Your Banjo, Uke, and Banjolele Questions Answered

It can be tough to tell the difference between a banjo, banjolele and ukulele if you don’t understand what they are. It can be confusing for people who are looking directly at them and have experience. The banjo has a drum of sorts that stretches across what’s called a “head.”

The ukulele looks like a small guitar with a short neck and fret on it. A banjolele is a melding of the two instruments with the head of a banjo and the neck of a ukulele. We’ve taken the time to answer some of the common questions people have about these instruments.

Banjo Questions and Answers

Are Banjos Tuned Like Guitars?

There are times when a banjo can be tuned like a guitar. There isn’t a straightforward answer to this question, though. All stringed instruments are tuned the same, but the chords are entirely different. Unless you are using a banjitar, which is a banjo tuned like a guitar. One of the most common banjos is the 5-string, which isn’t tuned like a guitar at all.

Are Banjos Loud?

Banjos can be incredibly loud depending on whether it has a resonator. That’s the pot on the back that causes the sound from the banjo to be projected forward. When there’s a resonator, the sounds from the banjo can be loud. With an open back, you’re actually getting a softer sound from the instrument.

Can Banjos be Expensive?

It will depend on the manufacturer and whether it’s a starter banjo. There are started banjos for beginners that will only cost a few hundred dollars. Banjos for professionals or serious amateur musicians can cost a few thousand dollars.

Are Banjo and Guitar Chords the Same?

The chords are different in the banjo and the guitar. The banjo could be tuned to open G or open C depending on the style of banjo being played. Strings 2, 3, and 4 are the same as the guitar, but the others are completely different.

Do Banjos Have Backs?

Not all banjos have resonators. That’s what the back of the banjo is called when one exists. Many banjos come with a resonator that can be removed depending on the sound the player would like to coax from the instrument.

Why Do They Have a Short String?

The short string on the banjo is known as the drone string. It’s attached halfway up the neck of the banjo. It’s meant to add depth and complexity to the sound being played.

Banjolele Questions

Why is It Called a Banjolele?

It’s a melding of the banjo and ukulele because it has a banjo head and a ukulele neck. It’s a nickname for the instrument. Other nicknames are the banjo uke, or banjulele.

Does a Banjolele Sound Like a Banjo?

The sounds from a banjolele are similar to a banjo because they both have heads that vibrate to make the sound. The difference between a banjo and a banjolele is the fretted neck of the banjolele. A banjolele is a banjo body with a ukulele neck.

Is the Banjolele Easy to Learn?

It would depend on the kind of instrument knowledge you have when you start. Some people pick up stringed instruments quickly while others spend weeks or months only to find that they don’t enjoy it.

When Was the Banjolele Invented?

While it’s unknown when exactly the banjolele was invented, the most well-known player was a British comedian by the name of George Formby. He learned to play as a part of his comedy.

Ukulele Questions Answered

Are Ukulele and Banjo Chords the Same?

The ukulele is more like a guitar than a banjo, so the chords are different. The ukulele has a wood body like a guitar with a small hole that emits sound. The banjo has a drum or head stretched across a rim.

Is it Easy to Play a Ukulele?

It’s said to be easier than some stringed instruments like the guitar. Within a few days of learning to pluck the strings, you’ll be able to put notes together that sound like songs. The ukulele is a small instrument, too, so it’s easier for children to pick it up and start playing.

Where Did the Ukulele Originate?

The instrument was adapted from a Portuguese instrument and played in the late 1800s in Hawaii. It’s still used in that region today, but it’s spread across the U.S., too.

Can Ukuleles Have Metal Strings?

While guitars can have metal strings, most ukuleles have nylon strings. It often depends on the player’s personal preference when it comes to the choice of string type. They can be made of nylon, nylgut, or fluorocarbon.

We hope we’ve answered some of your questions regarding these stringed instruments. It’s no wonder they are confusing since many of the terms and looks of the instruments overlap. If you have questions we haven’t covered, ask them in the comment section below!

3 comments
  1. Hi I just got a banjolele. What I want to know is, can you use it for country music?

    1. Hi Asta, yeah for sure … here’s an example https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HUWznZJZFNc

  2. My banjo ukulele has lost its loud sound and seems rather dull sounding.
    I am not an experienced player,it is in tune.
    Do I need to make other adjustments to get it sounding back to its lovely sound?

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