View Full Version : Banjolele?

06-09-2014, 04:10 AM
What are the sound differences between an open back vs. closed back vs resonator back banjo uke?

06-09-2014, 04:23 AM
Having played all three types (mind you, all antiques), it's pretty much sound projection. An open backed banjo is going to project the sound towards you, so it can be muffled if you're someone like me and your gut fills the back part of the banjo, so you'd have to adjust how you hold it for maximum volume. A "closed back" is still a resonator of sorts. It keeps your gut out of the banjo, and projects the sound out of the sides. So, to the payers ears, this will be loudest, but not necessarily to those listening. The resonator will resonate the sound way from you and towards your audience. To your own ears, it may not seem as loud, but to those listening, it will be evidently loud. Of course, it will also be your heaviest banjo as it will have the extra wood of the resonator, and the metal flange which holds it to the banjo.


06-09-2014, 07:47 AM
sound differences between an open back vs. closed back vs resonator back banjo uke? ... My old "John Grey & Sons" banjolele has a metal back which rings like a bell if it's struck without any damping, so if the instrument is held loosely, that is on a strap rather than clamped to the player's body, the tone can be really quite piercing. A few screws, the resonator comes off and it's a quiet little plunkety-plunkety banjo ... two totally different effects from the same instrument.
Tone quality may well vary between wood-backed and metal-backed instruments. Playing style, as in how you hold it, will also make a big difference ... definitely try-before-you-buy (or get one of each ;)

06-10-2014, 01:47 AM
I have all three versions. The heavy reflector which has the metal front rim for projection is my least favorite. The flat disc on the back does have a flat surface to keep sound from being absorbed. If you can trace a circle of the back side of an open-back, and cut it out, you can make your own disc to fit . Four small screws with a spacer of about 3/16ths
of an inch high beads or beads to hold the disc away from the body, is adequate. It makes the soprano banjolele into an instrument which really projects. I used a piece of 1/4 inch plexiglas(R) for mine, and also for a small 5 string Banjo strung with Aquila Red strings. I also would include a strap of webbed material from a choice of 19 different colours, if
you want to buy one of the N.I.B Eddy Finn units. Prices vary, and I do not discuss price on an open post. Aquila REDS really makes 'em bark. I am an authorized dealer. Whatever you may choose, it is new in the box.

06-10-2014, 06:18 AM
Even an open back banjo uke is typically louder than a standard ukulele. I think we can sum all this up with "loud, louder, and loudest."

06-10-2014, 05:07 PM
i just have an open back firefly which is fantastic, but holy is that thing loud compared to my other ukuleles. reso have a slight different sound than a banjolele.

but i agree with loud, louder, loudest

06-10-2014, 06:59 PM
Thanks for all the comments. I am leaning towards a closed back Eddy Finn (walnut). Has anyone had any time with it? My friend has a resonator Eddy Finn, but it is too heavy. I am also interested in the Firefly. I have played one and they are very light and have that banjo sound I am looking for. I just question the build and the price that you pay for them. I have also played an Enoch, but I can't justify the price.

06-11-2014, 03:38 AM
Oh - one more I would like to try is a Southern Cross. What I see in the marketplace look really nice, and the build quality and attention to detail looks great.

06-11-2014, 01:53 PM
The build is great from the magic fluke co.

I agree with what you are saying though, when looking into it they look like a drum that a neck was attached to. But when you play it and the intonation and action and sound is spot on you cant go wrong. Lots of people love the firefly and post alot on this forum about them too, just google it. I picked it cause it was light, sounded perfect and industructible and my other comparisons didnt feel right or were ALOT more for alot worse.

my tip try them all out if ya can esp banjolele casue they are all different and different feel and weight than a reg ukulele

06-11-2014, 05:26 PM
I played a firefly just recently, but forgot to really inspect it. It had that unique banjo sound just not load. Maybe because I held it close to my body. I did not have my Koaloha but I feel it would be just as load. My main reason for getting it is to play claw hammer in my bluegrass jam. I don't think I could cut it.

I still wonder about its construction. This web review shows the pot and it looks like compressed cardboard

Also got a ukulele web site states:
Looking at the pot first of all, as I say, it's just a hand drum, nothing more, with a synthetic Remo Fiberskyn head. As such, unlike other banjo ukes, there are no J hook tensioners around the rim holding the head in place, just a braided band of fabric. That has raised eyebrows with many as it means, naturally, that the head cannot be tuned or replaced in the event of damage. Fluke advised that the head is pre-tuned, but I suppose as a new instrument nobody really knows what years of playing will do to it. The pot is also unusual as it is not wooden, it's made of a synthetic composite material which actually looks like High Pressure Laminate - essentially a very tough cardboard - they call it an Acousticon Pot. The outer of the rim is finished with a faux wood effect label. Now all of this is sounding a bit ropey as I type it out - but there is a reason that Fluke went this route, and it's also the reason that I was keen to buy it. Weight and comfort.

The weight and tone I really like and our jam does play quieter when a uke is playing so I am still interested in a firefly concert with wood finger board. Since they have been out a few years can anyone tell hoe they have stood the test of time?

06-12-2014, 03:31 PM
supposedly if the pot does go out of tune you can buy a kit that has like splints that you can put in. their look has changed slightly though less ofthe compressed cardboard look IMHO.

I just got mine, I had the same concerns but looking into reviews it seems as though they do. I know you are looking into wood but if the plastic fretboard gets worn out magic fluke will replace it (within 3 years). There is a person on the forum who has number 17 and still loves it so i believe they stand the test of time.

Sorry if this s sounding like a shameless buy a firefly plug but they are great and I had all the same concerns as you but no regrets so far

06-12-2014, 11:36 PM
Oh - one more I would like to try is a Southern Cross. What I see in the marketplace look really nice, and the build quality and attention to detail looks great.

Hi, I have two SC's for sale on the market place forum. An open back solid timber block construction body, and a replica of the Gibson Ub2 flat back resonator style . The ub2 is in white, I think it looks stunning, but no buyers so maybe I was wrong. I have just bumped it up the list and it now has no price, I will look at offers. I need it sold. If you are interested in either pm me.