View Full Version : Uke banjo

04-13-2011, 06:54 AM
Ok I am on about getting a uke banjo for the sound and feel but here is a question which if it is silly please don't slam me too much...

I was wondering, could I get a 4 string tenor banjo and use traditional re-enterant high G tuning?

Would this work or am I barking guys,


04-13-2011, 07:42 AM
Hi Chris

When you say you want a banjo uke for sound and feel, then you should get a banjo uke. If you have been listening to Tenor Banjos, and like their sound and feel, go with a tenor banjo. I think there are differences in the sound, since I believe the tenor banjo strings can be all metal, and the banjo uke strings tend to be non-metal. That alone makes a difference in sound. I just know that my 5-string banjo has a very different tone than my banjo ukulele.


04-13-2011, 07:59 AM
A few problems with taking a tenor banjo is first the metal strings and also the nut bridge will have the slots filed wrong for the string arangement. I would just get a banjo uke.

04-13-2011, 08:00 AM
HIya and thanks for your patience...

I really want a banjo uke sound and did come accross another thread where someone was experimenting with nylon strings on a tenor banjo, but the tread finished before any experimentation was done.

I was sort of seeking something unique but banjo uke like and not metal banjo like.

Maybe I should just stick with the banjo uke...I was only curious,



04-13-2011, 08:26 AM
Hi Chris,

I have done just what you have proposed on a Kent Tenor Banjo and a Harmony Tenor Banjo. The trick is finding the right strings that will allow for various tensions and tunings. Ultimately, due to the requirements of string length and tensions, I tuned to my trusty fluorocarbon fishing line. Basically I went with (and this is really general)

re-entrant G string: 40 lb. test
c string: 50 lb. test
e string: 30 lb. test
a string: 25 or 30 Lb. test

The results were pretty good and I did have some test soundfiles but this was a while ago and I don't know what I did with them. If I have some time, maybe I will record some new ones. It is a different sound. Broader and more "blugrassy" than the Banjo Uke but also slightly muted. Also, intonation could be a bit tricky.

I wouldn't use the tenor banjo as a replacement for my Banjo-uke, just as an instrument with a slightly different sound.


Ukulele Jim
04-13-2011, 08:34 AM
I've tried using tenor banjos as banjo ukes and was never pleased with the results. A real banjo uke is the way to go.

04-13-2011, 08:37 AM
Go ahead and get one of the great banjo uke options you have now, it's worth it :)

04-13-2011, 09:29 AM
This seems to be a resurgent topic on other forums as well. There seems to be a notion out there that you get the best of both worlds if you string a tenor as a uke, but speaking from experience, they are different instruments, sound different, and a tenor banjo strung as a baritone uke with nylon strings in DGBE still sounds like - surprise - a tenor banjo.

When I had a tenor, I played in regular tenor banjo tuning and also in DGBE - known as Chicago tuning. I used both steel and nylon strings. I can't say it played like a ukulele. It's still a tenor banjo, still has a big head, needs high string tension and plays better with a pick using tenor banjo strums. I'm with the others. Do it if you want to play tenor banjo, but if you want a banjo uke, get a banjo uke.

Also - keep in mind that a good tenor banjo is more expensive than a good banjo uke. If you find a very cheap one, you are getting just about what you pay for.

04-13-2011, 09:49 AM
To me they are very very different things and do different jobs.

To tune and play a tenor banjo as a uke is, to me, akin to putting 4 strings on a guitar and sticking a capo on the 5th.

I'd get a banjolele - they are huge fun!

04-13-2011, 09:55 AM
Just a reminder for those who are looking at banjo ukes.
Banjo Uke week at Ukeeku.com starts Sunday (April 17)
I have 6 brand new banjo ukes to review and one old one that I will also talk about.

04-15-2011, 02:43 AM

Thanks for all your replies which comprehensively cover the subject for me. The general drift seems to be that if you want a banjo uke then get a banjo uke.

Special thanks to Ukeulelecowboy in sharing his experiment which since we all like to tinker from time to time may form the basis of a future project.

For now the uke banjo seems the way to go,

Cheers guys,