View Full Version : Successfully tuning the guitalele to eadgbe

11-25-2011, 09:06 AM
I've played around with my guitalele and its tuning quite a bit. I will spare you all the details, but I have found the following to work well. The guitalele is meant to be tuned adgcea. Eventually, I recognized that adgce is pretty close to adgbe. I tuned down the c string, and tried some guitar music, and it sounded good. So, I took off all the strings, and set the high a string aside. I put the e string first, the c string second, and so on. I tune the c string to b, and get a fresh low e string from a classical guitar set, and tune that to e on the 6th spot. Lo and behold, a nice sounding eadgbe tuning on the guitalele, and all the strings except number 6 are at or very near normal tension.

The main reason for doing this is my desire to play classical music, and all the resources out there seem to be geared to that tuning. So, I will play guitar music on my guitalele, and Uke music on my Kala Longneck, and all is well in my little corner of the musical world!

I know some folks have desired to do this, and I tried eadgbe on the strings as they normally are, but they were just too loose. This set up seems to fix that.

take care,


11-25-2011, 10:04 AM
Oh, I did need to file one of the slots on the nut to let the heavier string sit properly.

01-31-2013, 01:23 AM
Thanks Tom! For the low e, do you think using an extra hard tension string would help? (Or have I got that backwards and a low tension e string would be better?)

01-31-2013, 06:26 AM
LaBella makes a set for Fractional Guitars, the 1/4 size works well.
You can use eadgbe tuning and have good tension and tone.

02-01-2013, 05:37 AM
neat idea! I had a Yamaha guitalele for a while but I didn't bond with it. I probably would have liked it more if it was tuned like a standard guitar.

06-08-2015, 04:57 PM
I would love some advice. I have just bought a Córdoba Guitilele 6 string. My husband has put extra light acoustic strings on it and tuned it to e a d g b e but it won't stay in tune. Almost immediately it goes out. Is it the stings? It came with metal strings and nylon on it and the new set is all metal. thank you!

06-08-2015, 04:58 PM
Any help would be appreciated

06-08-2015, 06:21 PM
Lisa, most new instruments will need to be played daily for about a month before the nylgut strings hold their tune. The strings are being stretched, and playing them is an essential part of the process. This will happen again after you wear out and replace the strings with new ones.

Cordoba has promised to soon release some strings for the Cordoba Mini with regular guitar tuning.

Hippie Dribble
06-09-2015, 12:56 AM
Just for your information also Tom, Southcoast strings have designed a special set for this guitar tuning - the 'Eddie Freeman Special' set - They sound amazing and I highly recommend them. If you check out Dr Bekken's youtube channel he has a number of clips there using this set on his guitarlele and they sing.

This, from Dirk's website:

EFSG-SW: EFS Guilele String set w/ smooth wound basses
This set has a suggested tuning of e a d’ g b e’ on the typical 17” Guilele scale. That makes this a reentrant set in the Eddie Freeman Special form, with strings 6-4 an octave up from standard guitar tuning. The 3rd string is then reentrant, dropping an octave. The strings proceed up normally from there, meaning strings 3-1 are in the same octave as standard guitar tuning. The 4th & 1st strings are plain. The 4 lowest strings, 6, 5, 3 & 2 are wound. The heavier of these, the 6 & 3 are smooth wound for noise free playing. The 5th and 2nd wound strings are lighter gauges and are polished round wounds for low noise. These materials allow a 4-wound set-up to have much less noise under hand than the customary 3-wound arrangement. In addition to allowing play with standard guitar chord names, this set, compared to a typical Guilele set, will have a much easier feel, much better response and the range of notes are much better suited for acoustic play on the small bodied Guilele.

There is also a variant set of lighter gauge. Worth trying for sure. Cheers mate.

10-07-2017, 03:05 AM

Thanks for your original post, moving the strings up one place, it's working well for me using John Pearse PJ116 strings - which I also like on my guitar. They are a replacement for nylon strings and have a sort of hybrid nylon/steel sound.

Edit: After some experimentation I am finding that a D'Addario NYL056W string on the bass gives good tension, sound and articulation, when used as a guitar low E.


10-07-2017, 04:06 AM

Thanks for your original post, moving the strings up one place, it's working well for me using John Pearse PJ116 strings - which I also like on my guitar. They are a replacement for nylon strings and have a sort of hybrid nylon/steel sound.

I also have a solution for the bass string. After consulting D'Addario's http://www.daddario.com/upload/tension_chart_13934.pdf, I found that to maintain the same tension as the PJ116 set (14lbs) I would need a D'Addario .059 steel string; they are available with nickel or phosphor bronze windings. I know this sounds a bit radical fitting such a large steel string, but it works and the tension is definitely right. I opted for the nickel windings and it sounds a little dull so I might try the phosphor bronze some time.

The only caveats are that the string is so fat that it only just fits the hole in the bridge and the ball/loop end part does not go down the hole, but it wedges firmly in the hole and seems to work fine like that. Also, that the tuning is very fine - but it does stay in tune.


I think you may be confusing an acoustic guitar steel string (nickel/bronze outer wrap, which has a STEEL core) with a WOUND classical guitar string (silverplated copper which has a NYLON core).

You should be aware that acoustic/electric guitar steel strings of the same gauge as the classical nylon or wound-over-nylon strings, have about 3-4x the string tension, and as such, will damage (usually beyond repair) and instrument that is built for classical-style strings.

Aside from that, steel strings require a different bridge configuration, with the saddle slanted at about 18 degrees away from the NUT in order to get anything close to having proper intonation with the bass strings being less than +30 cents sharp, and as such if installed on an instrument with a saddle that is parallel to the nut, will likely be impossible to play in tune.

Yes, I've tried it myself and can confirm.

Classical guitar and uke strings are NOT the same as acoustic/electric guitar steel strings. They are composed of different materials.

If you want to test for string tension, D'Addarion has an online calculator that lets you build your own string sets (link below).

When you use the 'String Tension Pro' site you can adjust tuning, scale length and either tension or string gauge and it tells you how all the math works out.

See here:


Lots of beginners with ukulele and classical guitar see 'metal' strings and make the incorrect assumption that these are the same as like on a Martin acoustic or other acoustic or electric guitar, and this is simply and completely incorrect.

On ukulele, classical guitar and similar instruments, these strings with metal on them are called 'WOUND' strings as opposed to plain nylon, fluorocarbon, nylgut etc, and have a core of these SAME materials (not steel) that is wrapped with silver-plated copper, aluminum, bronze (La Bella), nickel (GHS) or chrome (Thomastik-Infeld) in order to increase the linear density and offer proper tension in order to intonate effectively.

Hope this helps! :)

10-23-2017, 01:06 AM

Thanks for your advice, I only just saw it.

I had realised the error of my ways and edited my post already. Yes, it was silly to try using a steel string - but I didn't know that until I tried it, haha. It was the right weight and tension according to the D'Addario tables but it went right out of tune as soon I fretted a note - it was considerably out by the third fret! I think that in my case the problem was caused by the tension increasing due to the fretting pressure - steel strings do not stretch like nylon ones.

I am now using a .056 bass string (NYL056W) which is doing what is wanted and the intonation is nearly perfect.


10-24-2017, 10:02 AM
aquila has a set for the cordoba mini that's guitar tuning.
The tension is fine, but I can't say I cared for the tone. Just too low for the body size to sound right.

rubber duckie
02-15-2018, 04:09 PM
Yamaha GL1 guitalele.
Tune down the wound strings to EAD....they will all hold tune well.
Then remove the bottom 1st nylon string your current A to be high E...throw it away.
Move the 2 remaining nylon strings down 1 position each.
The gap that was the 3rd string C that is to be tuned to G....replace that with another thin steel core wound string at the same or just slightly less than that of the 4th D wound string.

So 1 and 2 are nylon and 3456 are wound strings.

It works form me.

02-17-2018, 01:03 AM
I stick to the re-entrant Southcoast EFS strings, but there are also strings for the seven-string ‘Russian’ guitar, tuned like a regular classical guitar with the 7th string a low B, beneath the low E. If you remove the high E string from that set you can put the rest of the strings on the guitalele and use regular linear E to E guitar tuning.

gilles T
03-01-2018, 12:23 AM

Just to let you know my latest experience, because the option has not been listed here yet : I tried a set of nylon Hannabach 890MT for 1/8 guitar on my gretsch guitalele. It is the very first time in years of trial and errors that I get a satisfactory E tuning on it, at last ! The set comes with a G wound string (I personally don't care) and is quite expensive, but the strings are excellent, stay in tune and give a deep low voice to the diminutive instrument. I would be very happy if you can share your impressions once you have tried them.

03-01-2018, 12:34 AM
This is an old topic, but I do have a solution.

You can tune eadgbe, but if the 6th string e is re-entrant (octave high)

Listen to it here:


03-01-2018, 08:05 AM
This is an old topic, but I do have a solution.

You can tune eadgbe, but if the 6th string e is re-entrant (octave high)

Listen to it here:


That sounds great Kissing! :music: and also a really simple solution without going crazy for custom string sets.

Thanks for sharing! :)