Banjos and Banjoleles have more common things than differences. We can find a lot of similar things between each instrument and a few slight variations by which we can categorise them as different instruments. In this post, you can find how to distinguish between a Banjo vs Banjolele.
The Common Differences:
Banjo was made by Africans and was introduced in the States when Africans were enslaved in the country. Banjolele was first made in Portugal and was later introduced in Hawaii.
Banjo is a pure instrument that has high-tension strings and comes with various numbers of strings. These strings, when picked, strummed, or plucked, produces sound or tone which will be resonated back to the Mahogany resonator (closed back), which amplifies the sound. However, some Banjos don’t have a closed-back resonator. The drum-like percussion resonator in the Banjo will resonate sound if the Banjo doesn’t have a closed back. However, it won’t be as effective as a closed-back resonator.
Usually, Banjoleles don’t have a closed-back resonator which is resonated by the white high-tension skin cloth. But it doesn’t necessarily mean Banjos and Banjoleles need to be this way. Banjos’ closed-back resonator can be removed, and Banjoleles’ can be attached with a closed-back resonator.
Standard Banjos have five strings, and the fifth string is called the drone string, which has a separate tuner peg from other strings and hence the name. Standard Banjoleles have four strings and don’t have a drone string.
Again, the no. of strings might vary from one type of Banjo and Banjolele to others. A Banjo might have 4, 6, or even 12 strings, and a Banjolele might have 5 or 6 strings too. Most Banjoleles have four strings only because Ukuleles have four strings only.
And Banjos most commonly have steel strings which are known for high resonance, clear tone, and loud sound. Banjoleles, on the other hand, have nylon strings. These nylon strings are known for their easy-to-use feature and distinctive sound that can only be produced with nylon strings. Again, Banjos can have nylon strings; Banjoleles might use steel strings too.
It is the only aspect where there is a tremendous difference between Banjos and Banjoleles. Banjos are quite popular around the world and used by many musicians in grand concerts. It is also used by country musicians and mainly bluegrass-style players in the USA.
On the other hand, Banjoleles are not as popular as Banjos. People who think of buying Banjolele will end up buying Banjos since it has more resonance and advanced features like drone strings.
The Banjolele is a great choice for kids and beginners who are starting to learn Banjos or similar instruments because the nylon strings won’t hurt to play. Banjo’s steel strings will cause pain in the fingers of beginner users and would require a lot of time and practice to get right. So, Banjoleles are popular among kids and amateurs.
I own a music instruments shop. My go to instrument is a banjo. My business makes it easier for me to access the instruments from various brands and of various types. I will give my honest opinion here to help out others in choosing the right instrument for them.