New Tenor Uke

pluribus

New member
Joined
Feb 19, 2019
Messages
9
Points
3
Hello to all. Need some advice please.

I've been playing my Makala Tenor Uke for about 2 years now and I think it's time to take a step forward. By the way, that's a great entry uke in my opinion.
I'm thinking on buying a new Tenor but where I live there's no store where I can see, touch or try new ukes. I'm willing to spent around 300€ to 400€. I'm in Europe by the way.

Normally I go to https://www.thomann.de or musicstore.com to do some research, besides trying to search in this forum also, but sometimes it's a bit overwhelming.

So, can anyone give me any recommendations on brands that you can´t go wrong with in that price range? I've read somewhere in this forum that Pono is a good choice. Anymore brands I should look into?

Thanks in advance.
 

necessaryrooster

UU VIP
UU VIP
Joined
May 17, 2021
Messages
420
Points
43
Ponos are good, but they do have a chunkier neck which not everyone likes. I've found them to be uncomfortable after long periods of time in my smaller hands. Ohana makes good all-solid ukes for your price range. aNueNue has a budget line as well, which I can't speak to, but Corey and Kalei from HMS back them, so I'd trust that it's a decent product.

Your best bang for your buck might be increasing your budget a little bit and springing for something used on the marketplace forum. People often sell minimally-used ukes for like 60% of the brand-new price.
 

kerneltime

UU VIP
UU VIP
Joined
Feb 13, 2018
Messages
1,505
Points
63
Hello to all. Need some advice please.

I've been playing my Makala Tenor Uke for about 2 years now and I think it's time to take a step forward. By the way, that's a great entry uke in my opinion.
I'm thinking on buying a new Tenor but where I live there's no store where I can see, touch or try new ukes. I'm willing to spent around 300€ to 400€. I'm in Europe by the way.

Normally I go to https://www.thomann.de or musicstore.com to do some research, besides trying to search in this forum also, but sometimes it's a bit overwhelming.

So, can anyone give me any recommendations on brands that you can´t go wrong with in that price range? I've read somewhere in this forum that Pono is a good choice. Anymore brands I should look into?

Thanks in advance.
When trying ukes out one strategy that you can use is to cycle through a lot of second hand ukes. Typically one does not loose much money buying and selling second hand ukes and you get to experience different builds and woods. That said checkout reviews by gotaukulele and brands such as Flight offer great bang for the buck at that price point. There are other higher end brands you can look at such as Pono, Rebel, Anuenue..
 

Jimpro

Member
Joined
Oct 21, 2021
Messages
56
Points
8
I am in the USA so I don’t know return policies there but the reputable stores here are very good about returns. They understand one needs to try out a ukulele especially if you are in the desert so to speak with no good shops around. So check out return policies and see if that can help for you to maybe buy two and then do a side by side comparison at home and send one back
 

Dohle

Well-known member
Joined
Aug 23, 2019
Messages
1,182
Points
63
A couple of questions:
Do you have any preferences for the tone, tonewoods or looks regarding the uke?
Where specifically in Europe are you?

Pono is a really good brand for a mid-tier uke and at your price point (although most of their tenors are a bit more expensive) but at least in my opinion they represent a more Hawaiian style uke with a fairly warm tone and not a great deal of volume or projection. If you prefer a brighter, clearer tone with more punch and volume there are other brands you should probably look at.

I asked about your location because if you live in the EU there are a few decent uke shops in mainland Europe. My personal favourite is Gute Ukulele. They have an excellent selection of ukes, mostly mid to high-end, and the owner, Andreas, is a really nice fella. The only issue with the shop for me is that they don't really do setups, at least if you don't ask specifically. I know Andreas does employ a luthier so you might be able to get a setup if requested but I can't say for sure. If you decided to shop there I would look at KoAloha Opio models, although it seems they don't have any tenors in stock at the moment...

There are a couple of excellent uke shops in the UK. My absolute favourite is World of Ukes, and I always recommend checking them out first. If you buy a uke that's over £200 (approximately 250€) you get free shipping within the EU and they will take care of any VAT and import costs for you. Best service in the business, as I keep saying. Matt, the store owner, is a really nice chap, has a decent selection of ukes on offer, and offers free setup for any uke you buy regardless of price. I would look at some of the Uma, Enya and Kai ukuleles at his shop at your price range.

Another excellent shop is the Southern Ukulele Store. I used to recommend them above all the other shops but unfortunately buying from them isn't as straightforward as it once was because of Brexit. You have to deal with importing and VAT yourself unless you live in the UK. The price increase isn't much because obviously you don't have to pay UK VAT but it's more of a hassle than buying from WoU. SUS recently released a brilliant new exclusive model from Flight, the Flight Carabao, which I think is one of the best ukes in terms of value for money at around your budget. Other than that, you might want to look into the Millar TM-260, a brilliant solid mahogany uke for the price.
 

Contrails

Active member
Joined
Jan 17, 2013
Messages
147
Points
28
Do you play mostly fingerpicking or strumming? Do you venture up the fretboard to the high notes? These would help you make a decision on which uke to buy. Some ukes are loud and don’t ring that well up the fingerboard(sustain drops off). I have a Koaloha and an Opio. I can attest to the drop off in sustain and volume once you go pass the 12th fret. But if u strum mostly up to the 7th fret or so it is loud for the size of the body. Their concert seems to suffer less from this effect. Neck profile makes a difference too. I am able to adjust from one to another. Maybe it’s because I play acoustic and classical guitars too. My playing ain’t great but my engineering background ears are very sensitive to these aspects. My Pono neck is very different fm the Koaloha. If it were to switch from one to another back to back I feel the difference. Otherwise not so. The Pono has a more consistent sustain and volume throughout the fretboard. Paired with living water strings it’s so sweet sounding. Almost harp like. I also have 6 string baritones, Romero creations and Cordoba. They both have very good sustain up the fretboard. I suspect it would be the same on the tenors as well. I played a Tiny tenor once And didn’t noticed a drop off in sustain. I fingerpick most of the time so I prefer something more consistent across the fretboard. It’s hard to buy ukes without testing. I suffer the same fate as you. Nothing like feeling and hearing it in person. I watch a lot of videos on YouTube but some of the recording isn’t great and so you really don’t get a true picture of how the uke sounds. Hawaii Music Supply is probable the one with the best sound quality. But those guys are so good they can make a mediocre uke sound great! All the best in your search!
 

pluribus

New member
Joined
Feb 19, 2019
Messages
9
Points
3
Thanks guys for all your thoughts.

Trying to answer some of your doubts:

I'm actually in Portugal, so buying from the UK might be more complicated nowadays but sure I'm gonna check that World of Ukes Thanks Dohle.

I don't have any preferences for the tone, tonewoods or looks. I just want better quality, a robust uke (not necessarily a loud uke). As Contrails said: "Paired with living water strings it’s so sweet sounding. Almost harp like". That's poetic and exactly what I'm looking for.

The only brand you often see around here is Stagg and sure I'm better with my Makala. Second hand ukes in the marketplace forum I believe are most of them from the US, or am I missing something?

So, Pono, Flight, Rebel, Anuene, KoAloha Opio and Millar TM 260 are good places to start digging.

Great community btw.

Thanks friends.
 

merlin666

Well-known member
Joined
Jul 7, 2015
Messages
2,016
Points
63
As you are in Europe I would discourage you to buy an Asian produced ukulele that will travel around the world and change hands several times before you get it, and each time double in price. You get much better value and quality by ordering direct from an European producer. Good example is Brueko where you can get a high quality instrument even below your max budget. Check it out:
 

merlin666

Well-known member
Joined
Jul 7, 2015
Messages
2,016
Points
63
Logistics problems are plaguing the planet.

Lehua ukuleles are apparently made in Portugal and they use Australian Blackwood (Acacia melanoxylon) which is a famous Australian tone wood. Many Australians love to get a Cello, Violin, Guitar etc. made out of blackwood, it is not just used for ukuleles in Australia. If you live in Portugal, maybe you can find the factory or a local shop that actually has instruments in stock and wont suffer from the current issues with the supply chains around the planet. Its not a popular brand on UU, so you may need to do your own research to find out what is available. Often the factory outlets have a much bigger range than distributors.

Of course the Lehua factory could be closed as well, so if that is the case, it might not be as easy as expected.
I don't think Lehua exists any more. But Carvalho is a Portuguese brand that has a big uke selection. Not sure where they are made though
 

Dohle

Well-known member
Joined
Aug 23, 2019
Messages
1,182
Points
63
As you are in Europe I would discourage you to buy an Asian produced ukulele that will travel around the world and change hands several times before you get it, and each time double in price. You get much better value and quality by ordering direct from an European producer. Good example is Brueko where you can get a high quality instrument even below your max budget. Check it out:
It's a nice thought but there aren't really that many uke brands that manufacture ukes in Europe outside of individual luthiers whose ukes are obviously much more expensive than the OP's budget. Brüko is the obvious exception to that but I didn't really consider them myself at all. I think Brüko really shine with their soprano ukes since all of their ukes have a really distinct tone to them, very bright and jangly, almost honky. Their concerts and tenors are no exception. I actually think that the body size of their tenor is much closer to what a concert uke would be typically. In any case, they're definitely worth a look but I would encourage doing a bit of research and checking out sound samples before buying one.

Carvalho ukuleles is indeed a Portuguese brand but I'd be very surprised if those were made in Europe considering the price. Not much info available about them either. I haven't heard of Lehua ukuleles outside the Uluru Lehua models which are definitely not European.

I do quite like the smaller Asian based uke brands like Millar which I mentioned earlier. As far as I know, they make ukes in a small factory/workshop and ship directly to a small amount of retailers in Europe. I don't see many issues there regarding the supply chain.
 

pluribus

New member
Joined
Feb 19, 2019
Messages
9
Points
3
Finally I found a good store, not in my city but I think it was worth the trip. They only have string instruments.
They don't have many brands, almost all APC (António Pereira Carvalho). And yes, they are made here in Portugal.
I tried some of their Tenor Ukes and I was well impressed with the Tenor TT (Traditional Tenor) and it was not that expensive (155€).
Funny that they show me 3 different ukes, same brand, same model and they were all slightly different from each other, in looks and even in weight.
I couldn't resist, like a kid in a candy store, so I bring this beauty with me. :)
 

Attachments

  • ukuki.jpg
    ukuki.jpg
    929.8 KB · Views: 18

merlin666

Well-known member
Joined
Jul 7, 2015
Messages
2,016
Points
63
Congrats on your buying experience and getting an almost local uke that also looks good. That's the best way to do it.
 

Kenn2018

UU VIP
UU VIP
Joined
Jun 13, 2018
Messages
3,793
Points
63
Every ukulele has a unique sound. Even factory made ukes sound slightly different. Woods vary in density and grains. Gluing will be slightly different. Braces will vary a bit. Bridge placement. Nut and saddle bone density and how they are cut will have tiny differences. And so on.

Sometimes the differences can be pronounced. Other times, they are minute. Same maker, same model, same production run. Different sound characteristics.

Glad you found one that you liked. Enjoy.