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What is this and any info??

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Hello all. I just recently had this instrument handed down to me from my grandma and some people I know and I are not real sure what it is. Its almost like a banjo/ukulele? Any help, info, history, on this neat little thing would be greatly appreciated! here are some pictures














Thank You



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Hey JW. Welcome to the forum. There is a member (and moderator) here by the name of ksdaddy who mostly hangs out in the acoustic forum, if you send him a P.M., he could perhaps help you out. He is extremely knowledgeable.

I don't have any info for you other than to say it is the first one I've seen in that good of condition. Looking at the indentations in the fretboard, I'd say it was played/enjoyed a lot. I've seen a few on Ebay before, but I personally know nothing about them.


Here's a link to his profile:



Best of luck, and again welcome to the forum.

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Its almost like a banjo/ukulele?


Justin' date='


This is indeed an old Gibson UB-3 banjo uke. These things were all the rage back in the 1920s and '30s. If you go to this website, you can get a lot more info.


-- Bob R


P.S. I forgot to add that, if you want to see one in action, go to YouTube and search for George Formby.

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Back in the day (1920's?), before guit tars were made popular, no college man was complete without a roadster, full length raccoon skin coat, pork pie or skimmer hat, a banjo and, "Twenty-three skiddoo" on his lips. In deed, Epiphone, in the 20's was known as the Epiphone Banjo Company.


The small claw hammer banjo was poplular amongst the ivy covered walls set as it could probably fit in the pocket of that raccoon skin coat. And.. it was cheap compared to a full sized version. The pick is appropriate as this is how these are usually played, as opposed to finger style. Earle Scruggs hadn't been 'discovered' yet. Although, some frailed away at them, near flamenco style, with their bare fingers, but I wouldn't call this finger style. Jerry Van Dyke played a full sized banjo in this fashion. See, the movie "McClintock" or "The Banjo Playing Deputy" on "The Andy Griffith Show."


Don't know about this one's age, but it's a beaut!. Nice specimine. btw, I wouldn't do too much cleanin' on that head. Collectors of Banjers like patina. If it's natural raw hide, more's the better.


I don't know that there really is anything that could be called a banjo/uke or a Banjuke or Banjolele. Since both have four strings. Possibly if it were tuned like a uke, you could call it a banjuke. Ukes were also popular in this era as well. This might be called a piccolo banjo. There are banjolins, sized like this, but with four double course (8) strings like a mandolin.

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Now that I've looked at it closer, it may have been tuned like a ukulele.


I first noticed that the 4th string is wound arund the tuner backwards. I then noticed that it was a thinner string than the 3rd, next highest string. Which is counter to the way a banjo is strung. A four string banjo is usually string with it's lowest pitched and therefore heaviest string in the 4th position. Each successive string gets progressively higher pitched and smaller in diameter. Not so a uke. That... and ukes are usually strung with nylon and banjos steel strings. It appears this specimin is strung with nylon.


The uke's 4t string is normally tuned to a pitch between the second and first strings. Standard tuning of a uke is g'c'e'a' This is called re-entrant tuning. This is the normal for tuning a ukulele. So... you could call this a banjuke or banjolele.


You might want to PM ksdaddy to get his attention. Although, banjos aren't in his normal repertoire he has been known to own and resurrect a couple... then again not much about ksdaddy would be considered 'normal'.

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