From Deering USA –
“After years of customer requests, we are proud to offer the new Goodtime banjo ukulele! If you are searching for an instrument that is fun and easy to play in literally any setting, then the Goodtime banjo uke might be just what you are looking for!
Often called a banjolele, simply strum a few chords and you will be taken to a land without the stress and distractions of the daily routine. The nylon strings make playing easy on your fingers and the small size and light weight allows you to take this instrument with you literally anywhere – the beach, the office, camping, boating – you name it!
The concert scale and full size 11” rim produces a wonderfully warm yet noticeably louder and fuller sound across the perfectly balanced Aquila Super Nylgut strings. These tonal characteristics are only further enhanced, not only by the naturally warm renaissance head but with the addition of the patented bridge plate, which increases sustain while reducing unwanted bass frequencies.
Whether you are a seasoned ukulele or banjo player or simply looking for something new and exciting to learn, the Goodtime banjo ukulele is a stunning instrument that everyone will love.”
Banjo aficionados will know what the Deering name means. For those who don’t, Deering is a USA based manufacturer of a many models of banjos. They make some seriously well regarded banjos that can run into thousands of dollars in price. As part of their many ranges, they have an entry level line called ‘Goodtime’ and this Ukulele Banjo forms part of that. But don’t be mistaken to think that the term ‘entry level’ means cheap and nasty – it doesn’t. They are still made in the US, they just don’t cost thousands!
The first thing you may notice about the Goodtime that sets it apart from most ukulele banjos is the diameter of the head. A lot of ukulele banjos can look like ‘toy banjos’ and have heads around the 8 or 9 inch size. The Deering uses a full size banjo head of 11 inches and puts a ukulele neck on to it. It kind of looks a little out of proportion but actually it’s not much different to a banjo ukulele with a resonator on the back – just that pretty much all of the diameter of this one is the drum head and not the outer resonator plate.
The bridge is a standard ukulele banjo affair (⅝”) with three feet, but it sits on a removable wooden bridge plate that is patented by Deering. It is said to help transfer vibrations down cleanly to the head, but it also serves to protect the head in the longer term from the feet that can often dig in to the top of the drum.
The tail piece is chrome and stamped with the Deering name and running through the back of the pot is the adjustable tension rod that also holds the neck in place.
The neck is also made from rock maple and has a lovely feel to it in the hand. It is made from three pieces with a joint at the heel and one towards the headstock. The frets are set directly into the maple of the neck, and the fingerboard extends down over the top of the banjo head.
Weight wise, it’s certainly heavier than most wooden ukuleles, but as banjo ukes go it’s pretty reasonable really. Setup is spot on, and with a banjo ukulele you can easily adjust the action or position of the bridge for fine tuning intonation if you need to.
The neck is particularly comfortable with that satin finished maple – really nice on both the fingertips and the back of the hand.
Of course with a banjo, the head is where the sound is generated, and in the case of this instrument it doesn’t disappoint. It’s got a bark that is crazy loud and snappy if you really hammer the strings. It has a real punch that is surprising. It also sounds sweet though, and is just as clear across notes when played softly or fingerpicked.
Sure – it sounds like a banjo – it is a banjo, but it has more nuances to the sound than many other banjo ukuleles that seem to be only about volume and not so much about character of tone. This has a nice mix, and sure – a ton of volume if you need it too.
If you like your old time music, this would be a great addition to your collection. In fact, if you just like banjo ukuleles or even just banjos, this would suit you as well also. For a wooden ukulele player considering a first step into the world of banjo ukuleles this would be recommended.
This USA made Deering Goodtime Concert Banjolele is in as new condition. It has been lightly played and looked after well. It shows no sign or use and could easily pass as a new instrument.
RRP on these in Aust is $1199, street price around $1000. They don’t come with a case so the owner of this one purchased a Deering case for $120. So if you add up those numbers, what we have here is effectively a new instrument in a classy fitted case, for somewhat less than new price.