Fender Ukuleles

If you need any evidence of the increase in people buying ukuleles, just look at the number of new models of ukulele that have come out in the last year or two. And now the biggest name in the guitar world has entered the field and brought out their first ukes.

Today Fender are launching a range of three tenor ukuleles: the Pa’ina, Nohea and Hau’oli. I caught up with Mike Lewis from Fender to find out more.

Fender are the biggest name in guitars. Why move into ukuleles?

It all started around six years ago when we noticed the Uke’s growing popularity in Japan. When we asked about it, our friends there explained that because the Uke is tuned like the first four strings on the guitar, it was easy for guitar players to adapt to it. Being guitar players ourselves, we gave it a try and like everyone else, got hooked!

When people buy a Fender ukulele, what are they getting that they wouldn’t get with any other ukulele?

The Fender Ukes were in development for quite a long time and we experimented with a lot of different designs. What we were looking for was an instrument that sounds great, looks great, is easy to play, tune, and change strings- all at an affordable price. The Ukes also come with a padded carry bag.

One thing we wanted to avoid was for someone to buy their first Uke, take it home and then get discouraged because they didn’t know how to tune it, play some basic chords, or change a string. That’s why we include the instruction book with care, feeding and basic how-to-play info. Playing Ukulele should be fun, not frustrating!

There are many Fender-a-like ukuleles out there but – other than the distinctive Telecaster headstock – they’re a very traditional design. Why did you go in that direction?

The form followed the function really. We had specific sonic results in mind for the various price points so we experimented with numerous body shapes, bracing patterns, bridges, materials, etc. This is just how they ended up! The Telecaster® guitar headstock not only adds the distinctive Fender vibe, it’s quite functional in that it provides straight string pull over the nut and easy access to all four of the geared tuning machines.

Where are the ukuleles manufactured?

Crafted in Indonesia with oversight by our U.S. manufacturing and quality assurance operations.

There’s a big Hawaiian theme in the ukuleles. Do you see yourselves as part of the Hawaiian tradition of ukuleles rather than those made in the mainland US?

Even though the instrument was first introduced to the Hawaiians by Portuguese immigrants, it didn’t become a Ukulele until the Hawaiians named it that. During our research for this project, the Hawaiian connection was of course all pervasive. We even studied the Hawaiian language a bit, which is where the model names came from. Just seemed natural to stick with it!

Why did you go with all tenor ukuleles? Are there plans for other sizes in future?

Our customers are primarily guitar players. The Tenor being the largest “my dog has fleas” Uke, is a good option for the first-time guitarist turned “Uke-ist”.

Are there any plans for future models in the Fender ukulele range?

Let’s hope so!

Visit Fender ukuleles and friend them up on MySpace.

View Comments


  1. Tof25 June 29th, 2010 11:42 pm

    I just got a Fender Pain’a, it’s my third tenor, after a Kala Jazz and a Lanikai O8E 8 strings. I must say that I’m really impressed by the accuracy and the playability of the Fender…
    I visually checked the uke looking for some defaults, and didn’t find anything…
    The sound is great (I directly put Worth clear on it) and the sustain is good, even if it’s less than my 8 strings!
    Hope it helps!

  2. Woodshed July 3rd, 2010 12:45 pm

    Tof25: Thanks for the review. I’m hearing better things about the Fenders these days. Looks like they’ve got rid of the gremlins they had earlier.

  3. flambeauone July 27th, 2010 3:54 am

    I just bought a Fender Pai’na,I read all the comments about these ukes so when I actually ran across one I was surprised.The one I bought tunes easily and sounds great plugged or unplugged.The wound string didn’t even make it to the cash register though I really didn’t care for that.I haven’t played any others but mine sounds great and looks great.I was really impressed.

  4. Woodshed July 28th, 2010 8:26 pm

    flambeauone: Thanks for the review. Glad you’re enjoying it.

  5. WC Rowe July 30th, 2010 2:00 pm

    I am on my second Pa’ina the first one’s bridge came right off the body the first tuning out of the box. The Second one has two issues.. the first string will not stay in tune and the pickup is dead on that string. This one is going back too.. Time to look into another brand.

  6. Woodshed August 3rd, 2010 4:52 pm

    WC Rowe: Sorry to hear about that.

  7. Josh Gordon August 7th, 2010 4:09 pm

    I ended up giving mine away to my younger brother; it’s probably the most disappointing uke purchase I’ve made.

  8. Cathy August 8th, 2010 2:23 pm

    I have only been playing the uke a little over a year, so I’m no uke expert, but I love my Fender Nohea. When I decided to buy a uke, I played every uke I could find in the area of Burlington, Vermont (which wasn’t a lot, maybe 20 ukes) and the Nohea had the sound I liked the best. My husband is in a band and plays bass, guitar, and sax, so he has a bit more musical experience than me, and he also likes the sound of my uke over others I’ve played in the stores. It’s fine for people to have differing opinions. But I for one, love my Fender. And apparently the guitar/uke player of Train feels the same way… (Hey Soul Sister)

  9. Woodshed August 10th, 2010 7:58 pm

    Josh: Yeah, I’ve fobbed off all sorts of crap on my brother too.

    Cathy: Glad to hear you’re enjoying it.

  10. KevinV August 16th, 2010 2:20 am

    I play ‘uke in a gigging band and although my Fender Pa’ina isn’t my number one, it’s certainly a great playing and gig-worthy instrument. It’s the one I grab most for practice and play at home, to take with me to friend’s houses for jams, and I’ve used it at rehearsal…I wouldn’t hesitate to use it on a gig and plan to in the near future.

    I’ve never owned any instrument that fit my tastes perfectly out of the box and the Pa’ina was no exception. After a fret dressing and polish, adjustment of the saddle and nut, and some other non stock issues, it does all I could ask from it.

    I’m happy with my Fender ‘ukulele.

  11. Hans Wessels August 18th, 2010 7:33 pm

    I use the hau’olu with Aquila nylgut strings with a low g and it sounds great. I used it for playing with an upright bass and it punches right through the lower frequencies. I also found the instrument very reliable.
    I hated the original strings though

  12. Kimi October 12th, 2010 8:33 pm

    I bought my husband a Fender Paina last Christmas. This Christmas I would like to get a small amp to go with it. Any suggestions?

  13. Steve PP November 19th, 2010 12:07 am

    Anybody else seen or have pics of an electric uke with a whammy bar on?

  14. Josh Ward December 28th, 2010 12:01 am

    Does anyone know if Fenders are a safe choice now? I would love one. I was planning on getting a RISA Solid, but thought I would go for a more “proper” Ukulele first before branching out, my only Ukulele is a £20 Maholo. It’s between this and a Kala. I’m looking for a Tenor in the £100-£200 price range.

    One other Q, is a pickup important to consider when purchasing a Ukulele?

  15. Dopefish7590 December 29th, 2010 4:10 am

    @Josh Ward: I have the Pa’ina, and it has been probably the best Ukulele I’ve played in a long while… The sound is good, it holds tune well, the pickup works great, and it looks sleek in my opinion. I will admit I had a problem with the ‘A’ string coming undone from the base of the Uke, but I merely had to tie the end of the string in a slightly larger knot to remedy this.

    Perhaps I have gotten lucky but it would appear as if Fender has ironed out most of the instrument’s quirks. It still may have a few left, but overall it appears to be a great instrument.

  16. Josh Ward December 29th, 2010 11:03 am

    Thank you for your review Dopefish. I agree with you that it looks nice. Best of the three fenders, I don’t much care for all the fancy borders and patterns on the other two.

    I hope I get lucky too, I’m going to try and get a chance to play one of these before I take the plunge.

    P.S. UK people… where can I buy a Fander Pa’ina for cheaper than £197 inc. VAT and delivery? That’s looking like the best I can find. If you could help that would be super.

  17. Woodshed January 1st, 2011 12:11 pm

    Dopefish: Thanks very much for the review. Good to know things are getting fixed.

  18. Stando January 13th, 2011 5:16 pm

    @Josh Ward where can I find the Fender Pa’ina Ukulele for that price? That’s exactly what I’m looking for!!
    Thanks a lot.

    Great article by the way!

  19. Stando January 13th, 2011 5:17 pm

    Sorry for double commenting, I needed to click notify on any more comments on this page.

  20. Josh Ward January 13th, 2011 7:50 pm

    @Stando It was on DV247.com, but it’s gone up now. :( I think they used the VAT rise to increase the price even more, or it might have been on sale.

  21. Mikey Mike January 28th, 2011 5:46 pm

    I just bough the Fender Pa’ina today. its really nice.

    Music room are currently doing in at £199.99. I really cant find it cheaper anywhere else!

  22. Stando January 28th, 2011 6:33 pm

    Thanks Josh (it’s gone up to over 300 on there now..:()
    Paid £237 at DolphinMusic and got it a week ago.
    I love it!!
    It sounds amazing plugged into an amp I’m surprised how much the sound amplifies compared to a guitar. It’s brilliant.

    I’m glad fender decided against the wound C string, that would have ruined it completely!! AA++ for Fender on that 1.

  23. Rick Diefenderfer April 15th, 2012 4:27 am

    I.m considering having a pickup installed on my Fender KOA Nohea Ukulele but know nothing about what kind to install or how to do it. Any suggestions?

  24. Rick Diefenderfer April 15th, 2012 4:32 am

    I need to replace the strings on my Fender KOA Nohea Ukulele. What type/brand are the best strings to use?

  25. Woodshed April 16th, 2012 10:12 am

    Rick: I don’t know about the Fender but Worths and Aquilas are always a good bet.

  26. Ed August 22nd, 2012 6:20 am

    My tenor koa came with Aquila strings.no wound c string. I keep checking the bridge and it’s fine. I like the look and Sound,maybe i was just lucky and Got a good one from mail order.i dont care for fender acoustic guitars but i like their electric guitars and bass. I just ordered their new concert model hope All goes well.

  27. Nathaniel March 4th, 2014 2:59 am

    I own a Fender Koa Tenor ukulele. I love the way it looks, plays, and feels. for someone who couldn’t afford to buy a ukulele that was not quality for the cash, i’ll say i would buy it again!

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