The guitalele might look like a lovechild of a guitar and ukulele, but it’s not intimidating at all. It’s easy to learn and much easier to carry than a regular guitar! But, how do you tune this adorable string instrument? The answer might surprise you! Here’s everything you need to know about guitalele tuning.
What Is a Guitalele?
As you might have probably guessed, the guitalele is a mix of ukulele and the guitar. It has a narrower and smaller body than a standard guitar but is significantly larger than a uke. And, just like a guitar, a guitalele is fitted with six strings, but its sound is reminiscent of a uke, especially when strumming. And, if you capo a guitar on the 5th fret, it will sound exactly like a guitalele.
The reason for this ukulele-like sound is because of the standard guitalele tuning (more on this later). It has a higher pitch than a guitar. How high? A 4th higher.
What Is the Standard Guitalele Tuning?
The standard tuning of a six-string guitalele is A-D-G-C-E-a. And surprisingly, the top four strings are similar to a ukulele’s G-C-E-A tuning. The main difference is that a ukulele’s G string is an octave.
For each note on a regular guitar, you’ll need to move up three frets to get the same note an octave higher on a guitalele. So, if you play open E on your guitar and tune that string down to D, you will get the same musical note as playing 5th fret D on your guitalele.
What Is the Guitalele Tuning With High G?
In this tuning, the D string has been replaced with a high G string, one octave above the highest E string on your guitalele. It would help if you tuned your high g string up to A to create an open chord, then tune that note down four semitones (three frets) until you reach the D note. Then tune each note in succession from there, going outward in 4ths until you get back to standard tuning B-E-A-D-G-B.
The high G guitalele tuning is a variation to standard tuning that incorporates a re-entrant string order. The notes from low to high are E, A, D, G, B, E instead of E, A, D, G, B, E, which results in the strings being “re-entrant.” In this case, the 4th string remains a low E and does not become an A in an open tuning.
DADGAD: The Alternate Guitalele Tuning?
This uses D-A-D-G-A-D or low to high; the 6th string is not used. When starting, it may be challenging to tune, so you can use your guitar tuner or even tune by ear using the 7th fret notes on the low E-string. This is how DADGAD is tuned compared to standard ukulele tuning:
- a-string: Open A = 5th fret E-string
- d-string: Open D = 5th fret A-string
- g-string: Open G = 2nd fret D-string
- D string: Open D = 6th fret low E string
- E string: Open E = 7th fret high E string
High G is the same note as the 6th Low G-String. Standard ukulele tuning does not use that 6th Low G, but most uke players tune their instrument down about a half step for rhythm parts so they can play along with guitarists in rock bands.
If you want to do this yourself, you will need to retune your guitalele not just once, but twice! You’ll first need to take off the high G string and put on a regular guitar E-string.
b-string: Open B = 7th fret F#
c-string: Open C = 2nd fret C
d-string: 4th fret D
e-string: 8th fret E, open E is the same note as a high G string in standard tuning. You will not use the 6th string on a guitalele with this tuning.
f-string: 10th fret F#, but there is no corresponding note for this string on a guitar ukulele, so it’s best to tune down from the g-string by ear.
G-string: Open G = 4th fret A, but there is no corresponding note for this string on a ukulele, so it’s best to tune down from the f-string by ear.
High g-string: 13th fret G (same as open 6th string in standard tuning). You can tune this string up or down depending on your preference for various keys. You can also adjust to the same key as low E-string (D), but you may want it an octave lower (C#) or higher (A).
Can You Tune a Guitalele Like a Regular Guitar?
Yes, you can most definitely tune a guitalele like a regular guitar! As mentioned, guitaleles are 4th higher than a guitar. So, what you want to do is tune all the strings down until you get E-A-D-G-B-e.
However, there is a downside – the strings are going to be floppy or too loose. Also, expect that the overall tone of your guitalele to be muddy. There is a workaround, though. You can pick up a set of Hannabach 1/8 guitar strings and other small nylon string sets.
The guitalele is an excellent instrument for beginners – young or old! It’s easier to learn than an acoustic guitar, but it has similar features. You can even tune it like a guitar! Remember, the standard guitalele tuning is A-D-G-C-E-a, just like a standard guitar, but the same six strings are used but are tuned an octave higher at GCEA.