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The Ukulele Banjo - a simplified explanation
Playing the Ukulele Banjo is almost just the same as playing the soprano or concert ukulele! it is tuned the same as the standard uke, but in use it is‘strummed’ by the player and mainly used for song accompaniment. Strumming in the ‘Formby’ style is very popular today. Eagle Music will help you to make the right choice.
Many people link the ‘Banjo’ to George Formby, but in fact George was not a ‘banjo player’ he was a great ukulele player. George played the Ukulele banjo to the highest level, and his syncopated ‘split stroke’ right hand rhythmic playing is the goal of many players!
The ukulele banjo is mainly ‘strummed’ playing backing chords for singing, rather than used for playing tunes.
Think of the Ukulele banjo as having a ukulele neck fitted to a banjo body! This gives the player much more volume and punch than a wooden bodied ukulele.
The Ukulele Banjo is tuned exactly the same as a soprano or concert ukulele and the popular tunings are G C E A (Regular ‘C’ tuning) or A D F# B (known as ‘D’ Tuning) ‘C’ tuning which is the recognised standard and most popular tuning for ukulele. The G string is tuned in relation to 1st, 2nd and third strings an octave higher. Another name for this tuning is ‘Re Entrant’. The ‘high’ G fourth string in relation the the lower octave C third string gives the instrument the distinctive ukulele sound when you strum across the strings.
Tuning your ukulele in ‘D’ tuning (A D F# B) was more popular in the early 1900s, you will find some music books and musical scores written in this tuning from that era. This higher tuning can give a lift to some instruments that sound ‘flat in the lower ‘C’ tuning.
If you are going to sing along with your ukulele, you may want to experiment with different tunings to suit your voice, tuning up your ukulele to a different pitch enables you to sing in a different key while still playing the same chord shapes!
As a leading UK specialist, we supply dozens of highly playable ukes to schools, a highly playable colourful starter kit costs around twenty pound, thanks to the high-tech modern far Eastern factories!