- Banjo ukulele
name = Banjo Ukulele
color = #FFEC8B
The banjolele (brand name; sometimes banjo ukulele or banjo uke) is a four-stringed
musical instrumentwith a small banjo-type body and a fretted ukulele neck. "Banjolele," sometimes also spelled "banjelele" or "banjulele" is a generic nickname given to the instrument, which was derived from the 'banjulele-banjo,' introduced by Alvin D. Keech in 1917.
The instrument achieved its greatest popularity in the 1920s and '30s, and combines the small scale, tuning, and playing style of a ukulele with the construction and distinctive tone of a banjo, hence the name.
Construction and Tuning
Banjo ukuleles parallel banjo construction, on a smaller scale, in terms of overall construction. They are almost always fretted. Most are built of wood with metal accoutrements, although the mid-century "Dixie" brand featured banjoleles made from solid metal. The banjolele neck typically has sixteen
frets: shorter than a banjo, but longer than a ukulele). Banjo ukuleles may be open-backed, or may incorporate a resonator.
The banjolele is commonly tuned GCEA ("C Tuning") or ADF#B ("D Tuning"), with a re-entrant 4th string. The ADF#B tuning often produces a more strident tone, and is used for this reason. Both of these tunings are known as "my dog has fleas" tunings (5th, Tonic, Maj 3rd, Maj 6th).
The banjolele (also commonly referred to as a
ukuleleor 'uke') was the instrument played by British comedian George Formby (1904-61), who developed his own style of playing in accompaniment to his comic songs. His name is associated with the instrument more than that of any other musician. Other artists to make eminent use of the banjolele are Wendell Hall, and Roy Smeckin the USA, and Billy 'Uke' Scott, Alan Randall, and Andy Eastwoodin Great Britain.
Brian Mayused a banjolele in the song " Bring Back That Leroy Brown", which appeared on their third album " Sheer Heart Attack", and also " Good Company" on " A Night at the Opera" album. George Harrisonalso favored the instrument in his latter years, using it in several recordings.
P.G. Wodehouse's novel " Thank You, Jeeves", valet Jeevesis driven to resign over his employer Bertie Wooster's decision to take up the banjolele - a testament to the fact that the instrument has rarely been considered a 'serious' one, its propensity to comedy songs affording it a pejorative musical reputation.
Other uses of the term
There is another, lesser known instrument that goes by the same name. It is any banjo string tuning (normally a four string tuning) on a small guitar shaped body. It is usually just a modified ukulele.
*Bean Sprout (USA)
*Gold Tone (South Korea)
* [http://www.spankyukes.com Spanky Banjo Ukes (USA)]
*Tyler Mountain (South Korean)
George Formby, Jr.
* [http://freespace.virgin.net/dennis.taylor/index_3.htm World of Banjo Ukulele]
* [http://uke-banjo.info/ Uke-banjo, my life (cz)]
* [http://www.banjoukes.com/ The Banjo Ukulele Haven]
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