Tenor Ukulele

ten-er yoo-kuh-lei
The tenor ukulele is a string instrument from the ukulele family of instruments. Unlike the more common soprano ukulele, the tenor has a fuller and deeper tone due to its larger size of roughly 26 inches in length. The longer fretboard, that exceeds both the soprano and concert ukulele’s fretboard length, has allowed players to more easily play high notes on the tenor ukulele.
History of the Tenor Ukulele
The history of the tenor ukulele dates back to its Portuguese origins. Its likely ancestors are small string instruments known as a machete or cavaquinho, thought to have developed in the Madeira region. These instruments made their way to the islands of Hawaii with migrants in the 1800s and soon there were new Hawaiian influenced designs produced. Migrants such as Jose do Espirito Santo, Augusto Dias and Manual Nunes are widely regarded as the first luthiers to create the recognisable ukulele design. By the 1890s, the first instruments being sold as “ukuleles” were becoming popular. Since the creation of the ukulele in Hawaii, many varieties have evolved including the banjolele, concert ukulele and baritone ukulele. The larger tenor ukulele began to be produced by instrument makers such as American manufacturer CF Martin at the start of the 20th century. Hawaiian musician Israel ‘Iz’ Kamakawiwo'ole was famous for playing his tenor ukulele on a Dorothy Garland cover of ‘Somewhere Over The Rainbow’ and Paul McCartney has featured a tenor ukulele in his pop music recordings and stage performances (including a concert for George). The larger size of the tenor ukulele has gradually become a popular choice over the soprano ukulele among ukulele players such as Jake Shimabukuro; but since the differences are deceptively different, the instrument is often credited simply as a ukulele.
Inventor: Unknown

Where to Buy

£40 - £300

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How to Play

A larger version of the ukulele, played by strumming or plucking the strings.

In Popular Music

The tenor ukulele is a popular large ukulele used by many musicians including Paul McCartney in 'Ram On' and his concert for George appearance performing the song 'Something'.

Famous Players

Bill Tapia, Lyle Ritz, Herb Ohta Jr.

Close Relations

Concert Ukulele, Baritone Ukulele
Video Credit: Austin Bazaar
Understanding the Tenor Ukulele
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