The Lanikai LU-21T Tenor Ukulele Review

Best beginner ukulele

Amazon User Rating: 4.6/5 stars
Musician’s Friend Rating: 4.7/5 stars

Best beginner ukulele? The Lanikai LU-21T is probably the best selling tenor ukulele in its class.  The body is made with eastern mahogany (Nato wood) laminate, and rosewood on the fingerboard.  These woods give it a beautiful crisp tone and enhanced midrange.  People love the way this uke sounds!  It is perfect for a beginner or intermediate player, and the larger tenor size makes it easier for anyone to play.lanikai-lu-21t-tendor

The included Aquila strings are high quality and once fully stretched do not go out of tune as much as other ukes. Many ukuleles don’t even offer this kind of quality strings at a higher price point, so you are definitely getting a deal there.  Not only that, but Mary Lou Dempler, a famous ukulele teacher, has written an included instruction booklet to get you started if you are a brand-new uke player.  Her instructions are easy and will get you on your way to those late night bonfire jam sessions on the beach!

What is the best beginner ukulele? Let’s take a look at some of Lanikai LU-21T Tenor Ukulele features:

  • Tenor Sized – Tenor ukuleles are a very popular version of this instrument, played by famous musicians such as Israel Kamakawiwo’ole and James Hill.  They are the third largest ukulele, which gives them a little deeper and richer tone than a Soprano ukulele which is the “standard” uke.  Due to their larger size, they are also a lot easier for people with bigger hands to play.
  • Nato wood top, back and sides – Nato is a great wood to use for a ukulele.  It is a type of Eastern Mahogany, and therefore it gives the same qualities as regular mahogany.  Mahoganies generally give rich mid-range tones, and have a warm, almost “sprightly” sound to them.  The beauty of Nato wood is that it has those same qualities but is quite a bit easier on the wallet than traditional mahogany.
  • 18 Frets – Traditionally, ukuleles only had about 12 frets but musicians preferred having more for a little wider playing ability.  18 frets gives you a greater variety of possible notes which, simply put, gives you the ability to play more complex tunes.
  • Easy Playablity – This ukulele is often cited as one of the easier ones to play, which is probably due to the tenor size.  Tenor ukuleles are two steps up from the soprano size, which means you don’t have to contort your fingers nearly as much to be able to play it successfully.
  • Aquila Strings – Aquila makes the best ukulele strings in the industry, hands down.  Their strings do take a few plays to “break in” but once broken in they will not continue to stretch out and require frequent re-tuning like many other brands do.  I give Lanikai high marks for including such high quality strings on a ukulele that is in your budgt ion Amazon
  • Die Cast Tuners – die casting produces a very durable part that won’t crack yet is still an affordable option for tuners and ukulele hardware.
  • Limited Lifetime Warranty – Lanikai guarantees their ukuleles against defects in materials and workmanship for your lifetime!  The only exception is the tuning hardware, which is guaranteed for a year.  This is a great warranty!  Just remember to submit your registration card within 30 days, and keep your sales receipt on hand.
  • Rosewood fretboard and bridge – Rosewood has a particular kind of oil in the wood which helps it “give” just enough to adjust to the way you play, and gives the tone a warm and lush sound.  It is generally considered to be one of the better woods to use on a fretboard.

Want to see it in action?  Here’s a video!


Oftentimes, when people are wanting to get into the ukulele, it can be tempting to get a low-end instrument.  Unfortunately, that sometimes results in an inferior sound and not such a good experience.  Many experts recommend spending at least $200 for a starter ukulele, but the beauty of the Lanikai LU 21-T is that it is a quality uke you can often get for under $150.  It won’t break your wallet, but instead will reward you with years of playing, high quality sound, and not to mention the fun times & good memories.

Overall, one of the best things about the LU-21T is its versatility.  It is perfect for the beginner uke player or the intermediate/experienced, and it is a great value for the price.  As usual, I’ve read review after review from owners, talked to owners, scoured the web for feedback, and here’s a few of their comments:

Pros :

  • The finish is nice, it looks great and the tone is nice and bright
  • Intonation is spot on and it has no problems staying in tune
  • Good value, nice feel, plenty of volume
  • Affordable while staying in tune, having good volume and sounds great!
  • A solid little workhorse

Cons :

  • Edges on the neck of mine had a few labor/finishing issues
  • Volume is a little low for fingerpicking vs. strumming

Best Price for the Lanikai LU-21T

The LU-21T has a retail price of $175.00, but not surprisingly, I have found (like usual) that Amazon.com has the best price.

Here’s another comment by an owner of this uke:

I’m a pretty new Ukulele player and had started with a $30 soprano, but my fingers were too big and it was uncomfortable.  I wanted to get a better one, and got the Lanikai LU-21T.  This uke is the perfect size, doesn’t feel like a toy and has a nice rich tone.  The factory strings are nice and don’t go out of tune.  I fell in love immediately and will not be upgrading for a long time since it covers a wide range of skill levels. I have suggested 10 top most popular and good ukulele for beginner level players

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