Ukulele-Vs-Guitalele

Ukulele & guitalele both are members of guitar-like instruments. Their common features confuse people easily and end up with questions like which one should I get.

In this article, I have introduced both instruments, their similarities & differences as well. Also in the end, you will find discussions about which one you should choose.

Ukulele

Ukulele is a member of the lute in the family of music. It is a guitar-like instrument, originated in the 19th century. People from Hawaii adapted the ukulele from the Portuguese Machate.

Ukulele has nylon strings like the classical guitar. If you add a capo on the fifth fret of a standard tuned classical guitar & mute the top two strings, it will sound like a ukulele instrument. But there is an exception for the fourth string. The fourth string tuning is in the same note but an octave higher. This feature makes the instrument sound peculiar.

The standard tuning of the ukulele from top to bottom string is higher octave G4, C4, E4, A4. There is an interesting reason behind this higher octave G4 tuning. Back then, people made ukulele strings of animal guts. Producing a thicker gut string was costly and almost impossible. So, they used the High G tuning with a thinner gut string.

In the present world, there are four types of ukulele available in different sizes and different tunings. They are Soprano, Concert, Tenor & Baritone.

TypeTypical lengthScale lengthNumber of fretsRangeCommon tuning
Soprano21 in (53 cm)13 in (33 cm)12-15C4–A5 (C6)G4 C4 E4 A4
Concert23 in (58 cm)15 in (38 cm)15–18C4–C6 (D♯ 6)G4 C4 E4 A4
Tenor26 in (66 cm)17 in (43 cm)17–19G3–D6 (E6)G3 C4 E4 A4 (“Low G”)
Baritone29 in (74 cm)19 in (48 cm)18–21D3–A5 (C♯ 6)D3 G3 B3 E4

Guitalele

Guitalele or the guilele (kīkū) is a hybrid of guitar and ukulele. Its history is not very long. Yamaha Corporation first introduced this guitar-like instrument in 1997. Usually, people know the guitalele as a travel guitar, mini guitar, or children’s guitar.

Guitalele has nylon strings and resultant chord possibilities like a classical guitar. But instead of standard guitar tuning, it is tuned as a tenor ukulele. If you put a capo on the fifth fret of the standard tuned guitar, it will sound like a guitalele.

Standard tuning of the guitalele instrument is ADGCEA starting from the top string. That is up a fourth note of the standard guitar tuning.  People often call it a six-string ukulele.

I think the guitalele is another instrument with its unique style and tuning. Some guitalele also have a built-in microphone that allows you to play the instrument with an amplifier. Scale length is usually 17 inches (43 cm) and the body length varies from 26-29 inches.


Similarities Between Ukulele & Guitalele 

There are many common features between ukulele & guitalele that you may think twice about buying both instruments. Here read more about their common features.

Both Are Travel-Friendly Music Instruments

Guitalele and ukulele usually come as a ¼ size of the regular guitar. Guitalele is slightly bigger in size and weight than the ukulele. If you are traveling by bus, train, or boat, playing some music can cheer up everybody.

if you go on a tour for a week or more, you may want to keep an instrument with you to compose music or a melody that suddenly pops into your head. In cases like this, guitalele & ukulele are the best.

Both Are Children’s Instruments And Use Nylon Strings

The body of both instruments is small. The fretboards and strings are compacted according to the ratio of the guitar too. Little fingers can easily reach the distance of the frets and strings.

Nylon strings are tied up more loosely than steel strings. So, you will feel more comfortable with nylon string instruments than any steel string instrument. Those features make both the instruments perfect for the children as they have tiny and soft fingers.

Similar Tuning feature

Guitalele has six nylon strings, whereas the ukulele has only four strings. But the first four strings of the guitalele tuning are in the same note: G, C, E, A. Also, the first three strings tuning is at the same frequency.

So, if you play the first three strings of both instruments, it will sound identical. The detailed notes are C4, E4, A4. In the ukulele, the fourth string is way thinner than the guitalele fourth string. Both string tuning is in G note. But the thinner 4th string ukulele tuning is in higher octave G4, and the 4th string guitalele tuning is in lower octave G3.


Differences Between Ukulele & Guitalele

The guitalele tuning & the ukulele tuning are in the same fashion, and both are small in size, like a mini guitar. But still, both the instruments are quite different from each other. From the beginner’s point of view, the guitalele is more complicated than the ukulele. Here read more about their dissimilarities.

Guitalele Has Six Strings, Whereas The ukulele Has four

Like a guitar, the guitalele has six strings. It has two more base strings than the ukulele, which offers the freedom to play a lot of exciting music. The fifth string tuning is D, and the topmost one is in the lower octave of A.

Difference In sound

The guitalele sounds like a guitar with a capo on the fifth fret because of the six-string feature. But the ukulele has four strings. In guitalele, you have the freedom to add extra two notes when you are strumming a chord. With the heavy bass strings, it sounds complete and more beautiful than the ukulele.

But the higher G string is the power of the ukulele that makes the rhythm more unique. This unique sound is also achievable in the guitalele as you can replace the fourth string of the guitalele with a fourth ukulele string.

Difference In Composing Music

Let’s say from a set of notes you found a beautiful melody. Now in the next step, you are looking for harmonizing the melody. In the ukulele, you can coordinate the tune only with the higher notes. Whereas, with the six-string guilele, you can add the base notes and harmonize the melody more beautifully.

You can play up to two octaves in the ukulele. But in the guitalele, you can play more than three octaves. Thus, the six-string version offers freedom to use more musical notes to arrange music compositions.

Ukulele Is Simpler To Learn & Play Than Guitalele

You will find the ukulele chords easier than the guitalele. It has only four strings. Using one finger per string makes the instrument playing easy to learn. So, as a beginner music player, you might love the ukulele.

Ukulele chords are easy to grab and play. But the guitalele chord’s difficulty level is the same as the guitar. To play the barre chords, a lot of finger strength is mandatory for the guitalele.

On the first day of your ukulele practice, you can learn to play some chords. Using those chords you can play simple songs. In the case of Guitalele, learning to play chords for a simple song may take a week of regular practice.

You Can Play Guitar Tabs On Guitalele But Not On The Ukulele

You can play most of the guitar tabs on the six-string guilele, except that it will sound up the fourth note. As you already know from this article that With the ukulele, you don’t have this chance. Besides, you can play the ukulele tabs on the guitalele too by muting the 5th & 6th strings.

Price Difference

Guitalele is usually cheaper than the guitar and slightly costlier than the ukulele. It is comparatively a new member of the guitar-like instruments family than the ukulele’s long history. But, you will find both the instruments in most of the guitar shops.    


Ukulele vs Guitalele: Which is the best?

In my assessment, if you are already a guitar player, there is no doubt that you should choose the guitalele over the ukulele. But, if you are new to learning music and want to start with a simple instrument, the ukulele might be an option for you. However, I like both the instruments for their unique features. Here read more about which instrument you should choose.

Reasons For Choosing Guitalele

You Can Play Both Guitar & Ukulele

This is the primary reason to choose guitalele dumping ukulele. If you mute the top two strings of the guitalele, it will convert into a ukulele. You can also achieve the unique ukulele sound by replacing the fourth string of the guitalele with the high G string. Besides, with the six-string instrument, you can play most of the guitar tabs too.

I have been playing guitar since 2013. When I had my first guitalele in my hand, I felt like I already know about this instrument. But with the ukulele, I had to learn some basic lessons. Though as a guitarist, it was not much of a challenge to me.

Opportunity To Play Complicated Music Compositions

Guitalele offers you a wide variety of sounds to play and compose music. With two more base strings, you can harmonize any melody beautifully. Also, the strumming of the chords will sound more profound than the ukulele chords. It also has a range of more than three-octave musical notes.

Reasons For Choosing Ukulele

As a beginner music player, you can choose the four-string instrument over the guitalele for several reasons. The Four-string Hawaii guitar is a relatively uncomplicate instrument & comfortable to learn.

You can learn to play almost any open chord in your first ukulele lesson. As a result, you might be able to play some easy songs with the ukulele on your first day. That will boost your music learning inspiration.

You may feel like your options are limited with a ukulele in your hand rather than a guitalele. If you like to explore more complicated music arrangements, a better choice is the guitalele. As a beginner, you can choose the ukulele. But after playing it for a long time, you might find it boring. In this situation, you can switch yourself to a more complicated musical instrument.

After reading this far, I hope you have already made your decision. If you are still confused ask me in the comment section for further information.

Arifur Rahman
Hello, my name is Arifur Rahman. I am a guitarist & music composer. I write about music & guitar at Calibbr.

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