on January 30, 2012
You need to know what to expect from a banjolele when buying this instrument. Just because you play a ukulele doesn't mean you'll make a clean transition to it. Think of it as a really small banjo tuned like a ukulele.
The bridge does not come installed; it's laying flat in a pouch on the gigbag. It takes a while to get it perfectly placed (about the same distance from the 12th fret as the 12th fret is from the nut, for those not in the know), complicated by the fact that the Aquila strings take a while to stretch out. It's going to take a good week or so before you can expect to play it with good intonation. Once that's out of the way, it's a fun instrument to play and you'll probably get some strange looks from people as you play it.
The instrument also comes with a small wrench that's used to loosen up the rods that hold the head in place. You won't need this right away, but be sure to keep it for when you need to change the head.
The gigbag is of pretty good quality. The bottom part is padded pretty well to protect the body and head. The bag opens well enough that the placement of your bridge should not be affected when you store it and take it out.
One last note- if you rely on a clip-on tuner, you may want to invest in a microphone tuner. My clip-on works well on my guitars and other ukuleles, but doesn't always get a clean readout on this. The microphone tuner in my metronome appears to do a better job.
It's price is quite low for a banjolele, and I'd recommend it for anyone who wants to get started with banjolele. If you're new to the ukulele scene, I recommend you stay away from banjoleles and start with traditional ukulele.
on August 13, 2012
Lanikai makes some inexpensive (relative I guess) outstanding sounding ukes right out of the box....This Banjolele I have was not one of them. It is well made and actually quite attractive... I went through the normal setup.. tightened head, adjusted bridge and action and of course changed strings..Banjolele and ukes both need to be well built and like good wine they need to age. Seems to me to lack the sustain and reach that some older banjoleles have. It is worth the price though. I have a great time playing it and expect the sound will improve down the road. Ukes that look the same often don't sound the same..Update,, 9 months later update, it seems to be improving,, Looking at the build, I expect it will be better as years go by. I am comparing it to a soprano banjo uke with a larger head and a concert size with a tone ring..So I may be expecting too much. It is a worthwhile instrument to own... Especially fun if you like to play the old timey music and even attempt uke style of banjo clawhammer... if you can play a soprano uke you should have no trouble playing this uke.
UPDATE: Actually the sound improved after a year.. I eventually installed a resonator made of 5/16 swedish ply. Probably most any wood solid or laminate would work... I put spacers between the "resonator" and also put some cloth to diminish the volume...It still is a bright sounding instrument... Like mark twain said "a gentleman is someone who knows how to play the banjo and doesn't".. It is a fun instrument suited for old timey type music... Pearly shells just doesn't work....I sold this instrument and still have two banjoukes.. Not that they are better, but I just prefer their sound....I would recommend this uke to anyone wanting to adventure a bit from the traditional uke style...IMHO it is still a great value, well made, and ages quite nicely....
on July 26, 2011
I love my lil' banjolele! I own another Lanikai uke, and I've always wanted to get a banjolele and this model is really great for me! I had a little bit of trouble getting the bridge set up properly, but as soon as I got that straightened out and tuned it, it played fine! I recommend this instrument to just about anyone!