Ozark banjo uke - initial review

17 Apr 2010

Ozark banjo uke - initial review

Having now had time to have a play and a fiddle (and given the new aquilas time to settle in), I am able to give my initial impressions of my new instrument.  As I said, got this from Highly Strung in Wantage  via mail order - great store i've not shopped with for a while, but did buy some guitar bits a while ago - brilliant customer service on the phone, did a deal to get quicker shipping, nice communications (all good!)

ozark banjolele

On the whole - I think its great - I just love the way it looks - kind of unusual colour for a banjo, and I think that makes it look different enough,

Build quality is pretty high across the board - frets are finished nicely, and the hardware all seems solid. I think the wood used is probably not the best quality and it is obviously painted, as opposed to stained and polished - that looks a bit cheap. Headstock shows this off the worst, and the Ozark logo looks particularly cheap.

Fingerboard was a touch dry on arrival, so it has been given a treatment with some bore oil and now looks beautiful and dark (i think the fingerboard is the best finished "wood" element of this uke)

Few of the tensioners on the pot needed a tighten, but otherwise all looks good. The hole for that top A string hasn't snapped another string yet, so maybe its ok

Its fairly heavy to hold (compared to a wood uke anyway), but it is nicely balanced, and my playing style allows me to cradle it comfortably.

Sound is clearly banjo like, and just the sound I was looking for. It isn't a rich sound though. I took the resonator off the back as I prefer to be able to adjust muting with the position of the uke against my body.

Strumming the uke in similar spot to a wooden uke (ie across the bottom of the fingerboard) tends to make the sound "boom" and resonate a little too much. I therefore get a better sound playing this by lightly placing my palm on the head just at the top to provide a bit of muting - doesn't affect volume, but cleans up the sound completely. Its a flaw with the uke, but one that is easy to overcome. I think you can get banjo mutes that fit behind the bridge, so may look into that also.

It also feels very very good to play - action is superbly low without a single buzz, and having now "tuned" the bridge position with an accurate tuner, the intonation is spot on all over the neck - not something that you can ever guarantee on an instrument of this price.

So all in all - initially - I think this is a great instrument - sure it has some flaws and signs of its lower price, but they are not significant. Its playable, different and fun. Highly recommended!


Looks - 7
Fit and finish - 8.5
Sound - 7.5
Value for money - 9



  1. Great Review,and still for sale (as of today..)
    Thanks Sir,
    Paul (Peterhead)

  2. Hi Barry . very helpful - how does this compare with the firefly ?

  3. Very different things Keith - the Ozark is more traditional than the Firefly. The Ozark will please those who want a more traditional look and feel. The Firefly is modern and much lighter to hold (MUCH!). I much prefer the sound of the Firefly as it is mellower and warmer. If you want punch though, something like the Ozark is more like that.

  4. Thanks Barry...I read your firefly review and that helps a lot


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