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Thread: Need help picking a banjolele

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Aug 2011
    Location
    Saint Joseph, Missouri
    Posts
    266

    Default Need help picking a banjolele

    I know there's been a zillion threads about this...but hear me out.

    The first time I saw/heard a banjolele I KNEW that I had to have one. Well, we got our taxes done early this year and we've got some money comin' in and my birthday is right around the corner so I've begged my wife to buy me one. That being said, I'm trying to narrow it down to THE ONE. I've read a ton of reviews and considered the prices, but I'm having trouble deciding between these four...

    The first two are some of the least expensive on the market....

    Lanikai LB6-S Openback Soprano Banjolele

    Eddy Finn EF-UB-1 Banjo Uke Banjolele - Soprano


    These choices fit my wallet a little bit better...but I wonder about the overall quality. The next two options are to buy one from Mainland Ukes or Waverly Street. I've always heard a ton of good things about both companies and the ukes they put out. I sort of see them as a step up from the Lanikai and the Eddy Finn. Would I be correct in making this assumption? Is it worth to just dish out the extra $50 or so to buy from Mainland or Waverly?

    Bottom line - I'd like to get a new one and these four seem to be more along the lines for someone who is a novice to the banjo uke. After reading countless reviews and watching numerous youtube videos I simply can't make up my mind. If you have any of these/have played any of them please let me know your thoughts. The last thing that I want is to end up with something that I'm not happy with. Thanks!

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Mar 2011
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    UK
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    Default

    Hi!

    I haven't tried the models you are listing, but I have a Gold Tone BUS and I'm extremely pleased with it. Didn't have to break the bank either because I was lucky to win it on ebay for a good price and to get it from an excellent e-seller. It was perfectly set-up and sounds really nice.

    Not sure how much they cost in shops, but it's definitely worth having a look at this model if you have a chance to try it.

  3. #3
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    Aug 2011
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    Saint Joseph, Missouri
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    Default

    Thanks for the suggestion! I did seriously consider a Goldtone, but I read a number of bad reviews that really turned me off to one. Also read some where people had nothing but praise for them. It seems really split...either you are going to absolutely hate it or absolutely love it.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Dec 2010
    Location
    Illinois, but Hawaii at Heart ;)
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    Default

    Gretsch released a new one at NAMM this weekend, it was pretty nice
    - Aaron

    Kamaka Ukulele History & Info Site (Unofficial)

    My Ukes: Kamaka Tenor, Pono Mahogany Concert

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Aug 2010
    Location
    New York City
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    Default

    Banjo ukes are like regular ukes only more so.

    Eddie Finn and Lanikai models you're talking about and their Gold Tone equivalent are ok; they're affordable and you get what you pay for.

    My advice is to spring for the Mainland or a Waverly street, because you're going to be getting a better instrument that's more satisfying to play.

    Note that EBay is absolutely crowded with bottom end slightly used banjo ukes being sold by folks who quickly got tired of the sound or wrestling with a middling set up.

    If you already know you want to play and like the sound, get as good a uke as you can.
    Last edited by Jnobianchi; 01-23-2012 at 11:26 AM.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Oct 2010
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    Honolulu, HI, USA
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    Default

    Out of the ones listed, I'd pick the Mainland.
    * Mom-Painted Flea * Half-Vintage, Half-Bean Sprout banjolele * Woody's Roundup Toy "Guitar" *

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Mar 2009
    Location
    Georgetown, KY
    Posts
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    Default Banjo uke picks

    I've never been a fan of the Lanikai banjo ukes. Those 6" heads are really small, they sound kind of tinny to me, and they are way expensive for what they are. I do really like the Gold Tone banjo ukes though. They seem well made. I've played the Mainlands and they do sound good, I just wish they came with removeable backs to give an additional tonal option. The Eddy Finns are nice too, I believe they are just rebranded Morgan Monroe banjo ukes. Mim has a good video online demonstrating those. Interesting timing of your post, I just received notice today that my semi-custom made, Wim van der Leden banjo uke was shipped out from his shop in the Netherlands today. I can't wait to play it. His prices are incredibly reasonable. I'm getting a tenor sized banjo uke with resonator and a traditional curvy shaped headstock with upgraded geared tuners for $320 shipped. I couldn't even get an off the shelf Gold Tone for that price. Reviews and videos online sound really good. It should be here in a week, I'll post a full review and video then.
    Last edited by Colonel Uke; 01-23-2012 at 03:14 PM.
    Paul Curry
    Pono MT-8 Mahogany Tenor 8 string
    Pono A/E Mahogony Tenor Deluxe
    Ono Cherry Tenor
    Kalia Cedar/ Rosewood Soprano
    Teton Baritone
    1950's Harmony Soprano
    Epiphone Les Paul A/E Concert
    Homebuilt A/E Cigar Box Tenor "The Winolele"
    Eddy Finn EF-BU2F Banjo Uke

  8. #8
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    Los Angeles - The Foothills
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    Default

    There is a pretty wide range of banjo ukes out there, each one with a different character. You might even consider a vintage banjo uke. Also take a look at a resonator uke, since they have a bit of that banjo-like tone, but not as much as a banjo uke. You should probably buy in person if you can, to make sure it is set up well, and sounds the way you want it to. So many variables... but that makes it more fun.

    –Lori

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Aug 2011
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    Saint Joseph, Missouri
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    Default

    Thanks everyone for the feedback.

    I'm starting to lean the direction of a Mainland. Heck, they're not much more than one of the cheaper Lanikai banjo ukes and people seem to appreciate them more. Plus, I've always had an eye on other mainland products and I've heard that the owner is a super nice guy. I'm a big fan of helping out smaller businesses rather than dishing out my money to a large company.

    I've definitely thought about going vintage...everyone seems to agree that the ones made in the 1930's era were the best. Problem is - I've been burned on ebay several times so I don't trust many sellers. And I also don't trust people to have taken care of one over the years.

  10. #10
    Join Date
    May 2010
    Location
    Central Illinois
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    Default

    I love my Gold Tone banjo uke. Mine's the BUC concert scale.
    Mainland Red Cedar Tenor
    DS Gill Tenor Pineapple spruce/mahogany
    Goldtone Concert Banjo Uke (BUC)
    Blueridge BR-40T Tenor guitar tuned DGBE
    Kala U-Bass
    Gold Tone CC-OT 5 string banjo
    ********************
    Come visit "CB's Pickin' Place"

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