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View Full Version : Banjo Uke that sounds like a Banjo



The Big Kahuna
07-08-2012, 08:07 AM
Yep, stupid question isn't it. Basically, I like the sound of bluegrass style clawhammer banjo, but don't particularly want to buy an actual Banjo just yet (or at all). When I looked into them a year or so ago, I'd pretty much made up my mind that an open back rather than a resonator banjo would be the thing for me.

So, do tenor banjo ukes sound like banjos, or would I be condemned to sound like George Formby ?

barefootgypsy
07-08-2012, 09:14 AM
Have you trawled Youtube? You want an old-timey sound - personally I'd think you'd be on the right track with an open-back banjo-uke...

OldePhart
07-08-2012, 09:50 AM
...or would I be condemned to sound like George Formby ?

Ahhh...that I should be so condemned... :)

RichM
07-08-2012, 10:07 AM
http://www.ukuleleunderground.com/forum/showthread.php?57458-FS-Terry-Mead-Short-Scale-all-wood-5-string-banjo

:rolleyes:

barefootgypsy
07-08-2012, 01:08 PM
Is this the sort of thing you had in mind?

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=se80idWKxNw&feature=related

cb56
07-08-2012, 02:26 PM
IMO the thing that makes banjo uke so cool is the fact that it's versatile. Sure you can do Formby style chord solos, but you can also finger pick it, Travis pick it and play it clawhammer/frailing style. IMO it sounds great doing all of those.
I don't claim to be any good at any of these styles but I sure enjoy trying. I might do a demo video showing the different styles on the banjo uke in the next day or so.

TheCraftedCow
07-08-2012, 09:40 PM
A banjo uke with a 5 inch pot will never sound like one with an 8 inch one. The little ones are very "plunky". What scale do you want? I have a baritone scale, soprano scale and a concert scale for sale. I have fallen in love with the baritone scale tuned c G C E, and still keep the 5th string. It is strung with Aquila uke strings. New in the box they have steel strings. If you want to know more about them, contact me, please. thecraftecow@comcast.net This is my 2ooth posting

G Hill
07-09-2012, 12:12 AM
So, do tenor banjo ukes sound like banjos, or would I be condemned to sound like George Formby ?[/QUOTE]


Oh to have the technicals skills of George Formby!!!!!!!!
! wish !!!!!
Cheers
Gary

Liam Ryan
07-09-2012, 12:37 AM
Think about the main things that give an instrument it's sound. Then think about what the instrument you're looking at has in common (or not) with what you want.
String type: Nylon, Steel etc
scale length Long, short etc
Vibrating head type: Soft wood, hard wood, skin, plastic, aluminium etc.
The player: this is the most influential. If you don't believe me go and give your instrument to a really good player and hear it come alive.

Most banjo ukes are a bit of a cross breed. Most uke players are going to say they sound too much like a banjo while most banjo players are going to say they sound too much like a uke..........

cb56
07-09-2012, 01:12 AM
btw, alot of clawhammer 5 string banjo players use gut or nylon strings on their banjos. In clawhammer a plunky sound is preferred. Alot of clawhammer players stuff the inside of the banjo pot (at least some) to acheive this sound.

ukulelelearner
07-09-2012, 03:42 AM
That's awesome that you want one, I got one about a month ago and I absolutely love it. Originally I tried a Jay Turser banjo uke, it had the resonator and a closed back. However, I absolutely did not like that one. The sound was so empty, I thought it was bad. So my music store ordered me a Lanikai soprano to try. This is open back and does not have a resonator but it sounds so much better. They also make a concert size banjo uke with a resonator on it. They are definitely worth the money, built solidly. Plus they come with a little gig bag!

eor
07-09-2012, 04:34 AM
hey

I have a gold tone concert uke and really love it.

It has a suprising good tone for a banjolele.

i think a good set up and well tightened head are important in getting a "banjo" sound with a banjo uke. also player tecnique , attack ect have alot to do with what kind of sound you get.

i did a sound sample last year ... http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fjtoFWga2o0&feature=plcp

i think to get a good banjo sound you have to play it like a banjo and not like a uke if that makes any sense.

good luck





.

Bland Mango Patterson
01-26-2013, 02:51 PM
here's a quick vid of clawhammer/frailing/uppicking and formby style on the same tune ... as you can see there is no chance of sounding like formby without formby techniques.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=n90kTX3m6zc

coolkayaker1
01-26-2013, 03:27 PM
Question. Does a Mya Moe Beansprout banjo uke sound like a uke, or a banjo.?

ksiegel
01-26-2013, 04:27 PM
A little under a year ago, I was at a music/dance festival, and joined a group of old-time players. I was playing my Firefly banjo uke.

It took about 35-40 minutes before anyone realized I was playing a banjo-uke. It fit in that well.


(Of course I was the only person who noticed that the guy playing the 5-string was playing a frettless banjo.)



-Kurt

barefootgypsy
01-27-2013, 12:53 AM
here's a quick vid of clawhammer/frailing/uppicking and formby style on the same tune ... as you can see there is no chance of sounding like formby without formby techniques.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=n90kTX3m6zcJust watched it, thanks for sharing - really interesting to compare the sound of the different styles on the same banjo-uke! What is yours, by the way?

Bland Mango Patterson
01-27-2013, 01:10 AM
It's called a rally. It's exactly the same workmanship as my oakridge but cost half the price. I would be very surprised if they wern't made in the same factory. I did have to purchase a tone ring and put it on myself. That intro is a magic tune that seems to be capable of suiting every style. You in England I see? I would love to come over and buy a proper old BU. they don't really have any here.

barefootgypsy
01-27-2013, 01:43 AM
It's called a rally. It's exactly the same workmanship as my oakridge but cost half the price. I would be very surprised if they wern't made in the same factory. I did have to purchase a tone ring and put it on myself. That intro is a magic tune that seems to be capable of suiting every style. You in England I see? I would love to come over and buy a proper old BU. they don't really have any here.Thanks for the info! I suppose taking a chance on ebay is a big thing when you have to import. That's a shame! Nice to have you on the UU, anyway! Great stuff! :)

AncientMatingCalls
01-27-2013, 05:21 AM
Clawhammer on a banjo uke sounds very good. Not too far off from some of the nylon strung banjos.

As far as 3-fingered playing goes, I would suggest trying some finger picks. Finger picks play a very big part in the sound of Scruggs style playing.

Barbablanca
01-27-2013, 05:45 AM
I converted a Tenor Banjo (4 steel strings tuned C G D A) into a DGBE Baritone Banjo Ukulele with the help of Ken Middleton's "Living Water" Custom Baritone Ukulele strings and I'm very happy with the sound for finger picking or claw-hammer style (though my ability on the latter is very limited so far). Here is a video (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CoBhOGGpMFM)illustrating the sound.

coolkayaker1
01-27-2013, 06:03 AM
I've heard of Irish banjos with 17 inch (or fret?) necks being great for conversions.

But...how is that 1 inch nut? I think it'd feel too narrow (except if always capoed to a wider point on the neck, like bblanca).

Barbablanca
01-27-2013, 06:09 AM
In my case I initially tuned a tone lower and capoed up to DGBE - I was worried about tension on the neck and snapping strings. I have since tuned up to full DGBE with no averse effects, so far.

coolkayaker1
01-27-2013, 06:18 PM
Thanks. Doesn't it feel weird, though, to play fingerstyle on a 1 inch nut? Us uke players (you, too) are so used to 1 3/8 or 1 4/8 nut width.

zac987
01-27-2013, 07:06 PM
A banjo-uke will never really sound like a true 5-string banjo. Even if you play three-finger style (bluegrass) or clawhammer (old-time), you will still sound significantly different. Honestly, the best thing you could do is pick up the banjo. You'll have an -actual- banjo that will sound how you want it to.

This isn't to say that banjo-ukes are inferior to 5-string banjos. They just sound different. Play clawhammer or 3-finger all you want on them and it'll sound great. It just won't be the same.

Barbablanca
01-27-2013, 09:57 PM
... Doesn't it feel weird, though, to play finger-style on a 1 inch nut? Us uke players (you, too) are so used to 1 3/8 or 1 4/8 nut width.

I suppose it does, but I play such a variety of instruments (all of them competently, but not well ;) ) that I just seem to adjust automatically. Having said that, I just picked up the instrument after a few days of playing other things and did stumble a bit before getting back into the swing of it. Poor Tenor Banjo players have to suffer the thinner neck with metal strings!!! :)

I just mistyped Banjo Players and spell-check offered me Banjo pall-bearers as an option :rolleyes:

PhilUSAFRet
01-28-2013, 01:00 AM
I had a calfskin head put on my Rally concert size banjo uke and it helped make it sound more "banjo like." A 17 fret tenor banjo can be tuned like a baritone banjo uke, perhaps even gCEA. In U.S., Goldtone will install a concert or tenor banjo neck on their 11" head for a few extra bucks. Great folks to deal with.

strumsilly
01-28-2013, 01:39 AM
Thanks. Doesn't it feel weird, though, to play fingerstyle on a 1 inch nut? Us uke players (you, too) are so used to 1 3/8 or 1 4/8 nut width.I have a tenor guitar with the narrrow neck, and it does take some getting used to.I don't play it much, but this unique instrument has a very nice tenor scale neck and plays and sounds great [excuse the self promotion]
http://www.ukuleleunderground.com/forum/showthread.php?75623-Jeff-Menzies-tackhead-tenor-banjo-ukulele

PhilUSAFRet
01-28-2013, 04:50 AM
default standard for a tenor banjo is a width at the nut of 1-3/16. Some a little wider, some a little narrower.