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Kokoro's avatar

Should I buy a ukelele, violin or a banjo?

Asked by Kokoro (1424points) February 3rd, 2010

I play guitar already so I was leaning towards the uke or banjo, but I’d really love to learn a string instrument. Any suggestions?

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24 Answers

toomuchcoffee911's avatar

I love the ukelele! But it really depends what you want to do with it.

Tropical_Willie's avatar

Go with the uke.

susanc's avatar

I’m learning violin. It’s a little iffy because no frets. You have to
get used to that. But the sound…. very romantic!

Dog's avatar

I have all three and also play the guitar.

A lot depends on your budget, time to learn, and the type of music that inspires you.

If budget is a concern the Uke will be your best bet. They are fairly reasonable. A good entry level banjo or violin will cost a lot more.

If time to learn is pretty limited the Uke can be learned quicker. The banjo is not bad to pick up but once you leave the world of frets and venture into the violin things are a bit trickier.

The violin is my favorite but is hands down the most challenging of the three.

Arp's avatar


buckyboy28's avatar

Ukelele. I bought a really cheap one at Wal-Mart when I went to Hawaii and I fell in love with it. I really want to get a better one. I have no musical talent, but it makes everything you play sound awesome.

Fred931's avatar

Picture this: All your friends know that you can play an instrument and they want you to play a hard rock song. Which of the 3 mentioned instruments would you rather pull out from behind you?

erichw1504's avatar

I’d go with the cowbell.

gailcalled's avatar

In order to play the violin well, in addition to mastering the two different techniques for stopping with the left hand and bowing with the right (if you are right-handed), you need nearly perfect pitch or really good relative pitch. No frets to help guide you.

p8prclip's avatar

I think that you should lean towards the ukelele being that it is tuned to 4ths and would be an easy transition from guitar. If you choose the banjo you are entering a new world. From my experience the banjo is an easier transition from playing a violin. If you are choosing to broaden your horizons…by all means dive in to the violin or the banjo.

Factotum's avatar

The violin is the superior instrument. And I own a banjo. Ukes and banjos are more ‘fun’ but they are rarely taken seriously.

Still and all, there’s nothing wrong with fun.

Dog's avatar

@Factotum Actually that may be the general assumption but I do not agree.

The banjo is not just one sound. Here is one sound and here:. The ukulele also has it’s merits- example

It all depends on where you want to go with them. :)

Rarebear's avatar

Why not play both a ukulele and a banjo? That’s what I do. But @p8prclip is right. The tuning is the same on a uke as a guitar, while on a banjo (tuned in 3rds, not 4ths) has entirely different tuning. I can play both, but sometimes it’s hard for me to go from one to another quickly when I’m on stage (even harder when I’m also switching to guitar).

Jeruba's avatar

If you like a country and folk style, I would think banjo. If your guitar style is classical, then probably the violin.

But first check out this pointer to music that is classical-bluegrass fusion. Amazing.

I presume you mean you’d love to learn another stringed instrument. The guitar is a stringed instrument.

gailcalled's avatar

And doesn’t the banjo have steel strings that require thicker calluses (and more pain while acquiring them)? I played the violin for six weeks (bad ear so I quit) and the guitar for a year; my brother played the banjo for a while.

Pcrecords's avatar

Get a ukulele. Such a gorgeous instrument. I got an incredibly cheap Mahalo for Christmas that plugs into an amp… I can rock out if I want and it sounds fantastic!

Rarebear's avatar

@gailcalled Actually, no. I find the guitar much harder to play. The banjo’s strings are steel, but the action is very close to the neck so it takes a very light touch, even with medium gauge strings. That said, the uke is also really easy to play.

@Kokoro If you do decide on a uke, though, I recommend a tenor size. The tuning is the same as the smaller sizes and it has a deeper, richer tone. Unless, of course, you like the really plinky sound of a soprano uke.

Strauss's avatar

Heck, try ‘em all! There’s no substitute for diversity!

Rarebear's avatar

Here is a video/slide show I made of my ukulele that I had built.

Strauss's avatar

My dad used to tell me about a Banjo Uke he had before I was born.

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