Banjo Ukulele or “Banjolele” as it became more affectionately nick-named, was first introduced by innovator Alvin D Keech in 1917 in response to the need for a ukulele with more volume. With the rise in popularity of Folk, Bluegrass and 1920s and 30s Jazz, these plucky little characters are finding their way back into the hearts of many!
Popularised by British musician, actor and comedian George Formby, the Banjolele achieved its greatest popularity in the 1920s and ’30s, and combines the tuning, and playing style of a ukulele with the construction and distinctive tone of a banjo.
There are many different styles of Banjolele with a broad tonal range and timbre. From those with a Soprano scale and small banjo head offering a very snappy and bright percussive tone, capable of cutting through other ensemble instruments; to instruments with a longer scale-length and larger banjo head, with a deeper and more swollen tone that might lend itself well to the melodic tune of country and bluegrass style picking.
So if you’re a ukulele player hoping to join in with an Old Time or Bluegrass jam, the Banjo Ukulele might be just the ticket!