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Tenor ukuleles are the largest of the traditionally tuned ukuleles with a scale length of around 17 inches. The increased size of the body means that the sound they producer is louder and fuller than the smaller ukuleles. The larger neck also makes it easier to perform fancy licks and runs. All these factors make the tenor ukulele the choice for many professional ukulele players.
It's popularity with professional players has made tenors increasingly popular with amateur players (even beginners).
Tenor ukuleles are very often strung low-G (rather than high-G as is traditional). This changes the sound of the ukulele quite significantly and gives you more options for bass notes but does take away the close-harmony sound of a re-entrant ukulele.
- More room for fancy fretboard theatrics.
- Fuller, louder sound.
- More frets/greater range.
- Choice of low-G and high-G.
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Best Tenor Ukuleles
Obviously, the best tenor ukulele depends on what exactly you want from the ukulele. But here are some of the most popular brands of tenor ukulele.
Martin Tenor: Martin are the name for ukuleles, and tenor ukuleles are no different. Martin's reputation for quality vintage ukuleles are unmatched (certainly amongst mainland US makers). Of course, such a reputation comes at a price. Currently, tenor Martin ukuleles in top condition can fetch around $1,500.
UAE148 Tenor Applause: Ovation's Applause ukuleles are very popular thanks to their distinctive look (based on the Ovation Elite guitar design) and the fact they work as both an electric and acoustic ukulele. The UAE148 is priced around the $350 mark.
Tenor Fluke: Fluke ukuleles come in two sizes: concert and tenor. As far as looks go, it's even more distinctive than the Applause. The price of the tenor Fluke depends on whether you get an upgrade to a rosewood fretboard and whether the Fluke is decorated. The price of a new, standard Fluke is $195.
Lanikai Tenor: Lanikai make a number of tenor sized ukuleles. The two most popular are the LU-21T (at around $100) and the CK-T (slightly more expensive).