Are you thinking of learning a musical instrument but not sure of which one to go for? Does the guitar seem too mainstream, pulling you towards unique musical instruments such as the banjo or ukulele? Well, if you have answered yes to any of these questions, then Musician Authority is here to help make your decision a lot less stressful. While both musical instruments can seem to be similar in nature, there are a few aspects that set them apart from each other. From the way they are structured, to the sounds that they produce, and more, all is added to the list.
Let’s have a look at what the banjo and ukulele are and what each musical instrument has to offer. Once you are done reading this article, you are sure to have made up your mind on which instrument to go for.
What Is A Banjo?
The banjo is a musical instrument that has a drum like body. It resembles the guitar, and can be said to be part of the same family of musical instruments as well. It originated in the 17th century and comes with 4 to 6 strings. These strings can be made of metal, but most banjo users prefer nylon or gut strings. This is because these strings produce a more mellow sound that makes the tune being played sound vintage. This is why the banjo works best for folk songs, bluegrass music, country, and even jazz.
What Is A Ukulele?
The ukulele is a similar instrument that comes with 4 strings. You can even find ukuleles having 6 or 8 strings as well, it all depends on what your preference is and how powerful you want the sound produced to be. The strings here are made of nylon polymer materials as well, such as aluminum or fluorocarbon. This makes the playability of the ukulele a lot less painful on the fingers. The ukulele also comes in several different sizes, the smallest one being 16 inches. You can therefore, carry it wherever you go with ease. All you have to do is carry it on your shoulders and head out for a fun evening of playing music.
The Differences Between A Banjo And Ukulele
While both the banjo and ukulele may seem similar in terms of their structure, there are some features which make them different. After getting an idea about what the banjo and ukulele are, we can have a look at some of the differences between the two instruments. Here are the most common differences to keep in mind.
1. The Strumming Pattern
For people who already know how to play the guitar or have an idea about how to play it, the ukulele shouldn’t be a problem. This is because the strumming pattern in the ukulele is quite similar to the guitar, making it easy to grasp onto the strings. This makes the ukulele easy to learn, you can become a pro at it within a few weeks. However, the banjo can be more intimidating. This is because it is more complicated and requires more time and effort to learn. It also requires a lot more focus and concentration to get right. So if this isn’t something you look forward to, then skip the banjo and opt for the ukulele instead. However, if you like challenging yourself, then getting your hands on the banjo is just about the right thing for you.
2. The Size & Weight
The second difference rests on the size and weight of the two instruments. While the ukulele is lightweight and easy to carry around, the banjo is not. This makes the banjo bigger in size as well. If you are someone who is looking for a small musical instrument, then consider the ukulele as your preferred option. They can easily be transported and stored without having to worry about it facing any wear and tear or getting damaged.
3. The Cost
The ukulele is easily accessible. This is because it is quite budget friendly and inexpensive. You need not spend too much or save up for months before getting your hands on one. The banjo on the other hand can be a bit pricey, especially since you’d want to invest in a banjo that is of high quality and sure to stay sturdy and durable. So, if you are on a low budget, the ukulele would be the best fit for you to kick start your music journey.
4. The Sound Produced
The ukulele is known best for its ability to bring pop music to life. They produce high pitched sounds that are loud and bright. The banjo however is more flexible. It can produce sounds that are best for jazz, reggae, and even bluegrass. The versatility the banjo offers is what makes it the preferred instrument for musicians who like to add variety to their tunes.
Watch the comparison of the sounds produced by the banjo and ukulele.
What’s Better? The Banjo or Ukulele?
When it comes to the banjo and ukulele, there is no doubt that each instrument has a personality and charm of its own. Both produce unique music, have different playabilities, and sit differently with different types of people.
If you are inclined towards bluegrass and folk songs, then the banjo should work best for you. If on the other hand, you have an inkling for pop music that is high pitched and loud, then the ukulele is the instrument that has been built for you. To get a better idea, you can watch videos on the kinds of songs played by the banjo and the ukulele. Remember, practice makes perfect, so whichever instrument you decide to go for, be sure to stay consistent in playing it.
Getting Your Hands on the Musical Instrument That Fits Your Needs!
Now that you are aware of what the banjo and ukulele have to offer, you can make your desired pick. There are several online platforms that sell the banjo and ukulele as well. For the best prices, you can check out Amazon. In addition to this, you can even head on over to your nearest music store and give the banjo and ukulele both a try. See which instrument fits well with your playability and resonates with your interests and long term music goals. From then on, all you have to do is make the purchase and start learning how to play. Click here to watch a basic tutorial on how to play the banjo. For the ukulele, click here.
If you wish to learn more on everything related to music and musical instruments, then check out the guides and blogs provided on Musician Authority! Here you are sure to find a wide range of resources that are catered to helping you expand your music knowledge.
For more information, you can even get in touch by sending us a message. We shall get back to your queries as soon as possible and help you succeed in your music journey with ease.
Eduardo Perez is a multi-instrumentalist with over 20 years of experience playing instruments such as piano, guitar, ukulele, and bass. Having arranged songs and produced music in a recording studio, he has a wealth of knowledge to share about analyzing songs, composing, and producing. Currently pursuing a Bachelor of Arts degree in Interdisciplinary Musical Studies at Berklee College School of Music. Featured on Entrepreneur.com. Subscribe to his YouTube channel, or follow him on Instagram.