Do you love the sunny sound of the banjo or enjoy the light feel of the ukulele? The banjolele is a brilliant hybrid instrument of the two. The banjolele has a similar neck to the ukelele and its four-string tuning, but it produces the bright, plucky sound of the banjo. And not only is it a great instrument for banjo-ists, uke players, or musicians familiar with string instruments, but it’s an instrument that anyone can enjoy, regardless of musical level.
What to Look for in a Banjolele
Here are some basic considerations to think about before you choose a banjolele:
- Material: High-quality materials in a banjolele’s construction allow for long-term use and a better aesthetic. Consider not only the material used in the body of the instrument but the material of the strings as well.
- Playability: A string instrument can be tough to play, as pressing its strings onto its fretboard can become uncomfortable over long periods of playing. On top of this, the instrument can also “untune” itself during play, which is a hassle as well. Consider the material of the strings, as materials like nylon can help ease any discomfort felt in your playing hand. An adjustable action is helpful because it determines the height from the strings to the fretboard. Also consider the quality of the instrument’s tuning pegs, as high-quality pegs can help keep the banjolele in tune during play.
- Accessories Included: It’s incredibly convenient to have all the accessories you need before play. Banjolele sets that provide accessories like picks, spare strings, and adjustment tools will allow you to get started as soon as possible.
Best Beginner Set: Mulucky 4 String Banjo Ukulele Concert
This banjolele from Mulucky comes with everything you need to start playing. It includes a tuner, strap, wrench, cleaning cloth, picks, and a set of replacement strings. The 23-inch banjolele features a Remo Fyberskin drumhead that delivers a clear, full-range tone with great resonation in its mid range and low range. The four-string instrument is crafted with a maple top and back and is tuned in standard G-C-E-A ukulele tuning.
Mulucky 5 String Banjo Openback (BU802)
This banjolele set provides the accessories you need to get started as soon as possible.
Best Budget Pick: Kmise 4 String Banjo Ukulele
If you’re looking for a more economical option, this banjolele from Kmise is definitely a good buy. The Kmise drum head is designed with polyester material that has a high sensitivity. Additionally, the four-string instrument is supplied with Aquila strings and high-quality closed tuning pegs that provide bright tones and precise intonation. The banjolele is also designed with low action for comfortable playing, but this can be adjusted with its truss rod.
Kmise 4 String Banjo Ukulele Uke Concert 23 Inch Size Sapele With Bag Tuner
This banjolele provides high-quality strings and tuning pegs.
Best High-End: Luna Guitars Banjolele
If you’re willing to pay for a premium banjolele, consider this one from Luna Guitars. The banjolele features a mahogany neck with a black walnut fingerboard. The instrument shares the same tuning as a concert ukulele as well. Not only does the banjolele offer quality sound, but comes with many nuanced design features, like a clear drumhead, etched Hawaiian quilt patterns, and a tobacco burst finish.
Luna 8" Banjolele with Ulu Design, Tobacco Burst
This banjolele is beautifully designed with high-quality materials and creative patterns.
Best Open-Back: AKLOT Banjo Ukulele Concert
Open-back banjos have a softened tone in comparison to their closed-back counterparts, making this type great for clawhammer-style playing. This banjolele from AKLOT is designed with an open back and a deep rim to help project the instrument’s bright sound toward the audience. The Remo Fyberskin drumhead provides the instrument with a distinct, plucky sound, and its 15:1 geared tuner allows for precise tuning. The sanded maple fingerboard and adjustable action allow you to comfortably play to your own preference. Plus, you get some nice extras in this set.
AKLOT Banjo Ukulele Concert 23 inch Remo Drumhead Open Back Maple Body 15:1 Advanced Tuner with Two Way Truss Rod Gig Bag Tuner String Strap Picks
This banjolele offers an open-back design that projects its bright sound toward the audience.