Banjo vs. Ukulele: (Everything You Need To Know)

If you’re trying to decide whether you should learn the banjo or ukulele or just want to know the differences then this article is for you.

When you decide to learn to play a string instrument, you may have the uncertainty of which to choose among many. Here is a quick answer if you’re in a hurry.

It would probably be wise if you have no prior experience with stringed instruments to start with the ukulele because it is a little bit easier to learn and then think about transitioning to the banjo once you get a hang of it.

Let’s dive deeper into the details and see the differences.

Differences between banjo and ukulele

Banjo

The banjo is a very versatile instrument. There are various styles and tunings to choose from.

Adjustment is made very easy with any of the digital banjo tuners on the market; Besides, there is a free variety on the internet.

The types of banjos include four strings, five strings, six strings, and electric banjo. It depends on the kind of banjo you choose. Generally, the versions that we find on the market are four or five strings.

The 5 string banjo is the most popular. It is the easiest string instrument to start playing. The reason the 5-string banjo is so easy to get started with is that its standard tuning is an Open Sun tuning.

The banjo is a musical instrument that consists of four long strings and a shorter one spread over a fretted fingerboard. At the lower end, there is a bridge on which the ropes rest, which are then fastened in a small wooden glue.

Unlike the other instruments in the string family, the banjo soundboard has a leather membrane on top. The body of the instrument is like that of the drums, and the membrane is stretched over it. The bottom of the cylinder remains open

In this way, with the taut membrane and the open harmonic box, the sound produced by the strings is increased, since a higher resonant surface maintains contact with air.

To play and interpret this curious artifact, the finger-tapping technique is used, although you can also use a pick. 

The dimension of string and its resonant frequency varies depending on how hard the string is pressed against the frets. 

Frets are generally widely spaced, so the sounds produced by pressing a string on two adjacent frets are a separate semitone. The banjo is approximately 34 inches or, which is the same, about 85 centimeters.

Any of the options you choose is good for those who want to learn to play the banjo and get started in the fabulous world of this versatile instrument.

Ukulele

The ukulele as it was initially known on the island of Hawaii, is gaining adherents day after day. And it is not for less; this small but charming string instrument makes starting to play music simple and enjoyable.

The ukulele is a small plucked string instrument. It appeared around 1880 in Hawaii and was created by Portuguese immigrants who took inspiration from the Portuguese cavaquinho.

The ukulele or Hawaiian guitar is a plucked string instrument, generally with 4 strings, which can be double and usually nylon.

On the other hand, in Hawaii, the ukulele was made with koa, a type of hardwood that gave it a very distinctive round sound.

Today, we can find ukuleles with a shovel and a box in koa, but also in spruce, walnut or mahogany.

If your wish is to play the ukulele, it must be said that it is a perfect instrument to start playing something. It is simple, fun and sounds great. 

Besides, being a light instrument, it is very easy to handle and transport. And your fingers don’t hurt!

The ukulele was one of the most played instruments in the sixties, but it sounds more and more among us. 

It belongs to the guitar family, being smaller and with a somewhat exotic sound. It usually has four strings, but there are six and eight models. 

Many indie or rock groups already include it in their band, but in reality, it is that every day more people get excited and decide to learn to play it.

There are 4 types of ukulele according to size, which in turn will determine their sound, with the Soprano being the smallest and most acute, followed by Concert and Tenor until reaching Baritone (the older brother).

Soprano is the smallest and most authentic version, with a scale between 330 and 350 millimeters. 

This model is highly recommended for people playing the ukulele for the first time. The soprano ukulele is the best option for the little ones.

There is also a model called “banjolele“, a hybrid of banjo and ukulele (as the name suggests) with 100 years of history.

In contrast to the guitar, the ukulele uses “reentrant” tuning. This means that the strings are not continually tuned upward as on a guitar or like other stringed instruments. 

This particularity is what brings that particular and charming sound. Another option is a “Low-G” tuning, with a much fuller sound and particularly adaptable to guitarists and soloists, but a bit different from the typical ukulele sound.

Its tuning is G, C, E and A. Sometimes, the string g is tuned one octave higher, while some prefer string g one octave lower.

Which One Is Harder To Learn?

As for knowing which is easier to learn between the banjo and ukulele, we found that for guitarists, it is very easy to learn to play the banjo since the guitar and the banjo have some aspects in common.

With some essential songbooks for banjo or tutorials, you can start playing your first songs.

The ukulele is perfect to start in the world of plucked string, ideal for the little ones. 

The good news is that if you play the guitar, you will have an easier time understanding the mechanism of the ukulele. In fact, the shape of the chords is identical but in different positions.

You will soon be ready to play your first song.

Are Ukulele and Banjo Chords The Same?

Only banjo-ukuleles are the same as regular ukuleles and in the same tuning. Although you need to check out which specific type of banjo you have because not all types of banjos are the same as ukuleles.

Conclusion

Understanding the differences between the ukulele and the banjo is critical to deciding which instrument you are going to start learning how to play. 

The ukulele is probably the easiest to get a grasp on but the banjo you can do so much more and do some more interesting stuff.

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