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 ARCHIVED TOPIC: How hard is banjo uke to learn?

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Clodhopper - Posted - 02/27/2010:  13:04:07

Compared to learning to play clawhammer banjo, or OT fiddle, how hard would you say banjo uke is to learn?
Like most things I am sure there is more to it than it may seem. I keep trying to find something my wife could play so she could join in the jam sessions I have started having with some friends about once a week. Unfortunately she doesn't have a lot of time that she could devote to playing. Just wondering if BU might be a good fit. No offense to anyone who has spent thousands of hours mastering it.

Penel - Posted - 02/27/2010:  13:29:32

For just playing chords it took me as long as glancing at a chord chart.

My husband has been taking classes on the uke for a couple months.
Its not so easy for him.

BANJOJUDY - Posted - 02/27/2010:  15:15:26

As with most things, the formula of how hard you work and how much time expended will equal whatever degree of success you have.

For me, the banjo uke, or just a plain uke for your wife - why a banjo uke - was not all that hard to learn because my fingers had callouses where needed, and I was able to strum easily. BUT, to play the tunes, remember the chords, and the words, was not easy.

I still have difficulty hearing the chords to play when a new song is presented, but learning the chords was the easiest part for me - putting it all together was another story.

Practice and more practice will bring success. It will not happen overnight.

oldwoodchuckb - Posted - 02/27/2010:  16:18:35

You can pick up a playable uke for a lot less than a ukulele banjo, so I would start there. Add in a book that shows some strums and the chord positions. From there it will depend on the student - and how much help you are willing to give her.

jduke - Posted - 02/27/2010:  18:02:46

This area is not big on old time music and clawhammer banjo doesnít fit with everything. I used to pick up my washboard at times like that then discovered a banjo uke in a flea market and realized, it was just a washboard with chords. Ok, itís not quite that simple, but it was a concept that worked for me because I love rhythm.

A few simple chords and some basic strums can go along way in a jam and is not really hard to learn. The ukulele is like most instruments in that it can be simple to start, but can get as complicated as you care to let it.

A standard uke can probably be had more cheaply, but be prepared for the jokes. I have found playing a banjo uke, there are fewer jokes and more genuine curiosity? In other words, it seems to be more acceptable in open jams than a standard uke. Thatís my experience anyway.


rendesvous1840 - Posted - 02/27/2010:  18:02:46

The real question is how much does she want to play it? Are you looking for something for her because you want her to play, or because she wants to play? Does she play any other instrument, or will this be her first? If she can put in 30minutes a day, at least 3 or 4 days a week, she'll make progress. I attempted to play my daughters violin a few times, and could sorta make a few tunescome out of it, but I think the uke/banjo uke are much easier. I found uke easier than clawhammer. Both ukulele and banjo uke are played the same, an ukulele might be easier to locate, depending on your location. Most stores in my area only carry one or two 5string banjos, and tenor/plectrum/uke banjos are rare to nonexistant. A word of caution: The cheaper banjo-ukes I've seen sound really terrible. The one in my picture spends a lot of time hanging on the wall, as it sounds so harsh I don't much like to play it. I took off the steel strings and tried nylon, but it didn't help much. We have 2 ukulele's in the house that get played regularly. Just ask my wife, when she wants help with the housework!(One is hers, she plays too.) If you opt for a low end ukulele, try before you buy. The stuff on the bottom of the food chain is suitable for firewood. Got one of those, too.The neck is glued on crooked, the action is horrid, but it's very pretty, all decorated with stenciled flowers. Christmas from a niece. She said she figured it was a toy, but would look good on the wall of my music room. So it hangs there by it's harsh-sounding cousin. The 2 ukes we play are a lot of fun. Small, light weight, can be played in the car on long trips.(Not by the DRIVER!) We enjoy them a lot.
I guess I'm basicaly seconding what oldwoodchuck said. An ukulele and an instructional book with a cd or dvd. There's a ton of lessons on YouTube as well.
There's something special about making music with your loved ones.

Edited by - rendesvous1840 on 02/27/2010 18:13:02

BANJOJUDY - Posted - 02/27/2010:  18:14:02

Remembering on how I got started with music - played the kazoo while my hubby played guitar. Really got into it and then went to banjo.

So, maybe you could get her started on the kazoo - you don't need to tune it.

Penel - Posted - 02/27/2010:  19:51:33

A bit before I got my banjo uke my husband brought home a Cd by the Chicken Chokers
so my earworms had been fed
and keep in mind I already played fiddle and clawhammer banjo = I can hear chord changes.

Here's what James Reidy has to say of his relationship with banjo uke.

chip arnold - Posted - 02/27/2010:  20:04:44

Even easier to play is the Autoharp.

fred davis - Posted - 02/27/2010:  20:29:45

I have played and tought the Ukulele ( Orklele) And I might suggest trying?? baritone uke it's tuned like the first 4 strings on a guitar and might be more in tune with old time and bluegrass, A friend and I have played this way several times. But I did tune a banjo uke like a 4 string mandolin and played with a tenor dixieland group. BEST OF LUCK; but beware that this is her choice not yours other wise your are buying a wall hanger

Grumpy1 - Posted - 02/28/2010:  00:08:50

I have considered a uke also for the grandkids to get the idea of chording. I've been told by the local uke players that the Kala Makala is an excellent starter uke. Depending on where you shop online you can get a baritone for about $58.00 plus shipping. Most places also carry a tenor one in a starter kit with bag, tuner, strap and a rudimentary lesson book for $99. Why this isn't avail in baritone I don't know. My understanding is they are soprano, concert, tenor and baritone in order of size and depth of tone. Never had one so looking around since the banjo/ukes are not so inexpensive for a starter that may not be used. Best of luck.

dewbanjo - Posted - 02/28/2010:  05:45:18

Morning Clodhopper, hope by now you have "dug-out" from the snow!! Glad to hear you have some friends to pick/play with now... remember the main thing is to have fun.

and when/where do you get together to play?

dewbanjo (don)

Clodhopper - Posted - 02/28/2010:  05:55:03

Yeah, it's probably true that I am a little more interested in her playing than she is. But really, how else am I going to justify Clifftop as the ideal family vacation? Maybe the kazoo is a better choice.

BANJOJUDY - Posted - 02/28/2010:  09:07:08

AND remember, the choice of instrument, or whether to play or not play, with or without you, in a group or alone, is HER choice, and not yours.

You don't want her to become a music widow, but then you don't want to force her to do something uncomfortable.

Those cheap rhythm instruments are good too. I have a friend who took a piece of a computer keyboard (probably the number part) and made it into a fine percussion instrument. Spoons are good - anything that makes a noise. See if she likes doing that sort of stuff.

Penel - Posted - 02/28/2010:  09:17:35

Originally posted by Clodhopper

But really, how else am I going to justify Clifftop as the ideal family vacation?

I've been encouraging my husband on the ukulele with a vacation in Hawaii in mind.

Think of it, a romantic holiday at ukulele camp in Hawaii.
Now that's incentive for practice

and Clifftop can come after she gets good at it.

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