banjo vs banjolele

Banjo vs Banjolele | The Key Differences

Which is better for you, Banjo vs Banjolele? Both instruments have their own unique sound and appeal, but which one is right for you?

In this blog post, we’ll take a look at the comparison of each musical instrument i.e. Banjo vs Banjolele so we can help you make the right choice. Let’s get started!

What came first, the Banjo or Banjolele?

Banjo Origin

Banjo vs Banjolele

Banjos were first introduced to the world in the 18th-century in Africa by African slaves taken from west-central Africa, who combined traditional music instruments with their Portuguese captors. They are widely known for bringing the popular instrument to Jamaica and the United States. There is some speculation that the Banjo was first modified from a short-necked lute brought to North America by French colonists, but there is no solid evidence.

Banjolele Origin

The banjolele was created by the Kailiam brothers of Macassar, Indonesia. They made the loud instrument with a guitar-like body and 4-String Banjo tuned like a Banjo ukulele, closely related to the Portuguese musical instrument called braguinhas. They gained international attention at the Panama–Pacific International Exposition in 1915. Since then, they have become popular with many famous players, including George Formby Sr., Prince Buster, Eric Clapton, Brian Setzer of The Stray Cats, and Jake Shimabukuro.

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Banjo vs Banjolele: Difference

  • Construction

Quality Banjos usually have five metal strings, while Banjoleles typically has four nylon or metal-wrapped nylon strings. standard Banjos generally are more significant than Banjoleles overall, with some exceptions.

  • Sound

Banjos are generally associated with folk music, traditional Jazz music, Bluegrass music, Classical Music, and Irish music, while Banjoleles has a diverse musical history. The primary differences between the two are related to their origin and application of sound production. Banjoleles can be played more like acoustic guitars, whereas standard banjos are usually played with the player’s head and strummed or plucked. Modern Five-String Banjo is a popular banjo due to its filler sound.

  • Tuning

Banjos and Banjoleles produced today typically differ in their standard tuning method. Banjos use strings that are strung over a drum head, while Banjoleles use lines that pass through holes in a separate resonant chamber before reaching the standard tuning peg to be fastened.

How is a Banjo played?

Modern Banjo players hold the instrument in their lap and play it with four fingers of their right hand, plucking the strings to produce a wide range of correct notes. Depending on the style of music played, they strum or pick using either one or two (typically plastic) picks held between the thumb and index finger. They can also use their left hand to fretboard notes on certain extra strings; the frets are the metal strips placed along the neck of most stringed instruments to shorten the scale length of required fingering for correct pitch.

How is a Banjolele played?

Traditional Banjoleles are played with a pick, similar to playing an electric or steel-stringed guitar; however, the instrument can also be strummed like most other stringed instruments. There are common differences in playing style that exist. A person can hold it in either way for playing style purposes, but the best sound usually comes when it is held like a bass guitar with the head pointing away from the player.

Which is easier to play the Banjo or the Banjolele?

Banjo vs Banjolele, both are relatively easy to learn how to play, but the Banjo benefits from being one of the most iconic instruments in American history. The banjolele does not have as much cultural legacy or significance. However, if a person wants to play like George Formby or Eddie Peabody, the banjolele is the only option as they were famous for its unique sound. It also offers more portability and can be played similar to electric guitar.


If you’re looking for a Banjo or a Banjolele then this article may help you make an informed decision. there is a variety of inexpensive banjos for beginners available. I hope the blog helped you gather important information regarding Banjo vs Banjolele.

You can also learn banjo vs ukulele.

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