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Thread: Tenor regret

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Apr 2019

    Default Tenor regret

    I purchased a Romero Tiny Tenor solid mahogany ukulele (from the Ukulele site) in November of last year as my first “serious” ukulele. I had been playing a much less expensive concert as a starter uke and fell in love with playing but was bothered by the poor intonation and sound of that instrument. When shopping for my new uke, I was not able to try out any of the ones I was interested in since no one in my area sells any of the instruments I was considering. After extensive research, I narrowed down my top candidates to the tiny tenor, Koaloha Opio acacia concert, or Pono. I thought I would like to play a tenor with a low G string, so I opted with the tiny tenor. Once I received the tiny tenor, I was wowed by the beauty of the instrument and the amazing tone it produced, but I was also dismayed by how much more challenging it was for me to play. I have small hands and hitchhiker thumbs (my thumb tends to bend very far backwards, especially with barre chords). I did further research and found many posts that said any scale instrument could be played by any size of person/hands so I figured I just needed to practice and build hand strength. Unfortunately, I have not found much improvement to my ability to reach distant frets, or accomplish barre chords. I took my instrument to a local luthier to check the action, and he said that it was very well set up.

    At this point, I don’t know what to do. I have not been playing my uke much of late, because it is so depressing to have such a beautiful instrument that I can’t play. I’m sure if I sell it, I will take a significant loss (it cost $500+), and I can’t afford to buy a Koaloha, after having spent all of my budget on the tiny tenor. I have watched the marketplace, and more expensive versions of the tiny tenor have sold for $400 or less.

    Are there ways I can make the most of the tiny tenor or do I need to just sell it at a significant loss and then purchase some other concert uke and kiss my dreams of the Opio goodbye?

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Nov 2015
    Upper Hale, Surrey/Hants border, UK.


    Don't sell it, at least not yet.

    I couldn't play a tenor when starting out & spent almost a year playing concert scale ukes, but in that time my hand loosened up, & I was able to stretch my fingers over the tenor scale, which has now become my favoured scale.

    See if you can get hold of a reasonable quality concert scale uke to learn & play on, & with luck, you may well find that you will be able to play your tenor too.

    P.S. You can, of course, put a low G string on a concert scale uke.
    Last edited by Croaky Keith; 04-19-2019 at 08:09 AM.
    Trying to do justice to various musical instruments.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Feb 2018
    Saratoga, CA


    In the previous week’s ukuleleunderground podcast they talked about a similar topic, do listen.

    What is the specific issue with bar chords? I posted this recently, I thought the setup was right but lowering the saddle helped a lot!!!

  4. #4


    At least for me I was in the same boat as you. I was hoping to stretch my hands as well, but never did have much luck. I was getting frustrated as well.

    Ended up selling my Duke and trading my Kala solid top cedar tenor for the same model in concert. Maybe see if there's a concert model you can trade with someone. I love the one I ended up with.

    Maybe it also depends on amount of playing time and age. I know my hands aren't going to stretch and be as flexible as a kid's.

    I'm with the people above though. You might try learning on the concert scale and holding on to your tenor if you love it. Maybe try coming back to it. It was only after a year that I decided to trade out that tenor because I loved it too.

    Good luck

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Aug 2018


    Interesting how we all are different. I've been playing guitar a bit over 20 years, and when I first started playing my tenor uke, I found the fretboard cramped. It took me a while to begin getting used to the smaller neck.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Jul 2015


    I am not sure that I understand the OP's problem but I hear there are several variables involved such as scale and low G string. It was not mentioned if the Romero came with nylon or carbon strings. If they are nylon with a wound G then a lot more pressure would be required than with carbon strings. So if that's the case then switching to carbon strings might help.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Mar 2014
    Pickering, ON, Canada


    If you feel concert length scale is the only size for you then stick to just that. Here is a solution........put up an ad to "Trade for similar value solid wood concert uke". You can take the time after an offer to research the uke suggested to see if it is something you want.

    I would even sell your Tiny Tenor at a 25% or greater loss to get cash to buy a concert scale instrument. It is worthless to you at the moment if you can't play it so take the hit, the lesson learned and move on. I have had to do the same thing with a few concert scale ukes because I prefer tenor and baritone.
    Currently enjoying these ukuleles : *LdfM tenor, *LfdM 19" super tenor. *LfdM baritone, *I'iwi tenor , *Koolau tenor, *Webber tenor, *Kimo tenor, *Kimo super concert, *Mya Moe baritone, *Kamaka baritone, *Gianinni baritone, *Fred Shields super soprano, *Kala super soprano, *Loprinzi super soprano, *Black bear ULO concert , *Enya X1 concert, *Enya X1 pineapple soprano, *Gretsch tenor, *Korala plastic concert

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Sep 2013
    Los Angeles, near the Beverly Center.


    I also have an L shaped thumb, but I find it perfect for making barre chords, it allows my thumb to rest against the back of the neck to really get a solid brace when barring. I played guitar for almost 50 years doing that, and I was considered a pretty good barre player. A member of my uke group recently bought a Romero Tiny Tenor and is complaining of the same thing, not being able to reach the chords easily. I suggested she contact the seller and see if they would trade her for a concert size.

    This is Michael Kohan in Los Angeles, Beverly West near the Beverly Center
    9 tenor cutaway ukes, 5 acoustic bass ukes, 11 solid body bass ukes, 9 mini electric bass guitars (Total: 34)

    • Donate to The Ukulele Kids Club, they provide ukuleles to children in hospital music therapy programs.
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  9. #9
    Join Date
    Feb 2019


    My Tiny Tenor shipped with Pepe Romeo Strings Tenor fluorocarbon strings. I measured then with my calibers and got this:

    1 = .0245”
    2 = .0275”
    3 = .0320
    4 = .029" (wound)

    I love their sound they're on the heavy side or stiff side. If you size down to

    1 = .020”
    2 = .026”
    3 = .029
    4 = .028" (wound)

    You'll feel a big reduction in finger pressure, especially for the barré technique, albeit stretches will of course be the same. So a string change will help but the question is will be enough? I think a set of Worth Browns for concert size is close to the above measurements. And, yes, I'm using the lighter gauge on my tenors albeit I prefer rolling my own with Seaguar Pink Label (mellower sounding than Blue and Premier).

    And, yes, there is a RC Tiny Tenor style body with concert scale but with soprano body length. I tried one and it sounded great but was way too small for me.
    Last edited by gochugogi; 04-19-2019 at 11:43 AM.

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Mar 2011
    Port Hueneme, CA


    I played a friend’s Tiny tenor the other day for about an hour at a session of playing and found my very small hands didn’t handle it well. I found that disturbing since I’ve been able to play other ukulele sizes. It bothered me enough that I asked to use it again at some evening playing. I found it was a matter of holding the shape in a different way. I held it slanted upwards towards my head and wonder of wonders, I could play it easily. If it were me, I’d buy a good laminate concert, used if possible but well set up. Then...I’d learn a song on the concert and when I’d start being comfortable do it on the Tny Tenor. IF it still doesn’t feel right, sell,it.

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