The Best Guitalele Guide – Reviews, Tuning, and Chords

It would be hard to find someone walking down the streets that didn’t know what a guitar was. I bet it would be almost as difficult to find someone unaware of the ukulele. But what about the guitalele? Now that one isn’t as common. If you’re reading this there is a good chance you’re wondering what a guitalele is too.

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What Is a Guitalele?

A guitalele is a mixture of a guitar and a ukulele. Also known as a guitarlele, a six string ukulele, a mini guitar, and a guilele, this instrument resembles a baritone ukulele in size but has the six strings common to a full sized guitar.

In this article we’ll start by looking at the best guitaleles currently on the market and why we’ve picked them. From there we will touch on guitalele tuning, chords, and string choices to make sure you’re instrument is always sounding it’s best!

The Best Guitalele’s for 2020

In this section we’ll look at each of the instruments that we compared in our earlier product table. If you need to know about guitalele chords, tuning, or strings, just scroll past this section for more!

Kala 6 String Guitalele with Satin Finish

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Kala is one of the best, and most trusted, brands of ukulele made, so it makes sense that the first guitalele that we’ll look at comes from them. Many of the qualities that make their ukes so popular can be found on this six string version as well.

The interior bracing on this guitalele reminds us of what we’ve seen in the past on Spanish guitars leading to a really durable make. This also helps the intonation be very accurate.

The instrument comes tuned to A-D-G-C-E-A where the action is light and the tone is very bright. If you want to play in a higher key you can tune it that way, though you will loose a little action.

PRO

CONS

  • Quality Mahogany Finish
  • Chrome Grover Tuners
  • Satin Finish
  • Great Value´╗┐
  • Lacks Koa from better Models

Yamaha GL1 TBS Tobacco Sunburst Guitalele

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Yamaha is a brand that is known for it’s guitars, but this six string ukulele is likely to quickly put them on the map for hybrid guitar-ukuleles as guitalele’s get more popular. Either way, you’ve got the backing of a very reputable company standing behind this little instrument.

One thing that really surprised us while playing this instrument… it absolutely hums. Get a pick on this and everyone will be able to hear you for a country mile. Put some steal strings on it to replace the standard nylon ones and you’ll really get some quality volume. Not trying to annoy mom? The nylon strings finger-picked let off a wonderfully bright, crisp sound. The tone quality matches many $350 guitars that are capo’d at the 5th fret.

Just in case you’re not a fan of the sunburst (why not?!?!), this guitalele does come in 3 different finishes.

PRO

CONS

  • Great Value Option
  • Phenomenal Tone and Sound for small instrument
  • Nylon Strings
  • 17” Scale
  • Soft Case Bag included
  • Sunburst Pattern may not fit your eye

Caramel CB204G Solid Acacia Acoustic Elecrtric Guitalele

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The Caramel CB204G has a few different distinctions on this list.

First, it’s the only solid wood instrument, which generally leads to better sustain, a purer tone and a very stable overall sound. The fact that solid Acacia is used is just a bonus, only Koa is more popular and more sought out by professional ukulele players.

Secondly, this is the only guitalele we chose with a ukulele pickup installed, letting you play it acoustically or plugged into a speaker or guitar amp for on stage performances (or to just annoy the neighbors!). The tuner on this guitalele comes with a three band EQ control, chromatic tuner, and low battery indicator.

Finally, we picked out this model for the gear pack that comes with it. Especially if you are buying this as a present for a new player, or are a new player yourself, getting all the ‘extras’ in one place can be very handy.

PRO

CONS

  • Solid Acacia Body
  • 20” Scale
  • Full onboard pickup and EQ controls for electric play options
  • Great Price
  • Gear Package
  • Many of the added pieces will need upgrades eventually for better options.
  • May not want Electronics for instrument

Flight Ukulele GUT 350

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Flight instruments have been gaining popularity in Europe since the early 90’s, and just in the last handful of years have they made their way to North America.

This guitalele combines a spruce top with sapele sides. This combination has been used for guitars for years and is known for a very crisp, sharp sound at higher registers while keeping a warm tone while strumming. On top of that, this is the only guitalele we’ve listed with a true bone nut and saddle. This is a small detail but a really important one.

The detail that really sets this guilele apart is the African Okoume neck and fingerboard paired with walnut. This is the first instrument we’ve seen with okoume as a fingerboard material, and the sound makes us want to see it used more!

The price of this instrument is a little higher than the others on this list, but if you are looking for a travel sized instrument for performing, or need an upgrade from a travel guitar that has seen better days or poor first ukulele purchase, you’ll be hard pressed to beat this instrument in this price range!

PRO

CONS

  • Spruce Top with Sapele Sides
  • High end Okoume neck and Walnut Fingerboard
  • Geared Tuners stay in tune
  • Custom headstock
  • Bone nut and saddle
  • Price

Guitalele Tuning

Even though the guitalele has the same number of strings as a guitar, you’ll want to make accommodations for it’s smaller size and structure. Tuning a guitalele to the normal E-A-D-G-B-e of a standard guitar will either result in extremely loose strings, or so tight that you’re likely to snap the neck on your six string uke.

If you are really set on tuning this instrument as a standard guitar would be tuned, there are sets of thicker strings that would allow you to tune it down. Even doing this people are generally not happy with how ‘floppy’ the strings are and the sound looses a lot of its sharpness and ability to project.

Standard tuning for a guitalele is A-D-G-C-E-A. This allows the bottom four strings to be tuned exactly as they would be for a soprano, concert, or tenor ukulele using low G tuning. This is also the same as a capo on the fifth fret on a guitar, or ‘tuned up’ a 4th.

Because you are a 4th away from standard guitar tuning you also have the benefit of being able to use all of your normal chord shapes to play. You’ll need to do a little work to transpose each, but they are played the same! For example, an E chord will sound like an A.

If you are used to playing a ukulele with high G tuning rather than low G you will notice a difference in the sound of the higher registrar strings. Take a minute to adjust your ear to it before making any changes. Unlike the ukulele, G isn’t going to be your highest note, it falls in the middle of the range on a guitalele!

The actual mechanics and tools used to tune a guitalele are the same as those to tune a ukulele or a guitar, and a very easy after a little bit of practice!

Guitalele Chords

Guitalele Chords

Both guitar players and ukulele will need to make an adjustment to play chords on the guitalele. For those used to the 4 string uke, the transition is probably slightly more difficult since you’ll have to learn new chord shapes. A Guitalele chord is the same as a guitar chord, just moved!

Because the four highest strings are exactly the same as they were you can play all of the chord shapes on a guitalele you would on a uke, but at some point you’ll want to start adding in chords that utilize the lower ‘bass’ notes that the lower strings give you! For example, you can play the G, and D chords as you always have, but the root note of the A, B, C, E and F chords are all different.

Those coming from a guitar will have a slightly easier time, especially if you’re used to moving chord shapes and utilizing a capo. All of your guitar chords are moved down a 4th (capo on the fifth fret). In other words, your A is in the shape of an E, the C chord is a G, and G looks like a standard tuned guitars D.

For your reference we’ve included a chord chart with all major, minor and 7th chords!

Guitalele chord chart
Image courtesy of StijnArt

Guitalele Strings

Almost all of the guileles, guitarleles, and guitaleles (see what we did there?) come with a basic set of nylon strings. When you are looking for your first replacement set, or upgrade, many of the bass strings are wound with a bronze or silver plating while the trebles are a clear, black or red nylon. This doesn’t mean you can’t find full nylon sets, but they are not the norm.

Finding the perfect set of strings is difficult, especially as you get better and find that each set has a different feel and sound to them. As a beginner it won’t matter.

There are a few recommendations we can make for you though that may help your shopping process along.

First, pick a string that is made for a guitalele, a Spanish guitar, or a requinto. The size of these strings, both from a length and width perspective tend to match the size of the guitalele better than a set made for a full sized guitar.

The second is simply don’t get discouraged. There are a LOT of strings on the market and each is going to sound and feel slightly different. When you put a new set on take notes on the sound, feel, and experience while playing them!

To start, if you want to stick with a nylon string we’d recommend trying the Aquila 96C Guilele String, which is very similar to Aquila’s Nylgut guitar strings. Many consider these the closest thing to playing real gut you can find. If you’d like to veer towards a sharper, more projecting sound we like the D’Addario J94 Requinto Strings, specifically designed for a requinto guitar these can really liven up a quiet guitalele!