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View Full Version : Differences between a 4-string banjo, banjolele, banjo uke, etc.???



ukukimmy
05-18-2011, 10:58 AM
What are the differences between a 4-string banjo (e.g one I'm looking at has 23 frets), banjolele, banjo uke, etc. I see that the size of the head is larger and length of the neck/fretboard is longer on the "regular" 4-string banjos. Can a 4-string banjo be re-strung with uke strings to GCEA-tuning? I've been looking online, but getting a bit confused with all the info I'm trying to piece together.

Please excuse my ignorance.

Thanks,
Kimmy

Tudorp
05-18-2011, 11:06 AM
4 string banjos are generally considered a "Tenor", 5 string is more of a BlueGrass type. Banjole and Banjo Uke are the same thing, just different terms for it.

zac987
05-18-2011, 12:08 PM
You'd be better off just finding a less expensive vintage banjo uke (ie a Slingerland, Stromberg-Voisinet, etc). The banjo you are looking at is a Tenor Banjo, which has metal strings and is tuned to CGDA or GDAE.

ukukimmy
05-18-2011, 12:53 PM
You'd be better off just finding a less expensive vintage banjo uke (ie a Slingerland, Stromberg-Voisinet, etc). The banjo you are looking at is a Tenor Banjo, which has metal strings and is tuned to CGDA or GDAE.

Yeah...I may have f'd up. :( I'll post up pics n' such once arrives. One of those, twitchy finger, didn't want to pass it up moments. I'm pretty sure it will be one that others would want if it doesn't work out for me. Especially if I can't string it like a Uke.

Tudorp
05-18-2011, 01:04 PM
Yeah...I may have f'd up. :( I'll post up pics n' such once arrives. One of those, twitchy finger, didn't want to pass it up moments. I'm pretty sure it will be one that others would want if it doesn't work out for me. Especially if I can't string it like a Uke.

I might depending what ya paid for it. I have several, but been poking around for one to do a major surgical procedure on.. PM me, if the price is right, I might buy ya out of it..

T

southcoastukes
05-18-2011, 01:04 PM
You can string a Tenor Banjo in various ukulele set-ups. On the old ones, however, you'll need to put up with an extremely narrow neck.

I like the sound on mine, however I tune it - but have always thought that one day I would just replace the neck. Aaron Keim has done this for a few old Tenor Banjos. The nice thing about that is that you can keep the old neck if it has any value as a vintage instrument.

cb56
05-18-2011, 01:07 PM
You can tune a tenor banjo like a baritone uke with the metal strings it has DGBE. At least that way you can use the same chord shapes. Also the tenor is not the only 4 string banjo, there is also a 4 string banjo called the plectrum banjo that has a longer neck than the tenor and a different tuning.

ukukimmy
05-18-2011, 01:40 PM
You can tune a tenor banjo like a baritone uke with the metal strings it has DGBE. At least that way you can use the same chord shapes. Also the tenor is not the only 4 string banjo, there is also a 4 string banjo called the plectrum banjo that has a longer neck than the tenor and a different tuning.

Yeah, I think the one I just got would be considered a plectrum, since it's got 23 frets. We'll see...trying to research the puppy a little more and either I've been had (totally my fault for not researching it more) or I've got something really super special and rare. More likely had. :p What's the UU equiv for Banjo enthusiasts? BanjoHangout (http://www.banjohangout.org/forum/)?

zac987
05-18-2011, 03:39 PM
You might have some fun if you tune it to DGBE! I honestly love those old narrow fretboards, I can navigate them better and form barre chords far more easily.

and yes, Banjo Hangout is pretty much the Banjo equivalent of UU. They have some real nice fellas over there :)

Kem
05-18-2011, 05:27 PM
You might consider just leaving it in the traditional tuning and learning it as a new instrument. If it's a tenor banjo, it will have "circle of fifths" tuning, which is actually kind of nice (I play the mandolin, which is tuned GDAE). Plectrum banjos have a variety of tunings, but CGBD is most common. It does sound as if you've got a plectrum banjo. You could probably get away with a baritone uke tuning, but why not take the opportunity to learn a new instrument? New instruments are awesome.

(I bought a five-string banjo two days ago. I think I need help.)

ukukimmy
05-18-2011, 07:05 PM
but why not take the opportunity to learn a new instrument? New instruments are awesome.

(I bought a five-string banjo two days ago. I think I need help.)

But I AM learning a new instrument...it's called the uke! ;)

cb56
05-19-2011, 02:06 AM
Plectrum banjos have a variety of tunings, but CGBD is most common.
In that case maybe you could tune the plectrum to baritone uke tuning. DGBE
Either way I don't think you messed up too bad if it's a playable instrument.
Good price? Keep in mind decent quality banjo ukes can be bought in the $250-$350 range these days.

southcoastukes
05-19-2011, 11:59 AM
The scales vary a little, but most plectrums are about standard guitar length. Depending on whether it's a bit longer (more common) or shorter, light to heavy guage standard guitar strings: 1-4 will give you DGBE.