Tenor ukes are a great option for people who play guitars or just want something a little bit beginner than traditional soprano-size models. So if you decide on one sunny afternoon that what is lacking in your life is a tenor uke (might sound a bit unrealistic, but that has happened to me…) why not look at the Cordoba 20TM, which is not only the best electric ukulele but also comes in a nice bundle.
The 20TM is a tenor uke featuring a soft cutaway. Just the size and solid mahogany top create an amazing volume and balanced tone. Apart from that you get laminate back and side. I know, laminated is not as great as solid, but when it comes to the back and sides of the uke, it is not as vital as with the top. Moving on from the body, the mahogany neck is really where the playability of this uke lies. That, along with the rosewood fingerboard that seems to have an impeccable finish, guarantees smooth playing.
What is so great about the 20TM is that Cordoba did not really waver between choosing which to offer, functionality, or looks. They chose both. The solid top with the mahogany neck is where the durability and playability of the uke comes AND the dual-herringbone wood pattern rosette, as well as the satin finish, add to the aesthetic value. I say aesthetic but of course, the finish is also really important for the sound. And thankfully, the satin finish on this one is just the right thickness to allow the work to breathe and age well.
Hardware & Bundle
Let’s talk a bit about hardware and then move on to the accessories. I know, I know, accessories are usually what people get hyped about, but, let’s be honest, if the hardware sucks, what use are the accessories? Cordoba 20TM offers composite nut and saddle, chrome tuning machines with pearl buttons and Aquila Nylgut strings. Composite nut and saddle are probably not the most exciting and high-end part of this uke but performance-wise there is nothing wrong with it.
Also, most synthetic materials for the nut are created to recreate the effect of the real bone, and as far as this composite nut is concerned, it does a nice job. The tuning machine, although nothing too nuanced and developed, is pretty tight and keeps the tune pretty well. When it comes to accessories, Cordoba ships this uke with a hard case, clip-on tuner, instructional DVD, and a polishing cloth. The case is sturdy and lightweight at the same time. If you travel a lot or want to keep your uke in a safe place at all times, then there is no better thing than a hard case.
Unlike most gig bags that are quite flimsy, a lot of hard cases protect the instrument from accidents as well as humidity changes. One disappointing part of this bundle is probably the instructional DVD. With so many free resources online, I think a lot of sellers add DVDs just for the sake of it. This particular one does not really have that much info and you will probably get more knowledge from watching youtube videos.
Cordoba 20TM Sound
Solid mahogany top and tenor with a cutaway are not just fancy ways to increase the price of an instrument. With those features, you get a ukulele with far better quality sound and volume than something made from full laminated wood. The tenor size, of course, adds volume and great resonance. Soundwise, this uke is great right out of the box, BUT the best part is that because of the good quality tonewood, the tone only gets richer and more nuanced with time.
So far I have not mentioned electronics and since this is an acoustic-electric uke, you probably want to know a little bit about it too. Cordoba used a UK2000q 2-band active preamp/pickup system that does a pretty good job of amplifying the sound without making it lose its acoustic feel to it. The system is pretty intuitive so even if you have never had experience with electronics, you will find it pretty easy to navigate. It definitely does not compare to the pro-level electronics but at this stage, I don’t think you will be needing a pro-level system.
While you can find an acoustic uke under $100 you will have a hard time finding a quality one that also comes with electronics, quality hardware, solid wood, AND accessories. As a beginner, anything over $100 might sound a bit too much for a ukulele, but when you take into account everything the 20TM offers, you know that you are actually saving up in the long term. As for anyone else, including intermediate players, this is a gem of an instrument that should be taken into consideration if you are looking for a tenor uke.