10 Mar 2024

Ibanez AUT10 Tenor Ukulele - REVIEW

A ukulele review this week for those people who like design cues that are out of the ordinary. This is the new Ibanez AUT10 Tenor Ukulele.

Ibanez AUT10 Tenor Ukulele

Ibanez are a brand well recognised in guitar circles, but they have also dabbled in ukuleles for some time now. I've reviewed a couple of theirs before and whilst they were not total stinkers, they didn't really set the ukulele world alight. I recently noticed this new 'AU' series from the brand consisting of concerts, tenors and a guitalele and had to give one a try based on the looks alone.


The AU series uses an unusual design system in the body construction as is obvious from the first picture. I wouldn't say 'innovative' as such as this concept has been used already by Bonanza, Enya, Antica Ukuleleria and Kala with the Revelator, insofar as this is a routed block body instrument with a separate top 'dropped' onto the routed cavity to create a sound box. I suppose what is more innovative here are one or two other appointments, but more on those later. The body is made from what appears to be two routed blocks of Paulownia wood, a far eastern hard wood that is a first for Got A Ukulele. It's a pale colour and not hugely flashy though there is some fairly nice grain figuring which works well on where the two halves are joined as shown on the base. Elsewhere it's a bit 'samey' though. It's a double bout shape with a thin depth and dropped onto that is a top of laminate spruce which looks to be tight grained and attractive enough. It's in two pieces but you'd be hard pressed to notice the central join. At first glance looking at the underside of the spruce I thought it was solid, but the grain is not matching inside so laminate it is. A shame really as they go to great lengths to call the back 'solid' which I find a bit disingenuous considering it's a routed block and not a solid construction in the normal sense.

Ibanez AUT10 Tenor Ukulele body

The bridge is a tie bar made of purpleheart which is finished  fairly well (a bit rough on the sides) but looks very chunky in the way it's elevated up. Sitting in that is a compensated saddle, the material of which is not specified, but looks like a NuBone kind of composite to me. Spacing here is 45mm.

Ibanez AUT10 Tenor Ukulele bridge

But it's the other design cues that set this one apart. Firstly we have a bevelled cutaway on the top shoulder which isn't huge but works. On the lower bout we have a comfort edge, but one that is raised above the level of the top. I've not seen that before, but of course it's the 'block' nature of the back and sides that allow this, and in fact you can see the edge of the sides circle the whole of the top. You then have the twin sound ports which are fashioned on either side of the waist of the instrument. Rather hilariously, Ibanez call these 'Stereo Sound Ports' which provide a 'unique surround sound effect'. What nonsense. That's not how stereo works and certainly not surround sound. Irrespective, when held in the playing position any stereo array is lost as stereo works left to right, not up to down. These are merely two sound holes and most of the tone of a uke comes from the vibrating top anyway.  Marketing nonsense! Anyway, they look kind of funky and are certainly very different. The whole body is finished in an open pore satin which in places, particularly in the sound ports is too open for me and looks scruffy. Some of the staining of the back and sides is a bit haphazard too and some of the joints are very obvious which spoil the look. I still rather like the concept though yet I think I would prefer darker woods, something that is on offer in the concert scale, but not the tenor.

Ibanez AUT10 Tenor Ukulele decor

Inside is hard to talk about as it was a devil of a job to get my inspection camera inside (so sorry about the angle). What I can see though is that there is no back bracing and the top is braced vertically with two thin central spars running down to the bridge area. The top is also pretty thick. It's quite tidy in there though, not that there is much to get messy.

Ibanez AUT10 Tenor Ukulele inside

The neck is made from okoume with an applied joint at the top of the body. There is a swoop and curve where the cutaway meets the neck, but don't assume this is like the rather gorgeous hand carved neck of the Revelator as the jointing here is super obvious. What doesn't help is that the neck wood is a different colour to the body so it looks rather odd. Still, it's very smooth with no 'edges' you can feel.  It tapers down to a pleasingly flattened back profile at the nut and a roomier than average 37mm width with 30mm string spacing. That's good to see.

Topping that is more purpleheart for the fingerboard which is uniformly dark. Surprisingly it also comes with a 400mm radius to the board which you don't often see on lower priced instruments. The neck is also edge bound in black which hides the ends of the 19 jumbo frets with a 14 fret join. These are all dressed ok too. Small white dot position markers face out at the 5th, 7th, 10th, double 12th, 15th and 17th and these are paired with white side dots. A nice neck this.

Ibanez AUT10 Tenor Ukulele neck

Beyond the composite looking nut is a skinny tapering shaped headstock which, again, is a little different from the norm. The Ibanez logo is deeply etched in the top face.

Ibanez AUT10 Tenor Ukulele headstock

The tuners are unbranded sealed gears in black which look kind of cool, but i'd prefer open gears for a touch less weight.

Ibanez AUT10 Tenor Ukulele tuners

Finishing things off are a set of Aquila Nylblack strings, a set that appear to be custom to Ibanez, but I wonder if they are just Lava strings. They look a little darker though and contrast nicely on the body. You also get a very rudimentary gig bag without much padding and a tail strap button. And in the currently limited amount of places i've seen these you are looking at about £180 to get one. Not a huge sum I guess for something funky like this. If it plays ok that is...

Ibanez AUT10 Tenor Ukulele back

So overall, a very different looking ukulele with a core build which is pretty decent if I am honest. Some of the finishing staining and obvious joints irritate me though as does the marketing nonsense, but it's still a funky, different looking instrument with some plus points. Yet something is still not hanging together right with me and I am sensing some style over substance here. It feels hefty too despite being well balanced, clocking in at 750g. With the slim body and the heft, it kind of feels like a solid body electric, though there is no pickup here nor do I see it would be possible to fit one. That seems odd to me considering they offer one on the concert! Bear that in mind as if you want to use a strap whilst it comes with a tail button it could be difficult to find the right place to fit one on the heel so you will resort to a headstock bootlace.

Somewhat surprisingly for a chunky body build the volume and sustain here are both pretty good. Not stellar on either count, but not shabby either. I'm quite pleased by that as it could quite easily have sounded muted and dead.

Where I'm less pleased comes to the very subjective view on tone. Whilst the instrument plays clearly enough there is an oddity to the sound that I am struggling to place. It's not overly bright or dark and the tone is quite balanced, perhaps a touch on the brighter side, but it has a kind of 'echoey' or microphonic sound that I find quite odd and not to my tastes. Your views may differ on hearing the video, but when strummed I find it has a kind of nasal edge that I don't like. You may say it's down to the twin sound holes, and whilst I say above that most tone comes from the top, sound ports DO project a bit. Maybe for the player that is creating a Doppler effect thing? Whatever it is, for me as a player it turns me off. If it DOES sound better up front, then I guess that is something, but at the same time if an instrument doesn't sound good to the PLAYER themselves, then it's not going to induce them to pick it up is it?

Fingerpicking is clear and very comfortable to play with that neck though again with that microphonic, echoey quality to the tone. I also found the volume dropped off quite a bit up the neck too. But again, I stress the 'subjective' side of this part of the review. This is not a horrible sounding instrument and it actually has a tonal character of its own, it's just not doing it for me personally. Maybe it's better out front. Do let me know what you think, but I was disappointed.

Ibanez AUT10 Tenor Ukulele sound hole

So a mixed bag I think here. It's certainly very different looking with a good core build, great neck and fair price. I'm clueless why they don't offer a tenor pickup version though as I can see this working well as a stage instrument. On the other downsides, some of the finishing is scruffy and the tone is just not doing it for me. Your mileage may vary of course so do try before you buy to make your own judgement on the sound.

Interesting I guess, and maybe I sound too harsh on something that is under 200 quid. As such, not a terrible score..


Model: Ibanez AUT10
Scale: Tenor
Body: Solid routed Paulownia back and sides, laminate spruce top
Bridge: Purpleheart tie bar
Saddle: Composite? Compensated
Spacing at saddle: 45mm
Finish: Open pore satin
Neck: Okoume
Fingerboard: Purpleheart, radiused
Frets: 19, joined at 14th
Nut: Composite?
Nut width: 37mm, 30mm G to A
Tuners: Unbranded sealed gears
Weight: 750g
Strings: Aquila Nylblack
Extras: Gig bag
Country of origin: China
Price: Circa £180


Unusual looks
Good overall build
Very comfortable neck
Good enough volume and sustain
Good price


Staining and finishing on joints scruffy. So is the open pore
Chunky bridge plate
Nonsense 'stereo' marketing
Would prefer open gears
No pickup on the tenor (or means to fit one)
Tone has an echoey quality that doesn't work for me


Looks - 9 out of 10
Fit and finish - 8 out of 10
Sound - 7 out of 10
Value for money - 9 out of 10









  1. Makes me think of the Caravelle Kitchen uke body style. Stereo? Hi-fi! That almost fizzling treble end, as you say, it's almost resonator-ish. Get well!

  2. It is different, I agree, I thought violin when I saw it. I like it. I do notice a different sound especially when playing higher notes (my take). The price is right $199 for both the concert & the tenor on Reverb, $249 for the concert electric. I like the darker one. I may try a concert when the price goes down or I see a used one. Thanks for the review!

  3. It's been a widely-accepted concept that form follows function. A rating of 7 out of 10 for this ukulele's sound suggests that the designers may have forgotten that.

    1. Very much agree - and some have said I was generous on that score - only gave it that as it sounds slightly better to the listener than the player

  4. Those “Nylblack” strings . … Do they feel like the Lavas? The Polyguts made for Martin definitely have a different texture than the Nylgut variations. Maybe Aquila is using some sort of black dye with its Nyltech formula? Hmmm.

    Thanks for the review!

    1. They feel kind of like them. Don't look quite like them though

  5. I just got the dark brown concert version, mostly because I like the look of it. it's quite jangly! Pleasingly tactile, and I do like the radius. It's got some heft, I could probably use it to brain an unsuspecting burglar...

    1. I much prefer the darker colour option. Odd that it's not available for the tenor


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