Do you like ukuleles but been more of an old fashioned guitar kinda person? Constantly dropping the tuning of your ukulele to make it easier to play? Wish your uke had 6 strings? Want an alternative to a travel guitar?
Then your wish has come true! OK, so enough cheese, let’s have a look at the guitalele! Sometimes called Guitarlele, or even Guilele, for simplicity’s sake, it is a fusion between a classical guitar and a tenor ukulele.
Features of these hybrids
The Guitalele was popularized by Yamaha with its own model made in 1997 called the GL-1. The GL1 has classical guitar shaped body and six nylon strings tuned to ADGCEA making it easier for guitarists to play since it is like playing a guitar with a capo on its fifth fret. If you have a ukalele, you probably know already that the traditional uke tuning is GCEA. Which means it will have that unique sound coming from the tonality of the G and A strings which are only one tone away from each other.
However, interestingly enough its sound comes near what you would expect from a soprano uke or a miniature classical gee-tar, meaning it sounds deeper or not as high pitch as tenor ukulele. Plus, it can be connected to a guitar amplifier. It is getting more popular every day, as you can hear it in some songs by The Maccabees.
Advantages of the six string uke
- The Guitarlele is a cheap instrument. You can get one currently for around $90 (with soft case or gig bag) which is really a good price for the set.
- There is less of a learning-curve for guitar players who want to try the uke. No need to completely relearn your notes, tabs and chords. There are lots of free guides online and on YouTube to help you learn how to play the guitalele.
- Its size and portability, along with its easy to play action and guitar orientation, make this instrument a favorite for guitarists. Especially those who aren’t able to bring their guitar along with them, say, while travelling, due to its size.
- Similarly it’s great for people with small hands and fingers (works great with children, for example).
- Plus, for those who just don’t quite like the sound of an ukulele and would prefer a 6-string approached sound this may be the best choice as it sounds just like a miniature classical guitar. You can even use your classical strings on this one, so it saves you money as well.
- Great for kids getting into and learning music too.
Being a small-sized instrument ( a quarter that of a guitar) it is volume limited, so to speak. Unfortunately you cannot plug it into your amplifier as it has no jack input so it is definitely a more “on the acoustic side” instrument. Also, its headstock is almost the same size as a guitar which kind of brings it out of proportion with the rest of the body. This leaves the weight of the guitalele a tad uneven, making it a little weird balance-wise. This takes some time to get used to, but it is comfortable in the end for most. The GL-1 comes with a soft gig bag as opposed to a hard case.
Some players complain about the width between the strings, in that it does not leave much space. But it is what it is: a small instrument. It takes some time to get used to, but the guitalele is a great instrument for guitarists as it is easy to play, small and cheap.