The banjolele combines the tone and acoustic design of the banjo with the scale and playing style of the ukulele. This unique design results in an instrument that is played like an ukulele but sounds like a banjo. You therefore get the playing ease of the ukulele and the volume of the banjo.
In this review, we will be looking at some of the best banjoleles currently available. The aim is to help you find the perfect banjolele for your needs and budget. If you are ready to look at some of the best banjoleles, read on.
Here we go!
Top 10 Best Banjoleles On The Market 2019 Reviews
1 TFW Banjolele Ukulele Banjo
This banjolele from TFW (The Fret Wire) can be aptly described as an ukulele built like a banjo. Surely, it plays like an ukulele and sounds like a banjo. However, the two important points about it is that it is well built and affordable.
Let’s look at its build.
The sides and back are made of mahogany while the fretboard and top bridge are made of rosewood. With a 15 inch scale and an overall length of 24 inches, it is a concert scale model. And to ensure durability, a truss rod runs through the length of the neck.
This truss rod ensures the neck does not experience forward curvature. This is, however, usually adjustable to allow some relief to the neck if desired. Apart from the truss rod, it also has a coordinator rod used for tension adjustment.
The manufacturer used a Remo head for the drum head in order to ensure good quality. Furthermore, to ensure it is well secured, they attached it to the instrument’s body with 12 head brackets. However, you can adjust the tension of the head to suit your needs.
That’s not all.
To help you have more control over the acoustics of the instrument, the back is removable. This back, also known as a resonator, plays a very important role in the volume achieved. Therefore, if you play without the resonator, you’ll get a lower volume.
This instrument comes stringed and the geared tuner makes for easy tuning. This is a very comfortable and easy instrument to hold and play but more importantly, with the included instructions setting this up is very easy.
There you have it. An instrument that is well built, has a good tone and is affordable.
Our Rating: (4.3 / 5)
2 Gold Tone Banjolele-DLX Banjo Ukulele Deluxe
Gold Tone designed this instrument in the mold of one of the most popular banjoleles ever made. It is Gold Tone’s upgrade from its earlier open back design. In addition, this new design offers more volume and more sound projection.
It combines a one-piece flange design and a deep-wall resonator to deliver this increased volume. This of course is also affected by the rest of its maple construction. It’s not just all about volume, it also has a great tone.
This is a concert size banjolele built mainly with maple wood. The neck is also maple while the fingerboard is ebony wood. The bridge on the other hand is made of maple but has an ebony cap.
It has an 8 inch rim and 16 brackets hold the drum head securely in place. It also uses a rolled brass tone ring. And to ensure durability and rust free use, all the hardware are chrome plated.
Tuning and keeping the strings on this instrument tuned is quite easy. This model has a Grover-style tuner, upgraded from the former friction pegs. The recommended tuning is G C E A with .023, .030, .036, and .025 strings.
For increased comfort during play, it comes with a Vega-style armrest. Enjoy the ukulele ease of play and the acoustic delivery of the banjo.
Our Rating: (3.9 / 5)
3 Deering Goodtime Banjo Ukulele Concert Scale
This Banjo Ukulele from Deering is a compactly designed instrument. Though somewhat small, it is a concert scale instrument with full 11 inch rim. Because it is compact and lightweight, it is easy to carry around to have a goodtime anywhere.
Deering made this lovely instrument with top quality materials. The 3-ply Violin Maple construction with its maple neck and Deering’s patented bridge and plate all contribute to its quality. The fact that it is made in the U.S further assures of its quality.
It does not stop there.
A top quality Renaissance Head covers the full size rim and 16 brackets hold this head securely in place. Put all these features together and you have an instrument that delivers a full rich tone.
As an instrument that is compact and lightweight, it is comfortable to hold. However, adding the Aquila Super Nylgut strings further improves its ease of play. Playing is stress free and fun since these nylon strings are very easy on the fingers.
Our Rating: (5 / 5)
4 Kala Soprano Banjo Ukulele
This is an open back design banjolele from Kala. Its open back design may not have a lot of resonance but it does have a bright snappy sound. This can cut through other sounds, allowing your listeners to hear its lovely sound.
As the name suggests, Kala built it like a banjo even though it is a soprano size ukulele. You play it the same way you play an ukulele but you experience a different tonal quality. Furthermore, the designers fitted it with a Remo Weatherking head which contributes to the overall sound quality. 10 brackets hold this Remo head securely in place.
You will love this…
To ensure the durability of this instrument, the makers chrome-plated all of of its hardware parts. This will at least ensure these hardware parts do not succumb to the elements.
In addition, Kala understands the need to keep your banjolele always in tune. To ensure this, this instrument comes with deluxe geared tuners. As with other hardware parts, the tuner’s pegs are all chrome.
Finally, this is a wonderful opportunity to play a soprano sized ukulele and get the results of a banjo.
Our Rating: (4.4 / 5)
5 Oscar Schmidt OUB1 Ukulele
The Oscar Schmidt OUB1 Ukulele is a concert size banjolele. It delivers the best of ukulele playing style along with the banjo tone and resonance. This is like enjoying the best of two worlds.
Oscar Schmidt built this instrument with quality materials to ensure both durability and sound quality. Playing on all 18 frets is easy on the fretboard made of bound rosewood. These are all placed on the mahogany neck which supports them all.
That’s not all.
It comes with an open gear tuning system which helps you keep your strings in tune. This is attached to the maple headstock and tuning is done easily with the pearliod buttons.
At the other end, you have the main body with the attached head. 12 aluminum brackets secure a Remo head which it comes with. Below this, you get the resonator which is made of mahogany.
Actually, the resonator back plate is made of bound mahogany. You have the option of removing this if you do not need the added resonance it offers. This allows you more tonal options..
Oscar Schmidt offers a limited lifetime warranty on this product. This surely is a good indication of the quality you can expect.
Our Rating: (4.4 / 5)
6 Oscar Schmidt Model OUB1 Concert Size Banjolele Banjo Uke w/Gig Bag and More
This bundle includes the Oscar Schmidt OUB1. Remember this instrument? We described it above. It’s a concert size banjolele that combines the best of both an ukulele and banjo.
This banjolele is mainly constructed with mahogany. It has both a mahogany neck and a mahogany back plate or resonator. However, the fingerboard is made of bound rosewood while the headstock is made of maple.
The acoustic center of this instrument has a Remo head on top and the mahogany plate below. 12 aluminum brackets hold the Remo head in place. These combine to give it its unique rich sound.
Remember that you can have a different sound if you choose. You achieve this by removing the mahogany resonator below. This is, however, totally at your discretion.
Now the extras.
We’ve looked at the main item – the banjolele. Now we will look at some of the extras that comes with this bundle. After all, that is what really differentiates this from the previous product.
This package comes with a concert size gig bag. This bag makes it easier to carry the banjolele around. It also offers some protection to the instrument if you need to transport it or keep it in storage.
Also bundled with this product is a clip on tuner from Effin. The ability to keep your instrument constantly in tune is one that is very important. This makes it possible.
Finally, it includes two ukulele picks and a polishing cloth. Obviously, the polishing cloth is for keeping your instrument clean. The pick also is clearly to help you play without callousing your fingers.
There you have it. The Oscar Schmidt OUB1 and the bundled items.
Our Rating: (4 / 5)
7 Gold Tone BUB Baritone Banjo Ukulele
This is a baritone banjo ukulele. What this simply means is that it has the longest scale length. A baritone scale length is 19 inches which is the scale length of this instrument. This therefore makes it a baritone banjo ukulele.
Let’s see more.
As with all banjo ukuleles from Gold Tone, this has an 8 inch rim construction. Furthermore, it has a Remo Weather King head that covers the maple pot. 12 brackets hold this head securely in place.
To complete the acoustic chamber, you have the resonator below. The plate-style resonator is made of maple flat back. These provide the main acoustics that influence the sound of the instrument.
The designers chose maple for the neck of this baritone banjolele but opted for rosewood for the finger board. A two-way adjustable truss rod secures the neck while allowing you to make adjustments. And to help you keep your strings in tune, they added a Grover-style geared tuner.
Remember, this is a baritone scale banjolele with its 19 inch scale length and 20 frets. It weighs about 3 pounds which makes it not too heavy for a baritone banjolele.
Lastly, a hard shell case is provided with your order. This will provide both secure storage and an easy way to transport it.
Our Rating: (4.1 / 5)
8 Kmise 4 String Banjo Ukulele
This is a 23 inch concert Banjolele from Kmise. It’s a very affordable banjolele, making it a good product for anyone who wants to try out this hybrid instrument.
Kmise used Sapele wood largely in the construction of this instrument. The neck, side and back are all made of sapele wood. However, they used rosewood for the fingerboard.
They used a hard material that is corrosion-proof but comfortable to the touch to give the fingerboard good protection. This ensures both ease of play and durability. Additionally, they improved the fretboard’s durability by using abrasion-proof copper fret wire.
Adding to the acoustic value of the sapele wood construction is the head which covers the top part. Twelve brackets hold this head securely in place.
That’s not all.
You can both tune this banjolele and keep it in tune easily with the closed, geared tuning system. The chrome tuning pegs offer easy tuning control for quick and stress free tuning. Having your instrument hold a tune for as long as possible is just so convenient.
Enjoy this banjolele which comes with the strings pre-strung. The included string is a set of premium Aquila strings. These are good quality strings from Italy.
Finally, all of these combine to deliver a lovely banjo-like sound with good volume too. That’s the Kmise 4 String Banjo Ukulele for your consideration.
Our Rating: (4 / 5)
9 Kala KA-BJN-BKC Concert Banjo Ukulele
Kala offers ukulele players who want to also enjoy the banjo sound this concert banjo ukulele. This is a closed back model with an option to remove the back. Doing this turns it into an open back banjolele which gives you more tonal options.
Kala made this instrument with good quality materials. They made the body and back (resonator) with 5-ply maple and the neck of mahogany. On the other hand, they made the fingerboard of walnut wood.
On its standard banjo headstock, you will find an open gear tuning machine that keeps the strings tuned. The strings connect to a saddle made of maple with an ebony cap. The designers ensured that they used brass for every piece of hardware in this instrument.
Finally, it also comes with a good quality head. Surely, the quality of the head has some impact on the instrument’s overall sound quality. Kala fitted this one with a Remo WeatherKing head which they secured with 12 brass brackets.
The final tonal delivery is lovely and quite loud. So, enjoy the sweet and easy playing style of the ukulele with a totally different sound output.
Our Rating: (3.7 / 5)
10 BanjoUke SideKick Tenor Banjolele
This banjolele from BanjoUke is an open back model with a tenor scale length. It delivers a full bodied sound that is warm and rich.
What makes this banjolele tick?
The whole instrument is built around the drum which is made of seven layer birchwood. Attached to this drum at the top is a polyvinyl head that is designed to handle high impact. You can choose to get this head plain or with a polynesian tattoo.
Attached to the drum is an 18 fret neck which is made of solid mahogany. A rosewood fretboard with mother of pearl inlay give it both functionality and beauty. Furthermore, it comes pre-strung with Aquila Supernylgut strings which are attached to a non-adjustable Nashville tailpiece.
Now the interesting part…
This package comes with a lot of extras. The reason for including these extras is to help you have a better playing experience with this instrument.
Firstly, it comes with a gig bag. Now, this is not just a flimsy gig bag that offers no protection. It is effective because it is padded and will protect your instrument from damaging impact.
Secondly, when you are gigging, you may need to stand up which will require that you carry the instrument on a strap. You can gig conveniently standing or seated because the package includes an adjustable shoulder strap.
That’s not all.
You also get an electronic tuner which helps you keep your instrument tuned. This is because you just have to tune your instrument well if you are to make great music with it. It is nonnegotiable as far as music is concerned.
Finally, you will also find in the package a neck adjuster, a tuning peg tightener and a drum tensioner. This package is fully loaded.
Our Rating: (3.3 / 5)
Best Banjolele Buying Guide
A banjolele is a very unique instrument. It is a combination of an ukulele and a banjo. A lot of ukulele players wish they could enjoy more volume, this instrument offers that.
The banjolele, also called a banjo ukulele, is built to play like an ukulele. The tuning and style of play is that of an ukulele. However, the design of its body resembles a banjo. This is to enable it deliver more volume and resonance.
As with all instruments, it is important to know how to choose right. It is one thing to choose a banjolele and it is another thing to one that is right for you. This guide will help you do just this.
We have looked at some of the best banjoleles in the market today. How do you decide which is right for you? That is the question which we aim to answer here.
To answer this question, we will need to look at some important factors to consider when choosing a banjolele. Hopefully, by looking at these important factors and specifications, we shall have provided you with the tools you need to choose right.
Some of the important factors we will be looking include type, materials and other important factors. Some of these factors will however have sub topics under them.
So here we go.
This should be the very first thing you should consider before buying a banjolele. There are four major types of banjoleles. These are soprano, concert, tenor and baritone.
When talking about types of banjoleles, we are also talking about their sizes. What differentiates one from the other is their scale length, full length and number of frets.
Let’s break it down.
A soprano banjolele will have a full length of about 21 inches with a scale length of 13 inches, and about 12 to 15 frets.
For a concert banjolele, its full length will be 23 inches with a scale length of 15 inches and about 15 to 20 frets.
A tenor banjolele will have a full length of about 26 inches with a scale length of 17 inches, and about 15 to 20 frets.
The last but not the least is the baritone banjoele which will have a full length of about 30 inches a scale length of 19 inches and no fewer than 19 frets.
The information we have given you above is important because you have to tune these different types of banjolele differently. You need to tune the soprano and concert to GCEA and ensure you tune the tenor and baritone to DGBE.
The implication is this. If you got a tenor banjolele instead of a concert size, you might need to learn the chording on the new instrument.
You certainly want to look at the quality of material used in the construction of any instrument you want to purchase. The banjolele is no different. Therefore, spend some time going through the materials used.
This is important for two main reasons. Firstly, the quality of material used can affect the tonal quality of the instrument. Secondly, it can also affect its durability.
Other Important Factors
There are a number of important factors that will make your banjolele perform well. Some of these include the type of tuning machine, the quality of the bridge, the string quality, the quality of the head etc.
You may also want to consider the design. You can have an open back design or a closed back one. A closed back design can have a removable resonator (back) turning it into an open back banjolele.
However, if you are not sure which will work best for you, you may want to get a model with a removable back. This way, you can test it with the back and without it to determine which you prefer.
There are a few other important things you may want to consider with each instrument. We have however looked at some of the more important factors. If you can carefully consider these, you should be able to choose right.
Finally, it’s been an interesting ride and we have looked at 10 of some the best bangoleles we could find online. Each of the products we looked at offered some good value. However, they were all not of the same quality.
Some offered more value in one way or another. After carefully reviewing each of this products, we must now deliver a verdict because there just has to be a winner.
Based on features offered and some other considerations, we have a winner. Our winner for the best banjolele is the Deering Goodtime Banjo Ukulele Concert Scale.