Top 10 Best Tenor Ukuleles in 2019 – Reviews and Buying Guide

Ukuleles are quite the rage nowadays. However, many people tend to overlook the best option for learning the ukulele.

For novices, the soprano or standard size ukes are nice, but not the best place to start. Instead, a tenor ukulele, which is slightly larger is the best option for beginners.

best tenor ukuleles

Yet, which tenor ukulele is the right one for you?

A’loe Pilikia! No worries!

We have put together a list of the best tenor ukuleles available. So grab your leis and let’s go through them together to find the perfect one for you…

Top 10 Best Tenor Ukuleles Reviews


1 Martin 1T IZ Tenor Ukulele Natural

A tenor ukulele built as a tribute to the legendary musician Israel Kamakawiwo’ole. A beautiful instrument that is constructed with the highest quality materials.

Genuine mahogany…

The top, back, and sides of this lovely uke are made from real quilted mahogany. With a full mahogany body, it delivers a warm, full, and detailed tone. It is dry and airy with excellent mid-range presence and overall sustain.

As a tenor ukulele, the body is slightly larger than standard ukes. The result is a richer and fuller tone that offers more projection.

It is a lovely-looking uke with a satin finish that brings out the natural grain. The binding is dark faux-tortoise, which further accentuates the mahogany reddish hue.

The neck is also made from mahogany, and has the same color and finish as the body. The fretboard is made from Indian rosewood. The rosewood works to enhance deep lows and smooth mid-range tones. Therefore this uke is full-bodied from the lows to the highs.

Honoring a legend…

The rosewood headstock features a hibiscus flower and an “IZ” moniker as part of its homage to the legendary musician. There are mother-of-pearl dot inlays along the fretboard. Furthermore, there are 20 frets which allow you more space between them, making it easy to play.

Quality hardware…

The nut and the saddle are both made from black tusq. This material is excellent at maintaining string stability and intonation. Likewise, the black color pairs with the dark binding and brown satin finish.

The tuners are also designed to match the color scheme of this uke. They are black pegheads from Planetary Gear. They are large and taut and are made in the same style as traditional uke tuners.

Martin 1T IZ Tenor Ukulele Natural
Our rating:5 out of 5 stars (5 / 5)

Pros
  • Solid quilted mahogany body and neck.
  • Black tusq nut and saddle.
  • Rosewood fretboard.
  • Beautiful natural brown satin finish.
  • Balanced tones and excellent sustain.
Cons
  • Expensive.

2 Martin T1K Koa Tenor Ukulele Natural

Since 1929, Martin has been producing tenor ukuleles. They are well-known for their amazing tonal integrity, beauty, and playability. In fact, Martin tenor ukes have set the standard for quality construction.

Hawaiian heritage…

The body of this tenor uke is made from solid Koa. This is a wood native only to Hawaii. It is similar in warmth to mahogany but delivers a bit more brightness. As a result, the overall tone is breezy, lush, and crisp. With a hand-rubbed satin finish, the Koa grains are on full elegant display.

The body features Satika Spruce bracing. This adds strength, but also lets the uke flex and resonant naturally, so you get a very full-bodied tone.

The fretboard and bridge are made from Sipo. The choice of Sipo adds to the traditional style and operation. Sipo is similar to mahogany, so it really warms up the tone and adds greater sustain to the notes.

Balanced and stable…

The nut and bridge are made from white tusq. These help keep the strings balanced and stable. They also add to the sustain and resonance.

With nickel open-gear tuners, this uke has great tension and stays in tune for longer periods of time. However, they can get dirty far more easily than closed-gear tuners.

Martin T1K Koa Tenor Ukulele Natural
Our rating:3.3 out of 5 stars (3.3 / 5)

Pros
  • Solid Koa body.
  • Sipo fretboard and bridge.
  • White tusq nut and saddle.
  • Breezy, warm, and crisp tone.
  • Easy playability.
  • High-quality construction.
Cons
  • Expensive.

3 Kala KA-T Mahogany Tenor Ukulele Bundle with Gig Bag, Clip-On Tuner, Austin Bazaar Instructional DVD, and Polishing Cloth

A greater beginners ukulele that comes with a complete starter kit. For those interested in learning the ukulele, Kala has you covered.

Quality construction and value…

This tenor uke is a great place to start for beginners. Yet, it is also a fantastic travel uke for more experienced players.

The body is made from laminated mahogany. The laminate construction makes it quite adaptable. It can handle different temperatures and humidity conditions. The result is a uke that can travel with ease and is an ideal starter uke because it costs less than solid wood ukes.

It delivers a nice warm, and rich tone. As a tenor-sized uke, it has good resonance and projection. Furthermore, it has a nice punchy, and warm sound ukes are known for.

The finish is a lovely satin and is accented with cream binding. In addition to the mahogany body, the neck is also made from mahogany. The fretboard is made of walnut. This offers additional brightness to the mellow warmth of the mahogany body.

Hardware and extras…

This uke includes die-cast chrome tuners. They do an excellent job of maintaining tension and stability. The bridge is rosewood and uses a plastic saddle. However, the action is set nice and low for beginners.

There are a couple of extras included as well. There is a clip-on digital tuner, gig bag, polishing cloth, and instructional DVD. As a result, you get everything you need to start learning how to play the ukulele.

Kala KA-T Mahogany Tenor Ukulele Bundle with Gig Bag, Clip-On Tuner, Austin Bazaar Instructional DVD, and Polishing Cloth
Our rating:4.4 out of 5 stars (4.4 / 5)

Pros
  • Quality construction.
  • Mahogany laminate body.
  • Walnut fretboard.
  • Balanced sound and easy to play.
  • Perfect for beginners.
  • Lightweight and portable.
  • Affordable.
Cons
  • Plastic nut and saddle.

4 Kala KA-SMHT Solid Mahogany Tenor Ukulele, Natural, Small

A solid mahogany tenor ukulele. This uke offers ease of playability and a simple, yet elegant appearance.

Solid all around…

The top, back, and sides are made from solid mahogany. The result is a beautiful sounding uke. It is balanced and warm. The tone is rich and full with plenty of overtones that add color to your sound. Furthermore, the all-mahogany body provides you with excellent sustain and resonance.

The finish is satin and really brings out the natural grain of the mahogany. Additionally, this uke has classic tortoise binding. So, it has an almost vintage style.

The neck is also solid mahogany. On top is a walnut fretboard with 18 frets. Walnut is similar to maple. It delivers bright and crisp tones, but with a slightly more rounded sustain. Again the fretboard is a single solid piece of walnut.

The woods and construction make this uke quite sturdy and strong. It is a great choice for those who already know how to play one of the best tenor ukuleles.

High-quality hardware…

The nut and saddle on this uke are made from GraphTech NuBone. While it is not actual bone, it is as close as any synthetic can get to the real thing. The NuBone material works incredibly well at keeping the strings taut and in tune. It also helps to enhance tonal fidelity and sustain.

Also, this uke comes strung with Aquila Nylgut strings. These are premium uke strings. They are made to recreate the sonic properties of animal guts used for centuries in string-making. These strings have tons of mid-range presence. Plus they are very durable and long-lasting.

Kala KA-SMHT Solid Mahogany Tenor Ukulele, Natural, Small
Our rating:4.6 out of 5 stars (4.6 / 5)

Pros
  • ody and neck made from solid mahogany.
  • Rich, warm, and balanced tone.
  • Walnut fretboard.
  • GraphTech NuBone nut and saddle.
  • Excellent projection and resonance.
Cons
  • Not ideal for beginners.
  • A little pricey.
  • No case included.

5 Kala KA-KTG Tenor Hawaiian Ukulele – Koa Gloss, MultiColored, Tenor

A beautiful tenor ukulele that looks and sounds great. Crafted with care and high-quality materials.

Traditional build…

The top, back, and sides of this uke are made from Hawaiian Koa. Koa is the traditional wood used for ukulele construction. It is very warm sounding but with an underlying brightness. As a result, it delivers the perfect tone for ukuleles. It is gentle, lively, and full-bodied.

The grains are highlighted by the transparent gloss finish. The maple binding further accentuates the natural beauty of Koa. It also adds to the sturdiness and balance of this uke.

Furthermore, as a tenor-sized uke, it is great for experienced guitar players and beginners. It is considered the perfect size by professional and novice players alike.

Elevated elegance…

The neck is made from mahogany and features a Pau Ferro fretboard. This wood is known for its hardness, stability, and resistance to wear. Also known as Bolivian Rosewood, it has become quite popular in recent decades.

There are 19 frets along with a Graphtech Bone nut and saddle. As a synthetic bone, these are as close to the real deal as you can get. They work to give this uke greater intonation stability, presence, and sustain.

The slotted headstock also gives this uke a distinct look. With gold Grover open-geared tuners it resembles the head of classical guitars. These tuners are excellent at precise tuning and deliver additional string stability.

Kala KA-KTG Tenor Hawaiian Ukulele - Koa Gloss, MultiColored, Tenor
Our rating:4.2 out of 5 stars (4.2 / 5)

Pros
  • Solid Koa body.
  • Mahogany neck.
  • Pau Ferro fretboard.
  • Warm, lively full-bodied tone.
  • GraphTech Bone nut and saddle.
Cons
  • A little pricey.

6 Cordoba 20TM Tenor Ukulele Bundle with Hard Case, Tuner, Austin Bazaar Instructional DVD, and Polishing Cloth

A nice tenor ukulele that delivers style and substance. Cordoba may be first and foremost a guitar maker, but their ukes are every bit as good. Plus a few extras to sweeten the deal.

Value and quality…

This uke features a solid mahogany top. A warm and thick tone come through with plenty of resonance and sustain. In addition, the back and sides are made from mahogany laminate. While not as rich as solid mahogany, laminate wood handles temperature and humidity quite well. As a result, this ukes body is quite durable and adaptable.

The natural satin finish looks quite nice. The rounded edges make this uke very comfortable. The 20-TM is a nice choice for those just starting out on the uke.

Built to last…

The neck is made from mahogany as well. The fretboard is rosewood as is the bridge. Rosewood is quite hard and stable. It is often used for fretboards because of its durability. Not to mention its resistance to wear.

The nut and saddle are made from a composite material produced by Cordoba. It is better than plastic or resin, but not quite as good as bone. However, this composite material keeps the tone clean, and the strings taut and precise.

The tuners are Cordoba’s own nickel open-gear tuners with pearl buttons. They are comparable to many of the name-brand tuners. You’ll have your strings in tune and for extended periods of time.

Extra, extra, extra…

In addition to a great looking and sounding uke, the added accessories make this an ideal starter kit. The Cordoba 20-TM has everything you need to start playing the uke.

To help you get started, included is an Austin Bazaar instructional DVD. It has lessons and songs to get you started. Additionally, there is a clip-on digital tuner and a polishing cloth. Also included is a hard case with a padded exterior.

Cordoba 20TM Tenor Ukulele Bundle with Hard Case, Tuner, Austin Bazaar Instructional DVD, and Polishing Cloth
Our rating:4.5 out of 5 stars (4.5 / 5)

Pros
  • Solid mahogany top and neck.
  • Mahogany laminate back and sides.
  • Excellent sound, tone, and resonance.
  • Comfortable and easy to play.
  • Quality construction.
  • Tuner and hard-case included.
Cons
  • No binding on the body or neck.
  • Frets tend to be high.

7 Luna Tattoo Mahogany Tenor Ukulele with Gig Bag, Satin Natural

Inspired by the Pacific Ocean, this ukulele is designed to pay homage to the Hawaiian history of ukuleles. This tattoo uke has the look of a tradition uke with classic sounds.

Unique ornamentation…

This uke has a very unique look and style. The decorations are based on Hawaiian body tattoo designs. In fact, the design is based on the Hawaiian turtle, which represents long life and journey.

These monochromatic geometrical designs invoke the natural world. They also are a special nod to the Hawaiian roots of Luna Guitars.

Quality materials and build…

The body of this ukulele is made from select mahogany. The neck is also made from select mahogany. As a result, this uke offers a very rich and warm tone. It has lovely overtones and long-lasting sustain. The satin finish reveals the natural reddish-brown hue of the tonewood.

The neck is also made from mahogany. The fretboard is made from walnut, which is a departure from standard rosewood fretboards. The result is that the walnut enhances the brightness and airy-feel of the tone and sound.

The tuners are nice and sturdy open-gear tuners. The bridge is walnut as well, which helps to bring a more clear and resonate overall tone.

The island vibe…

For ukulele lovers, this one is a true representation of Hawaiian ancestry and the island vibe. And is easily one of the best tenor ukuleles on the market.

Luna Tattoo Mahogany Tenor Ukulele with Gig Bag, Satin Natural
Our rating:4.2 out of 5 stars (4.2 / 5)

Pros
  • Mahogany body and neck.
  • Hawaiian body tattoo designs.
  • Walnut bridge and fretboard.
  • Warm, clear, resonate sound.
  • Affordable.
Cons
  • Plastic nut and saddle.
  • Frets are a little high.

8 Kala MK-T Makala Tenor Ukulele Bundle with Gig Bag, Tuner, Strap, Aquila Strings, Online Lessons, Austin Bazaar Instructional DVD, and Polishing Cloth

A tenor ukulele bundle that can save you time and money. For the uke beginner, this is a great starter kit.

Rustic and flawless…

This uke is incredibly well-crafted. It is a breeze to play and sounds great. The body and neck are both made from select mahogany. However, it is not a solid-top uke. Yet, the seams are invisible, and the overall construction is strong and smooth.

The sound is warm and detailed with plenty of projection. The satin finish is deep and rich. It looks like a much older instrument than it actually is.

The fretboard and bridge are crafted from walnut. As a result, there is greater brightness and mid-range presence.

Another benefit is the strings. This uke comes equipped with Aquila Nylgut strings. They are synthetic animal gut and have a really great sound. They provide you with balance, body, and even twang.

What’s in the box?

This is indeed the ideal starter uke. It comes with accessories that make it much easier to learn and play.

Included with the uke is an instructional DVD to teach you chords and a few songs. In addition, this pack comes with an extra set of strings, polishing cloth, and a strap. Plus it includes a clip-on digital tuner.

With all the extras, this truly is a great starter kit for any ukulele beginner.

Kala MK-T Makala Tenor Ukulele Bundle with Gig Bag, Tuner, Strap, Aquila Strings, Online Lessons, Austin Bazaar Instructional DVD, and Polishing Cloth
Our rating:4.4 out of 5 stars (4.4 / 5)

Pros
  • Mahogany body and neck.
  • Walnut bridge and fretboard.
  • Aquila Nylgut strings.
  • Clip-on tuner.
  • Balanced and snappy sound.
  • Great for beginners.
Cons
  • Nut and saddle made of plastic.
  • Tuners can easily become loose.

9 Ukulele Tenor Size Bundle From Lohanu (LU-T) 2 Strap Pins Installed FREE Uke Strap Case Tuner Picks Hanger Aquila Strings Installed Free Video Lessons

Probably one of the best ukulele starter packs around. This uke and the assortment of extras is just the thing needed to start playing one of the best tenor ukuleles.

A great value uke…

The ukulele is made from laminate Sapele. Sapele is very similar to mahogany in terms of musical properties. As a laminate bday uke, it is ideal for beginners for a couple of reasons.

First, laminate is less expensive than solid tonewoods. Second, laminate tends to handle temperature and humidity changes better than solid wood bodies. This means that this uke is well-suited to all kinds of conditions and travel.

Impressive sounds…

The sound of this tenor uke is quite impressive. The trade-off with laminate bodies is less warmth and sustain and instead more snap and brightness. However, this uke features an arched back, which enhances the sustain. The result is a very nice and natural sounding uke.

The cream binding and satin finish make it look quite nice. Coupled with binding along the neck, it is easy to play and has a smooth, fast action.

It features chrome die-cast tuners that are closed-back. They do a good job of holding the strings taut and in tune.

Everything you need…

The best part of this uke is the accessories included. It has everything you need to start learning the uke.

The starter pack includes a clip-on tuner, two plastic picks, one leather pick, set of Aquila strings, strap, and gig bag. Plus free online lessons that teach you basic chords, maintenance, and some catchy Hawaiian tunes.

Ukulele Tenor Size Bundle From Lohanu (LU-T) 2 Strap Pins Installed FREE Uke Strap Case Tuner Picks Hanger Aquila Strings Installed Free Video Lessons
Our rating:4.8 out of 5 stars (4.8 / 5)

Pros
  • Sapele laminate body and neck.
  • Chrome die-cast tuners.
  • Arched back.
  • Clip-on tuner.
  • Extra set of Aquila strings.
  • Nice balanced tone.
  • Affordable.
Cons
  • Plastic nut and saddle.
  • The fretboard is a composite wood material.

10 Donner Tenor Ukulele Mahogany Body DUT-1 26 inch Ukulele Kit with Tuner Strap String Case

Another great starter pack featuring one of the best tenor ukuleles. Donner takes pride in their craftsmanship. The DUT-1 tenor uke is no exception.

Select materials…

This uke uses high-quality tonewoods that have been aired and ages for three years. Therefore, the wood is already “broken in,” and the sound is brilliantly clear and balanced.

The body and neck are nicely crafted from mahogany. The finish is a lovely satin gloss. The sound is warm, rich, and full. Furthermore, the arched back adds more sustain and resonance. The fretboard and bridge are made of rosewood. Again, the wood has been aired and aged before construction.

The tuners are chrome-plated guitar style tuners. They are open-back tuners, which are quite precise and deliver excellent tension. This uke comes with carbon nylon strings from Japan. They are quick and smooth and offer a clear, sweet sound.

A few more extras…

Included with this well-crafted uke are a gig bag, clip-on tuner, ukulele strap, and an extra set of carbon nylon strings. With these extras, you have everything you need to get started on the uke.

Donner Tenor Ukulele Mahogany Body DUT-1 26 inch Ukulele Kit with Tuner Strap String Case
Our rating:4.6 out of 5 stars (4.6 / 5)

Pros
  • Aired and aged mahogany body and neck.
  • Rosewood fretboard and bridge.
  • Carbon nylon strings.
  • Arched back.
  • Clip-on tuner.
  • Very inexpensive.
Cons
  • Tuners tend to be sticky.
  • Action tends to be high.

Best Tenor Ukuleles Buyer’s Guide

Now that we have gone over the best tenor ukuleles, there are some other things to consider.

Tenor ukes are a great choice for uke beginners. However, they are just as suitable for experienced players. They are great instruments, but they do require some care.

It is important that when you buy a tenor ukulele to play it frequently. Pros know this. The reason is that you are essentially curing the wood by playing it.

Often ukes can sit for a long time in a warehouse. Once you take it home, it will need to adjust to your environment, literally. Take the time to break in and get the uke in shape.

So, what’s the Best Tenor Ukuleles?

All of the ukes we looked at here are fine choices. Yet, we know there’s always one that outdoes the rest.

 The Best Tenor Ukulele is the… 

Donner DUT-1

This uke is simply a great deal. It is made from high-quality wood for the body, neck, and fretboard. Donner takes the time to age the wood they use. Therefore it has been dried and has a more detailed sound. Also, it means that you won’t need to spend much time breaking it in.

Likewise, a mahogany body and neck make for a beautiful sound and tone. It is an easy uke to play and is very well built. Also, this uke come with just the essential extras. It’s a great package for beginners, but a nice set of gifts for the seasoned players.

There you have it. We hope this has helped you find the best tenor ukelele currently available. And look forward to many years of fun times playing it!

E hauʻoli!