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Thread: NUD: SideKick Banjo Uke

  1. #1
    Join Date
    May 2014
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    Sumter County, FL
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    Default NUD: SideKick Banjo Uke

    "Sidekick" Banjo Ukulele.

    The instrument arrived today. It shipped from China, arriving via USPS. There has been not a lot of time to examine, play, restring, et cetera.

    Appearance: The lines are clean. The neck is smooth. The fit is fine and it just feels comfortable. The head is an 8-incher, held in place with six J-hooks and the tailpiece. I chose the model with a plain head (they also come with a neat design on the head). The fretboard has all the right markings.

    Set-Up: The SideKick comes with the strings on, but not tightened for immediate play. This is good, because there is less chance of damage during transcontinental shipping when nothing is tensed during whatever handling environments may be encountered.

    The instrument comes with a padded gig bag, shoulder strap, Aquila strings already on the instrument (but not under tuning tension and just holding the bridge on the head, a screwdriver-like key to adjust the J-hooks, a decent chromatic tuner, an Allen wrench for any neck tightening and a Philipps screwdriver if one needs one. Printed instructions are included, but if one has never before tuned a banjo or set the intonation, view a video on it (a good one is http://youtu.be/Z3AHG0MAF9o). My bridge ended up about two inches (5 cm) from the tailpiece.

    On mine I tightened the J-hooks about one full turn each to get the head at the tension I prefer. Again, if one has never done this before, suggest viewing a video on it (such as http://youtu.be/4cogMQEYWdM).

    I did not do any adjustment of the nut. It feels fine where it is. I don't like banjo string action to be too close to the frets, because I tend to play "feisty" a lot and don't want any buzzing due to the action being too low.

    Playability: The SideKick is smooth to the touch. It's much lighter than any "standard" banjo uke (SideKick is about 1.5 pounds) and basically is as light as any standard ukulele. The tenor-scale neck is slick and easy to go up and down the fretboard. The Instrument came tuned GCEA (high G) with Aquila NylGuts. I prefer CGDA and tuned the SideKick just like my other banjo uke and tenor banjo. I installed Aquila's 31U CGDA NylGut string set. The Sidekick tuned up nicely and was ready to go as soon as the strings stabilized a bit.

    Something which should be highlighted is the SideKick's weight. Some ukulele players are turned off by most banjo ukes, because the banjo ukes tend to weigh two-to-four (or seem like it!) times more than the standard concert or tenor ukulele. The SideKick weighs no more than either my Amahi concert uke or my Oscar Schmidt tenor 8-string. The Sidekick's light weight has not diminished it's fun, and the sound samples should make that point.

    Sound: I play a lot of rock and "Gulf and Western" stuff, so ran the SideKick threw several favorites. The SideKick responded well, sounding clear, bright and cheerful - definitely "banjo-ee." It's as loud as can be expected from an instrument with an 8-inch head and without a resonator, I'd feel comfortable taking the SideKick for jamming with guitars and mandolins. The Aquila NylGuts work well, especially if one wants to flatpick the Sidekick. A couple of sound samples I did of this instrument (one "G & W" and the other a "banjo classic") are at https://soundcloud.com/steveztv/sidekick-banjouke-one-1 and https://soundcloud.com/steveztv/sidekick-banjouke-up-on .

    Uniqueness: Ukulele enthusiasts will argue that the SideKick is a banjo-uke, while banjo enthusiasts will counter-argue it's a uke-banjo. A lot leading to both opinions has to do with the tenor scale length. If the Instrument had a larger head, the debate would even be more pronounced. Either way, the SideKick is indeed a cross-over instrument worthy of being in both ukukele and banjo company.

    Bottom line: Am quite satisfied, and darned happy I got the SideKick before the maker realizes the instrument is worth more than he's charging for it, Size-wise, weight-wise, sound-wise and price-wise the Sidekick is a welcome addition to the stable.

    image.jpg image.jpg image.jpg
    Last edited by SteveZ; 05-18-2015 at 03:39 PM.
    ...SteveZ

    Ukuleles: Martin T1K (T), Oscar Schmidt OU28T (T8), Lanikai LU-6 (T6), Lanikai LU-22T (T), RISA Solid (C), Effin UkeStart (C), Flea (S)
    Banjo-Ukes: Duke 10 (T), Lanikai LB6-S (S)
    Tenor Guitars: Martin TEN515, Blueridge BR-40T
    Tenor Banjo: Deering Goodtime 17-Fret
    Mandolin: Burgess (#7)

    Ukuleles, Guitars & Banjo tuned CGDA, Mandolin tuned GDAE

    The inventory is always in some flux, but that's part of the fun.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Dec 2014
    Location
    Michigan
    Posts
    91

    Default

    Did you get an email when it shipped?
    Greg McHugh

    Martin OXK Soprano, Famous (Kiwaya) Thin Body Soprano
    Mainland Red Cedar Long Neck Pineapple, Oscar Schmidt OU2 Concert
    Kealoha Concert, Mainland Mahogany Tenor Cutaway,
    Kala Cedar Tenor Cutaway, Godin Multi-Uke,
    Midnight Special Tenor Banjo Uke

  3. #3
    Join Date
    May 2014
    Location
    Sumter County, FL
    Posts
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    Default

    Yep, with China Post registered tracking number. It took only a few days.
    ...SteveZ

    Ukuleles: Martin T1K (T), Oscar Schmidt OU28T (T8), Lanikai LU-6 (T6), Lanikai LU-22T (T), RISA Solid (C), Effin UkeStart (C), Flea (S)
    Banjo-Ukes: Duke 10 (T), Lanikai LB6-S (S)
    Tenor Guitars: Martin TEN515, Blueridge BR-40T
    Tenor Banjo: Deering Goodtime 17-Fret
    Mandolin: Burgess (#7)

    Ukuleles, Guitars & Banjo tuned CGDA, Mandolin tuned GDAE

    The inventory is always in some flux, but that's part of the fun.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    May 2010
    Location
    greece,athens
    Posts
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    Default

    Heyo Steve could you post a sample with fingerplaying in order to listen individuals notes?
    Also what would you suggest?Banjolele sidekick or Firefly fluke banjouke?
    Nice review btw )

  5. #5
    Join Date
    May 2014
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    Sumter County, FL
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    Quote Originally Posted by yannakis View Post
    Heyo Steve could you post a sample with fingerplaying in order to listen individuals notes?
    Also what would you suggest?Banjolele sidekick or Firefly fluke banjouke?
    Nice review btw )
    They are both fun instruments. I guess it all depends on what plans to do with it and whether one prefers tenor or concert length. Both are lightweight compared to other banjo ukes. For me, I like the idea of the user-replaceable head and being able to tune the head. Down the road I can see wanting to put another head on the instrument, if only to try something different. . One can't do wrong with either instrument.
    ...SteveZ

    Ukuleles: Martin T1K (T), Oscar Schmidt OU28T (T8), Lanikai LU-6 (T6), Lanikai LU-22T (T), RISA Solid (C), Effin UkeStart (C), Flea (S)
    Banjo-Ukes: Duke 10 (T), Lanikai LB6-S (S)
    Tenor Guitars: Martin TEN515, Blueridge BR-40T
    Tenor Banjo: Deering Goodtime 17-Fret
    Mandolin: Burgess (#7)

    Ukuleles, Guitars & Banjo tuned CGDA, Mandolin tuned GDAE

    The inventory is always in some flux, but that's part of the fun.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    May 2010
    Location
    greece,athens
    Posts
    31

    Default

    From videos i've seen Firefly has more "banjoish" sound which i prefer.Although Sidekick seems quite good at the same time..

  7. #7
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    Sumter County, FL
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    Well, it's been a couple days. The strings have fully stabilized, and I just couldn't keep myself from adjusting the nut slots to lower the action over the first few frets. i still play "feisty" and it's even smoother now. Have to admit to really liking this instrument.

    I'm finding myself going back-and-forth from my tenor banjo and both banjo ukes, playing the same tune on each. Each one brings a smile and a "this really is a keeper." To me, banjo ukes must be "banjo-ee" in sound and feel, and must hold their own in sound quality and volume with mandolins and guitars during jams.

    There is a local banjo uke club which meets every Tuesday noon. Am planning to take the SideKick there next week. Should be an interesting time.
    ...SteveZ

    Ukuleles: Martin T1K (T), Oscar Schmidt OU28T (T8), Lanikai LU-6 (T6), Lanikai LU-22T (T), RISA Solid (C), Effin UkeStart (C), Flea (S)
    Banjo-Ukes: Duke 10 (T), Lanikai LB6-S (S)
    Tenor Guitars: Martin TEN515, Blueridge BR-40T
    Tenor Banjo: Deering Goodtime 17-Fret
    Mandolin: Burgess (#7)

    Ukuleles, Guitars & Banjo tuned CGDA, Mandolin tuned GDAE

    The inventory is always in some flux, but that's part of the fun.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Jun 2013
    Location
    Arvada, Colorado
    Posts
    129

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    Is it a concert banjo uke with a tenor neck? In their video I thought they referred to it as a concert size.

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by Edgeguy View Post
    Is it a concert banjo uke with a tenor neck? In their video I thought they referred to it as a concert size.
    Not sure what you mean. Most banjo ukes whether soprano or concert have an 8-inch head. The only exception I know is the concert-scale Deering Goodtime (11-inch head) which uses many of the same parts found on the rest of the Deering GoodTime banjo series. The SideKick has a "standard" banjo uke 8-inch head with a tenor-scale neck and thus the fret spacing one finds on a tenor uke.
    Last edited by SteveZ; 05-29-2015 at 02:31 AM.
    ...SteveZ

    Ukuleles: Martin T1K (T), Oscar Schmidt OU28T (T8), Lanikai LU-6 (T6), Lanikai LU-22T (T), RISA Solid (C), Effin UkeStart (C), Flea (S)
    Banjo-Ukes: Duke 10 (T), Lanikai LB6-S (S)
    Tenor Guitars: Martin TEN515, Blueridge BR-40T
    Tenor Banjo: Deering Goodtime 17-Fret
    Mandolin: Burgess (#7)

    Ukuleles, Guitars & Banjo tuned CGDA, Mandolin tuned GDAE

    The inventory is always in some flux, but that's part of the fun.

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Dec 2014
    Location
    Michigan
    Posts
    91

    Default

    I did get a shipping notice a few days ago on mine so it should be getting here...
    Greg McHugh

    Martin OXK Soprano, Famous (Kiwaya) Thin Body Soprano
    Mainland Red Cedar Long Neck Pineapple, Oscar Schmidt OU2 Concert
    Kealoha Concert, Mainland Mahogany Tenor Cutaway,
    Kala Cedar Tenor Cutaway, Godin Multi-Uke,
    Midnight Special Tenor Banjo Uke

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