View Full Version : WTB: Banjo Ukulele Banjolele.

01-16-2011, 07:44 PM
I am in search of a decent banjo ukulele that i can get for under $200 bucks. It has to have a decent sound and be in pretty good shape. I would prefer one with a resonator back but it really doesn't matter. Thanks for any and all help.

01-19-2011, 06:36 AM
Under $200, for a good selection, you'll have to go vintage or wait for Flea to come out with their cool new banjo uke, which will list, we're told, for about $220 with a wooden fretboard and under $200 for one with a plastic fretboard - though that doesn't have a resonator.

There is only one banjo uke in production that lists for under $200, that's the Rally, which comes in resonator and open back models. I'm not a fan, but haven't played it enough to have more than a superficial opinion - http://cgi.ebay.com/Ukulele-banjo-4-string-REMO-head-Rally-DUB-1F-/360335811989?pt=LH_DefaultDomain_0&hash=item53e5b02595

For both vintage and new, I'd recommend Elderly instruments to you - check out what they currently have: http://elderly.com/search/elderly?terms=Banjo+%28180U+or+180N%29 Of what's there, I can recommend the La Venezia, which is in your $ range and is a good quality J.R. Stewart instrument. Slight problem is that its an open back, but J.R. Stewarts were high quality inexpensive ukes and the guys there will play them for you over the phone or skype so that you can get a strong sense of condition and sound. I love these guys at Elderly.

I'd also recommend that if you go the eBay route, that you look at Slingerland "May Bell", either Model 20 openback or Model 24, which is a flat backed resonator instrument. Both are in your price range, and they come up more frequently than any other banjo ukes - often under the S.S. Stewart "Collegian" brand for the model 20 and "University" brand for the model 24. They are also sold as "Winner", "Victory" or other brand, and often, they have no label and are misidentified by sellers.

On eBay right now are the following, which fit your requirements:

A William Lange ukulele - not identified as such - which should go for about $200:

Another Lange, which is identified by seller as a Vernon (Lange made these for Vernon, though this one appears not to be one of those as there's no indication of a brand plate). This one looks like a winner and can probably be had for not more than $150, but you want to make sure they can tell you if the neck is straight:

A Slingerland Model 20, which is a GREAT little instrument. This particular one will needs more work than you may want to do, but this is a model that you should perhaps look for as it's probably the best cheap antique banjo uke for playability and cost:

A J.R. Stewart "Le Domino", which is a great instrument, worth about $350, but it could always go for less, given the small number of buyers looking for a Le Domino:

Finally, I'm selling the Slingerland Model 24 in this video: http://www.youtube.com/user/MrJnobianchi?feature=mhum#p/u/0/EUuE8JMwz0I
It's in VG+ condition in terms of the metal and the pot. There's a slight issue in that the heel is warped, but happily, that doesn't effect the fretboard, as you can see. I did a light restoration with a new goatskin head, new Grover tuners and bridge, fully cleaned and polished and the neck re-set. It's got a flat resonator back, a brass tone ring, and it's a great little player that can be played very loud. The only reason I'm selling is because I haven't got the room, so it goes for less than I put in - $170 + shipping.

Let me know if you're interested, and even if not, I'm always happy to look at anything you find, as are all of us banjo-ukers.

01-20-2011, 08:10 AM
Thank you John for the excellent response. I regret to inform you that I read your response the day after my banjolele purchase. On a more positive note I purchased the "No name" Banjolele that you have identified as one made by William Lange. I gave a little more than I had intended to but am thoroughly happy with the purchase. At least until it arrives. The seller assured me that the neck is straight and there is no fret buzz and that it is a great sounding instrument. Before I bought the instrument I did a great deal of research trying to establish a maker. I arrived at the conclusion that it is a supertone that was made for supertone by William Lange. So I think you are right on the money there. Check out an example of a Supertone on the bottom of this page. http://www.catfish1952.com/banjouke.html I believe your Slingerland is a great deal at 170. I was bidding on one a week or so ago that went for around 210 and was in similar condition. I will be sure to post some pics or video of the Supertone (Lange) once I get it so that you can further access the quality of the instrument. Again I can't thank you enough for the excellent response. - Justin Cecil

01-20-2011, 08:51 AM
Excellent, Justin - and thanks for subscribing to my channel! :D

Yes - a Supertone by Lange is probably right on. Everything looks correct, right down to the screw that attaches the resonator to the dowel. I very much want to hear it and see what you think - do a review and a You Tube post!

Langes are interesting - kind of a dark horse; Lange made instruments for *everyone*, from Sears, to S.S. Stewart, Vernon, and Bruno (all Bruno's banjo ukes are Langes, and their factories were literally a few blocks away from each other at one point). I've never owned one, but I've played a few and love them. They are well-made instruments and tend to go for much more with a flanged resonator, so I think you actually did pretty well on the price.

Good to meet you here!