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Tenor ukuleles are one of the larger ukulele types on the market. They are, on average, about 26 inches, making them slightly larger than a standard concert model. Its larger body and longer strings give the tenor ukulele a rich tone and deeper sound, making it a popular type for more experienced players.
There are several different types of tenor ukulele models and brands out there with similar qualities and features. Check out our list of the best tenor ukuleles on the market to help you decide which one is the best for you.
1. Kala LTP-MH – Best Overall
Our choice for the best overall is the Kala LTP-MH tenor ukulele. It gives a great balanced performance and is very affordable. It is sturdier and lighter than other ukuleles, though slightly taller. It's easy to play and only gets better with age due to its satin mahogany tonewood.
It has a beautiful white binding and vine design with flowers and birds against the mahogany wood, evoking Swiss folk art from the 1800s. The fretboard is made of walnut and comes with nylon strings. It stays in tune for a long time after the strings settle and produces a full, rich sound.
It's a high-quality ukulele to travel with for both beginners and professionals, and it is more affordable than other brands. This package also comes with other accessories, including a padded case to carry your ukulele in, a tuner, a Quick Start Guide, and online lessons.
Item Weight: 1 pound
Product Dimensions: 9.5″ x 3.75″ x 27.75″
- Beautiful white binding and design
- Produces rich, full-bodied sound
- More affordable than other brands
- High-quality construction
- Paint fades quickly
- Some features meant for beginners
2. Kala KA-KTG – Premium Option
Kala is a highly reputable ukulele brand with a variety of options for any budget. The Kala KA-KTG is an incredible instrument with impeccable features and high-quality craftsmanship, making it our choice for Premium Option.
The soundboard is made entirely out of koa tonewood, the traditional and official wood used to make Hawaiian handmade ukuleles. It is covered with a gloss finish instead of satin that gives it a nice and elegant sheen. The binding is made of high-quality maple, while the neck is mahogany, neutralizing any high-end reverberations.
The KA-KTG produces a well-balanced sound overall and offers excellent playability. The fingerboard is crafted from Pau Ferro, which is a denser wood similar to rosewood. It enhances the sound of the strings and feels sturdy as you play.
For those who don't mind paying more for the very best and plan on playing their ukulele frequently, the KA-KTG is the one to get. It is a high-quality instrument that will last for a long time and only improve as the wood ages.
Item Weight: 2.13 pounds
Product Dimensions: 29.13″ x 29.53″ x 11.02″
- Full Koa tonewood construction
- Sturdy fingerboard
- Well-balanced tone quality
- Superior gloss finish
- Strings are too high off the fretboard
3. Donner DUT-1 – Best Budget Option
The Donner DUT-1 is our choice for Best Budget Option because of its very affordable price, good sound quality, and durability. Though it is not made of koa tonewood, the mahogany produces a warmer, subdued, full-bodied sound. The fingerboard is made of rosewood, adding a slightly brighter tone as you play the strings.
This tenor ukulele has a polished finish and elevated Aquila ukulele strings. It allows the strings to resonate better without buzzing against the mahogany neck. The nut and bridge are made of cattle bone, allowing better sound transmission. This pack comes with a ukulele bag, four picks, a strap, a tuner, extra strings, and a cloth.
The Donner DUT-1 is easy to play, though it is somewhat heavier than other models. It is shaped with a curved back that boosts sound. It may go out of tune quicker than more high-quality models and is not made of solid wood. However, this is the best tenor ukulele you can get for the price.
Item Weight: 3.19 pounds
Product Dimensions: 29″ x 11″ x 5″
- Best price value
- Curved back enhances sound
- Made of high-grade mahogany
- Includes ukulele case and accessories
- Not made of solid wood
- Difficult to keep in tune
4. Cordoba 15TM
The Cordoba 15TM is a great model for both beginners and intermediate ukulele players. It comes at an affordable price and is a slightly larger model for those going from guitar to ukulele. As a result, it has a larger fretboard and produces a louder sound compared to other ukuleles.
The entire body is constructed of mahogany, a tonewood that creates a warm, well-balanced, and complex sound. It is easy to tune with the pearl button tuners, and the Aquila strings stay in tune for a reasonable amount of time. The Cordoba 15TM plays like many of the more expensive models and sports some similar features. The rosette and cream binding give the ukulele an elegant look.
Professional musicians may not prefer it because of its less consistent finish. However, Cordoba is a reputable brand, and it feels and plays like a professional tenor ukulele. For the price value, this ukulele is a great ukulele to start with for beginners.
Item Weight: 1 pound
Product Dimensions: 26″ x 9.25″ x 4
- Full mahogany construction
- Tone is well-balanced
- Pearl button tuners
- Slightly larger size
- Finish is not as consistent
- Higher string action
5. Cordoba 20TM
Like the Cordoba 15TM, the Cordoba 20TM is also constructed completely with high-grade mahogany, connected with a seamless binding, and has a nice satin finish on top. The fingerboard and bridge consist of rosewood, which is stable enough to keep the strings in place.
This tenor ukulele is designed to be plugged in, and it comes with a cutaway on the left side to allow players to reach higher frets. The EQ preamp has two faders to adjust the bass and treble to manipulate your ukulele's tone. Electric-acoustic ukuleles are typically more expensive than simply acoustic, but this instrument is much more affordable than other models and comes with Nylgut strings instead of Aquila.
Though the strings are elevated slightly higher than other models, making it somewhat more challenging to play barre chords, the Cordoba 20TM is easy to tune and remains consistent and accurate with intonation. It's a high-quality instrument with great features. It's a great choice if you plan to perform on stage with it and use an amplifier.
Item Weight: 1.31 pounds
Product Dimensions: 26″ x 8.5″ x 3.33″
- Body constructed of solid mahogany
- Rosewood bridge provides stability
- EQ preamp with two faders
- Consistent binding
- High string action
- More expensive than other models
6. Kala Makala MK-T
Kala is a respected brand that produces ukuleles for all types of players. They have produced an incredible line of entry-level tenor ukuleles at an affordable price in their Makala Classic line.
The Makala MK-T embodies the essence of mahogany ukuleles of old with a classic vintage look and satin finish. It produces a soft, warm, and balanced tone that only gets better as the wood ages.
The walnut fingerboard and bridge make it incredibly playable and easy to pick up. The bridge holds the Aquila strings steady and keeps them in tune. The neck is made of solid mahogany with brass frets that add to the vintage aesthetic. It's a high-quality and lightweight tenor ukulele to begin learning on.
For those wanting to learn how to play the ukulele without breaking the bank or compromising on quality, the Kala Makala MK-T is an excellent tenor ukulele to invest in. Not only is it a durable instrument, but the all-mahogany body and tone quality is enhanced as the ukulele ages.
Item Weight: 1.32 pounds
Product Dimensions: 26.06″ x 9.25″ x 3.12″
- Beautiful vintage look
- Affordable price
- Durable mahogany body
- Great playability and performance
- May require some adjustments
- High string action
7. Ranch UK-26
The Ranch UK-26 is a popular tenor ukulele kit that comes with a tuner, extra Aquila strings, a shoulder strap, ukulele picks, cloth, a list of basic chords, and a gig bag. It's an unbeatable price value for a decent ukulele and so many accessories.
This tenor ukulele has an arched back that amplifies sound and sustains the complex tones for a longer time. It emits a warmer, fuller, and deeper sound as well due to the curved back.
The chrome die-cast pegs make tuning the nylon strings simple, so beginners and intermediate players can tune it and start playing it right away. The frets are made of nickel silver and smoothly polished so you can sweep right over them without worry.
The body of the ukulele is crafted with Sapele wood, which is also known as African mahogany. It is a highly sustainable wood and slightly cheaper than genuine mahogany. It works well for budget ukuleles and guitars by producing almost the same tone. This lightweight instrument is perfect for traveling.
Item Weight: 2.9 pounds
Product Dimensions: 25.75″ x 8.88″ x 3.5″
- Uses sustainable wood
- Smooth nickel silver frets
- Includes gig bag and accessories
- Arched back for amplified sound
- Not made of real tonewood
- Lower quality build
8. Kala KA-15T
This incredibly well-made budget tenor ukulele is perfect for those at the entry level. The neck and body of the KA-15T are constructed of solid mahogany with a walnut fretboard and bridge. The mahogany body emits a louder and warmer sound like many of the other tenor ukuleles on this list. Walnut is a durable tonewood, making the fretboard easy to play on.
This tenor ukulele has low fret action, meaning the strings are not too high off of the neck. The strings are also laid evenly, which prevents any buzzing as you play. The nickel silver frets are smooth so that you can play with ease. It has a lovely satin finish and a rosette engraved around the soundhole.
Unlike other budget-friendly ukuleles, the KA-15 nut and saddles are constructed of Graphtech NuBone. This hard material produces a consistent sound, unlike cheap plastic, which many budget ukuleles use instead. This package comes with a chromatic tuner, extra Aquila strings, a hard ukulele case, a polishing cloth, and an instructional DVD from Austin Bazaar.
Item Weight: 4.09 pounds
Product Dimensions: 30″ x 6″ x 12″
- Affordable price for the quality
- Includes several accessories and hard case
- GraphTech NuBone nut and saddle
- Low fret action for easy playability
- Fragile open-gear tuner
- Case is cheaply made
9. Enya EUT-M6
The Enya EUT-M6 is a tenor ukulele that stands out from its design aesthetics at first glance. However, it also boasts excellent sound and high-quality craftsmanship. It comes in three gloss finishes: black, blue, and natural. It has a deep cutaway to allow more access to the higher frets.
The mahogany is constructed of questionable quality, but the sound it produces is much like a high-grade mahogany tenor ukulele. The fingerboard is beautifully designed and has an abalone inlay finish that goes down the neck between all of the frets.
As beautiful as it looks, the fretboard and bridge are made of Richlite, a cheaper wood used as an alternative to rosewood. It is not as durable and does not allow sound to resonate as well.
Though the bridge is not made of real tonewood, it is stable and holds the strings firmly. It is easy to play and performs well as the intonation remains consistent. The EUT-M6 also comes with a padded ukulele case for easy transport.
Item Weight: 5.35 pounds
Product Dimensions: 30.71″ x 12.99″ x 7.09″
- Three finishing options
- Produces a balanced and warm sound
- Affordable price
- Sturdy bridge
- Fretboard and bridge not made of real tonewood
- Made of lower-quality mahogany
10. Luna Tattoo
The aesthetics of the Luna Tattoo tenor ukulele pay homage to Hawaii. There is a Hawaiian design carved into the soundboard, which is based on the Hawaiian turtle. The turtle symbolizes longevity and endurance in this Polynesian tattoo style.
The frets on the walnut fretboard are inlaid with shark teeth, adding to the Hawaiian design and making it easier to memorize fret numbers.
This tenor ukulele is constructed of decent mahogany and has a satin finish. Though it is not made of good tonewood compared to higher-quality ukes, it still sounds similar to a premium ukulele with its warm, midrange tone. Some of this is due to the neck being made of solid mahogany wood.
The walnut fingerboard makes this tenor ukulele easy to play, and the smooth and durable walnut bridge also ensures the strings will not go out of tune quickly. However, this ukulele has open gears, allowing for eventual corrosion, and a plastic saddle and nut.
The Luna Tattoo ukulele package also comes with a satin case so you can take your instrument wherever you go.
Item Weight: 2 pounds
Product Dimensions: 3″ x 9″ 23″
- Polynesian design on the soundboard
- Smooth walnut fingerboard
- Durable bridge
- Includes soft satin case
- Tuner gears are exposed
- Lower quality nut and saddle
What To Look For In A Tenor Ukulele
If you have some experience with stringed instruments, you might already have an idea of what you're looking for in a tenor ukulele. For all ukuleles and stringed instruments, the size, intonation, wood, durability, and price are some of the most essential features to consider before buying one.
When searching for a high-quality ukulele, intonation is crucial to producing consistent sound. Intonation describes how similar the same note sounds when played in different octaves. For example, a note played on the 10th fret should sound as precise as the same note played on an open string.
There can be several reasons why a tenor ukulele has faulty intonation. If the ukulele is cheaply made, the neck may become warped over time, nuts may have too deep slots, or the saddle is not sanded well enough.
You want to make sure your ukulele doesn't lose intonation after a few days or weeks of playing. Higher quality tenor ukuleles will have even intonation that should not fade over time.
The type of wood you prefer depends on the sound you like. It directly affects the tonal quality of your instrument, which is why ukulele woods are called tonewoods. The most popular tonewoods for ukuleles are koa, rosewood, mahogany, and ebony.
Koa is the most versatile of the list and the traditional Hawaiian wood used for ukuleles. It provides a neutral sound and improves with age. Ebony is the most durable but also more expensive than the others. Rosewood is light and makes the ukulele easy to carry around and play. Mahogany is typically the cheapest of the four and provides a warmer and clearer sound.
There are also two categories of tonewoods: laminate and hardwood. Laminate puts a protective layer on a ukulele to improve durability and protect it from scratches and humidity. It's also easy to care for and much more affordable. However, it does not produce a sophisticated sound compared to expensive hardwood.
Hardwood provides a more authentic sound and comes with high-end models. It produces a clearer and more nuanced sound and only improves with age. However, it is more vulnerable to humidity and damage and is much pricier than laminates.
Electric or Acoustic
If you want to be able to plug your ukulele into an amp, you will want to look for a more versatile instrument. The plugins are great for amplifying the sound of your instrument for performances or concerts. It also comes with dials to adjust and control the EQ.
Ukuleles with EQ preamps are typically more expensive and sound better plugged in than acoustic. If you don't plan to plug your ukulele into an amp, you may not need to spend the extra money.
Tenor ukuleles are larger than concert models but smaller than acoustic guitars. They are typically 26 inches, but many models have a range of sizes. If you have larger hands or just want more space between frets for fingerpicking, a bigger ukulele can be a good choice. It is undoubtedly heavier the larger it is and may not be as portable.
A smaller ukulele is great for portability with a lighter body, but it may not be as easy to play. When choosing a tenor ukulele, you want to consider if you will be carrying or traveling with it often.
You can find tenor ukuleles for as low as $50 and as high as $500. Cheaper models under $100 are often similar in performance, sound, and versatility, and the price is not always indicative of better quality. If you're a beginner, starting with a tenor ukulele between $50 and $100 can be an excellent investment to practice becoming a great player.
Ukuleles above $100 start having a wider variety of features with greater differences between models. More expensive ukuleles can have more cosmetic features, like inlays or binding, and include electric plugins to connect them to an amp. They can also be made of solid wood, also known as hardwood, and have more diversity in wood materials.
You might be able to find cheap tenor ukuleles at around $30, but avoid anything below $50. Often, these cheaply-made ukuleles have serious issues that make it more difficult to learn how to play. Purchasing a higher-quality ukulele is a worthwhile investment for a long-lasting instrument. Nicer sound quality will also make it more fun to play.
Before buying, make sure to have a budget in mind. Purchasing the top expensive tenor ukulele brand is not necessarily better for a beginner, but you want to avoid getting a cheaply made instrument.
Tenor ukuleles can have different types of finishes. Matte or satin is a thin layer of lacquer, or varnish, which absorbs light more than it reflects. It allows the wood itself to shine through. However, it does not provide much protection for your instrument.
Gloss is created with a kind of varnish that makes the ukulele wood look like it's shimmering. It leaves a shiny exterior that reflects light nicely. Gloss is typically more expensive than other types of finishes.
If you prefer a painted ukulele, you can sport brighter and unique colors. You can typically find painted ukuleles on the cheaper end of the market or the higher-end if it is applied professionally.
The type of finish you prefer will most likely not affect your ukulele's sound quality as much as the tonewood type or fretboard. It is a cosmetic preference more than anything else.
Best Tenor Ukulele Brands
As you shop for ukuleles, you may have noticed that there are dozens of brands manufacturing this instrument. Since ukuleles are a much more affordable instrument, many brands have tried constructing the best one. Take a look at our list below of the most popular and reputable brands for ukuleles on the market today.
Since 1997, Cordoba has been producing top-rated brands like the 15CM-E. The musician Pepe Romero helped create the brand to make instruments with nylon strings, such as ukuleles and classical guitars.
Cordoba ukuleles consist of mahogany and other excellent materials. Their tenor ukes are made of great quality. They have a large range of ukuleles in various sizes and pickups. Despite not being made in Hawaii, these tenor ukuleles have authentic and professional sound quality. It's a great brand to have if you want to use it for live concerts or studios.
However, they don't have as many models as other brands do. Many of their models are also within a similar price range, so you may need to look at another brand if it doesn't fit into your budget.
Based in Sonoma, Kala is an innovative ukulele manufacturing company. They have been making ukuleles since 2005 and have quickly established themselves as a brand that produces affordable and reliable ukuleles. They have a wide range from beginner to professional instruments, and they are constantly coming up with new models and designs to fit all players.
For beginners and intermediates, Kala ukuleles are a great instrument, to begin with. It is very affordable and has a slightly brighter tone than other tenor ukulele brands. They have tons of model options for you to choose from, and most if not all of their instruments come with accessories.
The only drawback of Kala tenor ukuleles is that they don't use high-quality tonewoods like koa to build their ukes.
Known as an excellent brand for beginners and pros, Lanikai manufactures tenor ukuleles distributed by Hohner, a historic folk music company that started in Germany. Lanikai models vary in materials, and they are known for their unique designs and sizes. Some of their models have six or even eight strings.
More expensive Lanikai tenor ukuleles come with cutaways and electronic pickups for musicians to plug into an amp. If you're looking for a unique and unconventional ukulele sound, Lanikai makes instruments using less conventional materials.
The Lanikai QMBL-CET Quilted Maple tenor ukulele is a particularly beautiful instrument made with maple tonewood and sporting a unique design.
If you play acoustic guitar, you've probably heard of Martin as a professional and high-end brand. Though there aren't any Martin tenor ukuleles on our list, it is one of the best brands out there for acoustic instruments. Their instruments use only the best wood and materials for superb sound quality.
Martin has a long history, going back at least 200 years. They started making ukuleles a little after the instrument was first made with phenomenal craftsmanship. It's a highly respected brand well-known in the music industry for making great recordings and performances.
However, its quality comes at a much higher price compared to other brands. A Martin is a worthwhile investment for professional musicians, but it may be out of budget for beginners.
Mahalo has been crafting ukuleles since 1999 and started in China and Japan. They first began manufacturing ukuleles for Kikutani in China, and it became almost an overnight success. Their philosophy was to design good-quality ukuleles for beginners for an affordable price. Though they started in China, they now manufacture ukuleles in Nagoya, Japan.
Over the years, Mahalo has become one of the most popular brands for ukuleles in the world. They provide a variety of affordable ukulele models, including budget options that don't take away from the musical experience.
Mahalo focuses on crafting instruments for beginners and children rather than professionals. They also create their ukuleles from sustainable wood. Many of their ukuleles sell for less than $100 and are designed to last for several years.
Luna started as a guitar manufacturing brand, but over time their ukulele selection became more popular. Their co-founder, Yvonne de Villiers, was interested in crafting high-quality ukuleles with fascinating and loud designs. However, their focus on design does not take away from the build quality.
Tenor ukuleles from Luna sound incredible and are often made of good-quality tonewoods. If you're looking for a unique ukulele design to match or brighten your space, then Luna is a great brand to go with. They have tons of options that other brands do not have.
However, some of their ukuleles may not be as well-manufactured as other brands due to their focus on design rather than playability.
Top Tenor Ukuleles, Final Thoughts
The Kala LTP-MH tenor ukulele is our choice for Best Option because of its well-balanced performance, incredible design, and exceptional playability. However, you should consider your budget, skill level, and need before purchasing a tenor ukulele.
Sound quality is always the key thing to look for in shopping for instruments. You want a ukulele that produces a professional tone but also matches your personal preference.
You can use our guide to help you decide on which tenor ukulele to buy, but ultimately the best instrument for you is the one that meets your preferences and goals.