Lanikai Banjolele: Ukulele Window Shopping

It’s interesting to see more US companies bringing out banjo-ukes recently – particularly the mix between the smaller style of banjolele which I associate with the US (like this one Aaron Keim is playing) and the larger type played by English ukers like George Formby and Mr B (I have no interest in banjoleles so these terms are completely wrong). Lanikai have gone with the English style for their LBU-C. The Mainland banjolele is a minimal one. And Morgan Monroe have a mixture of both. I’m a bit surprised Lanikai have gone with the English-style. The influence of Mr B? Or am I missing something?

Last week’s highly ornate Blueberry ukulele divided opinion in the comments. According to shumanyo, “Blueberry ukes look very nice but they are way too braced and damn heavy so the uke simply doesn’t vibrates resulting in a uke that is not and not ‘’singing”much. The soundborad is way too stiff.” Which isn’t a surprise. But we all know it’s how pretty the outside that matters, so here’s another one – this time featuring a scantily clad lady.

Photo: Beach group.

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  1. JCMcGee September 3rd, 2010 6:46 pm

    The Lanakai one looks nice…except fot those tuners, what’s going on there?

  2. Donnie Bubbles September 3rd, 2010 7:40 pm

    I have the Lanikai LBU-C. The wood, materials and the workmanship are beautiful. Turners are ornate, but they look more ornate in the pictures than in person. Good loud sound and the intonation is spot on once you get the bridge set right. Only downside, and it’s due to it being the English style, is the weight – I would put it somewhere between the hammer of Thor and a Mini Cooper for comparison.

  3. Jon September 3rd, 2010 8:32 pm

    They’re not bigger or smaller. They’re open backed or backed with a resonator. And banjos are supposed to be heavy. Light banjos will give you that dead sound that Gibson UB-1’s are known for. The idea is that the instrument shouldn’t absorb any of the vibrations so that the sound can be completely projected by the head. That, anyhow, is my understanding of banjo building theory.

  4. Woodshed September 3rd, 2010 10:30 pm

    Jimmy: No idea!

    Donnie: Thanks for the review. Good to know.

    Jon: Thanks for the clarification. I admit banjoleles don’t interest me at all.

  5. plink freud September 4th, 2010 8:40 am

    hmmm… The Morgan Monroe looks suspiciously identical to the Rally,

    and rather more expensive.

  6. Chickenstar September 6th, 2010 3:12 am

    I’ve nearly talked myself into buying the Lanikai LBU-C, but I’d like to hear a few more reviews.

    Donnie, did you compare a few before deciding on the Lanikai? Also, does it seem more “normal” weight with the resonator removed?

    I just don’t want to make a bad decision. Any thoughts will be greatly appreciated.

  7. Peter September 6th, 2010 9:02 am

    I tried to play the Lanikai banjolele standing up, with my arm crooked around it. WAY too heavy, and WAY too expensive for my blood. You can get a quality banjolele for MUCH cheaper – I have a Morgan Monroe and I love it.

  8. leslie February 13th, 2011 5:23 pm

    My husband just picked up the Lanikai Banjolele yesterday & it’s a fun new addition – but I think it would be better w/a wound string like National used to make. Anybody out there w/any different string thoughts?

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