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Home Guitarlele What is a Guitalele?

What is a Guitalele?

Learn the basics... And more!

by Terry

What is a guitalele? You probably already know but I recently got a guitalele sent to me from KoAloha. I have fallen in love with this instrument.

What I love about it is that it’s a ukulele, but with 2 extra bass strings, it allows for a wide dynamic range, fuller chords, and more of the ability to be a self-contained instrument (no bass player needed).

The other thing that is really cool, is that the instrument is easy to handle. Guitars are amazing but, acoustic guitars can be big. Because this guitalele is on the body of a tenor ukulele, it’s real easy to hold and handle.

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Guitalele Tuning

You may be wondering how to tune a guitalele. Just like other stringed instruments like guitars and ukuleles, the guitalele is fitted with tuners that you use to adjust each string until it is at the correct pitch.

Guitaleles are tuned ADGCEA – essentially the four bottom strings (GCEA) are tuned exactly like the strings on a soprano, concert, or tenor ukulele. The two additional bass strings (AD) can be tuned using any tuner or tuning app set to those notes.

Don’t worry about the pitch – it’s true that the sound made by the low A and D strings are “Bassey” but your tuner or app will pick them up just fine.

You can also check your low A string against your high A – the two are exactly an octave apart and should produce the same tone, with one being higher-pitched than the other.

If you’re accustomed to playing ukuleles with a high G rather than a low G, you’ll notice a difference when it comes to the sound of the first four notes on the guitalele. The G is never the highest note on a guitalele; instead, it’s at the middle of the instrument’s range.

Guitalele Chords

If you’re a guitarist, you’re going to love the fact that you can use the exact same chord shapes used for guitar to form chords on the ukulele. The fingering pattern is the same, but since all chords are a 4th higher, the actual chord names are different. This means that the chord shape known as “C” on a guitar is an “F” chord on the guitalele. The chord shape known as “G” on the guitar is a “C” on the guitalele and so on. If you have a guitalele handy, go get it and try these three guitalele chords for yourself.

If you’re coming to the guitalele from the ukulele, you’ll still be able to play all the chords you know since the first four strings are exactly the same. Once you learn some new notes and additional chords, you will be able to enjoy playing on all six strings. You’ll find a few helpful videos on the Uke Like the Pros YouTube Channel, and Terry offers a guitalele instruction book complete with a full lineup of guitalele chords and more. If you’d like to delve deep into the world of guitalele, you’ll enjoy Terry’s online guitalele lessons as well.

Guitalele vs Guitar

Popular Guitalele Brands

As the guitalele gains popularity, more manufacturers are adding these instruments to their lineups. Some brands call their guitaleles “6 string ukuleles.” If you see this labeling, be sure to double-check for that signature ADGCEA tuning to ensure that you’re actually looking at a guitalele and not something else.

For example, some six-string ukuleles are actually four-course ukuleles with a G string, two closely-spaced C strings where there’s normally just one, an E string, and two closely-spaced A strings.

In a four-course ukulele, the C strings are typically octave-tuned, while the A strings are normally tuned in unison. The four-course ukulele is a fantastic instrument, but it’s not a guitalele. Knowing the difference will help you in your search for the perfect guitalele!

We’ve found a few of the best guitalele brands that are definitely worth a try: You can see Terry sampling the KoAloha Tenor guitalele in the video – it’s a beautiful instrument with a rich, mellow sound. Other popular brands include:

  • Caramel
  • Yamaha
  • Kala
  • Flight
  • Kanilea
  • Gretsch

– Yamaha, Koaloha, Kala, and other brands we can recommend

BTW, I actually have a KoAloha Guitalele for sale, I only have one so if your interested, click here, to see the video I did demonstrating the sound and look of one I call, “The Bomb.”
I also think it’s a great middle of the road instrument for those that like to play guitar and those that like to play ukulele.
It’s a gateway instrument. Guitar players can use all the chords they play except all the chords will be transposed up a 4th. That means that the C chord shape on the guitar is actually an F on the guitalele.
Allong with my ukulele videos (and hopefully baritone lessons will be coming soon, I’m still working with a few companies to make that happen), my guitar videos, my Successful Musician videos, I’m going to start doing videos and even a course with the guitalele.
In today’s video I spend a few minutes breaking down what a guitarlele is and unlock some of the mysteries of this amazing instrument.

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