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Best Tenor Ukulele for Great Sound Quality 

 December 17, 2021

By  Zen Chung

If you are beginning the uke playing journey, you might find buying ukuleles a bit confusing, from the size, woods, and brands to choose from. This article will uncover details about the best tenor ukulele to help you make an informed choice.

What Is a Tenor Ukulele?

Ukuleles come in four sizes: the smallest soprano ukuleles, concert ukuleles, tenor ukuleles, and baritone ukuleles. The tenor ukulele is the third-biggest uke measuring about 26 inches.  The tenor uke produces a deeper and broader sound compared to a soprano ukulele and a concert ukulele. Additionally, a tenor uke is ideal for experienced players and heavier than the smaller ukuleles.

A tenor model is tuned to G’-C’–E’-A' and produces a deeper, fuller, and even louder tone since it is bigger and has a longer neck. The best tenor ukuleles are built to last using various top and back wood materials such as solid mahogany, Hawaiian koa, rosewood, ebony wood, and more.

The best tenor ukes come with the strongest strings, with Aquila Nylgut strings better than nylon strings. You can also choose between various design preferences, including the finish, ornamentation, materials, and included accessories.

With that information out of the way, let us discover the best sounding tenor ukulele. First, we will look at five instruments with their features, pros, and cons and, later, the factors you need to understand before buying a ukulele.

Which tenor ukulele is the best?

1. Aklot Solid Mahogany Tenor Ukulele

AKLOT Tenor Ukulele, 26 Inch Solid Mahogany Ukelele for Professional Player...
  • 【Rounded Edge】Solid mahogany soundboard with rounded edge design (only solid...
  • 【Advanced Tuner】1:18 pure copper gear (rather than poor quality brass-plated...
  • 【Super Ukulele】Lower action allows you playing easily without buzzing,...
  • 【Beginner Quickstart】Online ukulele lessons + ukulele instruction booklet...
  • 【10 in 1 Accessories】We prepare full set of essential accessories for...

If you need a budget tenor uke, this Aklot beginner kit comes with all accessories you need to get started playing, including free beginner online courses. The included tenor ukulele comes with a solid mahogany soundboard with a rounded design, so it is comfortable to hold and provides maximum sustain.

As your best tenor ukulele for the budget, the Aklot offers easy and stable tuning and produces warm tones so you can play your best tones with ease. It comes with light Aquila strings, a wooden fretboard, and an Okoume neck. The ukulele is excellent for beginners on a budget since it comes with accessories such as a gig bag, a tuner, a cleaning cloth, felt picks, and a strap. The only downside with it is its not-so-good intonation.

Pros

  • Best affordable tenor ukulele bundle
  • Offers excellent sustain
  • Sturdy construction
  • Ideal for beginners
  • Free online courses upon purchase

Cons

  • Not the best intonation
  • Cheap string quality

2. Kala KA-15T Satin Mahogany Tenor Ukulele Bundle

Kala KA-15T Satin Mahogany Tenor Ukulele Bundle with Gig Bag, Tuner, Austin...
  • Satin Mahogany Tenor Ukulele
  • Top, Back, Sides, and Neck: Mahogany
  • Satin Finish, Walnut Fingerboard
  • GraphTech NuBone Nut and Saddle
  • Aquila Super Nylgut Strings

This best tenor uke from Kala is constructed with a mahogany body and a satin finish. The affordable bundle also comes with a gig bag, a tuner, a beginners guide, and an Austin Bazaar polishing cloth. The Kala KA-15T has a mahogany neck and a walnut fingerboard.

It is light and sturdy, easy to tune, and offers a full-bodied tone as you play. The Kala KA-15T also comes with GraphTech NuBone Nut and Saddle to allow more volume and tonal consistency, while the Aquila strings are superb for better balance to play a rich tone.

While the instrument is one of the best tenor ukuleles in the market, some of its features are suited for beginners only. However, it comes at an affordable price and with a hard case if you need to travel with it.

Pros

  • Affordable
  • Durable construction
  • Ideal for beginners
  • Plats a well-balanced sound
  • From a reputable brand

Cons

  • It may not be suitable for experienced players

3. Caramel Acoustic-Electric Tenor Ukulele

26 inch Caramel CT904 Ebony Tenor LCD color display Electric Professional...
  • ♪ STRIPED EBONY WOOD BODY - Caramel CT904 26 inch Tenor Ukeleles are made of...
  • ♪ ONE STEP TO AN UKULELE PLAYER - Do you want to learn to play Ukulele? This...
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You could benefit from electric tenor ukuleles most when you need to take your practice to the next level. This Caramel EQ tenor ukulele allows you to record your playing or listen to the tones from an amplifier so you can pick the imperfections you need to work on.

It is made with beautiful ebony wood to give it a very classy look. The tenor uke, which comes at an affordable price, has four carbon nylon strings and comes with the needed accessories. It is your best option for sustain as it comes with a mahogany neck. It also comes with a 30-day moneyback guarantee.

Pros

  • Affordable electric ukulele
  • Comes with a built-in tuner and other accessories
  • Ideal for beginner and experienced players
  • Made with ebony wood
  • Offers a deeper sound
  • Comes with a 30-day money-back guarantee

Cons

  • Needs longer to break-in
  • May come with a chemical smell when new

4. Luna Tattoo Mahogany Tenor Ukulele

Luna Tattoo Mahogany Tenor Ukulele with Gig Bag, Satin Natural
  • A perfect uke for players who are looking for a beautiful sound at a tremendous...
  • This Tattoo Tenor takes its design from traditional Hawaiian body ornamentation...
  • This design is based on a Hawaiian turtle (honu), a symbol of longevity and...
  • The fret markers are stylized sharks teeth
  • This tenor uke boasts a clear, resonate sound both by virtue of its Tenor body...

The best tenor ukuleles allow you to produce warm tones whenever you play. As such, you can achieve a bright Hawaiian sound when you want to take your skill to the next level. This Luna Tattoo mahogany tenor ukulele allows the best tones and comes with beautiful traditional Hawaiian body ornamentation that looks classic.

The satin finish improves the ukulele's look and resonates tones with a mahogany build, rosewood fretboard and walnut bridge. It comes with a good-quality gig bag with back straps so you can travel with it.

Pros

  • Best Hawaiian tenor ukulele for beginners and professional players
  • Produces a rich sound
  • Comes with a rosewood fingerboard
  • Comes with a gig bag
  • Excellent intonation
  • Easy to fingerpick

Cons

  • A bit difficult to tune

5. Cordoba 28T Hawaiian Koa Tenor Ukulele

Cordoba 28T Hawaiian Koa Tenor Ukulele
  • Real Hawaiia Koa
  • Bone nut and saddle
  • Pau Ferro fingerboard
  • Aquila strings
  • Matte finish

Koa tenor ukes provide the best sound quality. Unfortunately, they are not easy to find, and when you find them, they can cost a fortune. Luckily, we came across this Cordoba 28T Hawaiian koa best tenor ukulele that is surprisingly well built and affordable.

At a glance, the matte finish is classy, while the bone nut and saddle make the ukulele sound better. Your tenor ukulele will stand out in a crowd, not only because of the warm sound it produces but also because it has a slotted headstock unique to the brand. The beautiful tenor ukulele also comes with a Paul Ferro fingerboard that makes it interesting to play.

Pros

  • One of the best tenor ukuleles on a budget
  • Excellent sound quality
  • Easy to play
  • Built to last

Cons

  • Does not come with accessories
  • More costly than most tenor uke options

The Best Tenor Ukuleles Vs. Concert Ues

While there are four types of ukuleles, namely soprano, concert, tenor, and baritone ukes, the concert and tenor models can confuse you the most. Firstly, they are not significantly different in size and more often, they are tuned and played the same way. Thus, if you are unsure which to get, here are the differences between a concert and a tenor ukulele.

  1. Tenor ukuleles are slightly bigger than concert ukes. A tenor uke is 26 inches long, while a concert ukulele is 23 inches long. When you exclude the neck, the tenor's body is also about 10% larger than that of a concert.
  2. A tenor ukulele has a fuller and deeper sound compared to a concert. Due to the bigger size, the tenor has more volume, bass, and warmth.
  3. The tenor has a 17-inch scale length compared to the concert's 15-inch scale length. The scale length measures the distance between the nut and saddle, which is the distance between the bridge and the top of the neck.
  4. With the longer scale, the tenor has wider-spaced frets, which have better playability for a ukulele player with large hands. On the other hand, a concert is easier to play for people with smaller hands.
  5. Due to the fret spacing, tenor ukuleles also have a higher string tension compared to concert ukes. While you may need to consider the fret spacing when buying a new tenor ukulele, the string tension is not one of the features to worry about, as it does not make much difference when playing.
  6. Unlike a concert whose fretboard joins the body at the 12th fret, a tenor uke provides more clearance with a fretboard that joins the body at the 14th fret. This way, a tenor is easier to play when you need to play a higher register.

Factors to Consider When Buying the Best Tenor Ukuleles

Buying the best tenor ukuleles is not hard, but it can be confusing when you don't understand what features to look for. Here are the features that determine your best tenor ukulele.

a) Size

While you understand that a tenor ukulele measures around 26 inches, the figure is not always guaranteed when choosing between brands, you might find some brands offering shorter or taller ukuleles.

Now, while this length might not make such a massive difference to your playing, it is better to pick the tallest tenor ukuleles as they have wider fret spacing. The fret spacing may improve playability, but it will also affect the weight and portability. On the same note, shorter tenor ukuleles have squeezed fret spacing that affects playability but makes the musical instrument easier to carry.

b) Wood

The best ukulele has various wooden parts: the head, neck, fretboard, body, and sides. When looking for a great tenor ukulele, you will need to consider the wood on each part as it can affect the tone and playability.

These woods are called tonewoods, and you can find two instances when buying a ukulele. Firstly, you can find a good tenor ukulele using the same tonewood, or you can find one using different tonewoods on different parts. Often, a single tonewood is ideal for achieving a specific sound, while multiple tonewoods on the instrument produce versatile sounds.

There are two types of ukulele wood you can look for in a tenor ukulele; solid wood or laminate wood. In simple terms, solid wood is natural wood that offers better tonal articulation than laminate wood, which is synthetic. However, while solid wood is your better bet, it also damages easily if exposed to humidity.

When looking for the best ukulele woods, you need to understand how each can affect the ukulele tones. Most ukuleles use mahogany, koa wood, spruce, and cedar woods for the top or soundboard. These are light and resistant woods that minimize string tension without deformation for better tones.

When considering woods for the bottom and sides, you will need hard and dense woods that do not disperse sounds in the soundbox. Mahogany, koa, rosewood, and maple are often used. The neck woods also need to prevent string tension, and in most cases, mahogany and maple are frequent preferences.

While the wood helps the instrument achieve tonal success, it also determines how good-looking the tenor ukulele is. For instance, a mahogany body gives the ukulele a red color that stands the test of time. On the other hand, a solid koa body offers beautiful figures that are brighter than a redwood or mahogany body.

c) Finish

If you need your good-sounding ukulele to be aesthetically appealing, you can pick a ukulele that has the perfect finish. Some finishes, such as satin or natural finish, may not affect tonal performance. However, in some instances, they can affect the sustain if they increase the instrument's weight.

d) Price

While you can find high-end tenor ukuleles that cost more than $500, there also are mid-range and budget options that cost well under $100. The budget you stick to will determine the quality of wood and strings you get, which can affect the playability.

Suppose you are a professional musician or ukulele player. In that case, it is better to find a high-end tenor ukulele, while a budget option is ideal for beginner players looking to learn the ropes.

Frequently Asked Questions About the Best Tenor Ukulele

a) Which is the best tenor uke to buy?

If looking for a good tenor ukulele, the models on this list are ideal for you. If you want to explore more, you can look for solid wood ukes that provide a warm tone. An acoustic-electric ukulele is also an ideal tenor model when you need to practice and record your tones.

b) Is a tenor ukulele ideal for beginners?

Even though tenors are bigger than soprano ukes or concert ukes, they are ideal for beginners who have larger hands. In addition, as a tenor ukulele delivers a fuller sound, it is ideal for players who want to play the instrument professionally.

c) Is a tenor ukulele expensive?

You can find a ukulele for most budgets, from high-end models that cost over $500 and budget ukuleles that cost under $100. However, when you want a professional instrument, it is better to buy a mid-range or high-end ukulele that can last you many years.

Image source: pexels.com

Zen Chung


I'm Zen Chung, a piano and violin teacher based out of Plano, Texas. I started this blog because my students (and their parents) kept asking about the best musical instruments to buy online. Look no further I'm here to save the day! 

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