Concert and Standard Soprano Banjo-Ukes

Uke Whisperer

Well-known member
Jan 3, 2011
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North Myrtle Beach, S.C., U.S.A.
Listening to all the demos and sound bites I can find on the net, it seems to me that when comparing the Soprano Banjo-Uke to the Concert version, the Concert seems a little more “mellow” than the Soprano. Am I hearing things incorrectly or is that true? For some reason the Concert sounds more like a Banjo-Uke and the Soprano more like a Uke Banjo. To me it’s kind of like the Concert is more of a Uke with the Banjo sound added and the Soprano is more like a Banjo with the uke added. True? Perhaps they are the same sound, but listening to them on the net, that is the way it sounds to me. Is the length of scale the only difference?
I'm new to banjoleles but I do have a soprano. I must say that it is very brash and 'in your face' sound-wise. I have not heard a concert scale banjo uke but would think that the longer scale may mellow it out a bit, though I don't know by how much.
I've got a 1930's soprano sized banjolele and a new Chinese made concert banjolele. they sound completely differnt. The old George Haughton and son sounds very lively and being light is a joy to play. easily hearable when played in a group of other instruments. The new one is much more subdued and is much heavier. Does not inspire me like the old one.
I couldn't agree with you more. It's just a different style of build nowadays.

I think you can work with the current instruments to get them sounding well, but I still like the sound of the older instruments, and even cheap ones - $100-200 - can sound very good.

On the negative side, you have to get an instrument in good to excellent condition because refurbishing a cheapie using a luthier *isn't cheap* - costs more than the instrument will be worth when you're done.

Then again, it isn't that hard to find a good one. Elderly has always come through for me - and played the instrument for me over the phone, examining every detail. I've bought twice from them that way - and two other times, I didn't. They're very easy to get a good uke from, and I know that there are others who work this way, Bernunzio and I think Jake at Antebellum. Even eBay works if you know what you're doing.

But hey - this is moot. I know that Tom is bound to Amazon, so it feels like I'm digressing.

Thanks. I was heading for Amazon but decided to change plans. I'm going to "re-gift" my Amazon certificates (will still have to be in my name though) to my wife and will help her through the process. Then I plan to purchase locally. I feel better supporting a local shop, especially when the pricing is the same. Also feel it would could be benficial for me if I do have problems or when I decide to purchase another instrument. I hope this is the correct move. I feel better about it anyway.

Uncle Tom (not to be confused with "Papa Tom" and yes, I'm working on a name change, just haven't found the "right one" yet)
One last thing - I know I've said this before in another thread, so forgive me if I have. Prior to Gold Tone making soprano, concert and tenor banjo ukes in the past decade or so, there was only one size...and it wasn't called anything other than 'banjo ukulele'. Now, most manufacturers offer more than one size of banjo uke, its a new development, and as such, there's no standard attribute for a soprano or a concert or a tenor or a baritone. They vary widely in tone and playing characteristics. One company's 'soprano' may sound tinny, while another's may sound loud and full. the evolution of the instrument has just as much to do with it as set up does, and a good set up can help, but can't save a tinny design from sounding tinny. I would absolutely recommend that you try these instruments in your hands so you know what they are and get a sense of how they could be improved.

If you do go the vintage route, There is only one size. Beware of someone selling a vinatage baritone or tenor - you may find you're buying a pony banjo or a tenor banjo or similar. With vintage ukes, you'll find scale lengths vary only slightly, but that most instruments - with 6", 7" or 8" pots - have 15-17 frets. The various flavors of Lange-built ukes (Avalon, Langstile, Banner Blue, White Swan, Blue Boy, and ukes made for S.S. Stewart, Vernon, and Bruno) tend to be longer 18-19 frets, as do Lyon and Healy Washburns and Weymans. All these firms, and Ludwig, additionally offered optional 'longscale' instruments of 19+ frets for players who wanted more range.

So, try before you buy, and with vintage - there's only one size.
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