Similarities And Differences, Full Review!
Guitalele Vs. Ukulele: Introducing the Guitalele
The Guitalele which is also known as the Guilele is a hybrid of the guitar and ukulele. In 1997 Yamaha was the first to introduce the now-standardized Guitalele. Often, players think of the Guitalele as a travel guitar, mini guitar, or children’s guitar because of the instrument’s small size.
However, this isn’t quite correct because the Guitalele has its tuning. Instead of a regular guitar tuning, the Guitalele is tuned up a 4th as when you capo the guitar on the 5th fret (ADGCEa).
This means, that when you stuck a capo on the fifth fret of a classical guitar, it will have the identical tuning and sound similar to a Guitalele.
The ukulele also has nylon strings. Some players call the Guitalele a six-string ukulele, not only because of its strings material, but as a result its size, shape, and tuning are so similar to the Guitalele.
Baritone Guitaleles also have the same tuning as the top four strings of the ukulele: GCEA. And the other sizes of ukuleles have the same tuning, just with the 4th string pitched up an octave: gCEA.
Although some people might consider the Guitalele as a travel guitar or a six-string ukulele, we tend to consider it as its instrument closer in relationship to the guitar than the ukulele.
More information about the Ukulele
The ukulele is a member of the Lute instrument family. Hawaiian people adapted this guitar-like instrument from the Portuguese Machate in the 19th century.
Most recently the ukulele comes in three main sizes.
The three main sizes are:
- Soprano Ukulele (which is the standard size).
- Concert Ukulele
- Tenor Ukulele
As we mentioned before, ukuleles have four strings with a standard tuning of gCEA. Sometimes tenor ukuleles have a tuning of GCEA where the g string isn’t pitched up an octave. This high fourth string gives the instrument a very good and unique sound.
Behind this high G string, there is an interesting story. When Hawaiians first constructed ukuleles, they started using animal guts (the same as the rest of the world) to make musical instrument strings.
Producing a thicker low G string would have been more expensive. So, they used the High G tuning with a thinner string.
Guitalele and Ukulele Similarities
We will highlight the similarities between these two instruments.
Guitaleles and ukuleles are similar in size to a ¼-size standard guitar. However, guitaleles are tended to be slightly larger and heavier than ukuleles.
Travel-size instruments bring you a lot of advantages including the ability to play in different locations, they are easy to transport, and so on. Additionally, because of their size, guitalele and ukulele fretboards and strings are close together not much separated like a guitar.
On these instruments, the frets and strings can be reached more easily if you have shorter fingers or smaller hands. However, these travel-sized instruments like the guitalele and ukulele also have some downsides.
We mentioned that having smaller hands will help you play these instruments, and that means having larger hands or longer fingers can make you have a problem playing Guitalele or Ukulele.
Plus, these travel-sized instruments are not going to project the same sound as a full-size guitar, but recently some instrument manufacturers are making high-end travel-size instruments.
That means it can be hard to find a high-quality travel-size guitalele or uke, but still, if you make some research you will be able to purchase one.
Easy To Press Nylon Strings + Corrosion Resistant
In case you are playing on an island or tropical climate, steel strings can rust or otherwise corrode more easily than nylon strings.
This is why the ukulele and guitalele are great to be played in a tropical climate. Additionally, nylon strings are a lot easier to press down than steel strings.
So the mechanics of playing both of these instruments is simpler than the guitar. This is what makes these instruments attractive for beginner musicians.
Guitalele and Ukulele have similar tuning
The normal Uke has only 4 ukulele strings, while the Guitalele has six strings. As we mentioned before the first four strings of the guitalele are almost identical in tuning to the ukulele’s four strings.
The difference between those two is that the ukulele’s fourth G string is pitched up an octave.
Similar-sized fingerboards and a number of frets
Guitaleles and ukuleles usually have 12-15 frets on their fretboard. You will be able to switch between these two instruments without any problems because of the similar lengths they have on their fretboards and their similar fret widths.
This means, that if you try to switch from playing a larger instrument with wider frets like the acoustic guitar to a ukulele or guitalele, you may feel disoriented at the beginning since the frets won’t be at the place where you would expect them.
In the first part, we covered the similarities between these two instruments. There are differences between a guitalele and a ukulele and we will highlight them in the continuation of this post.
Previously we already mentioned that the guitalele has 6 strings that are tuned in the same intervals as a guitar. However, up to the fourth fret, they have the same tonal range as the ukulele. Yet we didn’t explain the implication of these additional two strings on the guitalele.
Extra strings usually mean greater flexibility to play a wider variety of tunes. This is certainly the case with the guitalele in comparison with the ukulele. The two additional bass strings on the guitalele help you play almost any tune you could play on the guitar.
Conversely, missing these strings on the ukulele means you’ll be more limited in what you possibly can play on the uke.
Because of the six-string feature, the guitalele sounds like a guitar with a capo in the fifth fret.
With the two additional heavier bass strings, the guitalele might sound more complete and substantial to some than the ukulele. However, the ukulele’s high G string makes his sound lighter and also more unique.
However, you can still attempt to achieve a similar light and unique sound by tuning to high-G tuning on the guitalele. You need to remember that it won’t sound quite like the ukulele until you avoid playing Guitalele’s two bass strings.
Making a Music
The Ukulele only covers two octaves, while the guitalele covers more than 3 octaves.
This means that you are going to face some limitations when making music with the ukulele compared to the guitalele.
Ease of Learning
The Ukulele chords are much simpler in comparison with the guitalele chords because the ukulele has fewer strings.
As a beginner musician, you will definitely love the Ukulele, since the guitalele has more strings which mean more complicated chords that will require more hand strength, especially for bar chords.
Learning Materials and Their Affordability
There are many learning materials made particularly for the ukulele. There are also a lot of songs originally played on the ukulele and uke tabs for those songs. On the other hand, there are very few learning materials dedicated to the guitalele.
Although you may theoretically use any guitar studying resource for the guitalele, you’ll always need to adapt the concepts to different guitaleles.
You might be able to play guitar tabs on the guitalele but they are going to be in the wrong key unless you transcribe them.
Plus, hardly any well-liked songs are originally performed on the guitalele because it’s such an unusual instrument. There are hardly any tabs made particularly for the guitalele, while on the other hand, there are plenty of tabs for the Ukulele or if you play an acoustic guitar.
Starter guitaleles and ukuleles are often cheaper than guitars of similar quality. However, nicer ukuleles become costly much more quickly than guitars which are sufficiently popular to have several mid-range quality and price options.
And the guitalele simply isn’t common enough to have the same number of purchase choices as the ukulele and not the guitar.
Guitalele vs Ukulele – Which instrument is better for you?
For those who don’t play either the guitar or ukulele already, we wouldn’t suggest a guitalele. But if you already play guitar and you are interested in getting that uke sound, then the guitalele is a really good option.
As a guitarist, you’ll already be able to make all of the chord shapes and you will get that ukulele sound without learning a completely new instrument. If you are looking for a way to play all your favorite guitar tunes with that ukulele sound, in that case, guitalele is highly recommended.
Lastly, in case you already play the ukulele and you’re thinking about guitar, the guitalele might be an ideal option for you.
Since ukulele players are accustomed to nylon strings, the steel strings of a standard guitar may be difficult for them.
However, the nylon strings of a guitalele with its tonal range just like the ukulele offers a gentler transition to the regular guitar.
Here is a short video with a comparison of the Guitalele and Ukulele:
FAQ – Frequently Asked Questions
What is the difference between a baritone uke vs a guitalele?
A guitalele has six strings tuned in the same intervals as a guitar (standard guitar tuning) but pitched up a fourth as if you were to capo the guitar on the fifth fret: ADGCEA. On the other hand, the baritone ukulele has four strings tuned like the top four strings on a guitar: DGBE.
Is Guitalele easier?
Since the guitalele strings are nylon just like the ukulele, they’re easier to press down than standard steel strings when you play guitar.
That is very attractive for beginner musicians who do not want to build callouses and hand strength which is essential for a guitar player who plays a regular steel-string guitar.
Is the Guitalele the same as the Guitar?
A guitalele (sometimes spelled guitarlele or guilele), also known as a kīkū, is a cross between an old-style guitar & a tenor or baritone ukulele & “a 1/4 size” guitar.
It is tuned similarly to a regular guitar. The sound, with a capo at the 5th fret, is often mentioned as being the same as that of a classical guitar.
Hopefully, we highlighted the most important features together with the similarities and differences between these two instruments (guitalele and ukulele).
As we saw the Guitalele can be a perfect transition between the Guitar and the Ukulele. However, it is not recommended for you to jump on Guitalele right away since there are better options for beginners and that is the Ukulele.
At a certain point, you will try to change your instrument, no matter what you possess, you would like to test and experiment with another similar piece of instrument. They belong to the same family but are slightly different with some unique characteristics.
We hope this guide gave you more information about Guitalele in comparison with Ukulele and what you should expect from these instruments.