View Full Version : Guitalele question

01-11-2018, 03:43 PM
Does anyone know if any brands of guitalele come already tuned in guitar E tuning instead of A tuning?

01-11-2018, 04:08 PM
Does anyone know if any brands of guitalele come already tuned in guitar E tuning instead of A tuning?

In my experience the shortest scale you will find whereby you can reasonably tune EADGBE and have proper tension and string mass for useful intonation is a 23" scale or sometimes referred to as "7/8 scale" or "3/4 scale".

Most guitalele/guilele/kiku are baritone (19-21")or tenor (17") scale.

On my Cordoba Mini, the lowest TUNING I was comfortable with using high tension classical string (Thomastik-Infeld CF128, ~$19/set) was called "Terz' tuning, which is Italian for 'third' as in a 'minor third' higher than E.

This is an officially recognized tuning and there's tons of music written for this instrument, in the Renaissance, Baroque and 'Moderne' periods.

I have my Mini tuned as Terz, which is like tuning your tenor to F-Bb-D-G, but with 6 strings as G-C-F-Bb-D-G, and in my brain, I am playing and thinking in "E-tuning" as per the chord shapes, and since I am only writing my own music, I only have to worry about naming the chords or notes or whatever key I am in, if in fact I am writing parts for other instruments, otherwise I just dont think about Terz vs. "E-tuning" and only care about the SOUND of the music.

Aquila collaborated with Cordoba to make a set of strings in 'E-tuning' for the Cordoba Mini, but so many folks hated them, that I never bothered to try them myself.

ASIDE from all of the above, you also have to contend with the physics involved in that the body of a guitalele/guilele/kiku has to be LARGE enough to resonate those low frequencies of the 5th & 6th strings, otherwise it will sound either/and of very low volume and/or 'choked-off' and lifeless.

You cannot fight physics, and this is why an upright bass has a HUGE violin-shaped body, partly for the ability to resonate the low bass frequencies, and partly to have enough VOLUME to actually be heard without amplification, as part of an ensemble and taking advantage of the architectural acoustic properties of a concert hall designed for such music (classical).

Hope this helps! :)

01-11-2018, 08:25 PM
I agree with everything Booli said, including Terz tuning to be an awesome middle ground for the Guitarlele/Kiku type of instrument. Check out the Pono UL models, they make a Terz Guitar for Steel Strings at 21", and their smallest Nylon String Guitar for E-E tuning has a 23" s scale.

01-12-2018, 03:20 AM
You don't see Terz guitars that much anymore. Martin used to make a beautiful 5-15 model, with a scale length of about 21" or so. That's the guitar you most often see Dolly Parton playing. Must have given the rest of her band fits always playing up a third to match her tuning!

01-12-2018, 06:33 AM
Does anyone know if any brands of guitalele come already tuned in guitar E tuning instead of A tuning?

I strung a Cordoba 17" scale guitalele with LaBella 1/4 fractional guitar strings & was able to tune to guitar tuning. The result was lack luster at best. There was not enough string tension to either feel right while playing, or to sound good at all. Overall, it yielded an unsatisfying playing experience. I wouldn't recommend it....

I agree with Booli .... you need a +/-23" scale to pull off guitar tuning adequately

gilles T
01-13-2018, 12:29 AM

having tried about each and every string choice to achieve E tuning on a guitalele, I think I can share my experience. First, no satisfactory results are to be found with any guitar string set tuned in E. And Booli is right, the best results is a "terz" tuning with a set of hard tension strings. That said, there is one way to get a good E tuning : take any string set from A to B (omit the first strings) plus a low B (Hannabach for instance) as a sixth string tuned to E, et voilĂ* ! You might have to file the slots at the nut to accomodate the thick low B string and if you do so, be careful.
I know that Pyramid sells a rather cheap set for 7 strings guitar, never gave them a try bat some guitalele players are happy with it.

01-13-2018, 10:40 AM
Kanilea made a mini guitar in the Islander series tuned in E I wonder how that would sound in comparison

Jim Hanks
01-13-2018, 04:39 PM
How about the reentrant E "Eddie Freeman Special" tuning? The ead strings are an octave higher than normal so you still get your standard guitar chords with proper tension for scale lengths in 17"-20" which is typical for guitalele. If you google "dr bekken efs tuning" you will find some great videos and even some prior UU posts on this tuning.

01-13-2018, 05:05 PM
The aquila e tuning basses for the mini sound good to me. The trebles are another story. The tension is good and they are passable if my nails are proper, but they are uneven sounding and a bit dead in places.

I just put a new set on. They are passable for my purposes as my 4ne is usually handy if I need a guitar.

I would love it if aquila would put out some better trebles. Hint hint Mimmo:D


01-13-2018, 05:18 PM
My Kinnard Kiku is tuned to E to E
I use Southcoast strings that is made for Kiku for the trebles
Small guitar strings for the bass

01-14-2018, 03:19 AM
From what I understand, those Islander guitars are made for steel strings. They have a scale length of 23.5", so they are pretty similar to the Little Martin and the Taylor Mini. To me, this scale length is too close to that of a regular guitar. Coming from the ukulele, the largest scale I can play comfortably is 21.4". My dream guitalele would have a scale of 19" to be tuned to Terz.

Jim Hanks
01-14-2018, 04:30 AM
My dream guitalele would have a scale of 19" to be tuned to Terz.
You could do it with this one:

Geez, I can't believe y'all have me looking at guitaleles. I gave up on 6 strings a lone time ago. *cues Godfather II meme*

01-15-2018, 06:09 PM
I have a set of the standard E tuning strings for my ini but never put them on. I just down tuned the stock set. They work just okay but the bottom string intonation isn't very good up the scale at that tuning. But it worked well enough for a guitar class one of my daugters took. I just wish I could play one comfortably as my double jointed curse really makes these 6 strings literally a pain to play.

01-17-2018, 07:33 AM
I also want to echo what Booli said re: terz tuning. A Cordoba Mini still sounds great tuned G to g. anything lower than that, and you really lose some projection. Even on my baritone uke, I like to tune up to either F# or G to really get it to sing.

Pono's terz specific models are AWESOME. I have one in cedar and mahogany, and while it is a bigger instrument than your average tenor uke, I like it A LOT (though I'm coming from guitar, so larger bodies and necks on small instruments aren't a deal-breaker). John Kitakis had some satin finished terz guitars at the end of December, and they still may be in stock. I'd highly recommend them, if you're interested in going to steel string.

Jim Hanks
01-17-2018, 01:44 PM
Just to be clear, is Terz tuning completely linear? G2 C3 F3 Bb3 D4 G4 ?

01-18-2018, 02:46 AM
Not to get too off-topic, but you might want to look into 'parlor' guitars, too. They're usually short scale, but the bridge is mounted way up so that the overall length of the instrument is a little shorter. The neck usually connects at the twelfth free. But!.. that ain't no uke, and every body will know it.

01-19-2018, 06:49 AM
Yes, Terz tuning is usually linear, like a regular guitar tuned up three steps. Also, it's the same range as a tenor uke tuned down from C to Bb.

The Martin Size 5 and Pono UL models mentioned above are actually mini parlor guitars.

01-20-2018, 12:04 AM
Ciao Ukulelerick9255
Maybe I have the answer for you:

Joe King
01-20-2018, 02:33 AM
Ciao Ukulelerick9255
Maybe I have the answer for you:

Hello Mimmo -

Can you give please give us the Aquila part number or SKU# for these? Like 91-U or something?

Thank you.

01-20-2018, 03:09 AM
Joe sorry:
I have not understant what you asked me

01-20-2018, 03:12 AM

Will they work on the mini? Or is the scale too long?

01-20-2018, 04:03 AM
No. Mini is not a Guilele: the scale is too long and this change things.
feet 36 want shoes 36....
This set is for the starndard guilele/guitalele only.
Mini has all other calculations/ratios

Joe King
01-20-2018, 05:00 AM
Joe sorry:
I have not understant what you asked me

Ok. All strings from Aquila, each set has a NUMBER and letter to identify, for example from Aquila web site:

134C, Classical Guitar, RUBINO

So, my question is asking, in the facebook video, showing you playing Yamaha Guitalele, with special strings, what is the number/letter for those strings in the video? (4 wound and 2 RED)

also -to confirm, this is for E-to-E linear tuning, same as standard on 650mm classical guitar?

Is this a better way of asking the question?

01-20-2018, 05:34 AM
Thanks Joe,
(sometime my english is not fluent so please be patient with me)
The aquila code is 153C (unfortunately we have troubles with our webiste so there are things that were, by chance, deleted). The tuning is exactly like a classical guitar: e,b,g,D,A E. Tension: same like the strandard guilele set A tuning: so medium tension. Strings 1st, 2nd reds; the other ones wound on Nylgut multifilament. Note: this is not a set suitable for a classical guitar of 65 cms: it is totally another thing.

01-20-2018, 06:52 AM
The video doesn’t mention what strings, gauges etc

01-20-2018, 06:59 AM
Mimmo 150c is not on on your website at all, how can I order them?

01-20-2018, 09:59 PM
please, send a mail: it is in the aquila website
our website is partially down, What a pity.

here is on youtube:


Joe King
01-21-2018, 03:38 PM
Mimmo 150c is not on on your website at all, how can I order them?

It seems that the carrot is dangled, but yet still so far out of reach.

I am weary and soon to give up too.

01-21-2018, 06:57 PM
Ciao Joe,
if you want give up I understand you: our website is not doing the best service and in your position I, too, will give up.
However you have the code now, 153C (150 is my mistake, sorry) and you can send a mail to aquila@aquilacorde.com if you want to give a try to this particular set and I think (I am pretty sure) you will be happy with it.
I hope that the guys that are doing the new website will do the job faster.
Take care