If you fancy creating an exotic, Polynesian island feel in your home, or you yearn to recreate the Hawaiian ambiance you experienced during your vacation, then you need to get yourself a ukulele.
They are quite different from their long-distance cousin, the guitar. Ukuleles are lovely, fun, cheerful instruments.
They are gaining popularity because of their simple learning curve. However, deciding on a particular one that’s best for you can be difficult. And, that’s why we’ve prepared a review of the Top 10 best tenor ukuleles currently available.
So, let’s get our grass-skirts on and start our review…
- Top 10 Best Tenor Ukuleles On The Market 2019 Reviews
- 1 Martin IZ Tenor Ukulele
- 2 Martin T1K Koa Ukulele
- 3 Kala KA-T Mahogany Tenor Ukulele
- 4 Kala KA-SMHT Solid Mahogany Tenor Ukulele
- 5 Cordoba 20TM Tenor Ukulele Bundle
- 6 Kala Ka-KTG Tenor Hawaiian Ukulele
- 7 Luna Mahogany Series Tattoo Tenor Ukulele
- 8 Kala MK-T Makala Tenor Ukulele
- 9 Lohanu Tenor Size Ukulele
- 10 Donner Tenor Ukulele
Top 10 Best Tenor Ukuleles On The Market 2019 Reviews
1 Martin IZ Tenor Ukulele
The Martin IZ Tenor Ukulele is made as a tribute to the legendary artist, Israel Kamakawiwo’ole (IZ), hence the “IZ” in the name of the instrument. The company pulled out all the stops to honor this artist and this ukulele truly stands out from the crowd, with its unique qualities.
First of all, let’s talk about its construction…
Every ukulele player knows that the sound quality of a ukulele is very dependent on the materials used in its construction.
Taking a look at this ukulele from Martin, we see that it’s made of solid quilted mahogany. Not the mahogany laminates you find on cheaper ukeleles. It also has an East Indian Rosewood fingerboard and headplate with a customized design as a tribute to the great, Israel Kamakawiwo’ole.
These assure the player of a warm, beautiful tone. Plus, it comes inlaid with Hawaiian Koa.
Koa is the original material used for the construction of ukuleles. So, mahogany inlaid with Koa is a great combination which produces a superb tone.
Aside, the sound, let’s also consider how it looks.
The IZ Tenor is a fine-looking instrument with a warm, natural color. It’s an awesome choice for those who prefer an earthy traditional looking uke.
And if you’re wondering about durability, well…
This is solidly constructed. Mahogany isn’t exactly cheap, so this ukelele should last you a good few years and more.
It featuires a nice rosette which comes as a single ring with a multiple black/white fiber binding.
Altogether, this is a wonderful piece. You might just want to get yourself a fantastic microphone as well. So that you can record yourself, while you’re strumming away!
Our Rating: (4.6 / 5)
2 Martin T1K Koa Ukulele
Martin, has been recognized worldwide, as a producer of some of the best acoustic instruments you can buy, including great tenor ukes. Let’s now see how its T1K Koa does in our review.
As the name indicates, it’s made from solid Hawaiian Koa. And naturally, we tend to have a bias for Koa ukuleles, because they are closest in sound to the first ukuleles made in Hawaii.
It’s also really affordable. It’s by no means cheap, but for a Martin instrument, made from solid Koa, at this price, it is nearly a steal.
The sound it produces is, as you would expect, is full and rich with superb volume. Tone wise, this is probably the easiest ukelele in this review to fall in love with. And it’s nowhere near the most expensive.
Every note it produces is well balanced and rings true. It just sounds superb, fair play.
But, hang on, there’s more…
The Martin T1k Koa Ukulele is finished in a very high-quality satin lacquer to enable the instrument to withstand long years of abuse and exposure without losing its shine.
It comes in a natural color, like the last Martin we reviewed, but the glossy finish gives it a completely different look.
The ukulele is supplied with a high-quality gig bag.
Our Rating: (4.8 / 5)
3 Kala KA-T Mahogany Tenor Ukulele
We now move from the expensive Martins to a much more affordable uke – the KT-T from Kala which is available as a great bundle.
The biggest reason we like it so much is because it comes with almost everything you need to get started on the instrument, and it comes at a giveaway price.
The Kala Tenor Ukulele looks stunning with its Mahogany construction. It’s beautiful, solidly built and is carefully finished.
And check out the sound…
As mentioned, it’s made from Mahogany, giving the full, warm sound you’d expect from the wood. The neck is also made from mahogany and features a walnut fingerboard and 18 silver nickel frets.
It also comes with Aquila Super Nylgut strings. Now, this might not mean much to anyone but a seasoned ukulele player. But, they are some of the best you can get for a ukulele.
It also comes with a simple to use digital tuner. It’s great for beginners who are still developing their musical ear and will help you get your uke in perfect tune in only a few minutes. And, while on the subject of beginners, Kala has included an instructional DVD to teach you the basics and get you playing your uke properly right from the start.
Plus, check out its gig bag. It’s not a cheap flimsy one. It’s well-made and even has a small pocket to hold your tuner. Your uke will also love the plush, velvety feel of the bag’s interior.
And to keep your ukulele in mint condition, Kala supplies a quality Austin Bazaar cleaning cloth.
It’s a great bundle for an inexpensive price, for those starting off on a Tenor Ukelele, but understandably doesn’t sound anything like the earlier Martins in this review. But it doesn’t cost anything like them either. It’s highly recommended for beginners.
Our Rating: (4.5 / 5)
4 Kala KA-SMHT Solid Mahogany Tenor Ukulele
We’ll move on with another ukulele from Kala – the KA-SMHT Mahogany Tenor Ukulele.
The top, back, and sides are all constructed from solid Mahogany and gives the full, robust sound that everyone loves to hear while playing the ukulele. It also features a mahogany neck with a walnut fingerboard.
The best thing about acoustic instruments made from solid wood, not laminates, is that over time they only sound better. Just like good wine, solid wood ukuleles tend to sound better the older they get. This uke from Kala comes with that assurance.
The nut and saddle is made from GraphTech NuBone.
Again, it doesn’t just sound nice; it’s got plenty of volume too.
Now, let’s talk strings…
This again comes with Aquila Super Nylgut strings, so you are once again re-assured of quality.
And the tuners?
They are Grover geared tuners, which are some of the best tuners you can get for your ukulele. They make it easy to put and keep your instrument in tune.
If you’ve been playing guitars for many years and you’re looking to transition to a ukulele, this is, probably, one of your best bets. Try it and see if you need a Tenor Uke in your life?
Our Rating: (4.7 / 5)
5 Cordoba 20TM Tenor Ukulele Bundle
One thing that can’t be denied when you look at this uke is its beauty. The Cordoba 20TM Tenor Ukulele is a sight to behold. We particularly love the abalone detail. Add that to the fact that the uke comes with a gorgeous mahogany construction, and bam! You have a stunning instrument in your hands.
Now, let’s check out the sound…
Being made from a solid mahogany top, you can be sure about a rich sound with good volume. Although not as loud as the last uke we reviewed, this ukulele is, by no means, “quiet”.
As for the tuners, they work well and are easy to use.
This brings us to the stings…
Yes, you’ve guessed it, they are once again Aquila Super Nylgut strings. These are by far the most common strings found on budget and mid-priced ukeleles. They are, however, excellent strings, and you won’t see them on any of the truly budget ‘toy’ ukeleles.
You also should remember that strings are the easiest things to change about any instrument. If you want to splash out and buy a set of really expensive strings, just do it and see if you prefer them.
Some of us here have been playing fretted instruments professionally for nearly 50 years and normally use medium priced strings. Not cheap strings, but not the really expensive ones either. So, please don’t get stressed about needing expensive strings to get a great sound from an instrument.
Back to the Cordoba 20TM Tenor Ukulele, if you’ve been looking to make an upgrade on your current beginner ukulele, this is a great place to start.
Our Rating: (4.5 / 5)
6 Kala Ka-KTG Tenor Hawaiian Ukulele
If you’re looking to authentically recreate that Hawaiian island feel, then this is the perfect uke for you. The Kala Ka-KTG Tenor Hawaiian Ukulele is just like other Kala ukes in quality and sound.
So, let’s take a look…
To start with, the entire ukulele is constructed from Hawaiian Koa. So, undoubtedly, this uke comes with a solid construction. This means that it produces rich, solid, and robust sounds, that are much closer to the traditional ukulele sound than you’d get from a Mahogany uke.
Also, the volume it produces is quite loud. If you’ve ever had to play a beautiful sounding but low volume ukulele, then you’ll definitely understand. Having enough volume from an acoustic instrument is very important, especially when playing with other instruments.
The strings are D’Addario: an excellent choice for this lovely ukulele. In fact, you could fall in love with these strings so much, that you may even consider getting them for some of your other ukes.
As for the looks, the ukulele looks attractive and comes with a high-sheen gloss finish. It does, however, tend to show finger marks easily. But, if you can live with that, then this uke rocks.
Our Rating: (4.2 / 5)
7 Luna Mahogany Series Tattoo Tenor Ukulele
Next up, and here’s another beautiful ukulele – the Mahogany Series Tattoo Tenor from Luna. Tattoo’d by name, and tattoo’d by nature, that sums up this unique uke which is adorned with some Hawaiian tribal tattoos.
It comes in an earthy natural brown color. And has beautiful ornamentation all around its body. Luna state that the markings are inspired by Hawaii. And they include lots of geometric patterns of the sun, waves, stones, turtles, birds, and fish. All of which remind you of the beautiful Pacific islands. The laser-etched tattoo patterns were designed by Alex Morgan,
The fret markers are even made to look like stylized shark’s teeth! But, don’t worry, it doesn’t bite.
Now, to the sound…
We love the tone this ukulele produces which is a testimony to the quality of mahogany used to make the instrument. It gives a smooth, rich sound, with a relatively loud volume.
The top and body are made from Mahogany, as well as the neck, which features a walnut fretboard. The bridge is also made of walnut, and the whole guitar has a satin finish.
This really is a unique instrument, and if you love the styling, it’s hard to beat for the price. If however, you’re not a fan of the styling, then you have a lot of other choices that sound and play as well for the same price.
Our Rating: (4.2 / 5)
8 Kala MK-T Makala Tenor Ukulele
Here’s yet another Kala ukulele – the MK-T Makala Tenor. And, of course, this one carries the same mark of quality.
Made of rustic wood wityh flawless construction. It’s beautiful to look at and because of its solid build produces a rich, robust sound.
It features an Agathis body with satin finish, a mahogany neck with a rosewood fingerboard. The bridge is also made of rosewood, and it has geared tuners.
You’ve got to give it to Kala; they always get their strings right. And again are using their trusty Italian made, Aquila Super Nylgut.
This is another of Kala’s bundle sets, so includes everything you need to get going on a ukelele – a good-quality digital tuner, 2 months of free online lessons, an Austin Bazaar teach yourself to play instructional DVD, a spare set of Aquila strings, a gig-bag, a ukelele strap, and an Austin Bazaar polishing cloth.
Our Rating: (4.5 / 5)
9 Lohanu Tenor Size Ukulele
Next up, we have another affordable ukulele. It’s a great choice for beginners or for those who need a nice spare ukulele for leaving lying around the house or using at beach parties, for camping trips, etc.
For a uke of this price, the Lohanu Tenor Size Ukulele gives a nice rich sound. In fact, it actually sounds like a much more expensive uke than the price tag indicates, which has to be a good thing. The construction is also solid, and it feels good to play.
Let’s move on to the “hump”…
High-end ukuleles tend to be made with an arched back. This gives the uke an even richer sound than a flat back ukelele. But this affordable uke from Lohanu also has a hump! Which is superb!
The strings are nylon. So, for beginners, they won’t feel too hard on the fingers and will give a great sound.
The tuning pegs are made of metal, not from plastic, which is saying a lot for a uke of this price. Most inexpensive ukuleles come with plastic tuning pegs.
The frets are good, but they could do with some further finishing. This is common on most budget and mid-priced ukeleles. In order to keep the price of the instrument down, hand finishing is kept to a minimum. Your local luthier will, however, be able to finish the job off relatively cheaply, for this or any other ukelele in this review that needs more fine finishing work.
And, there’s even more good stuff…
On top of being a great sounding ukelele for the low price, you also get every extra you could think of. Including a gig-bag, strap, an extra set of Aquila strings, a digital tuner, some pics, and a pick holder.
You just can’t get better than that, so if you’re looking for a beginners bundle, this is a great choice.
Our Rating: (4.9 / 5)
10 Donner Tenor Ukulele
And finally for this review, we present the Donner Tenor Ukulele. It’s a super affordable choice for someone who’s on a budget but wants a good sounding instrument.
Made of mahogany, gives it a good sounds with a nice resonance. And although small, it gives a relatively high volume when played.
The tone is okay, but, it isn’t phenomenal. But, for a beginner, it’s more than good enough. The body is well constructed for the price and comes with a satin finish.
On to the strings and tuners…
The strings are good and have a nice sound when strummed. And Donner throws in an extra set with the package. The tuners are again not the best but are easy to use and do a pretty good job tuning the uke.
Again for the low price, there are a lot of extras – the padded gig bag is well made. You’ll also get an adjustable strap, a digital tuner and the spare set of strings as we just mentioned. Altogether, it’s a great deal for the low price. It’s just a shame that Donner cut so many corners when making the uke itself.
Our Rating: (4.7 / 5)
We’ve reviewed what we think are the Top 10 best tenor ukuleles currently available and any of them would make a great choice, depending on your needs and your budget. But, as with any round-up there has to be a winner, and it’s the…
…Kala KA-SMHT Solid Mahogany Tenor Ukulele.
All the ukuleles reviewed had their exceptional qualities. However, the Kala KA-SMHT was the one that delivered on almost every point that was important to us. It’s a superb sounding mid-priced ukelele with lots of great features.
If you’re not on a budget, then we would recommend either of the Martins reviewed. They were easily the best sounding ukeleles. And if you’re just starting, then any of the bundles we’ve featured are superb depending on how much you want to spend.
We hope that’s made the world of tenor ukeleles a little easier to understand and helped you decide which ukes you like and which you don’t. Have fun deciding on your perfect ukelele and have even more fun playing it and thinking of the beautiful beaches of the Hawaiian islands.