Meet the BanjoUke Team

Ed Ackman

Ed Ackman


Weary of playing his ukulele to a computer screen, Ed reached out to local New Zealanders community to see if there were any others who wanted to join in on a string-instrument musical journey. In a town of just 600 he received 29 enthusiastic replies. So began the Russell Ukulele Orchestra, which plays (for actual money, would you believe?) to this very day.

With his friend Curt Carlson, and fellow uke player, he set to work to create a complimentary sound in their orchestra: A banjolele. After an exhausting search for the right sound, and under the influence of a few beers, they decided to build their own. This decision led to months in the garage trying this, testing that - anything from aluminum cooking pots to and tin cans to finally a design that turned out quite extraordinary!

And the rest is history, the BanjoUke Sidekick was born and available the world over to enjoy!

Where I BanjoUke? "As a bass player, I love the size of my Banjolele. At just 1.5lbs (650gms) I take my uke everywhere, but my favorite place is in front of a campfire on the beach at night."

Lorraine Mecca

Lorraine Mecca


Heading to Russell, New Zealand from the United State, Mecca was smitten by the sounds of the Russell Ukulele Orchestra and had to learn what that odd-shaped ukulele was. As a guitar player, she loved the extra wide (tenor) fretboard, which made the BanjoUke so easy to play. And she enjoys that banjo-like sound that it makes.

It wasn’t long before her love of music and entrepreneurship brought her together with the BanjoUke creator. Ed and Mecca became fast friends, and jamming buddies and business partners. Now she takes care of operations when she is not enjoying the benefits of living by the sea.

Where I BanjoUke? “I take my BanjoUke everywhere. Lately it was to Texas where my 2-year-old grandson had a fine time playing my banjolele. Of course, he had to get one of his very own. I look forward to jamming with him next summer!”

BanjoUke | The Banjo & Ukulele Hybrid

Banjo Uke.Kiwi is a New Zealand Entity

The home of the best banjolele is in township of Russell, a picturesque township in the Bay of Islands along the Northland coast of New Zealand. Russell is renowned as a fishing centre and as a holiday town with many historical interest. Russell is also best know (in our circles) as the home of the Russell Ukulele Orchestra!

One point of interest is the garage of Ed Ackman where the BanjoUke Sidekick was created. We think it should be submitted as a historical museum, don’t you?

Northland coast of New Zealand