Ukulele Player's Guide - Frequently Asked Questions

Question: What kind of strings should I use on my banjo ukule?

Answer: Any strings that are made for a regular ukulele will work on a banjo uke. High tension strings will be more difficult to hold down. Strings made for a tenor ukulele can be used on a concert size banjo ukulele if you want to tune it like a tenor ukulele which is in the the key of G. There are sets of strings made for banjo ukuleles that have a wound 3rd string, made by Aquila and others which sound very good.

Question: Why do ukuleles (and guitars) usually have a hole in the top?

Answer: The hole makes the body of the ukulele a resonator such as a milk bottle is when you blow across the top. This accentuates a low frequecy resonance and gives the ukulele more volume. If the resonance is of the wrong frequency. the ukulele will have an irritating "aww" tone. The cigar box ukulele shown on the MUSIC CLASS section of this website was constructed without a hole in the top and has a very pleasant and clear sound.

Question: Can I use metal strings on my banjo ukulele?

Answer: Yes you can do this but you may have to use a pick if you do. Light-gauge strings made for a 5-string banjo will work and I have seen ads for metal ukulele strings that are sold mostly in England.

Question: How do I tune my banjo ukulele (banjolele)?

Answer: If you have a soprano or concert size ukulele it is usually tuned G C E A starting from the 4th string (the one farthest from the floor) to the first string. If You have a tenor or baritone ukulele, it is tuned D G B E starting from the 4th string and going to the first. The D string is usually tuned the same on a baritone ukulele as it is on a guitar and one octave higher than that on a tenor ukulele. Certain sheet music has chord diagrams for the uke to be tuned a note higher than usual: A D F# B going from 4th to frst string or one note lower: F Bb D G.

Question: Can I tune my tenor banjo like a ukulele?

Answer: Yes you can if you want to tune it like a baritone ukulele, but you will have to use strings made for a 5-string banjo (without the short string). The strings can be either nylon or metal. If your banjo strings break you may have to tune it note lower and use a capo or dfferent chords.

Question: Where do I position the bridge on a banjo ukulele?

Answer: The bridge is positioned so that the distance form the nut to the 12th fret is the same as the distance from the 12th fret to the bridge. Lightly touching the string at the 12th fret and plucking it gives the harmonic at one octave higher than the open string. When the bridge is in the proper place this harmonic and the note played on the 12th fret should sound the same.

Question: Can I play songs in the key of D on my ukulele?

Answer: You can play any song in any key on your ukulele. You can play any note within the range of notes on your ukulele which is usually middle C to A above the C above middle C. The range can be extended by using a low G string and a ukulele with frets up on the body or use a concert ukulele.

Question: What kind od metal is the Dixie banjo ukulele made from?

Answer: Although it is commonly assumed to be made of aluminum, the metal under the chrome plating resembles zinc which is easier to cast and plate than aluminum and cheaper.







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