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Hybrid instruments have been growing in popularity as of late.
In this guide, we’ll be looking at guitaleles, which are essentially a combination ukulele and guitar (you can find a more in-depth explanation later in this guide).
Guitaleles or six-string ukuleles can come in handy for a variety of purposes, whether it’s for practice, accompaniment, performance, recording or otherwise.
So, let’s look at the best guitaleles for the money.
Kala KA-6E Six String Tenor Gloss Mahogany Ukulele With EQ
The Kala KA-6E tenor six-string ukulele comes with a high-gloss finish, cream binding, chrome die-cast tuners, mahogany top, back, sides and neck, laurel fingerboard, GraphTech Nubone nut and saddle, slotted headstock, Aqulia Super Nylgut strings and Shadow NFX electronics.
It has a scale length of 17 inches and an overall length of 26.125 inches.
We haven’t been able to find any complaints for the Kala, and while it certainly costs more than other instruments on this list, if you’re looking for a six-string ukulele, this one’s a good bet.
Item weight: 2.2 lbs.
Package dimensions: 11 x 27 x 4 inches
Caramel CB500G 30 Inch Rosewood Baritone Acoustic-Electric Guitalele
The Caramel CB500G guitalele comes with an all rosewood body, rosewood fretboard and bridge, buffalo bone nut and saddle, adjustable truss rod (wrench included).
As with the other Caramel already introduced, you also get a full set of accessories – an extra pack of strings, gig bag (12mm padded, made of 300D 6CD polyester yarn), three guitar picks, one cleaning cloth, one ukulele wall hanger, one ukulele strap (with pegs), one EQ cable and an instruction booklet.
A bit of a rare item, this acoustic-electric guitalele comes with built-in electronics featuring three-band EQ, built-in tuner and LCD color display. It’s also tuned to standard guitar tuning (E, A, D, G, B, E).
If you’d like to be able to plug in your guitalele (into an amp or PA system), then this might be just the ticket.
Many customers liked both the unplugged and plugged in sound of the instrument and said it was a bargain for the price.
Some buyers said the build quality was a little suspect. If you happen to end up with a defective instrument, we recommend exchanging it as soon as possible.
Item weight: Unknown
Package dimensions: Unknown
Caramel 6 Strings CB402GL All Solid Mahogany Left-Handed Acoustic-Electric Guitalele
The Caramel CB402GL is an all-solid mahogany left-handed guitalele with adjustable truss rod (wrench included).
Again, a full set of accessories are included – extra pack of strings, gig bag (12mm padded, made of 300D 6CD polyester yarn), three guitar picks, one cleaning cloth, one ukulele wall hanger, one ukulele strap (with pegs), one EQ cable and instruction booklet.
With the onboard electronics, you get three-band EQ, built-in tuner and LCD color display. The fretboard and bridge are made of walnut and the nut and saddle with buffalo bone.
So, here’s another good option for a plugged-in experience.
As with the other Caramel instruments, this one is tuned to E, A, D, G, B, E.
The good – buyers said this guitalele was as good as an extra small classical guitar and some even said it was the best option available for beginners.
The bad – some buyers said there was barely any finish on the guitar and had to apply oil and other finishes to protect the wood from damaging.
Item weight: 5.5 lbs.
Package dimensions: 32.5 x 13.5 x 5.5 inches
Caramel CD204GA All Solid Acacia Acoustic Guitalele
The Caramel CD204GA acoustic guitalele comes with an all solid acacia wood body, adjustable truss rod (wrench included), matte finish.
It also comes with a full set of accessories – a pack of extra strings, gig bag (12mm padded, made of 300D 6CD polyester yarn), three guitar picks, one cleaning cloth, one ukulele wall hanger, one ukulele strap with pegs and one instruction booklet.
This instrument also features walnut fingerboard and bridge, buffalo bone nut and saddle, 18 frets, 20” scale length and 30” overall body length.
Surprisingly, this guitalele is also tuned like a guitar (E, A, D, G, B, E).
Buyers said you probably couldn’t do better for the money and enjoyed its tone and overall look and feel.
It seems some buyers were expecting a little more out of this instrument and were disappointed. But based on the price point, I’d be surprised if you got a premium sounding instrument.
Item weight: 5.2 lbs.
Package dimensions: 32 x 11.7 x 5.5 inches
Yamaha GL1 Guitalele
The Yamaha GL1 guitalele is a unique six-string nylon guitar sized like a 17” scale baritone ukulele. It plays a lot like a guitar, too.
Its tuning is pitched up to A, which is standard for a guitalele (A, D, G, C, E, A). This unit comes with a soft case carrying bag.
The GL1 is available in four distinct color/finishes, but you may not be able to find all of them through the above link.
Customers loved the convenient size of the instrument, as well as its overall quality and tone.
Others said they weren’t overly impressed with the build quality of the Yamaha. And, although their grievances are understandable, at this price point, I’m not sure there’s much to complain about. Yamaha has done good by us here.
Item weight: 3.2 lbs.
Package dimensions: 27.9 x 9.1 x 3.1 inches
Glass House Koa And Ebony Guitalele
The Glass House koa and ebony guitalele is Glass House’s flagship instrument featuring a koa top, figured ebony back and sides, maple neck, composite fretboard with pearlette markers, maple body binding, abalonite purfling, ox bone saddle and nut, as well as walnut bridge.
It comes with a satin open pore finish and measures 28.5 inches. It has been tuned to A, D, G, C, E, A with Aquila Super Nylgut strings.
The instrument was handcrafted and according to the manufacturer, the it features a warm, full tone. To an extent, I would expect that based on the materials used.
Even guitar players were impressed with the Glass House guitalele. Some complained about build quality, suggesting that QA isn’t entirely up to snuff. If you get a defective instrument, we suggest returning and exchanging.
Item weight: 3.05 lbs.
Package dimensions: 29 x 5 x 4 inches
Gretsch G9126 Guitar-Ukulele – Honey Mahogany Satin
As the name would suggest, this instrument is closer to a guitar-ukulele hybrid than a guitalele, but in case you’re looking for something a little different, I thought it would be worth including.
The Gretsch G9126 guitar-ukulele comes with an ovangkol fingerboard and quartersawn mahogany top, laminated mahogany body, ovangkol bridge, bone nut and saddle.
Reviews are generally positive for the Gretsch, though some said they had to adjust the instrument to eliminate fret buzz.
Item weight: 4.35 lbs.
Package dimensions: 32.5 x 10 x 5 inches
Kmise 31 Inch Guitalele
The Kmise 31-inch guitalele comes with 18:1 ratio tuning machines, adjustable action (this bundle comes with an Allen wrench), smooth walnut fretboard, “C” shaped neck, metal strap locks, gig bag, tuner, five picks and strap.
The good – buyers liked how affordable the instrument was and all the extras it came with.
The bad – Some users found that the strings didn’t hold tune, and some didn’t like the size of the case either, citing lack of fit.
Not all users were dissatisfied with the instrument, so we can’t confirm or deny the issues buyers experienced with the Kmise. At this price point, however, we’d be surprised if all its components were stellar.
Item weight: 5 lbs.
Package dimensions: 33.5 x 13 x 8.5 inches
HOT SEAL 28 Inch Handmade Guitalele
The HOT SEAL 28-inch handmade guitalele features a sapele body, rosewood neck and clear high-gloss finish.
Buyers liked the overall size of the instrument (take note – bigger than the average ukulele), though they cautioned that the strings and tuners aren’t of the highest quality.
The good news is that you could easily get them replaced by a skilled tech if you didn’t mind spending a bit of money.
Item weight: 1.32 lbs.
Package dimensions: 26 x 7.9 x 2 inches
What Is A Guitalele?
Most people like to think of the guitalele as a six-string ukulele, which is a reasonable assessment of the field. Its sound is a lot closer to ukulele than guitar, so that’s another important differentiation.
If you didn’t already know, the guitar typically has six strings. Meanwhile, the ukulele usually has four strings. So, a six-string ukulele, by that measure, could be considered a little unusual.
A guitalele is usually tuned as follows – A, D, G, C, E, A. So, the first four strings are tuned the same as a standard ukulele would be. As you’ve seen in this guide, however, there are some guitaleles that are tuned to standard guitar tuning.
The tuning follows the same formula as a guitar (in a series of ascending perfect fourths and one major third between the third and second string), except that the notes are higher (standard tuning for guitar is E, A, D, G, B, E).
A guitalele adds two bass notes, giving you a wider spectrum of notes to play with. But it will feel strange if you’ve been playing four-string ukuleles your whole life.
When you add the two strings, of course, the neck of the instrument also gets wider. So, that’s going to feel different.
But the ukulele can be played just like a guitar. Tuning wise it would be the same as having a capo on the fifth fret of the guitar.
Is A Guitalele Better Than Ukulele Or Guitar?
A guitalele is basically a more versatile ukulele. I like to think of it as separate from guitar, but any skills you learn on the guitalele can easily transfer over to guitar, which is one of its advantages. And, in that sense, you could also say it’s similar to the guitar.
Many people like to start on the ukulele, even those thinking about becoming a guitarist, because four strings seems less intimidating and more manageable overall. Plus, the instrument is smaller and easier to hold.
Guitaleles are also smaller than the guitar. And, since they have six strings, they feel more like a guitar.
Honestly, it’s different for everyone, but for those who like it, guitalele is a better option.
Don’t overthink which instrument to start on – start playing and gain experience. As you grow and develop, you will try more things and discover what you like.
What Should I Look For In A Guitalele?
If it’s got six nylon/gut strings, a decent sound, a lightweight design and it keeps tune, in our books, it gets a passing grade.
We’ve tried to address isolated issues with each instrument in the descriptions above, but it’s always possible we’ve missed something. To that extent, we always recommend doing a bit of your own research, so you know what you’re getting.
If you haven’t made a decision yet, we’ll offer some additional guidance here.
We consider the following factors in the sections that follow:
- Tone/sound quality
Let’s get into it.
Awesome Sounding Instrument
The tone of the instrument is going to depend a lot on the materials it’s made of.
Laminate woods are typically cheaper and more durable, but they don’t sound quite as good.
Solid woods cost more and aren’t as durable, but they tend to sound better.
The size of the instrument also plays a part. The projection and depth of a guitalele cannot match that of the guitar based on its size or tuning, but if you’re comparing apples to apples (not apples to oranges), you’ll see that there are plenty of great sounding guitaleles out there.
The easiest and most convenient way to determine what a specific instrument sounds like is to do a search for demos and reviews on YouTube.
It’s important to know that reviews and demos aren’t created equal, since reviewers record using different mics, hardware and environments. Still, it can give you a decent idea of how an instrument can sound.
Your other alternative is to go into an instrument store and try out a few guitaleles for yourself. If they have a rental department, you may be able to take a few instruments home and test them out at your own leisure.
Between these methods, it’s hard to fail. Of course, if you have budgetary constraints, you can’t automatically spring for the most expensive one, which in most cases will be the best sounding one.
I find most guitaleles to be easy to play, but of course it varies from instrument to instrument.
It’s important to know that when a guitalele comes from a factory, it isn’t necessarily set up to be as playable as possible. With the help of a tech, its playability can likely be optimized. This will cost something, however.
To figure out whether a specific instrument is playable, you can do three things:
- Scan online reviews.
- Check video demos and reviews.
- Try out the instruments for yourself.
Of course, playability is largely a matter of preference. Some people don’t mind high action. Others like it as low as possible. Knowing your own preferences can be helpful.
Finally, we typically find the more you’re willing to spend, the more playable the instrument tends to be.
Cheap instruments may or may not be playable and may not come equipped with the best hardware either, causing frequent tuning issues.
More expensive instruments usually come with better parts, making the instrument more stable and balanced overall.
All things being equal, it’s nicer to have a well-built instrument versus one that features low-quality parts or is prone to damage.
In this guide, we’ve made sure to note any instruments you are likely to experience some quality control issues with. With that in mind, our research may not be perfect, and we always recommend doing your due diligence before committing to a purchase.
Note that some compromises can be made in this regard. For instance, you could buy a cheaper guitalele and then spend some extra money replacing the parts or having your instrument set up by a pro tech.
At the end of the day, you’re probably not going to save any money modifying your instrument, but some people love doing the DIY thing, so we can’t fault you for that.
So, the key here is to know what you’re getting. Do your research, know what to expect and make sure you end up with a product you’ll be happy with.
I’ve said quite a bit about cheap versus expensive instruments, but at the end of the day, you should consider your budget before moving forward with a purchase.
We don’t recommend spending more than you can afford to spend just because one instrument is better than the other.
Either buy within your budget now or save up and buy a more expensive instrument later.
Of course, if you aren’t fully committed to the instrument yet and just want to give it a try, then getting a guitalele in the $80 to $150 range is probably ideal.
It should be good enough for you to pick up a few techniques and songs, and by that point, you should know whether you want to continue.
What Types Of Guitaleles Are There?
A guitalele is a unique instrument – as I already explained, it’s basically a six-string ukulele.
But in case there’s any confusion, as the above list featured instruments going by slightly different names, I thought it would be a good idea to make a few distinctions.
First, let’s look at instrument sizes. Ukuleles come in four basic shapes and sizes, including soprano (smallest), concert, tenor and baritone (largest). There are also “pineapple” shaped ukuleles, which are basically the same size as soprano ukuleles, except with a different body shape.
Second, there are acoustic and electric-acoustic instruments. The difference between these is relatively straightforward, but if you haven’t seen it with ukuleles before, it can be confusing.
Acoustic ukuleles are standard ukuleles. You can play them without plugging them in.
Acoustic-electric ukuleles can also be played without plugging in but come with the option. So, if you want to put your ukulele through an amp or a PA system at a performance, you could take advantage of an electric-acoustic guitalele.
Third, there are right-handed and left-handed instruments. Most instruments are right-handed, meaning they are meant to be played with your left hand doing the fretting and your right hand doing the strumming or picking.
Left-handed would be the opposite, meaning you would fret with your right hand and pick/strum with your left hand.
If you’re just getting started, it’s good to know that one isn’t easier or harder than the other. But it is harder to find left-handed instruments than right-handed instruments.
Fourth, as already noted, we looked at instruments with different names. There’s guitaleles, six-string ukuleles and guitar-ukuleles. You might see some other names out there while doing your research.
It’s safe to assume guitaleles and six-string ukuleles are the same. And, either instrument could be tuned to A (standard ukulele tuning) or E (standard guitar tuning). We suggest checking the product descriptions so you know which you’re getting.
A guitar-ukulele or anything with a similar name may have been created to be one of the other rather than a hybrid of both. So, you might end up with a travel size guitar (a guitar with a small body and a full-size neck, for instance).
There isn’t necessarily right or wrong, because I think the idea is to get a six-string instrument that’s smaller than a standard size guitar and acts as a ukulele in terms of sound and function.
If it has nylon strings, gut strings or similar, then it should sound closer to a ukulele than a guitar.
A guitalele is a fun instrument that offers more possibilities than the typical ukulele.
A ukulele can sound relatively sparse and thin as an accompaniment instrument because of its limited range, but a guitalele can be significantly more flexible, because it gives you the ability to play your favorite guitar chords (only two and a half steps up).
It can also be fun to have a guitalele around for recording sessions, in case you want to capture a bit of ukulele on your recordings but want a little more range and flexibility overall.