In addition to being a private violin teacher, Alecia started writing music-related articles 3 years ago and has been enjoying this experience greatly. Loves quilting and scrapbooking in her free time.
Marcus has a vast experience in digital audio and sound design. Thanks to his knowledge, he actively helps musicians with technical problems, improving their audio quality and even promoting their tracks so that thousands of listeners could enjoy some really good music.
Last updated: January 15, 2021
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We know it’s very easy to get deceived by the rather toy-like appearance of ukuleles, but they’re incredible musical instruments that produce incredible sound. While there’re many types of ukuleles around, the most popular one nowadays is the tenor ukulele, thanks to its fuller and deeper sound. So, if you find the soprano and concert too small, you may want to look at the best tenor ukulele which is preferred by many musicians for live performances, thanks to the supreme sound it generates.
However, because of their increased popularity, different models are being launched by different manufacturers, which may consequently cause confusion among inexperienced buyers. For anyone buying a tenor for the first time, we’ve made your shopping experience easier. Among the most important factors that we considered for our selection is the length, as the range of a tenor is usually determined by it. A tenor’s durability depends on the materials used for its production, so we considered them as well. We also looked at the string brands and the turning pegs material, for optimum efficiency.
This guide draws on personal observation as well as manufacturers information and verified buyers’ feedback. It starts with a detailed table that compares our chosen models, which is followed by a more comprehensive review of each product. We’ve also included a buying guide and an FAQ section, as we aim to clear every doubt and answer every question that may be lingering in the minds of different prospective buyers.
The Kala KA-ZCT-T is a unique ukulele and looking at its exotic construction, it’s easy to see why it’s our Editor’s Pick. The “Ziricote” in its name was coined from the name of a strong tree usually found in Central America, which is actually responsible for the superb outlook, amazing sound, and astounding acoustics of this ukulele. Along with a classy gloss finish, this tenor ukulele is definitely a must-have for any player keen on high-quality musical instruments.
For optimum durability, the uke’s neck is produced using premium-quality mahogany. The fingerboard of the instrument is beautiful rosewood, which causes a considerable playability difference when compared to other models. Thanks to the exotic materials with which it was made, this instrument produces a perfect sound – you can describe it as rich, warm, and full. While the manufacturer used their regular headstock, the tuning gears included are durable and properly hold the tone.
Apart from having a great intonation and a well-balanced action, this tenor ukulele is incredibly easy to set up as well. Besides, the package comes with all the handy accessories such as a tuner, gig bag, polishing cloth, and an instructional DVD. The only issue most players have with it is that the strings tend to reverberate in a relatively irregular way. While this might take some getting used to, you will discover that the sound this particular instrument produces is better than most models around.
With its exquisite appearance and fine craftsmanship, the Enya EUT-M6 comfortably makes our list of the best tenor ukuleles around. Since it is convenient to carry and is equipped with high-quality strings, it can be played frequently wherever and whenever you want. It is perfect for beginners, professional artists, and entertainment. In fact, it is incredibly versatile is it is just ideal for every lover of good sound.
The Enya EUT-M6 comes with a 3A sturdy mahogany body, which makes it extremely durable. With a solid 3A mahogany back, sides, and top with a high-gloss, corrosion-resistant finish, this ukulele is able to produce crisp, clear, and melodic sound. While its neck is produced using mahogany and a pearl rosette inlay, the bridge and the fretboard are made of richlite and wood of pearl. Consequently, this model is both durable and classy, making it a suitable model for a wide range of players.
Furthermore, this uke is outfitted with the high-quality D’Addario J87 strings. Apart from its lovely high-gloss finish, it also comes with an Enya gig bag, for easy transportation. According to the buyers’ reviews, this instrument is ideal for solo live performance as it produces a brighter and richer sound. There is nothing we didn’t like when we tested this instrument, and whether you’re a beginner or a pro, this model is suitable for you.
What we liked:
Easy to carry
Produces rich and bright sound
Suitable for live performances
What could be better:
The cut-out body design might need some getting used to
This impressive instrument is our choice for the Best Tenor Ukulele under 200 dollars. While Ibanez is a Japanese company with a long history in the manufacturing of high-quality guitars, that hasn’t stopped them from churning out some good ukuleles as well, like the tenor Ibanez UEWT5E. Featuring a Cutaway Tenor Style EW body, this ukulele is produced using remarkable flamed mahogany. As with every musical instrument from Ibanez, playability is always the primary focus, and this model is very friendly to play, especially since it features a C-shaped mahogany neck, wearing 19 frets and a rosewood fretboard.
Despite being made in China, this ukulele doesn’t have many weak spots – it has a very durable feel, and surely delivers a lot of value for the money, especially since it has a relatively affordable price. As it’s entirely made of mahogany, it produces an extremely lovely well-rounded sound. When it comes to the acoustics, it produces a very rich tone, with great warmth, while projecting it quite well. Plugged in through the incorporated output jack, this instrument sounds very fine – while the sound isn’t exactly jaw-dropping, it is balanced and articulate, with the two-band EQ providing great versatility.
Apart from being good-looking and well-made, this ukulele from Ibanez is also a generally user-friendly musical instrument, with excellent components and playability that keep it sounding excellent. The only issue you might face with should you choose this model is its body design. In case you’re used to the traditional shape, this cut-out version will need some getting used to.
Being a result of Martin Smith’s several years of research and hard work, the Martin Smith 712 Ukulele Kit contains everything required in order to go from being a beginner to being a professional. Engineered with great attention to detail, this instrument has been constructed with no compromise on quality and has been built to last you through your journey as a musician. This instrument is equipped with Aquila strings, which is renowned for its ability to generate a warm and soft sound and hold their tune for longer.
Generally, this model from Martin Smith has been engineered to deliver an excellent sound and feel, evident from its durable components which include quality strings, Sapele wood body and metal gear heads which have been assembled to craft a stunning sounding ukulele. Staying in tune is very vital, regardless of your playing prowess. With that in mind, the manufacturers have included an excellent tuner which provides a fast, accurate, and convenient tuning method straight out of the box.
Also, the kit includes an excellent padded gig bag that enables you to keep your instrument in peak condition at all times and adequately protected from daily bumps and knocks. Being optimally comfortable while either performing or practicing is extremely vital, so this package also features a stylish but functional ukulele strap to complete the jigsaw. On the downsides, the frets are somewhat too sharp and could injure the player if adequate care is not taken. We advise you to polish them should you experience any inconvenience. Also, the included strap is different from the one in the picture included in the advert, which is a little deceptive.
What we liked:
Made with high-quality materials
Comes with a great tuner
Produces a warm and soft sound
Convenient bag and strap are included
What could be better:
The frets are too sharp
The included strap is different from the one advertised
Lanika is a company that specializes in manufacturing ukuleles for great musicians who require playability, dependability, and style, all wrapped into one instrument. With an extensive variety of premium features and tone woods, the Lanikai Ukulele QMNACET is a perfect instrument to match their advancing levels and offer the inspiration that facilitates musical passion and sparks creativity. With a well-made construction, a warm and soft tone, and a convenient design, there are not many better options than this model on the market. While its price tag is a bit higher than others, it delivers sufficient value to match its considerable price.
For maximum comfort, the design of the ukulele incorporates a relatively wide neck profile, which offers the player enough comfort, either while performing or rehearsing. Also, the body of the instrument is made with maple, which is renowned for being very durable. When it comes to the sound, the QMNACET is very impressive. While there is no lamination on the woods, there is a bright, clear, and robust acoustic tone – which is what you want from a tenor ukulele, while it also has a great bass response due to the NuBone XB nut and saddle material.
Furthermore, the instrument is equipped with D’Addario EJ88 strings for reliability and superb tone. It also comes with Deluxe Grover Chrome open back tuners for accurate tuning. They also allow you to keep the headstock light for increased comfort. With all things considered, this model is probably the best acoustic-electric tenor ukulele on the market, and not many people will argue.
If the best tenor ukulele under 100 dollars is what you are looking for, then you have found the right model in the Kmise Tenor Ukulele. This instrument is quite unique as apart from being budget-friendly, it also looks and sounds incredibly good. Featuring a walnut fretboard and bridge and a mahogany body, this instrument was designed to radiate confidence. At 3.3 pounds though, it might be a little heavier than other models around, but it still measures a standard 26 inches when it comes to the length. Since the fretboard is more spaced out, it is an ideal model for adults.
Despite being a budget-friendly option, this instrument comes with a plethora of useful accessories, such as a ukulele strap and a gig bag, which help increase convenience and provide protection. Another accessory you will find in this bundle is an electric tuner, which helps beginners learn the rudiments of notes and pitches. Besides, it comes with an instruction booklet which contains a host of vital information. It enables you to thoroughly explore the world of tenor ukuleles and put you on the right path.
If you’re not impressed with all this, the Kmise Tenor Ukulele also promises to provide replacement strings for free. Since strings tend to break often, this is an excellent bonus that can be exploited throughout the ukulele’s lifetime.
What we liked:
Comes with extra accessories
Looks excellent with walnut and mahogany woods
Lifetime strings replacement
What could be better:
A bit heavier than other similar products
Things to Consider
The tenor ukulele is rapidly becoming the most popular choice when it comes to ukuleles, but it wasn’t always like this until recently. If you have decided to join the bandwagon of tenor ukulele owners, then you must understand that you will need to look beyond the specifications of the products available. You need to learn the basics and the principles that facilitate making the right selection.
Who is tenor ukulele best suited for?
Due to the fact that they are longer in size, tenor ukuleles are generally used by larger players as holding them will feel more natural. Also, they are popular amongst individuals who like playing or performing solo sometimes, as it is capable of covering more frequencies and sounding much more satisfying. In general, it comes down personal preference and your preference when it comes to tone.
Is a tenor ukulele ideal for beginners?
Since the tenor, soprano, and concert ukuleles are played the same way, then there is no major drawback to learning how to play the ukulele on a tenor model. What is more, the fact that the fretboard on the tenor ukulele is more spaced provides more comfort and makes it easier to move around. Therefore, it is widespread that newbies choose tenor models over the other types.
However, tenor ukuleles are costlier than other types because of the materials used, which is probably the only drawback for beginners. You can purchase a beginner-level soprano for a cheaper price than a beginner-level tenor ukulele. In addition, if you ever decide to switch to the smaller types, getting used to a smaller fretboard will take some time. Although, this is probably not a big drawback as it’s normal for some adjustments to be needed after switching from one type of ukulele to another.
Features to consider before buying a ukulele
Before buying a tenor ukulele, it is vital to know about their features and the meaning of every term. Below are the most common features alongside their explanations.
Essentially, there are two primary types of ukuleles – the acoustic and the acoustic-electric ukulele. While an acoustic model depends on its own build to amplify and project its sound, an acoustic-electric model usually features an inbuilt electronic component that enables it to use an external amplifier to make its sound louder and richer. Which one to choose totally depends on your needs and preferences. An acoustic model is considered traditional and is preferable to start with if you’ve never played a uke before. An acoustic-electric ukulele is excellent for live performances when you want every single listener to enjoy your music even if it’s a huge crowd in the street.
Construction and materials
If you want a good-sounding ukulele, then it is very important to find one produced using real wood parts. Traditional options such as spruce, Sapele, zebra wood, and mahogany help produce a warm, lovely sound. You may take a Koa wood ukulele into consideration if you want a true Hawaiian tradition, but you may need to pay more. In the event that you do this, it’s a nice idea to guard your investment and avoid wear and tear – you may want to buy a less expensive model, especially if you search for a travel ukulele or an instrument for outdoor use and long practice sessions.
Solid woods vs. laminated wood
While budget-friendly models are usually made with laminated wood, the professional and higher-end models will be produced entirely with wood. Due to the fact that it is stronger and has less susceptibility to cracking and splitting, laminated wood has an edge over all wood. The all-wood ukuleles, however, have a deeper sound that delivers a mellower and richer tone.
The fretboard affects the sound of the ukulele, so it is vital that you check this part of the ukulele you’re buying. One effective way of evaluating the quality of your fretboard is by checking the material with which it is made. High-quality fretboards like the one in the Ibanez UEWT5E are usually made of rosewood since it ensures the sound remains consistent and reliable. High-end ukuleles such as the Enya EUT-M6 are typically made with ebony fretboards, as it helps them to generate a fuller sound.
Apart from the material of the fretboards, they should have lots of fret markers as well, as it aids the playing of the tenor ukulele. While we might want a great-looking fretboard, we also require a functional one. Usually, fret markers are symbolized in different ways, and it all comes down to the makers to add their own signatory touch.
If you have been a ukulele player for a long time, then you probably own more than enough gig bags and cases already, and you probably don’t need extras such as online lessons and instructional DVDs. However, if you are just starting from scratch, you will value a couple of additional items to help get you started, even if they are not of the highest quality – after all, you can spend a couple of dollars later on a better hard case, a neck strap, a high-quality tuner, and some other things to raise your overall experience. Therefore, consider buying a model that comes with useful extra accessories like the Martin Smith Tenor Ukulele Starter Kit and the Kala KA-ZCT-T.
Apart from the obvious, there are some extra features you also need to check before spending money on a new tenor ukulele. Does it come with a money-back guarantee? What kind of design and finish does it have? These are essential questions you need to ask if you’re serious about getting the right ukulele for your needs.
How to tune your ukulele
The C tuning or GCEA, as it is commonly referred to, is the most popular tuning method for the tenor ukulele. Unlike the soprano models, however, the G note here can possibly be an octave lower. Therefore, begin from the fourth string when tuning, as it is the one that will deliver the G note. You may play it on the piano and make the strings sound exactly like it.
Afterward, press the fifth fret of the G-string and then tune down the subsequent string to the exact same sound. The outcome ought to be a C. Then, press the fourth fret on the C-string, and you’ll likely get an E, and that ought to be the next string’s sound. Lastly, press the fifth fret on the E string, and you will then get the A required for the final string.
The tenor has a relatively large size, which gives it a fuller and richer sound, with a nearly bass-y tone. Also, the tenor ukulele projects sound better than the other types, which gives it a louder volume.
Of course, there are ukuleles designed specifically for left-handed players. Besides, you can also restring a right-handed model to suit your needs. You can either do the restringing by yourself or at a local music store. Another option you have is learning the chords upside down in order to be able to play a right-handed model.
Every ukulele is usually evaluated based on three primary elements – sound, quality construction, and playing comfort. Impressively, the Kala KA-ZCT-T Tenor Ukulele thrives on the three fronts, which is why we chose it as our pick for the best tenor ukulele on our list. Apart from having great aesthetics, this instrument also produces a great sound while being incredibly convenient to handle.
The second choice on our list is the beautifully constructed Enya EUT-M6, which as a result of its incredible versatility, is suitable for a wide range of players, from beginners to advanced ones. Sporting a solid mahogany body, this instrument is also durable and is capable of withstanding any degree of rough use, which is a huge plus.
The Ibanez UEWT5E is our third pick, and its incredible playability coupled with its superb durability and awesome sound make it a worthy pick. This acoustic-electric model also comes with a handy tuner and a protective gig bag which is a very nice bonus to its overall value.