Please come and say hello next time! Hoping to be there in March, not sure yet; def. June though! :D
Lewis is brilliant. Can't wait to see him play that Gibson!

Strummin simon
01-23-2013, 11:19 PM
i must admit i was eying up that dallas-d. i've just bought on from ebay. its the only dallas uke i've not owned.

i'm going to the september meet, and hopefully to Carolines next banjo uke meet up too in april.

now i'm off to read the rest of your blog!