Makala MK-T Tenor Ukulele

3.88/5 (17)

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Makala are Kala‘s introductory range of ukuleles. If you’re looking for the cheapest but playable tenor, this is a good buy. But it’s worth getting one with set-up and some decent strings (like Aquila) if you can find them.

On Video

gnarlieone plays Roy Smeck’s Magic Ukulele Waltz on a tenor Makala.

On eBay

On eBay UK

Video Review

One correction to that video, he refers to it as, “pure mahogany”. It’s not it’s laminated.


Size: Tenor
Construction: Agathis (laminated) top, sides and back
Fretboard: Rosewood
Frets: 18
Bridge: Rosewood
Neck: Mahogany
Tuners: Geared Tuners
Finish: Satin


  1. Rebecca April 7th, 2011 3:57 am

    This was my first ukulele and I swear I like it better than ukuleles on the mainland that are 300$.

  2. Oliver González February 2nd, 2012 4:08 pm

    I must confess that I love the tenor size ukeleles; but since I also own a Kala Black Electric model and a handmade solid wood tenor (made from a Stew-Mac kit); the sound quality of the Makala Tenor MK-T is not as good as to be chosen by me.

  3. Yanina February 19th, 2012 4:40 pm

    I got a Kala Makala Tenor a couple of months ago. I didn’t know how to play at all. And it wasn’t difficult to get a nice sound out of it!
    Check this out:

  4. Melody April 15th, 2012 8:57 am

    My second uku.Great value:stay in tune,good and mellow sounds,comfort size.I do recommend use a soprano for starter and after you get comfortable with different tabs then switch to larger size.

  5. Jeff in NYC June 14th, 2012 12:27 am

    This will be my first Uke! I can’t rate it yet but I’m sure it will be a keeper! I just ordered a set up from Musicguymic. I was glad to track him down, and he’s feeling better again. Mike’s with Hawaii Music Supply and it was a treat to speak with him last night. Can’t wait to get this set up!

  6. Tim August 3rd, 2013 3:10 pm

    As it was my first Ukulele I took a friend who had been playing for years, we compared it to Ukuleles that were $290 and decided to buy it simply because it sounded much nicer than the others. It did have good quality strings on it though. Ive been travelling around the world with it and it has been getting beaten up but is still going strong!

  7. Mark May 2nd, 2014 9:01 am

    I bought one of these partly on the strength of reviews here, but also because I love my Makala Dolphin soprano. As a lefty, I buy mail order because I can’t try ukes properly in shops, so I hadn’t heard anything other than web clips. Mine is set up with Aquilas, but you get what you pay for. It is playable, it stays in tune, the action is ok, and the finish is acceptable for such a cheap instrument. But I find the tone incredibly harsh, so much so that I very rarely play it now. Annoyingly, shortly after buying it, I fitted a decent pickup so I sometimes have to play it in company and can’t really sell it on, but I would certainly advise listening before you buy if you possibly can. I had (and later sold) a Stagg concert that had a dull, muffled tone that simply wasn’t satisfying so perhaps I have form, but compared with all the other tenors at our uke club, I think my Makala sounds the worst. So, yes, it’s the cheapest playable tenor around, but perhaps you wouldn’t want to play it.
    If anyone has any tips on how to make a harsh instrument sound sweeter, I’d love to hear them.

  8. stan May 12th, 2014 7:34 am

    @Mark. Aquilas can sometimes sound harsh (too bright?) I have D’Addario ProArte on mine and it sounds pretty mellow. I hear Martin’s are warmish, too. (the original strings were quiet, too) But I don’t strum that loud. I just got a Mainland concert with Aquilas and its loudness and increased resonance was bugging me at first.

  9. Mark May 23rd, 2014 6:21 pm

    @stan. Thanks for that advice. I was recommended Aquilas when I bought my Makala, and am gullible enough to believe professional advice, but I’ll try D’Addarios and may even report back.

  10. Mark June 3rd, 2014 8:25 am

    I fitted D’addarios as @stan suggested and can report two things: first they bedded in much quicker than I expected. I had only two days of excessive string stretch compared with the five I have had with Aquilas; and secondly the tone is that bit warmer and more mellow than previously. This Makala still won’t be my favourite cheap uke, but it no longer has the fingernail-on-blackboard quality that the Aquilas gave it. Thanks.

  11. C.O. Jones August 31st, 2014 8:52 pm

    I have to say, after some 50 years of playing a slew different instruments including strings, and being intimately involved with repair people in such projects, that I have had more worry about the quality of strings than about woods, etc.
    The resonance, tone and quality of sound of different string instruments is much more dependent on the strings than on the woods the boxes might be made out of.
    I firmly believe that if Makala put better strings on their instruments, regardless of retail price, they might sell many more of them, because their original strings really sound like pure crap.
    But then there are people like Mark, who don’t know much about the workings of the instrument(s) and go around making comments before finding out what the truth of the matter really is.
    The cardinal rule is to try any instrument before you buy it, and the very first cardinal rule about any string instrument you already have it is that if it doesn’t sound to youor liking– REPLACE THE STRINGS.
    I would never have bought a Kala or Makala instrument unless someone who knew had told me that they sound pretty good with the proper strings, but not to go by what they sound like with the strings they come with from Kala– A difficult leap of faith for initially for me and too many others.
    All that having been said, I coax a just fine sound from mine, and I buy them specifically because I take them to all kinds of places, including on my boat, and if I trash them in the process it’s no great loss. As far as I’m concerned, this is the best use for Makala instruments.
    The only reason I don’t feel the same way about the Kala ones is that they cost more, but they are no better or worse in quality than the cheaper, student, Makala instruments.
    And as far as laminates vs. solid woods– Solid wood instruments, apart from that they are considereably more expensive, require constant humidity adjustments, have to be kept in solid, sealing, hard cases if you expect to have any semblance of longevity in the instrument and they have to be stored with a humidifier in the case– A royal proctologic discomfort at best.
    They also don’t weather well being carried everywhere, including harsh environments, so keep them for use in good environments and carry your laminate with you everywhere else you might go…

  12. C.O. Jones August 31st, 2014 9:32 pm

    By the way, I previously neglected to say that you might have to spend some money in trying out different strings until you find ones that work best with your particular instrument.
    The good news is that after a while of having different ukuleles and trying out different types of strings, you end up with an array of tried and set-aside string sets that you can reuse to try on other ukuleles, and often find ones that will work for you on other instruments among them.
    It’s the same for almost any other instrument– Identical brands/models of clarinets, for instance, with ‘identical’ brand/model mouthpiece/reed combinations will sound differently, because no two are exactly identical– clarinets, mouthpieces, reeds– regardless that they were made in ‘exactly’ the same way, in the same factory, by the same person, so you have to go to the music store and try different combinations of mouthpieces and reeds before the individual instrumenet will sound to your satisfaction.
    And lots of it also depends on how a particular player handles any particular instrument, including the ukulele, trumpet, violin, whatever…
    Your strumming and/or picking style and expertise can change the way a ukulele might sound. I’ve seen someone pick up an instrument someone else claimed to sound too bright and turn out a terrifically dark, mellow sound with it.
    In a clarinet it is often due to the individual’s embochure and in the ukulele it is often due to the accuracy with which a player forms their chords with the one hand and the expertise and “touch” with which the same player picks or strums the instrument, and the particular combination of both in any circumstance. Let’s not forget how each different person might hold it while playing it.
    What you do with one hand has to match what you do with the other, and for different instruments it might be different, so part of trying out an instrument before you buy it also has to do with how any individual instrument sounds in your particular hands, regardless of whether they are ‘identical’ in make and model or not, or what strings you have on it.
    Hope I helped more than confused. It really is more complex a subject than many might realize, and unless you are a serious professional, it might seem much more of an expense than you might be willoing to undertake, but that is why professionals spend so much money on their instruments and peripheral gear.

  13. Dave March 3rd, 2015 9:35 pm

    I have a Makala mk-t and really like it. I put Aquillas on it and lowered the action myself and it is now very playable and has a very nice tone. I bought my daughter a Dolphin and like the tone more but only because it has more of a traditional tone. I do think The mkt has a better quality to the tone I just now find the tone a little deeper than I would like. My next uke will probably be a long neck tenor from Gretch. Hopefully it will be the best of both worlds. I’m 6’4 and have big hands so a tenor is a little harder to play. Really I think you can’t o wrong with the MKt as a first uke and when you can play get another uke to compliment the Makala.

  14. Heidi October 16th, 2016 7:13 pm

    I love mine with Aquila strings. I’ve been learning to play on it now for about a year and a half. It feels good and sounds good, and I don’t have pretend that I’m a better musician than I am when I play it.

  15. Chris September 10th, 2019 4:34 am

    One of the best tenor uke I’ve ever played, and it’s absolutely perfect for beginners. In general: the tone, the volume and tuning are superb for a uke in this price range.

    Need to mention, that I restrung mine with Aquila Tenor strings too, as Heidi did. The only exception is the high G from the default set, since I love it’s sound.

  16. Tim February 25th, 2021 5:51 pm

    I love mine with Aquila strings. I’ve been learning to play on it now for about a year and a half. Thanks for this helpful guide.

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