The OUB1 is one of Oscar Schmidt’s rare forays into the world of this unique instrument. In fact, this is banjolele is the only model that has featured in their ukulele section. Fortunately, their ability to craft some of the best acoustic guitars and best ukuleles translates into some string instrument. With this model, OU offers a budget-friendly, comfortable starting instrument for someone who does not have much experience with banjoleles.
Reminiscent of the 1920s gold time of banjo ukuleles Oscar Schmidt created this model to take the best of the era and combine it with model expertise. In this way, they created an instrument that looks vintage but fits perfectly the modern player’s needs. This is a four-string banjo ukulele with a concert-size mahogany uke neck. The mahogany neck is a pretty standard choice for uke necks. It provides extra sweet and rich tone.
To sprinkle in a little more playability, OU added a bound rosewood fingerboard, a very smooth and well-polished work that anyone will appreciate. With a Remo head and mahogany resonator, the manufacturer combined the best of the banjo world to the existent uke part. This combination yield crisp, unique sound and well-fitted construction.
While white binding along with a finish accentuates the color contrast and make the instrument aesthetically pleasing, I don’t think that the finish was done that well. There are some inconsistencies here and there but nothing too big and nothing that affects the quality of playability.
Okay, let’s talk a bit about hardware. The OUB1 comes with a headstock that features flame maple veneer. On the headstock, you will see open gear tuners with white Pearloid buttons. This is a standard choice of material. Oscar Schmidt does not seem to want to go too far with experimenting with this model and it pays off. The tuners are good quality, are easy to tune and stay tuned very well. This banjolele also ships with Aquila strings (great in quality) and a tension adjustment tool which will come in handy if you have to do your setup and don’t think there is proper tension on the instrument’s head.
Oscar Schmidt Banjolele Sound
While the OUB1 fits pretty much any style you want it is especially perfect for Dixie and bluegrass. With G-C-E-A tuning and a pretty nice setup, this banjolele can surprise you. That being said, there are a couple of issues with it. For instance, the intonation is not perfect. This issue can be caused by bridge setup and if you take your time to adjust everything and play for a while so that the strings set in, the intonation will improve. Unfortunately, there is a bit of buzz on the frets. With a resonator, this model offers quite a good volume. Overall, the combination of uke’s sweet sound and banjo twang creates a nice balance between the two instruments.
Although the build of this banjolele is solid and sturdy it does not weight too much for a model that has a resonator. So if you are traveling a lot or just don’t get too excited about holding a heavy instrument for hours on end, this is a great thing. While there are some minor issues with the buzz and finish, the Oscar Schmidt OUB1 Banjolele still manages to deliver on the overall playability, tone and construction quality and that is why it is one of the best banjoleles under $200.
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