Top 10 Best Tenor Ukuleles for 2019 Reviews

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It’s not as widely-known as its long distance cousin (the guitar), but the ukulele’s still a lovely, cheerful instrument. That’s particularly true for the tenor variant. Sandwiched the concert and baritone ukuleles in size, the tenor uke produces a deep, rich sound with a unique Polynesian feel. To sweeten the pie, it’s suitable for all skill/experience levels. That’s why you’re considering getting one, isn’t it? Well, here’s a shortlist of top tenor ukuleles on the scene today.

1. Ukulele Tenor Size Bundle From Lohanu (LU-T)

Ukulele Tenor Size Bundle From Lohanu

Music is food for the soul, or so they say. The Lohanu LU-T is dressed to make you eat hearty. Combining an arched back with intricately-toned woods, this is easily the best-looking ukulele you can have for $100.

Of course, a seasoned player will tell you that the look is just a by-product of the instrument's functionality. The sapele mahogany body and rosewood fretboard are there to ensure the uke produces a crisp sound with an extended sustain. The chrome tuning gears work to keep the Aquila Nylgut strings taut and true.

Going by user feedback, you can trust the LU-T to sound as good as a high-end ukulele, thanks to its curved body. The playing experience will also be pleasurable, since the instrument comes strung and tuned out of the box. You also get plenty of accessories to get you going, including a battery-powered tuner, waterproof carry case, leather pick, hanger, and an extra set of strings.

Pros

-Strap buttons come pre-installed, which is unusual for a $100 ukulele.

-The included tuner is easy to use and highly accurate.

-Unbeatable value for money: As a combination of looks, sound, and feel, you won't get a better deal at this kit's price point.

-Unconditional lifetime warranty for both the uke and accessories.

Cons

-Some buyers report having difficulty achieving the right tune.

2. Official Kala Learn to Play Ukulele Tenor Starter Kit – Satin Mahogany

Official Kala Learn to Play Ukulele Tenor Starter Kit - Satin Mahogany

Designated 'KALA-LTP-T', this might just be the perfect uke for novices. It comes with online classes, a tuner app, and a 20-page 'Learn to Play Quick Start Guide' as part of the package. All that in addition to a gorgeous satin mahogany tenor ukulele.

At just over 28 inches in length, the instrument strikes the right balance between size and ergonomics --- larger players will know how tricky small ukes can be. It comes furnished with Aquila Nylgut strings, open gear tuners, plus GraphTech NuBone nut-and-saddle. While the laminate body still reminds that this is a starter model, the instrument delivers a great tenor tone nevertheless.

Still, you will want to get the Kala Tenor Starter Kit more for its learner features than anything else. The Quick Start Guide has all the information you'd need for a proper introduction. The online course includes a bunch of tutorials covering everything from tuning to strumming techniques. Kala also provide an app for iOS and Android; this combines a tuner with lessons and play-along songs. The entire kit retails for $99.

Pros

-Good value for money.

-Offers a great learning experience.

-Superb build quality.

Cons

-Doesn't stay in tune.

-App and video lessons are limited to a 4-day trial.

3. Donner DUT-1 Tenor Ukulele

Donner DUT-1 Tenor Ukulele

Featuring a plain, bright mahogany body and dark rosewood fretboard, the Donner DUT-1 isn't exactly what you'd call a looker. And that's not a bad thing --- the simplicity suggests that the instrument will handle a sizable dose of abuse. So if you want an uke that doesn't require lots of care and attention --- one that can stand rough, inexperienced hands --- this will fit the bill.

You'll notice that this ukulele uses carbon nylon strings instead of Aquila Nylguts (like most others on the list). Users report that the strings are smooth and soft to touch, with a crisp, sweet sound (thanks to the mahogany body). The chrome-plated guitar-style tuners will help keep the strings true and consistent.

The Donner DUT-1 retails for $65 on various stores online. For accessories, you will get a padded ukulele bag as well as a digital clip on tuner. Also included in the kit is an extra set of strings.

Pros

-Stellar build quality for a relatively-cheap ukulele.

-Has a warm, lovely sound, which is again impressive at this range.

-The uke provides a smooth, comfortable playing experience out of the box.

Cons

-The stock strings wear out rather quickly.

-Doesn't come with instructional material, which is odd for a model that's (seemingly) targeted at beginners.

4. Tenor Ukele Mahogany 26 Inch Ukelele

Tenor Ukele Mahogany 26 Inch Ukelele

This 26-inch ukulele from Kmise offers a great mix of features and affordability. It delivers a warm, potent sound thanks to its mahogany body, and the walnut fretboard is manicured smooth for a pleasant touch. The 18:1 gear tuner ensures the D'Addario carbon nylon strings stay tuned taut.

Accompanying the ukulele is a starter kit with a detailed guide on how to get going. This, in addition to the free online lessons included in the purchase, make it a great introductory model. Not to mention that it's the cheapest option on the list; you can get it today for just $58.99.

Pros

-Comes with plenty of accessories, including a gig bag and straps.

-The clip-on tuner is easy to use

-Comes with a one-month money back guarantee

Cons

-The strings take long to settle in compared to other models.

5. Tenor Ukulele Ranch 26 Inch Professional Wooden Instrument Kit

Tenor Ukulele Ranch 26 Inch Professional Wooden Instrument Kit

If you care as much for looks as you do for function, Ranch's 26-inch Professional Wooden Ukulele Kit is bound to pique your interest. It combines a polished Sapele body with a mahogany neck for a warm, delightful look. The gig bag is equally splendid; a handsome ash-grey case punctuated by gentle curves and jet-black zipper lines.

On the functional side, the uke comes pre-strung with Aquila strings. Chrome die cast tuning pegs are included to keep the strings in tune; this may prove easier said than done if user feedback is anything to go by. Nonetheless, the instrument's arched body ensures the sound comes out pretty clear and warm.

You can pick up the Ranch Tenor Ukulele for $65 online. The package comes with an extra set of strings, shoulder strap, a clip-on digital tuner, plus a polishing cloth. You will also get a 1-year warranty as well.

Pros

-Backed by a 30-day, no-questions-asked, money back guarantee.

-Rich, hefty sound thanks to the arched back.

-Perhaps the most gorgeous uke you'll find in the sub-$100 range.

-Quite generous on accessories for its price.

Cons

-Loses tune very easily, and therefore requires constant re-tuning.

-Users have complained of below-par build quality.


6. AKLOT Tenor Ukulele All Bamboo 26 Inch

AKLOT Tenor Ukulele All Bamboo 26 Inch

The AKLOT AKBT26 is an all-bamboo ukulele with Aquila Nylgut strings and an 18-to-1 tuning pegs. It features a low action for an ergonomic playing experience, and the sound is comparable to most high-end models. While the $119 price tag isn't what you'd call cheap, it's still within a reasonable range.

But let's not discount the elephant in the room: Why would you buy a bamboo uke when you can get a mahogany unit for less money? First off, it's worth pointing out that the AKTB26 is just as well-crafted as other models on the list. The company might be only 7 years old, but the 2-year warranty they provide is testament to the quality of their products. The use of bamboo points towards an emerging trend in the industry; a growing scarcity of exotic woods. AKLOT are basically giving themselves a headstart by looking elsewhere.

You can think of the AKTB26 as a chance to try something different. Bamboo's known to be harder than other woods, and this should make for a more comfortable experience. It also gives the instrument a punchy sound and lovely presence.

Pros

-Backed by a 2-year warranty.

-Great sound and solid build quality.

-Comes with a full set of accessories.

Cons

-Given the instrument's unfamiliar feel, you may have trouble finding the right tune.

7. Hricane Tenor Ukulele UKS-3

Hricane Tenor Ukulele UKS-3

The name might not be as familiar as, say, Yamaha, but Hricane do produce some impressive, affordable string instruments. The UKS-3 makes that pretty clear --- it has a gorgeous Sapele body with a subtle decorative motive adorning its sound hole. This contrasts nicely with the rosewood bridge/fretboard, with a neat white binding completing the elegant look.

And now the stuff that really matters; the action. The UKS-3 comes with carbon nylon strings and chrome-plated tuners to help keep them in shape. Fret count stands at 18, with special markings on the 5th, 7th, 9th and 12th frets for easier fingering. You can expect a pleasurable playing feel once the strings stretch out and settle. The sound will be similarly enjoyable; rich, melodious, and with plenty of resonance. All that for just $69.99!

Pros

-Outstanding craftsmanship for the price.

-Backed by a non-conditional 30-day money-back guarantee and lifetime warranty.

Cons

-Doesn't come with a tuner.

8. Cordoba 15TM Tenor Ukulele

Cordoba 15TM Tenor Ukulele

Cordoba has proven a great choice for string instruments over the years. Part of their 15-series family, the 15TM is based on its concert stablemate (the Cordoba 15CM). The body is handcrafted from laminated mahogany, with a cream ABS binding and stain finish around the back and top respectively.

Though it's small-bodied for a tenor uke, the 15TM still delivers a solid, punchy sound thanks to its mahogany construction. It's strung with Aquila strings like other models on the list, but the rosewood fretboard has an extra fret over the standard 18. You will also be pleased with the silver tuners coupled with drop tuning buttons.

The Cordoba 15TM sells for $99 on most online stores. Do note that this only covers the ukulele itself --- no accessories are provided. Some users opine that its stellar sound makes up for the omission to some extent.

Pros

-The sound is loud, clear and well-balanced.

-Great handling and playability.

-Solid construction.

Cons

-Doesn't come with any accessories.

-Dismal tuning mechanism.

9. Kala MK-T Makala Tenor Ukulele Bundle

Kala MK-T Makala Tenor Ukulele Bundle

Yet another of Kala's bundle sets. Like its stablemate, the Kala MK-T is available for $99. It also comes with everything you need to get going, including a digital tuner, an Austin Bazaar instructional DVD, and 2 months of free online lessons.

The ukulele itself features an Agathis body, mahogany neck, plus a rosewood fingerboard and bridge. Aquila Super Nylgut strings are paired with geared tuners for the action. The saddle and nut are made of plastic; this keeps the MK-T affordable without ruining the instrument's playability.

Sound quality isn't much to write home about, but it's not awful either. Expect it to fall somewhere between warm and loud. The use of Agathis wood for the body also helps the instrument retain its shape, which in turn upholds sound quality over the long term. Unlike most comparable ukes, the Makala MK-T has 18 frets. The wider variety of notes brings the ability to play more complex tunes.

Pros

-Bundled with a number of useful accessories, including a gig bag and polishing cloth.

-Solid build quality.

-Decent sound for its price.

Cons

-Can be tricky to get in tune, even with the provided DVD.

10. Cordoba 20TM-CE Acoustic Tenor Ukulele

Cordoba 20TM-CE Acoustic Tenor Ukulele

Yet another classy Cordoba tenor Uke on the list - this time an acoustic-electric model. With a 26.5-inch long body, the 20TM-CE makes great use of its tonewood. The top, back and sides are all fashioned out of mahogany, with the bridge and fretboard are made of rosewood.

There's a soft cutaway on the treble side for easier access to the higher frets. The uke is strung with Aquila Nylguts as usual, with a set of silver open-geared tuners for the tuning mechanism. The electronic package is comprised of a piezo pickup paired with Cordoba's 2-band pre-amp system. Output for the pickup is via the quarter-inch jack on the base of the uke. The side has a panel with volume and tone controls.

This configuration results in a round, balanced tone --- the 20TM-CE sounds pretty good for a $200 model. You will however notice that it sacrifices a bit of punch compared to its non-cutaway sister, the Cordoba 20TM. That could be blamed on the heavy gear taking up space inside the body.

Pros

-Elegant traditional design

-Lightweight construction and solid build quality, which makes the uke ideal for travel.

-High-quality strings

Cons

-No accessories: You'd expect a $200 instrument to come with a carry case at the very least.

Selecting a Tenor Ukulele Tips

Before you focus on a tenor ukulele’s specifics, it’s important to first understand what your requirements are or how you plan to use the instrument. Ukuleles can be lake or beach-side beaters, a piece of art displayed within a case mounted on a wall, a touring machine ready for the stage, etc.

If you are going to use the ukulele outdoors or under extreme conditions, a ukulele made of a nature-proof material such as carbon fiber or plastic is recommended. Wooden instruments will find it difficult to combat adverse weather conditions, such as rain. However, plastic may not sound as great as wood. And if that difference in sound bothers you, laminated wood is an ideal midground.

Size is another major factor to consider. In fact, it’s the most important for most buyers. Bigger ukuleles have more room for the fingers and provide a warmer, more even tone. A bigger uke would also accommodate a lot more frets. Also, check out the prices. The recent past has seen affordable ukes going up in quality dramatically. This means you no longer have to pay several thousand dollars for quality tenor ukes.

Types of Tenor Ukuleles

Tenor ukuleles are generally preferred by performers. Compared to concert ukuleles, these are a tad on the longer side. The increased height gives the instrument a better ‘upper end’ sound range. As far as types go, there aren’t standard tenor uke classifications. The differences between different tenor ukes are usually with regard to the material they are made of and their very marginal size differences (if any) across brands.

Top Tenor Ukulele Brands

Ukuleles are growing in popularity as they are fun, lovely and cheerful to the ears. Also, learning to play the ukulele is not as complex as a guitar. A lot of companies have been making tenor ukes even before the instrument started to become more popular. As a result, buyers have a lot of options. This is both a good and a bad thing. It’s a negative because people are not sure who makes the highest quality or value-for-money ukuleles. Consider buying tenor ukuleles from the following manufacturers if you’re confused as well.

• C.F. Martin & Co.

C.F. Martin & Co. is continuing to inspire musicians across the globe with its high-quality string instruments for almost two centuries. Throughout its long history, Martin’s offerings could be heard and seen across various music genres and in all pop culture segments, from theater and concert stages to movies and television.

• Kala

Based in Petaluma, California, Kala Brand Music Company takes immense pride in its handmade ukuleles. The company introduced several new ukes in 2018, covering all the four major tenor sizes. Kala believes in keeping up with the trends, which is why it constantly refreshes its existing models to give them a fresh streamlined look. The company also makes budget-friendly ukuleles for budding players or people on a limited budget.

• Luna Guitars

Luna Guitars makes string instruments for different types of musicians. Unlike other string instrument makers, Luna Guitars focuses more on their instruments’ aesthetics. Inspirations from world culture, art and nature are quite evident in the company’s laser etched or delicate inlaid designs. The unique ornamentation makes Luna’s guitars and ukes visually stunning.

• Donner

Donner, founded in 2012, intends to create fresh musical experiences. Despite being a relatively new company, Donner is extremely committed to research, production and marketing musical tools, particularly ukuleles and guitar effect pedals. The ukes and other musical instruments the company delivers reflect the values and ideas of all people who continue to be smitten by Donner’s offerings.

• Lanikai

Lanikai specializes in offering ukes for discerning musicians who seek playability, dependability, and style; be it songwriting, on stage, or recording. With an array of premium features and tone woods, Lanikai ukes provide musicians instruments that meet their growing skill levels and the inspiration that fuels musical passion and sparks creativity.

• Oscar Schmidt

Born in 1871, Oscar Schmidt has been making all types of stringed instruments: banjos, guitars, ukuleles, mandolins, zithers, etc. Blues musicians and country guitar pickers living far from the urban areas frequently play its instruments as they are locally available and inexpensive. But an even bigger reason for the popularity is the instruments’ superior volume and tone. Each instrument that heads out of Oscar Schmidt shores is checked and altered by skilled technicians to assure smooth fret ends, resonant sound quality and precision low action.

• Ohana

Ohana keeps playability, quality, and value at its core. Since 2006, the company has constantly focused on manufacturing ukes using high-quality wood that produce excellent-sounding instruments. Ohana pays close attention to the various stages of manufacturing – from tone wood sourcing and pairing, to each model’s unique construction and shape.

Average Tenor Ukulele Pricing

Tenor ukuleles fall in a fairly wide price range. You can get one for a few hundred dollars. And then there are ones that enter the thousands. You can even grab them for far less than a hundred dollars. Multiple factors determine a tenor ukulele’s price, including brand, build quality, and materials used.

Based on price alone, tenor ukuleles can be categorized as cheap, budget, beginner, mid-level, and high-end. The cheap ones are basically toy ukes that can be found for less than $35. The budget ones will usually set you back by $50. The beginner range is for people who seriously want to learn to play the instrument but cannot spend much. Ukes in this range are usually available for a price that’s anywhere between $50 and $150.

The mid-level tenor ukes cost $150 to $500. The most expensive or the high-end ones would lighten your pockets by at least $500. There is no upper price limit for these ukes. Depending on the materials, the craftsmanship involved, or the uniqueness of the product, some could even carry a price tag of more than $20,000. These ranges should give you a basic idea about what to expect depending on your budget.

FAQS

Is a tenor ukulele good for a beginner?

If you have large fingers, you’ll have trouble with concert or soprano ukuleles even if you have never played an uke before. If a tenor uke’s size intimidates you or you don’t find it portable enough, you could try playing the smaller ukulele types.

How much is a tenor ukulele?

Tenor ukuleles fall in a wide price range. The price you end up paying for depends on the brand or manufacturer, model, design and build, weight, packaging and accessories that come with it, etc. For a good-quality tenor ukulele, you should be willing to spend at least $150. If you are willing to shell out more than or close to $500, you’ll invariably end up with an extremely solid tenor ukulele.

What is the best tenor ukulele under 300?

Irrespective of your playing style, size of choice, and skill level, $300 would fetch you more than a handful of high-quality tenor ukes. $300 is where the entry-level tenor uke options end and the mid-level models present themselves. Though there are quite a few good models under the $300 price, the two particular models that immediately come to our mind are the Kala KA-SMHT and Fender Montecito. The Cordoba 25T CE is also worth consideration.

Which is better concert or tenor ukulele?

There is no single uke type that can be considered best or better than another. However, there are certain differences between the concert and tenor that you must know to determine which one suits you best or is “better” according to you. The obvious difference between the two is size. Tenor ukuleles are bigger of the two. They are 26 inches long compared to concert’s 23 inches.

This increased body size means a tenor uke offers more volume, warmth and base. This explains why tenor ukes sound a bit richer and fuller than concert ukes. Also, tenor ukes benefit from an increased string tension that could offer a bit more projection and volume.

Scale length is another difference between the two. Concert ukes have a 15-inch scale whereas tenor ukes have a 17-inch scale. With regards to playability, concert ukuleles are slightly easier to play for individuals with smaller hands. A tenor, as mentioned before, is more convenient for people with bigger hands.

What is the difference between a tenor and soprano ukulele?

A soprano is the smallest of all ukuleles. The major difference between it and the tenor uke is size, and all the other compromises or restrictions that come with it. A soprano ukulele is usually preferred by ladies and kids.

How do you tune a tenor ukulele?

The default tenor uke tuning is A, E, C, G, which is the same as concert and soprano ukuleles. This typical tuning is also referred to as “C” tuning. This is because during re-entrant tuning, the pitch lowest across the different strings is C. However, to add some complexity to the mix, the tenor has Low-G and High-G, which are common variations of A, E, C and G. The High-G variation employs re-entrant tuning, which means the strings aren’t tuned in the high-to-low sequence. The Low-G variant tunes the fourth string at a lower octave, which makes it the lowermost pitch.

 

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