The Best Tenor Ukulele: Reviews, Guides, and More!

By Monica | Product Reviews

Sep 14
best tenor ukulele

The tenor ukulele is a rising stringed-instrument niche in the music community today. I cannot say that this instrument has an occult of followers as of now. However, I am pretty sure that there are lots of people who are beginning to appreciate it.

Specifically, the best tenor ukulele can produce a spark of sound that can mesmerize anyone. Although its tone is not to everyone's liking, a tenor ukulele gives off full and deep intonation. In fact, the sound that it creates is bigger than ordinary ukuleles.

Practically, this kind of nuance is due to the size of a tenor ukulele. Comparing it to standard ukulele, a tenor ukulele has a bigger body. Of course, we all know that big instruments produce huge and full sound.

Many people also prefer to use tenor ukulele over soprano and concert ukulele. Although their appearance does not really vary that much, their size and design can make the difference.

For those that are currently in pursuit of this instrument, you are quite lucky. here, I have listed some of the best options for a tenor ukulele. Check which one of them do you think can satisfy your requirements. Let's get started now!

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Best Tenor Ukulele: Top 6 Picks

The Kala KA-KTG Tenor Hawaiian Ukulele is the quintessential form of a tenor ukulele. Coming from a reputable brand of ukulele manufacturer, the Kala KA-KTG Gloss Tenor provides authentic and highly distinct sounds. It has a smooth and solid construction, which is hand-picked and designed.

Different tonewoods constitute the body of the Kala KA-KTG Tenor. It has a spruce top and sides made from mahogany. These particular tonewoods offer profound and rich tone, which easily complements other instruments. Moreover, they make the Kala KA-KTG Tenor particularly attractive, especially to those that have keen eyes.

If you already a thing or two about the ukulele, it is not difficult to distinguish the richness and fullness of the sound of Kala KA-TG Gloss Tenor. It can perfectly layer with acoustic guitars during recording sessions. But of course, you can still enjoy this amazing tenor ukulele even you don't have any intentions on using it on-stage!


Pros:

  • Full and rich sounds
  • Easy to play mahogany neck
  • "F-Hole" component that provides warm and distinct sound
  • Comfortable to hold and play
  • Visually appealing

Cons:

  • No noticeable drawbacks

Let's take a look at this product...

Kala KA-TG Gloss Tenor Ukulele
  • Spruce top and Mahogany Back and sides
  • 19 silver nickel frets
  • Rosewood fingerboard and bridge
  • Mahogany neck
  • Gloss Natural Finish

The Cordoba 20TM Tenor Ukulele is a great alternative to the Kala KA-TG Gloss Tenor. If for some reasons you don’t like the latter, this one might suit you best! It has similar components and features with the first tenor ukulele I featured. However, this one is made from pure mahogany. Both of its top, sides, and back are made from the said tonewood.

On the other hand, both of its fingerboards are made from rosewood, with an authentic satin finish. From the get go, the Cordoba 20TM is already a great-sounding tenor ukulele. The sound it creates is warm and distinct. Moreover, I also noticed that the Cordoba is very responsive and can work well with professional and recording applications.

Overall, the Cordoba is a convenient instrument to play. It fits perfectly in your hands. The neck is very nice to hold and doesn't require you to grip it too much. New players will certainly love this ukulele. Even if you have a large body frame, this ukulele is not that really awkward to use.



Let's take a look at this product...

Cordoba 20TM Tenor Ukulele
  • Solid mahogany top
  • Mahogany back and sides
  • Rosewood bridge and fingerboard
  • Natural satin finish
  • Aquila Nylgut Tenor strings (GCEA)

Some of you might be looking for a budget-friendly tenor ukulele. Fortunately, such option actually exists. And that is in the form of this bundle package from the Kala Guitars. Specifically, the Kala MK-T Makala Tenor is a standard-type of a tenor ukulele. Although its quality is noticeably lower than the Kala KA-TG Gloss, the MK-T Makala is still a decent unit that you should try.

The top, sides, and back of the Kala MK-T Makala are crafted from laminated mahogany. It comes with a T-bracing, too, for optimal structural durability. Specifically, the tonewood used in the Kala MK-T Makala is Agathis. Meanwhile, the bridge and the fingerboard are made from rosewood. It has a satin finish with quality tuners in place.

Aside from the tenor ukulele, the bundle also includes a digital tuner, instructional materials, polishing cloth, and a standard gig bag. With all these accessories, you are really getting more than what you paid for!


Pros:

  • Perfect for beginners and amateur players
  • Decent sounding
  • Construction is not cheap
  • All the necessary accessories for gigs are present
  • Affordable

Cons:

  • Sounding is not as full as other tenor ukuleles

Let's take a look at this product...


The Luna Mahogany Series Tattoo Tenor Ukulele is an impressive unit that you can get if you are willing to spend a little more. It has a unique and aesthetically appealing design. Specifically, its body has tattoo etching, which makes it extremely alluring. But of course, its design is only a portion of the selling points of this tenor ukulele.

Just like the Cordoba 20TM, the Luna Tenor Ukulele has a mahogany body. The top, sides, and back, are made from this specific tonewood. Of course, with this kind of construction, you can expect that the ukulele can produce warm and distinct sounds. It will never run out "presence," even if you play on live stages.

When it comes to functionality, the Luna Mahogany Series Tattoo Tenor Ukulele doesn't miss a spot. Playing with this instrument is not troubling at all. The strings are pretty flexible. They are very easy to maneuver. I tried this ukulele, and I can say that it has a great playability factor. With its price, the Luna Ukulele is already a big jackpot!


Pros:

  • Aesthetically pleasing
  • Great construction
  • Very playable
  • Quality and distinct sounds
  • Excellent responsiveness

Cons:

  • It is a high-action ukulele (but it is adjustable)

Let's take a look at this product...

Luna Mahogany Series Tattoo Tenor Ukulele
  • Laser etched Tattoo
  • Design by Alex Morgan
  • Body: Tenor
  • Top: Select Mahogany
  • Back/Sides: Mahogany

If you want a tenor ukulele that you can use in practice, the Gretsch G9120 is actually an excellent choice. It is a standard ukulele that has an impressive construction, design, and sounding. Its entire body is made from laminated mahogany. There is also a T-bracing included in its layout.

Because of this construction, the Gretsch G9120 can produce genuine rich and warm tones. Your tonal projections are not limited to this instrument, too. Beginners and interested practitioners will benefit from this setup. After all, they can experiment and explore the full capacities of a tenor ukulele.

Playing this ukulele is not that difficult either. The simple and compact design of the Gretsch G9120 enables small players to use this instrument with ease. The strings are soft and flexible enough that they won't really hurt your fingers. Gripping the neck is not that troublesome either!


Pros:

  • Compact and portable layout
  • Sounding is pretty decent
  • Ideal ukulele for practice
  • Can still produce warm and rich resonance
  • Playability is great

Cons:

  • It comes with fine tuning issues

Let's take a look at this product...


The little brother of the Cordoba 20TM is also a part of this list. This is a ukulele that doesn't fall back when it comes to performance and construction. If you find that standard tenor ukuleles are quite big, this is a good option to venture. Despite this, the Cordoba 15TM still features full and quality sounding.

The Cordoba 15TM is a handcrafted unit, mostly from mahogany tonewood. This particular construction enables this ukulele to create sounds that can certainly steal the spotlight. This tenor ukulele also sports a binding on its fingerboard, making it as a very functional option. The instrument also comes with a fine and classy satin finish.

Additionally, the Cordoba 15TM features tuners coated with silver paint and pearl buttons. Meanwhile, the Aquila string set of this instrument allows maximum convenience to its users. Even professionals can find this ukulele useful on their gigs!


Pros:

  • Compact option
  • Classy and sleek design
  • Sounding is full and rich
  • Works well for intermediate and professional players, too
  • Very playable

Cons:

  • The strings need to be adjusted constantly

Let's take a look at this product...

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Cordoba 15TM Tenor Ukulele
  • Mahogany top, back, and sides
  • Satin finish
  • Tenor size

How to Choose a Tenor Ukulele

The ukulele is actually a sweet instrument to play. Although many seem cold about it, the ukulele did never really lost its quality.

I have been in the world of music for almost 20 years already. Throughout my stay here, I have realized some things about the ukulele. Specifically, this particular item comes with too many options and choices.

At first, I really thought that there is only one "standard" ukulele. But just like the guitar, this one comes with too many variations, too. Therefore, if you don't know what you want, you might get the wrong ukulele for your intended application.

Since we are talking about tenor ukuleles, it is quite appropriate to know the essential considerations in choosing one. Fortunately, the nuances between the different types of the ukulele are not that big. Therefore, you can easily course through the selection without getting confused.

Size of the Ukulele

ukulele size

The tenor ukulele actually refers to the size of the ukulele. There is four categories for it: soprano (standard), concert, tenor, and baritone. All of these ukuleles have varying ranges in tone.

Soprano Ukulele

  • Scale length: 13 inches
  • Overall length: 21 inches

Concert Ukulele

  • Scale length: 15 inches
  • Overall length: 23 inches

Tenor Ukulele

  • Scale length: 17 inches
  • Overall length: 26 inches

Baritone

  • Scale length: 19 inches
  • Overall length: 30 inches

Soprano Ukulele

Because it is the standard ukulele, many deemed that the soprano ukulele is the original ukulele. Among the entire ukulele family, the soprano has the smallest size. As a result, this variation is ideal for kids and players with small hands.

The soprano generates bright sound, which defined the iconic sound for ukuleles. If a particular ukulele is labeled as a standard, then it is definitely a soprano.

Concert Ukulele

Slightly bigger than the soprano, the concert ukulele can produce louder and deeper sound than the former. Despite this, the concert can still provide the similar and distinct sound to a soprano, especially if you adjust it properly.

Tenor Ukulele

If you think that the concert and soprano ukuleles are too small for you, getting a tenor ukulele is a recommended move. This particular variant gained more popularity in the recent years. There are a lot of reasons for its sudden rise. However, I can provide one plausible cause for it.

Because of the size of the tenor ukulele, the sound it produces is quite different from concert and soprano. The "ukulele" feeling is still there. But once you play it thoroughly, you will realize that the tenor veers away from the conventional. Specifically, the sound it generates is comparable to classical guitars.

This one is more playable than soprano and concert variants. This is due to the bigger frame that it has. The fingerboard is a lot spacious, which allows big hands to tap into it.

Baritone Ukulele

The biggest in the entire league is the baritone ukulele. Naturally, the capacity of the baritone ukulele to produce bass frequencies is higher than its tenor counterpart. Notably, this variant can be tuned in the similar manner as you are tuning first four highest strings of your guitar. Therefore, many guitarists that want to transition on ukulele must opt for this option.

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Parts of the Ukulele

If you are familiar with the guitar already, knowing the layout and interface of a ukulele is not difficult for you. Of course, checking the quality of each of these parts will ensure you that the ukulele you get deserves the price that it has.

Headstock - This component is connected to the top-end portion of the neck. It is the one that contains the tuning machines or pegs.

Tuning machines - The tuning machines, pegs, or heads, essentially plays a vital part on holding the strings. But their main role is actually to adjust the strings whenever you are tuning the instrument.

Nut - The nut works hand-in-hand with the saddle in making sure that the strings are properly aligned.

Neck - The neck is the platform that holds and supports the fretboard. It extends from the main body towards the headstock.

Fretboard - Commonly known as the fingerboard, the fretboard is the region of your ukulele that contains the frets, marker dots, or any components that guide the player on the chord and note positioning. Take note that the area closest to the headstock is actually the first fret.

Body - The body usually consists of the soundboard (top), sides, and back. The soundboard is the one that relays or transmits the vibration of the strings. Meanwhile, the hole in the center ensures that sound is created optimally. The type of material used in the body affects the tonal characteristic of the instrument. For instance, the tone mahogany is ideal for making full and rich sounds.

Bridge - The bridge of the ukulele is the platform where the saddle is mounted. This component ensures that the strings do not go anywhere through locking them on its bottom portion.

Ideal Tonewoods for Tenor Ukulele

A tenor ukulele can realize its full potential by having a quality tonewood. If you have done your research already, the bodies of ukulele can either be made with cedar, spruce, mahogany, koa, redwood, and a lot of others.

Koa - The koa is a type of tonewood derived from the koa tree, which is endemic to tropical regions such as Hawaii. Therefore, it always comes as the first option when it comes to the construction of the body of tenor ukuleles. It is a traditional tonewood that can be ingrained with different finishes and patterns. Meanwhile, the tone it produces is balanced, making it an all-rounder.

Mahogany - There are multiple variants of mahogany. As a result, identifying its tone is quite hard to do. However, this tonewood typically offers warm and deep tonal characteristics. Because of this, it is one of the ideal materials for constructing a tenor ukulele.

Cedar - The cedar is also a great choice for making a ukulele. It is moderately sturdy, which allows it to create mellow and rich sound. With this characteristic, this particular tonewood is an excellent choice for baritone and tenor ukuleles.

Spruce - The spruce is becoming a popular option among ukulele manufacturers. This tonewood is usually used in constructing the top or soundboard of the instrument. Although the sound it creates is bright, its loudness is definitely perfect for tenor ukuleles. If you combine it with other tonewoods such as mahogany, the spruce can really change the complexion of the sound.

Final Verdict

Among all of the tenor ukuleles, the Kala KA-TG Gloss Tenor Ukulele has the most exceptional construction and sounding. It has an excellent playability, which allows you to use it on any applications. The strings are very flexible and responsive, while the neck and fretboard offer extreme convenience to its users. The finish and design of this instrument are on a premium-quality, too. Despite all these, the Kala KA-TG Gloss is arguably the best tenor ukulele today.

But if you want other options, you could freely check and test the rest of the tenor ukuleles I featured. They have a good standing in the ukulele community. Therefore, you can never really go wrong with them!

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About the Author

Hi everyone! Im Monica and I am an avid lover of guitars and everything in-between. My current profession is not really music-related. It is quite discouraging but I just don’t want to drop my zeal–especially not to guitars! I created GuitarTrance.Com so that I can keep up with my hobby. Of course, I want to engage with the community as well! Hope we can all get along!