Guitalele: What Is It And Why Use It?

by Joost Nusselder | Updated on:  May 25, 2022

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A Guitalele is an instrument that is essentially a cross between a guitar and a ukulele. It has six strings that are tuned like a guitar but the size of a ukulele, making it an ideal choice for players who are looking for something that is portable and easy to play.

The Guitalele is becoming increasingly popular among acoustic guitarists and beginners alike, so let’s take a closer look at this versatile instrument and discuss the pros and cons of playing one.

  • Pros:
  • Portable
  • Easy to play
  • Versatile
  • Cons:
  • Limited range of sounds
  • Not as loud as a guitar
  • May be difficult to find accessories
What is a guitalele

What is a guitalele?

A guitalele is a six-string, nylon string instrument that combines the sound of a classical guitar with the ease of playing a ukulele. Guitalele’s are also known as guitar-ukuleles and are commonly used by aspiring and recreational musicians. With compact size and mobile convenience, this instrument can be ideal for beginners studying music theory or those looking to bring their favorite tunes to small gatherings or outdoor events.

The guitalele is larger than a usual ukulele but smaller than an acoustic guitar; typically, it measures 20 inches in length with 19 frets on its neck. It is tuned like an acoustic guitar but our strings are tuned up one fourth– ADGCEA. The strings are usually made of nylon instead of steel which provides softer tones and makes them easier to press against the fretboard; this feature allows for more delicate playing that does not require lots of strength or experience in fretting chords. With its six strings, the guitalele provides more depth in sound than its four-stringed ukulele relative making it great for:

  • Fingerpicking melodies
  • Strumming progressions
  • Chording progressions
  • Open notes chords

Similar to an electric or acoustic guitar it has two standard knobs for bass/treble adjustment and an accessible jack for direct audio output connection through amplifier systems which make it perfect for accompaniment singing performances or casual jamming sessions.

History of the guitalele

The guitalele or “guitalele,” is a hybrid musical instrument combining characteristics of a classical guitar and the ukulele. The guitalele is commonly tuned to an interval similar to that of a standard guitar, the only difference being that it’s tuned one fourth (a perfect fourth) higher than a guitar. The sound of the guitalele falls somewhere between the sounds of a classical guitar and ukulele, creating its own unique sound.

The history of the guitalele dates back to 1990s Japan when Yamaha Music Corp released their GL-1 model under the name guitalele: “guitar” + “ukulele.” Leveraging technology developed by Jacobacci Pavan S.A., Yamaha quickly made progress on popularizing their new product, with models even appearing in popular manga titles such as “lovely Horrible Stuff” in 2006. This heightened the public awareness around guitars and increased its presence in mainstream culture while paying tribute to both classical guitars and ukuleles alike — two instruments that were gaining popularity due in part to their easy-to-play characteristics.

In subsequent years, numerous iterations would be released by various companies as well as small enterprises, though sometimes under slightly different names such as prailene or small boogie electrics (SBE). Indeed, since its inception over 25 years ago, many variations have been made for all levels of players from beginner to intermediate and advanced alike – utilizing anything from spruce tops for better resonance and projection to alternative string materials creating different playability feel qualities.

  • Beginner level players: Spruce tops for better resonance and projection
  • Intermediate level players: Alternative string materials for different playability feel qualities
  • Advanced level players: Different components for better sound quality

While there is evidence that this instrument received more fame through internet scrutiny in 2007 and more importantly with the formation of several communities devoted specifically for it during 2008–2010 period; this has further grown steadily even up until today with little signs abating any time soon.

Benefits of the Guitalele

The guitalele is a six-string guitar-ukulele hybrid instrument that combines the playability of a guitar and the portability of a ukulele. The guitalele’s unique sound and size make it a great choice for musicians looking for an instrument that is easy to transport and play.

Let’s take a look at some of the benefits of the guitalele, such as its sound, portability, price, and ease of learning:

  • Sound
  • Portability
  • Price
  • Ease of Learning

Small size and portability

Guitalele is a guitar-ukulele hybrid, combining the size of a ukulele with the tuning of a guitar. Its small size and portability make it the perfect instrument to take anywhere, without having to worry about traveling with and transporting a traditional guitar. Since its introduction in 1997, the guitalele has become increasingly popular among ukulele and guitar players alike, as it allows them to play almost any song or chord from either instrument without having to switch between different tunings.

Additionally, due to its compact nature and easy playability, it is perfect for smaller spaces like apartments or rooms away from home. With minimal setup required and no need for pedals or amps, this instrument can be taken with you wherever you go!

  • Benefits of Guitalele:
  • Small size and portability
  • Allows for playing songs and chords from either instrument
  • Perfect for smaller spaces
  • Minimal setup required
  • No need for pedals or amps

Versatile sound

A guitalele is a small hybrid guitar-ukulele instrument that has gained popularity in recent years due to its unique blend of string instruments sound capabilities. It is tuned similarly to a guitar, with the fourth string being an octave higher. This pairing of notes creates a versatile sound that is both bright and mellow depending on how it’s played.

It’s combination of strings also makes it possible for guitar players to maintain their skills without having to learn an entirely new instrument. For ukulele players, the guitalele can be used as a stepping stone for advancing their techniques and creating a fuller sound.

  • Combination of strings
  • Smaller size
  • Versatile sound

With its combination of strings, smaller size and versatile sound, the guitalele is the perfect instrument for getting creative with your playing style.

Easy to learn

Learning the guitalele is easy, even for people who have never picked up an instrument before. It has six strings, just like a classical guitar, and the tuning is similar to a small-bodied guitar. The size of the instrument makes it accessible even to smaller individuals.

Unlike most other stringed instruments, the notes are easier to reach due to how closely they are spaced on the fretboard, which makes it easier for beginners to play in different keys. Additionally, chords can be easily learned since all of a chord’s notes are close together on the fretboard.

Furthermore, those who already play guitar don’t need to relearn how to play any chords since it is essentially just like playing chords on a regular guitar but tuned higher in pitch. Lastly, its portability makes it perfect for traveling — especially when going on trips where you might want to practice or record some music.

Playing Techniques

When it comes to guitarles, there are a few playing techniques that can help you sound more professional. These techniques range from standard fingerpicking to more advanced techniques such as tapping and strumming patterns. No matter what your skill level is, learning these techniques can help you make the most out of your guitarle. Let’s take a closer look at these techniques and how to best utilize them.

  • Fingerpicking
  • Tapping
  • Strumming Patterns

Strumming patterns

To play the guitalele, use a pick or fingers to strum one of the basic guitar-style strumming patterns. As with a conventional guitar, upstrokes indicate an upward motion and downstrokes indicate a downward movement of the pick across the strings. The most common patterns are:

  • Alternating eighth notes (selachimorpha): two downstrums followed by two upstrums and so on; an even rhythm more commonly identified with acoustic blues style playing.
  • Half-bar rests: start with a downstrum and then rest for one beat before repeating for four beat measure; also known as ‘boom chuck’ pattern in folkaloid music styles like bluegrass.
  • Dotted quarter note (concho): start with a single downstrum and then rest for half of the measure before playing two up strokes; used in alternative rock genres such as indie rock.

Combining these three primary strumming patterns allows you create various accompaniment textures suited your tastes. For example, you can combine half bar rests and alternating eighth notes within a single measure to produce an interesting counter melody line or texture when playing chords or melodies on the higher strings of your guitalele.


Fingerpicking is a playing style often associated with guitar, but it can also be used on guitalele. Fingerpicking requires plucking the strings with your thumb (T) and your pointer (P) and middle (M) fingers. Depending on the complexity of the piece you’re playing, you may use all three fingers or just two. The index finger is generally used for low bass strings while the middle finger plays higher strings as though you were strumming a guitar solo.

You can use fingerstyle to play single notes, chords or melodies; it’s all up to what type of piece and style you’re aiming for. Classical guitar repertoire often uses fingerstyle because of its precision and accuracy in articulating each note, but it also works well with more contemporary music as well.

Another great way to experience the beauty of guitalele is by using hybrid picking, which combines flat picking and fingerstyle together. This involves using a pick held in your right hand while using your other fingers like you would in classical guitar styles. It allows players to quickly switch between fingerstyle and flat picking with ease, creating a nice mix of both contemporary riffs and old-world melodies – perfect for guitalele play!

Chords and scales

Playing chords and scales on a guitalele is relatively easy compared to playing them on a standard guitar. It’s important to start off by learning the basic notes using the open strings first. Standard chord diagrams can be used for guidance, but the shapes will differ slightly due to the tuning of the instrument. To simplify things further, you can use an indicator finger – this is just a finger that you place across the strings to act as a marker and ensure that you are in tune with yourself throughout.

Scales can also be helpful when learning how to play a guitalele. There is no set key or note order with these instruments; they are able to transpose freely between different notes and keys rather than having to stay within a specific fixed position. This allows players more freedom in their chord progressions and gives them greater scope when it comes to improvisation. When learning how to play chords and scales on your guitalele, ensure that you pay attention not only to which notes you’re playing, but also the texture of your chords as this plays a huge role in its sound.

Guitalele Accessories

As its name suggests, the guitalele is a combination of a guitar and ukulele. It is a small, portable instrument that offers the same sound of a guitar with a smaller fretboard. To get the most out of your guitalele, you will need to invest in several accessories, so let’s take a look at the different guitalele accessories that you should consider:

  • Strings
  • Tuners
  • Cases
  • Guitar Stands
  • Straps
  • Capos
  • Pickups
  • Guitar Amplifiers


A guitalele is an instrument that is a hybrid between the guitar and ukulele. While it’s easy to learn how to play, it requires some specialized equipment such as picks. A pick is important because it allows you to strum or pluck the strings of an instrument with accuracy and precision. The right pick will make playing your guitalele easier and more enjoyable.

Common types of guitalele picks are designed with a thin layer of plastic or other similar material on their end, which helps produce a smooth sound when strummed across the strings. There are many varieties available, from acrylic picks that have a more mellow tone to heavier gauge picks with a thicker tip and a sharper attack. Different shapes can also provide unique sound textures – for example, triangle shaped picks can be used for strumming open-chords for a softer sound, while pointed picks work better for playing single notes on higher strings.

Guitalele players should also consider padding their fingers when using picks in order to avoid pinching or bruising from extended use during practice sessions or gigs. Some fingerpicks even come equipped with soft cushions that offer comfortable support when doing long strums in addition to allowing you to control each individual string better than standard flat picks do. To achieve this level of playability, experienced players may want to consider investing in differently sized and shaped fingerpicks so they can find the right fit for their playing style as well as developing increased speed and dexterity on their guitaleles!

  • Picks – thin layer of plastic or other similar material on their end, which helps produce a smooth sound when strummed across the strings.
  • Different shapes – triangle shaped picks for strumming open-chords for a softer sound, pointed picks for playing single notes on higher strings.
  • Fingerpicks – come equipped with soft cushions for comfortable support and for controlling individual strings.

To sum up, guitalele players will need to invest in the right picks and fingerpicks in order to achieve the desired sound and playability. The choices they make can have a significant impact on their overall performance and enjoyment of the instrument!


Tuners are accessories that are essential for any musician, and the same applies to guitaleles as well. Tuners devices assist musicians by enabling them to accurately calibrate musical instruments in order for them to play on pitch. A guitalele tuner keeps your instrument in tune and provides more consistent sound when playing with others or recording music.

When buying a tuner, it is important to choose one that works with guitaleles specifically, as not all tuners have the capability. A good quality guitalele tuner should be able to detect all notes of the instrument’s range, including open strings and higher frets; many have different modes such as chromatic tuning, bass tuning, and alternate tuning capabilities as well. The display should be large enough and bright enough for you to track your progress during a session.

There are several types of tuners available on the market today ranging from clip-on devices that attach directly to your instrument, allowing you a hands-free experience; through stand-alone models or those you can download onto your digital device like computers or tablets; and those that connect via bluetooth with apps like Cleartune or GuitarTuna—both highly recommended for their accuracy over other alternatives.

  • Clip-on
  • Stand-alone models
  • Bluetooth

Each type has its pros and cons so it’s best to shop around before making a purchase in order to get the best possible option for you.


The Guitalele uses standard classical guitar strings, which come in three primary material types. They are: nylon, steel, and fluorocarbon. When deciding on strings you should consider factors such as the type of music you hope to play and any desired tone alterations.

Nylon strings have a longer lifespan but do not produce as strong of sound waves. Steel strings have a sharper sound wave but have a shorter lifespan than nylon options. Fluorocarbon has been gaining popularity in recent years due to its ability to produce quality sound waves more often associated with acoustic guitars.

It’s important to note that your Guitalele should be properly tuned before each use with the correct string gauge for use on the instrument (gauge is determined by string size). The optimal tuning may vary depending on choice of strings or individual preferences, so feel free to experiment until you find the right combination for you!


In conclusion, the guitalele is a great instrument for those who want to switch up their sound and have some fun playing a different kind of guitar. It is small and portable, making it easy to take with you wherever you go. The sound quality is generally good and the range of notes makes it suitable for a wide variety of musical styles.

Despite its few drawbacks, the guitalele is a great addition to any musician’s repertoire.

Summary of the guitalele

The guitalele is a six-stringed instrument with a guitar-like body and a scale length similar to that of a ukulele. While it may appear to be an instrument somewhere between the guitar and the ukulele, its sound, design and playing techniques are unique. The guitalele is mainly used in acoustic settings, creating a light and versatile sound ideal for accompanying singers or solo performances of lighter pieces.

Due to its convenience in size and simplicity when it comes to learning chords, the guitalele has become increasingly popular amongst beginners. Despite the increasing popularity of this type of instrument, traditional guitars still dominate when it comes to serious performance pieces.

  • If you are looking for something that is different yet still fits within traditional genres with some extra warmth, the guitalele could be your answer!
  • The decision whether or not to buy a guitalele should come down to what kind of sound you want it for.

Advantages of the guitalele

The guitarlele’s compact size, relatively low cost, and simple design make it a great alternative to full-sized guitars. Unlike the ukulele, the guitalele is slightly bigger and its strings have the same tuning as a regular six-string guitar. This makes it convenient for experienced guitarists to switch over to a more compact version with minimal adjustments.

Guitarles are perfect for players who are looking for convenience and portability but don’t want to sacrifice tone or quality. Its smaller size also allows younger players to learn on a reduced fretboard – an important consideration when teaching children how to play. The guitalele combines elements of both guitars and ukuleles, allowing you to enjoy features from both instruments in one package.

Most importantly, the shorter scale length of the guitalele reduces the tension of its strings making them easier on the fingers while learning chords and playing melodies. This makes it an ideal instrument for beginners or intermediate players who need less pressure on their hands due to limited strength or technique. Furthermore, experienced guitarists can use it for practice as it will help strengthen weaker fingers without adding any discomfort from playing longer scales.

I'm Joost Nusselder, the founder of Neaera and a content marketer, dad, and love trying out new equipment with guitar at the heart of my passion, and together with my team, I've been creating in-depth blog articles since 2020 to help loyal readers with recording and guitar tips.

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