Fender Rincon Tenor Ukulele - REVIEW

28 May 2023

Fender Rincon Tenor Ukulele - REVIEW

Back this week with a ukulele brand that has featured many times on Got A Ukulele, but yet to light a fire with me. This is the Fender Rincon Tenor Ukulele.

Fender Rincon Tenor Ukulele

Fender are an extremely well known musical instrument brand, most famous of course for their electric guitars, but I am sure that doesn't need to be said. They've been putting out ukuleles for many years now, but as I say in that introduction, i've never yet seen one that I thought was anything other than 'quite average' or 'generic', and in fact some I have seen I have I downright disliked. I regularly get complaints about my Fender reviews claiming I am a Fender 'hater' or there is some ulterior motive. I find that odd because two of the guitars I own that I would run into a burning building to save are Fenders. In fact one of them is probably my most loved instrument full stop. I just don't think Fender know what they are doing with ukuleles (and, more to the point, as proven instrument makers they 'could do' if they wanted..). Got A Ukulele never tries to favour brands based on 'name' only on the quality of the actual instrument, and Fender, thus far have just not moved me.

Anyway, I've been meaning to get this one on the site as I first came across it when reviewing the Fender Dhani Harrison ukulele which, apart from the decoration is essentially the same instrument as this but for a premium price. Well, I say the 'same instrument'...., not exactly.. As I found out AFTER I bought this.. More on that below. Anyway, because of that review I figured I should go back to the source.


The Fender Rincon is a tenor scaled instrument with a standard double bout shape made from Ovangkol wood.  And then my confusion happened. When I first reviewed the Dhani ukulele, the Rincon was specified as a solid ovangkol top, laminate ovankol back and sides ukulele - the same as the Harrison uke. Only.. not any longer.. well kind of... In the UK this is now all laminate complete with that irritating use of the term 'all ovangkol' to mislead you. That's for us in the UK though, as looking on the Fender USA website (at the date of writing this review!) the original Rincon with solid top is available too - two Rincons on the same site.... That's even more confusing.. Oh... and they are the same price... I'm getting quite annoyed now. Maybe they are running the first version down in the USA, but please, don't offer two at the same time with markedly different specs for the SAME money. You are just laughing at your customers doing that.

Fender Rincon Tenor Ukulele body

Anyway, with that out of the way - it's typical trad shape, all laminate ovangkol instrument. What I will say is that the 'new' version comes billed as having an 'aged congac' semi sunburst stain to the top that the original didn't have. I much prefer that if I am honest, as ovangkol is a fairly plain wood to look at and the newer contrast with this top I think improves on the solid top original a great deal on looks. Faint praise I guess, but this is not unattractive as such. Simple and not knocking it out of the park, but nice enough.

The bridge is the Fender 'no-tie' bridge which is simply a slot bridge that they have re-named... it's made from walnut and whilst small in footprint still looks chunky and tall. It also looks completely unfinished to the point that the wood is rough and may as well be bare. It looks like an off-cut from a carpenters workshop. Ugh. Sitting in that is a straight topped bone saddle. Spacing here is 41mm.

Fender Rincon Tenor Ukulele bridge

Decoration is simple and effective. You get that attractive cognac coloured stain on the top, cream edge binding to the top and back and a non glitzy abalone type ring around the sound-hole. It all comes together nicely I think - nothing gaudy and it works. The body is then finished in an open pore satin which seems to be done nicely too. Also on the body is my absolute bug-bear of mine - an active pickup system with side mounted controls. Just ugly. On this 'new' Rincon, the system is made by Fender, whereas the original solid top system is by Fishman. Now, any of these active systems are fitted to a budget so won't be high end, but i'd argue the Fishman is the better option. Bear in mind they are both the same price though so this is another cost-cutter.  Irrespective I never like these anyway, though at least it runs on cell batteries not a 9 volt brick. Not for me though..

Fender Rincon Tenor Ukulele decor

Inside is pretty tidy with notched linings and thin braces. Naturally there's a LOT of wiring too!

Fender Rincon Tenor Ukulele inside

The neck is made from the very basic Nato wood with a satin finish. It's made from two pieces with a joint in the heel... Like so many Fender necks it has an odd profile at the nut which I find very uncomfortable, chunky and positively sharp around the nut area. And, of course, spacing here is a disappointingly skinny 35mm with 27mm G to A. Again, no thank you, but even more so due to that sharp obvious nut.

Fender Rincon Tenor Ukulele neck

Topping that is more walnut for the fingerboard which, like the bridge looks pale, rough and unfinished with some dinks and gouges in it. It's so easy to get this right with just a touch of stain and oil, but they haven't. It's edge bound in cream plastic, but despite that the frets are still dressed poorly and can be felt by the hands. You get 19 of those with 14 to the body. There's something about this sort of binding I don't like, that runs right around the board that I think actually looks cheap despite trying to suggest a 'high end' appointment. Position dots face out at the 5th, 7th, 10th, 12th and 15th and they are repeated on the side.

Beyond that nut (which as I say is sharp on the hands and needs dressing off on the ends as is SO tall) is the obligatory Fender headstock - a Strat shape in this case. With every Fender review I write I then have to fend off the usual comments that come in when I say I don't like them. Yes, I KNOW inline tuners can help avoid string binding (but it never caused Kamaka any harm). Yes I KNOW that this is the Fender 'look', but it just looks wrong to my eyes on such a small instrument. I LOVE the Fender headstock, just not on a small ukulele, please!  It comes with the Fender spaghetti logo as a transfer.

Fender Rincon Tenor Ukulele headstock

The tuners I have seen on Fender ukes before and once again, 'me no likey'. They are overly big, vintage electric guitar style, which for a ukulele on looks and the sheer amount of metalwork they look out of place.  Uke tuners should be simple I think. These are over the top. They work ok though.

Fender Rincon Tenor Ukulele tuners

And finishing things off are unspecified 'Standard Tenor Strings' which are actually Aquila, but Fender don't say so in the specs (bar the Aquila swing tag) for some reason. It also comes with that pickup and a branded gig bag which is not bad quality. And the RRP on these in the UK is £189 or in the USA $219.99 at the time of review. Not only do I take issue with that concept of Fender selling the better spec version for the same money, assuming that disappears, £189 for an all laminate tenor is still too expensive I think. For that money in the UK you can get solid top Uma's and the aNueNue Color ukes (albeit without pickups), but also the solid topped Flight Leia (with a pickup) for less or as solid topped Snail with pickup for the same. Admittedly some shops do have them discounted, but there you are..

So, I'm afraid it's a mixed bag again from Fender. The price confusion aside there are some elements here I like, particularly the overall look of the body which I think improves on the first model and is certainly better than some Fender ukes I have looked at. The bridge, fingerboard and frets are all objectively shabby and cheap though. The pickup and headstock are subjective points of course, but not for me either so whilst your view on those may differ I always point out my subjectives. Saying all that, apart from that fret dressing and scruffy bridge / fingerboard the overall build and finish is decent as it usually tends to be with Fender. 

Fender Rincon Tenor Ukulele back

You can feel the weight of the pickup in this one and it clocks in at 700g. It balances ok though. The volume here is good, but I find the sustain rather lacking meaning it's not going to have a great character to the tone. And on tone, if you actually look at my Fender reviews, they are rarely 'bad' on tone, rather they just always sound a bit one dimensional, simple and a bit generic.

Fender Rincon Tenor Ukulele pickup

And so it is here. It's a passable enough tone however you play it, but not one that is really characterful, just pretty 'standard'. Strummed it's jangly and peppy, though a touch muddled to my ear, but again, perfectly passable I guess. Fingerpicking is quite pretty right up the neck with some bell like notes, but the lack of sustain lets it down a bit here for me. I just kind of found myself wanting more of a signature tone out of it, but it's all a bit 'simple'. They are really hard instruments to review on tone because they are perfectly decent, just not earth shattering. And that's my issue with them really when you consider the price. In fact, if I am being honest I suspect I could easily find a 'who are they' brand on an Amazon only special that sounds pretty much the same for half the money.

So quite a short bit of writing about the tone, but I think that speaks volumes in itself - Have a listen to the review!

In summing up I come back to where I started - that I don't think Fender are offering what they could offer to the ukulele world if they really tried. Whilst this is inoffensive on looks, it's still just very generic and smacks to me of Fender just buying in something cheap and sticking their headstock on it. No, it's not a bad ukulele really, it's just that there are so many better and more interesting models at the price point. The question really, once again, seems to be 'what matters to you more - the Fender headstock or owning an interesting ukulele with some character?'. Because, it seems, Fender don't want you to have both. 

I yearn for the day Fender puts something interesting out developed from the ground up. I know they can. Today is not that day.


Model: Fender Rincon
Scale: Tenor
Body: All laminate Ovangkol
Bridge: Walnut, slot style
Saddle: Bone
Spacing at saddle: 41mm
Finish: Satin
Neck: Nato
Fingerboard: Walnut
Frets: 19, 14 to body
Nut: Bone
Nut width: 35mm 27mm G to A
Tuners: Unbranded vintage guitar style sealed gears
Strings: Unspecified
Extras: Fender pickup system, gig bag
Weight: 700g
Country of origin: China
Price: £189 RRP


Improved looks on the original
Decent enough core build and finish
Good volume 


Confusing double marketing
Fairly generic uke with a Fender logo..
Ugly pickup
Sharp frets
Ugly tuners
Still don't like that headstock on ukes
Sustain not great and one dimensional tone
Not actually that good value


Looks - 8.5 out of 10
Fit and finish - 8 out of 10
Sound - 8 out of 10
Value for money - 8 out of 10









  1. Well, it looks nice, but sadly that's not enough. It has the hallmarks of a corporate effort relying on a brand name and built to a certain profit margin.


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