The Firefly: amazing new banjo uke


[Video Link] Above: A video David found of someone playing the Firefly.

UPDATE: Dale Webb, the designer of the Firefly has provided additional information about this instrument:

The action is adjustable thru the removal or addition of the fiber washers at the end of the strut where it connects to the drum frame.

The drum head is easily replaceable with the removal of one screw and the wedge. Replacements will be available for about $35 although I don’t expect there will be much need.

Remo manufactures both in the U.S. and overseas. Per our request, all future heads will be manufactured in the U.S. We will pay a bit more but we feel it’s worth it to us to be 100% U.S.A. made (consistent with our other instruments) not to mention the quality and production control advantages. I believe this puts us in a class by ourselves when it comes to U.S.A. made stringed instruments.

For many years I have wanted to add a banjo ukulele to my collection of musical instruments. But I've put it off for two reasons. One, good banjo ukes (aka banjoleles) are quite expensive, and two, they are really heavy. One of the reasons I like ukuleles is that they are portable, or at least supposed to be portable.

So when my friend Jim Beloff, co-proprietor of Flea Market Music, sent to me one of the new Firefly banjo ukuleles, I was overjoyed. The Firefly ($179) was designed by Jim's brother-in-law Dale Webb, who is also the creator of the amazing Flea and the Fluke ukuleles, and it is an example of ingenious elegance. Jim told me Dale was at a music convention last year and saw a hand drum from Remo and a light bulb went off in his head. Dale took a few of the drums home and used them for the body of some banjo ukulele prototypes. The result is this lightweight, bright-sounding banjo ukulele that looks as good as it sounds. It is just beautiful. (See detail photos after the jump.)

Jim also sent me a copy of a ukulele songbook that he and his wife Liz recently published called The Daily Ukulele, which has 365 songs in it raging from old-timey tunes to '60s songs from bands like The Beatles and the Mamas and the Papas. I've been going through the songs and playing them on my Firefly. What a terrific book and what a terrific instrument!