Rosen K11 Tenor Ukulele - REVIEW

19 Nov 2023

Rosen K11 Tenor Ukulele - REVIEW

Time for another check in to the ukuleles on offer on Amazon. This is the Rosen K11 Tenor Ukulele.

Rosen K11 Tenor Ukulele

I've looked at a Rosen ukulele before in the shape of this plastic offering. It was, in my view, a poor imitation of the hugely popular Enya models and didn't sound great or score very well at all. I came across this one though as more standard wooden ukulele and decided to have a closer look. And as I regularly do, this is a dipping of the toe into the Amazon ukulele offerings. It's not a source for ukuleles that I recommend due to the usual lack of any setup checks, but as many people DO choose Amazon it's only right that I give my opinion on the models that usually have endless five star reviews!


This is the tenor version of a range of three solid topped 'mahogany' instruments (soprano, concert, tenor) from Rosen, each with very traditional double bout shapes. I put the word mahogany in quotes as often at this cheaper price point the wood will actually be Khaya which is 'African Mahogany' and not a true mahogany. I may be doing Rosen a dis-service there and it may be real mahogany, but when I see the price I doubt it. It's typically standard and very plain mahogany though without much grain interest and in an deep orange colour, but it's not wholly offensive when you first look at it. Looking closer though (and whilst I am no woodwork expert) the grain on the top is totally different from the back and sides and not even the same colour either. That's very odd and I'm not entirely sure they are the same species of wood! Each part is in two pieces though and whilst the back and sides have moderate book matching the top grain really hides that fact. The specs also claim it has 'smooth round edges' to the body, but if they have done that, I can only feel it slightly on the top, not the back. One other element that amused me is that the Amazon listing labels this as an 'adult ukulele'... Aside from those pesky 'junior ukuleles' I suppose.. They also don't go to any great lengths to tell you this only solid wood in the top either.

Rosen K11 Tenor Ukulele body

The bridge is made from 'tech ebony' which can mean anything from reconstituted wood through to chemically stained wood, but is not actually ebony. It could even be a Richlite paper based product. Such things don't bother me at all and at least they are being honest. It's a pin bridge in a shape reminiscent of Taylor guitars with a nice bit of carving in the top to give it more interest (and utterly confuse those who enjoy the weekly macro photos). It's very smooth and tidy too and fitted with what looks like a bone compensated saddle. Spacing here is 41mm.

Rosen K11 Tenor Ukulele bridge

Turning to the decor this is limited to what looks like a gold/white pearl inlay sound hole ring which, thankfully, is small because the colour is gaudy. The body is then finished in a semi gloss coat which honestly looks and feels like it was applied with a decorators paintbrush. It's odd - very shiny, yet open pore and looks like plastic with a rough / tacky feel on the hand. To be fair, it's NOT overly thick and I can't see any pooling - it's just not like a uke finish I have seen before and something about it turns me off. It just feels very 'cheap'.

Rosen K11 Tenor Ukulele finish

Inside is pretty standard with notched linings and regular braces. There's no glue mess as such, but some very worrying looking splintering of wood on the bridge plate. That looks like a prime candidate to me for string snaps..

Rosen Tenor Ukulele inside

The neck is specced as mahogany and is in three pieces with joints at heel and headstock. Like the body, it's finished in the same 'weird' feeling semi-gloss. It tapers to a horribly skinny nut with a very round back profile. At the nut it measures 34mm, and 27mm G to A. Not for me at all, but I understand that is subjective.

Topping that is more 'tech ebony' for the fingerboard which, like the bridge is smooth, tidy and even in colour. That is edge bound in black, hiding the fret ends of the 18 frets joined at the 14th. Thankfully there are no sharp edges either. Position dots face out in white pearl at the 5th, 7th, 10th and 12th and they are paired with small side dots. 

Rosen K11 Tenor Ukulele fingerboard

Beyond the bone nut (the setup here being frankly awful - over 3.5mm high at the 12th fret and way too high at the nut too) is a 'semi-crown' headstock faced in a darker wood. It looks quite classy and the Rosen logo is applied as a silver screen print. 

Rosen K11 Tenor Ukulele headstock

The tuners look good visually and are open gears in matte black with gold gearing. Looks are only part of the picture though as to use them they are either way to sloppy or way too tight. Not great quality.

Rosen K11 Tenor Ukulele tuners

Finishing things off are a half decent padded bag, un-named strings they call 'Carbon Nylon' (which I partly doubt as that meaning fluorocarbon as they are so floppy) and the 'kitchen sink' goodie bag giving you a strap, tuner, capo, cloth, spare strings (labelled as nylon!), and starter guide. And the current price (note - Amazon pricing is always changing) in the UK is a penny shy of £95. So not a great deal of cash.

Rosen K11 Tenor Ukulele extras

So a mixed bag so far. A generally good build but a very odd finish (and wood mis-match), skinny nut (subjective, but not for me), and cheap tuners. Not a lot of money though I guess.

The first thing I will come to on the sound of this is back to those strings. These are horribly low in tension / very light and downright annoying. I can't see that is going to help things. And nor is the setup, but more on that in a moment. It's not a heavy instrument though at 575g and balances just fine in the hands.

Rosen K11 Tenor Ukulele back

Those light weight strings are also impacting the volume here which is disappointingly low. It really needs some serious effort to get it to bark. Strangely, the sustain is ok though so it has some life in it, just not much projection. And back to that setup - well that is affecting both the feel on the fingers, causing the strumming hand to easily tangle and, most importantly, throwing the intonation off due to the distance the strings need to be pushed down to engage. To my ears, that comes through in the video recording.

The tone itself, on account of those strings, is just far too thin and bright for me on a 'mahogany' tenor. It's so much to me that it's leaning to mandolin sound. I guess it makes for a peppy jangly tone when strummed, but, honestly, i've played sopranos with more depth to the tone than this. It's almost strident and tinny to by ears and not very pleasant. 

Fingerpicking is much the same and also requires a fair amount of effort to keep the volume up especially up the neck. It's just far to thin, reedy and bright played this way for me. Yet again, this is a subjective point - some people love thin bright sounding instruments and that is just fine. I just don't think there is much dynamic range here at all and for my tastes that makes the instrument sound one dimensional and rather boring.

As ever with these ukuleles I always try to be fair, yet people point out I am trying to be deliberately harsh on Amazon. That's not the case, occasionally (rarely) one crops up that shows some hope - if it wasn't for Amazon ukes I would never have come across Enya for example who have since gone strength to strength. More often though I find it's a case of brands putting stuff out to a cheap price and not really caring about the actual instrument. This one has surprised me in some areas as it's not that shabby, and in fact the bridge and fingerboard are great,  but the gloss finish is really weird and the setup is terrible. I think this could be turned into a reasonable uke though if that setup is addressed and you change the strings (assuming you can live with the neck). But that's the Amazon roulette wheel for you.. My focus is on giving advice to buyers of all types so when these cross my path I always ask 'why would you risk it when there are alternatives?' Heck, for forty quid more you get one of those Baton Rouge all solid ukes, with a full setup and a real uke dealer at your side. At £50 - £60 I may have given it more of a bye on cost as a uke for tinkering with but not at £95.

Hey, it works as a uke and this could have been a lot worse, but there is still too much not right to get a serious recommendation from me.


Model: Rosen K11
Scale: Tenor
Body: Solid 'mahogany' top, laminate mahogany back and sides
Bridge: Tech ebony pin bridge
Saddle: Bone, compensated
Spacing at saddle: 41mm
Finish: Semi gloss
Neck: Mahogany
Fingerboard: tech ebony
Frets: 18, joined at 14th
Nut: Bone
Nut width: 34mm, 27mm G to A
Tuners: Unbranded open gears
Strings: 'fluorocarbon'?
Extras: Gig bag, tuner, spare strings, capo, picks, strap, cloth, strap button
Weight: 575g
Country of origin: China
Price: £95


Good core build
Nice bridge and fingerboard
Sustains ok


Weird wood mis-match
Cheap feeling finish
Skinny nut
Cheap tuners
Average volume
Awful strings and setup
Overly thin, reedy and bright tone


Looks - 8 out of 10 
Fit and finish - 7 out of 10
Sound - 7 out of 10 
Value for money - 8 out of 10









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