Banjo Ukulele

Banjo uke, banjolele, banjelele, banjulele–these are the nicknames of the banjo ukulele. This hybrid instrument offered the simplicity, four strings, tuning, and playing style of an ukulele and a body and loud volume and tone of a banjo. They were made for the vaudeville performers, who needed the simplicity with loud volume in the days before electronic amplification.

Introduced by Alvin D. Keech in 1917, the banjo ukulele’s popularity shot up to its peak in the 1920s and ’30s during the ukulele craze in the United States.

– Alice Kim

“A few suggestions for xmas!: a–piano, music cabinet, piano scarf, guitar, mandolin, violin, banjo, music roll, bound volume of Hawaiian songs, gramophone, toy drums”
Bergstrom Music Co., Ltd.
Hawaiian star, Dec. 20, 1911, Page 7

“Ukuleles. Everybody’s playing them, playing them, playing them. So easy to learn– Such fun to play– And here they are–heaps and heaps of them with books of instructions and lots of catchy music and all at ‘Bon Marche’ prices. Ukuleles, banjukes, ukulele bags and cases, ukulele instruction books, leis, Hawaiian sheet music at the Bon Marche.”
Seattle star, Aug. 21, 1917, Image 10

“Have you a ukulele? If not why not? And they’re easy to play. A new, quick, original different method now being taught at our store by Louise Johnson.
“We have Ukuleles … They are all right for a starter, but we especially recommend the genuine native Kumalea …
“The banjo ‘uke,’ first cousin to the ukulele–an instrument with lots of ‘pep’–very popular in California…
“Real Hawaiian guitars… J. W. Jenkins Sons’ Music Co., Oklahoma City”
Oklahoma City times, Sept. 25, 1917, Page 3

“Tomorrow the final day of the sale of ukuleles
“Gift buyers should not fail to take advantage of this special sale of the most popular musical instruments of the day. The ease with which it can be mastered makes the Ukulele the favored instrument with many who have but little time to spend in study and practice necessary for other musical instruments. These Ukuleles are of our own importation direct from the Hawaiian Isles and for this sale we feature them at about half of what you would pay in a specialty store. SPECIAL NO. 1–Ukuleles of polished hardwood, well shaped, finished and strung; have full rich tone; are very special indeed at $2.49.”
Tacoma times, Nov. 30, 1917, Page 5

Ukuleles, banjos, banjo ukes, banjo mandolins, etc.
Rebeck Music Co.
Washington standard, October 24, 1919, Page 10

“Special Christmas Offer — This $16.60 Banjo Ukulele outfit complete with extra set of strings, instruction book, and case… $10.50.
Ukuleles, genuine Hawaiian koa wood ukuleles, finest Martin ukuleles, Hawaiian guitars.”
Oklahoma City times, Dec. 21, 1917, P. 11

“Ukulele special to-morrow Saturday only. A limited number of these ukulele’s, a real $4 value. To-morrow only at $2.48. Ukuleles, banjo ukuleles, ukulele instruction books. Chas. Krauss.”
Harrisburg telegraph, Sept. 20, 1918, Page 8

“Flat mandolins, ukuleles, and banjo ukuleles” — From an ad by J.W. Jenkins Sons’ Music Co.
Oklahoma City times, Dec. 16, 1918, Page 6

Macy’s New York — “Banjo Ukuleles, played like a ukulele–like a banjo in tone.
“Kumulae Ukuleles — $12.49 — Genuine Hawaiian instruments. These won first prize at the Panama-Pacific Exposition. They are ‘light as a feather.’ Pick one up and see.
“Books for Ukulele and Steel Guitar. Including Books of Instruction and Selections. $0.49.”
New-York tribune, Dec. 22, 1918, Page 9

“Genuine Hawaiian ukulele banjo $15. Mandolins, mandolin banjos, guitars, violins — Droop’s Music House.”
Washington times, Feb. 27, 1919, Image 7

“Just received a big new shipment of banjo-ukuleles and ukuleles ranging in prices from $5 to $30 cases and bags. $1.00 to $3.50 all other string instruments in stock. — J. Edgar Robinson”
Washington times, July 17, 1919, Image 11

“Let spring-time be music-time. Chas H. Ditson & Co.”
New-York tribune, April 16, 1922, Page 8, Image 50

“Let spring-time be music-time. Chas H. Ditson & Co.”
Evening world, April 2, 1920, Page 8

“Learn to play the Hawaiian guitar or banjo-ukulele by our new method. Hawaiian guitar and 52 lessons $18.74. Banjo-Ukulele $16.89.
“This is an ideal xmas gift, as the recipient can learn by himself with the aid of 52 simple lessons. Our expert is here at your disposal, and is ready to assist you or the recipient of your gift at any time during the day. Macy’s complete music department carries a wonderfully complete line of small instruments suitable for Holiday gifts.”
Evening world, Dec. 16, 1920, Page 7

“You can play tunes perfectly by note in two weeks. Don’t pay till you play.
“Gibson instruments are loaned free: banjos, mandolins, guitars, violin, ukulele, etc.
“All lessons are strictly private–no classes–and given in modern sound-proof booths. … Open daily till 10.
Hartnett Studios, 71 W. 23rd St. (Masonic Building), NY City.”
New-York tribune, Feb. 5, 1922, Page 6, Image 48

“A large assortment of Hawaiian and domestic ukuleles, mandolins, canvas, and leather cases for all musical instruments.
“Droop’s Music House”
Washington times, June 12, 1919, Page 5

“Let us be your Santa Claus: ukuleles, banjos, violins, guitars. Swalstead Music Store. Minot, N. D.”
Ward County independent, Nov. 17, 1921, Image 12