View Full Version : Tenor Scale Necks with Smaller and/or Thinner Bodies. What have you played?

01-21-2017, 05:45 PM
As someone who prefers 17 inch tenor scales and likes the smaller bodied Ukes, I have played and/or owned at one time or another the likes of Kanile'a, KoAloha, and Kamaka LN Concerts, the KoAloha thin line tenor, the Tiny Tenor, the Mason LN, and pineapple tenors such as Mainland. I have also had some experience with Ono and Kamaka 16 inch scale Ukes.

What have you played, whether it's a high end custom or a low to mid priced Uke off the rack, that would fit into this category?

Give the style, some simple specs such as body depth at the lower and upper bout, overall length, and if possible, some pictures. I am trying to get an idea what else is out there.

I remember Hodge mentioning an Aron Oye that seems to fit this bill. What else?

EDIT: I need to clarify. I am not looking for a smaller body so I can travel with it. I already have a RISA Tenor Stick (http://forum.ukuleleunderground.com/showthread.php?125060-My-RISA-Travel-Uke-Story-Perhaps-the-most-interesting-thread-EVER) which is perfect for travel. I am interested in finding a good tenor scale small bodied instrument in general. The desire for small is not for the travel aspect. It doesn't need to be small for travel. I like the way the smaller ones feel when I play it.

Thanks for reading.

01-21-2017, 06:07 PM
I don't have one to give the measurements, but a couple of people in my uke group have the Kala KA-SSTU-T Travel Tenor of which I was surprised at how much projection and sustain they have.

01-21-2017, 06:20 PM
Just how small do you want to go? The Kala KA-SSTU-T Travel Tenor Ukulele has an amazingly thin body, but seems to be almost as loud as a full size uke. Baz did a review of the concert size and was quite impressed. I played a tenor size recently at a Guitar Center and quite liked it.


Ukulele Eddie
01-21-2017, 06:46 PM
My first uke was the Kala Travel Tenor. I did not care for it at all. Found it awkward to hold. However, I fully recognize that my opinion is probably in the small minority.

I do really like 16" or 17" necks on concert bodies. I had a 16" Ono that was super nice and also have an incoming J. Rieck 16" concert that I got to play a bit at UGH. Loved it and anxious for it to return to me in the next few weeks.

And then there is the Tiny Tenor by Romero Creations. Pretty nifty instruments and they sound great!

01-21-2017, 09:04 PM
How about a super concert, concert body and tenor neck.
I have a KoAloha and really enjoy it.

01-21-2017, 10:05 PM
I have a Rubin RT-102 Zebra wood Travel tenor that I bought ~2 years ago,

OOps double post!

01-21-2017, 10:06 PM
I have a Rubin RT-102 Zebra wood Travel tenor that I bought ~2 years ago, the current Caramel CT-102's are a bit less refined but I understand are quite good. My Rubin is a slim line only 44 mm thick in the lower bout and 38 mm in the upper bout. It has very good sustain and perhaps a little less projection that a full depth tenor, but about the same as the Kala spruce topped travel tenor.

I like the RT-102 because it has a bound fret board and side marking, something the current Caramels don't have. It came with a high action and I had to have it lowered. Once adjusted it is a smooth easy player and can be tuned dGBE very well.I prefer dGBE for a tenor. The the upper bout is ~168 mm and the lower bout~223 mm. It came with snowflake fret marking, the CT-102 just has round dots.

If you can find one of the older Rubin RT-102's it will be a good deal for $100-150 but I doubt you can find one. They sold new for $65 on Amazon, and were MSRP'd at $200, which was far below their value as a player. I wouldn't sell mine for $500, it's too much a part of my Ukulele journey

I did a review of my two Zebra Tenors here and you can see the Pix and hear the sound in dGBE for my RT-102 and my CT-100 full size tenor, which has a good deal more projection than many other tenors. The CT-100 is a "regular" sized tenor and also handles dGBE very well.


01-21-2017, 10:30 PM
Tahitian style ukuleles have a very shallow body (and the soundhole on the back). Asonu (http://www.asonu.com/) makes them, they are available at HMS at times, and Pono has a model following this concept:


01-21-2017, 11:11 PM
I had a Ko'Aolha Tenor necked soprano - I didn't care for it so sold it on.

Croaky Keith
01-21-2017, 11:11 PM
I have one thinline, (a Baton Rouge Sun cutaway solid spruce concert, that I sometimes have trouble holding as it does seem to move around a bit), a long neck soprano (Kala KA-SLNG), which I liked so much that I invested in a couple of Ohana solid mahogany tenor necks.

My Ohanas are a SK30L, soprano body, tenor scale, & a CK35L, concert body, tenor scale. Both are 'opening up' & sounding better the more they are played.
I'm really liking these two ukes. :)

P.S. I also have a RISA Uke Ellie tenor solid body electric, great for quiet practicing, & which is somewhat different from your normal uke. :cool:

01-22-2017, 12:51 AM
Lenny I have always liked your "long neck collection" as I am fond of them myself. As someone who prefers tenor and baritone for sound and extra fret board room I appreciate long necks for giving both of those attributes to ukes of other body sizes. Good idea for a thread so we can see who has what and pick their brains. The following are ones I have owned or played.

**Islander AS-4 walnut laminate long neck soprano. Not a true super soprano because the neck is 14.5" instead of 15". But it sounds great and plays really good, well balanced, worth 3X the price.
**Loprinzi mahogany super Soprano. Great instrument, best tone on any Soprano I've played.
**Kala thin bodied travel concerts and tenor. Ive played a few of them and been impressed with their volume and tone. Solid spruce top goes a long way to achieving that.
**Ono 16" concert Port Orford and Walnut. David's reputation as a first class builder is well deserved. Great tone and playability. The 16" scale gave me the extra fret board space I was looking for, closer to feeling like a tenor than a cramped concert.
** Koaloha super concert, never owned one but had one for a full week. Great tone but I found it way too head heavy. I wish they would use the concert headstock and tuners to lighten up that area. I did not like the balance and found it awkward to play.
**Ono 18" tenor, new kid on the block. I purchased this from HMS in Dec and it is David's first 18" tenor. I have not done a NUD yet, very unlike me, awaiting strings to make a change. All I will say is David did a very good job with this........can't spoil the NUD.
**Kamaka HL-3 which is a 19" tenor. sam13 (Simon) owns his and what a fabulous sounding instrument. The added scale length really increases sustain projection and tone.

01-22-2017, 03:41 AM
My Cocobolo Pineapple has a 16" scale. Absolutely love this scale, not to mention the radius fretboard and smoothly rolled edges make it the most comfortable of any I own.

01-22-2017, 03:56 AM
Hi Lenny. I find the longnecks too head heavy {koaloha} and the thin bodies difficult to hold. The Kala thin bodies do sound pretty good though, but the thin design really doesn't make them travel any better[for me], so what's the point. Now a soprano that you can stuff in a carryon does travel better, but I've never had trouble traveling with my preferred size tenors.

01-22-2017, 04:35 AM
I agree that the thin body can be a hard to hold instrument, particularly the glossed ones like my Rubin. That is one reason I bought my CT-100, to see if I'd like a full sized tenor. I found I do but I still like the smooth tone of my Rubin. I have a Glossy Caramel Zebra wood baritone which also has the same smooth tone, so maybe it is the heavy glossy finish that makes the difference?

01-22-2017, 05:25 AM
Thanks for all the suggestions.

I need to clarify. I am not looking for a smaller body so I can travel with it. I already have a RISA Tenor Stick (http://forum.ukuleleunderground.com/showthread.php?125060-My-RISA-Travel-Uke-Story-Perhaps-the-most-interesting-thread-EVER) which is perfect for travel.

I am interested in seeing what is out there in a tenor scale small bodied instrument in general. I have listed examples in the OP of what I have had or have already played.

The desire for small is not for the travel aspect. It doesn't need to be small for travel. I like the way the smaller ones feel when I play it.

01-22-2017, 10:08 AM
The ones I have tried:

KoAloha Thin Body Tenor ~ http://www.theukulelesite.com/ukulele-market/koaloha-koa-tenor-thinbody-electric-2016-1.html - I think it sounds full bodied but sweet. I like it a lot for what it is, but I have reluctantly accepted the fact that I am not an all Koa (Top/Back&Sides) guy. I certainly am ok with Koa Back/Sides and spruce or cedar top.

You already tried Kanile'a long neck concert. I have one and like it, but once again all Koa not my first choice.

Ono makes a very nice 16" scale concert. It is easily the best long neck concert I have personally played. Extremely light and responsive.

Based on our personal exchanges, I think you know what you like, and probably should consider going custom to get the wood combination, neck profile, aesthetic bling or no bling etc that fits your tastes the best.

01-22-2017, 10:38 AM
I have played one of the Kala KA-SSTU-T Travel Tenor Ukulele and I too was quite impressed with the sound and projection. I cared less for the neck profile but the sound was great.

I also have a Kamaka HF2L which has super tone strummed, thumb dragged and finger style. Currently strung with Fremont Blacklines and find the tone is softer/warmer and great tone and sustain one gets with Flouro Carbons. It compares well with my Ko'olau ...

01-22-2017, 10:52 AM
I'm surprised more people don't play the Blackbird BTU uke. I think it's priced way lower than its worth. I don't really play anything else in these colder winter months, so even with layers on it's really comfortable because the back is contoured via "3D sculpting" and it's perfect. Two strap buttons- which ordinarily I'd scoff at (not normally my thing)- come standard at the butt and behind the upper bout; so, while using a strap on this uke isn't necessary, it's very nice and simple to if need be. I find the Kala travel uke to be good sounding, but the tuners make it wayyyyy too head-heavy so I returned the one I bought about seven years ago. -- Matt

01-22-2017, 12:38 PM

Pete Howlett makes a thinner bodied tenor (called a Slim Jim). Pete's Slim Jims are hard to find, but I'm very impressed Pete's Slim Jim tenors. The sound is excellent and full, the playability is outstanding.

Body depth is 2.4" at the lower bout, 2.0" at the neck.


01-22-2017, 03:32 PM
As Rappsy already mentioned the Mainland longneck concert pineapple, which I also own, I will add that the Magic Fluke Company used to offer the Flea in tenor scale, of which I own two different models.

One tenor Flea has the Hibiscus red top in Baltic Birch, with the plastic fretboard, and I have replaced the friction tuners with Grover 9NB open-geared machine heads:

The other tenor Flea has the walnut top with the birch rosette, and the rosewood fretboard, and also on this one I have replaced the friction tuners with a different set of open-geared machine heads with fancy cream-colored buttons:

I also have a a pair of 18" scale Zither-Heaven 'tenor' banjos, which for me are banjo ukes.

These have a solid birch soundboard instead of a drum head, and no metal hardware at all, aside from the tuners, and metal frets, which is why I got them. They have an open back and no resonator.

One has a custom set of uke/wound strings and is tuned in fifths CGDA right now, and I have installed a pickup in this one.

The other has steel strings on it, and is also tuned to CGDA.

On both, I replaced the friction tuners with the Grover 9NB open-geared machine heads, and their headstock is a lot like that of the Fluke and Flea ukes. The body depth is about 2.25".

I also replaced the bridges on them with custom ones that I carved myself from some wood scraps, to provide lower action

These are not made any more since the company Zither-Heaven went out of business over the summer, and their web site no longer exists. This is a real shame, since when I had bought the first one (on sale for $95 + $15 shipping), I was so impressed after receiving it, that I immediately ordered a second one.

For a while, when I first got them, I had one strung and tuned in C6 GCEA re-entrant, and the other in G6 DGBE re-entrant, but after I got interested in fifths tuning, really needed the extra inch of scale length (for proper string tension of that C3 note), and really enjoy the fact that the floating bridge makes it easy to set very good intonation.

Here is a stock photo that was originally on the Zither-heaven web site:


I do not have a photo of the Zither-Heaven banjo ukes showing the Grover 9NB machine heads, but if you refer to the picture of the tenor Hibiscus Flea above, that's a very good approximation of what it looks like.

Tim Mullins
01-23-2017, 06:45 AM
+1 for the Kamaka HF2L. I've sold off most of my other ukes since I got it.

01-23-2017, 02:52 PM
Tahitian style ukuleles have a very shallow body (and the soundhole on the back). Asonu (http://www.asonu.com/) makes them, they are available at HMS at times, and Pono has a model following this concept:


Thanks for this info. I started a a new thread seeking info on this.