Banjo vs. Ukulele: Learn Similarities and Differences

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The first thing that comes to mind when thinking about a musical instrument is the guitar. However, many others are worth learning to play. If you seek something original, pay attention to the battle banjo vs. ukulele. We learned how they differ and are ready to share them with you.

Guide on How to Choose Between Banjo and Ukulele

  1. Learn the features of a banjo and a ukulele.
  2. Find which instrument is harder to play.
  3. Deal with if it is possible to use ukulele chords on a banjo.
  4. Answer the question, “What is a banjo ukulele?”.
  5. Summary of what is the crucial point for making a choice of banjo vs. ukulele.

Banjo versus ukulele choice

Differences between banjo and ukulele

Both experienced music players and beginners could be puzzled facing new instruments. Read on and we will get together into the particularities of a banjo and a ukulele and an exciting fusion of them.


The banjo is a relative of the European mandolin, a direct descendant of the African lute. The ukulele is considered a traditional Hawaiian instrument brought to the islands by Portuguese immigrants from Madeira.


The banjo has a drum-shaped body, a tensioned head, longer necks, usually with more frets, and steel strings. Traditionally, banjos were wooden; now, they are metallic. The common question is, “How many strings are on a banjo?”. The most popular version remains a 5-string one.

A ukulele looks like a miniature guitar. In comparison with the banjo, it has much shorter necks. Ukuleles are generally wooden, although today, you can find many models made of laminate, carbon fiber, and plastic. How many strings does a ukulele have? Usually, it has 4 nylon strings.

Banjo and ukulele selections


A banjo usually has open chord tuning, G, A, or D. With its metal body and steel strings, this instrument differents a clean, ringing sound. A banjo is more versatile than a ukulele, although it is most often associated with folk, bluegrass, and blues.

The standard ukulele is tuned to G, C, E, A (sopranos, concerts, and tenors) and D, G, B, E (baritones). A wooden body with nylon strings brings it a sweeter, warmer, and softer tone. It is a good choice for performing songs in folk, reggae, and pop.


Learning the banjo might be slightly challenging, particularly for newcomers in strings. Instead, a ukulele is considered one of the simplest instruments in training. Even if this is your first musical instrument, learning the basics of ukulele playing may not seem rocket science.

Which One Is Harder to Learn?

The ukulele could be more suitable, especially for a beginner. It has fewer strings and a smaller neck, and a nice bonus might be its soft nylon strings that may not hurt your fingers.

Do you like to learn more new instruments? Then, you could start training your fingers on the ukulele, and after that, take up the banjo. If you already have experience playing other stringed instruments, you should not choose banjo vs. ukulele. You may be able to master both without too much effort.

Banjo and ukulele selection

Are Ukulele and Banjo Chords the Same?

If you keep your instruments with their standard tuning, you can not play banjo chords on a ukulele or vice versa. But alternative tuning for them allows you to replace chords from one instrument to another.

What Is a Banjo Ukulele?

A banjo ukulele or a banjolele is a banjo with a ukulele’s neck and 4 strings. It is tuned and played like a ukulele. It was mainstream 80 years ago thanks to British comedian George Formby. That is also a good option for those who like mainly strummed playing backing chords for singing. You could find a banjolele for beginners in music stores.

How to Decide Between Banjo and Ukulele?

We looked at the main differences between the banjo and the ukulele. If you are thinking about ukulele vs. banjo like about your potential purchase, you should consider the following points.

Previous experience

Playing stringed instruments without practice can be a real test for your fingers. If you are a beginner, getting started with a ukulele is more beginner-friendly because of its nylon strings. If you are an experienced musician and dream of trying a banjo, you should not delay and start learning it.

Banjo and ukulele choices


If you want to try new instruments and seek a more affordable option, pay attention to ukuleles, which you can buy at a budget price. Usually, a banjo of similar quality is more expensive.


Due to its appearance, the ukulele is often undeservedly called a toy guitar and is not taken as a serious instrument. Yes, it has a more straightforward structure than other strings. However, this very simplicity is its feature.

The ukulele could be an excellent option if you are eager for light, fun, and slightly childish playing. That does not mean the banjo is a tedious and difficult thing. But it would be best if you had more practice to master the instrument to achieve a similar lightness with the banjo.

FAQ: Banjo vs. Ukulele

Any musical instrument usually is a personal thing. It might be helpful to consider which one suits your mood, experience, and budget before purchasing.

Can you play the banjo like a ukulele?

Banjos and ukuleles generally have different standard tunings, and you cannot be able to play the banjo using ukulele chords. But if necessary, you may apply specific alternative tuning, allowing you to play a Hawaiian song on the banjo.

Are banjos more expensive than ukuleles?

Yes, a banjo is usually more pricey than a ukulele of similar quality. Because making a banjo requires more unique materials. In addition, this instrument is not so widespread, affecting price formation.

A Ukulele Is Not the Same as a Banjo

A banjo and a ukulele are incredible string-plucked instruments that remain well-known despite their long history. Modern musicians use them, trying to add their style new tone. In this article, we highlighted the standard questions with the banjo or a ukulele so everyone keen on these instruments could find the answer.
Have you ever played the ukulele or the guitar? Tell us about your most unforgettable music experience!

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About the author

Country Music Singer, Tayo Reed, grow up listening to Country Music as a child in sweet home, "Alabama". "I am authentically a true country girl at heart. I have only desired to sing one style of music. I have never wavered, in spite of disappointments, delays, rejections, and detours."

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