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View Full Version : Pros & Cons of the Guitalele?



drbekken
02-08-2013, 12:17 AM
Ok.
I can't help noticing that several videos containing the Yamaha GL1 'guitalele' have been posted on youtube lately. The instrument also pops up in discussions and threads here on the UU forum.
What are your experiences with - or just general thoughts about - the guitalele?
What's good?
What's bad?
Should it be included in the 'ukulele family' of instruments - or not?
Personally, I find the sound intriguing, and wonder if I should go to my local music store and try one. They're not expensive up here.

consitter
02-08-2013, 12:55 AM
Ok.
I can't help noticing that several videos containing the Yamaha GL1 'guitalele' have been posted on youtube lately. The instrument also pops up in discussions and threads here on the UU forum.
What are your experiences with - or just general thoughts about - the guitalele?
What's good?
What's bad?
Should it be included in the 'ukulele family' of instruments - or not?
Personally, I find the sound intriguing, and wonder if I should go to my local music store and try one. They're not expensive up here.

What's bad? Too many strings. That's all I got to say about that.

Plainsong
02-08-2013, 01:01 AM
What's kept me from getting one for my husband, is that he prefers standard guitar tuning. I know of only one string set that might work, and if those strings suck? Welp...

anthonyg
02-08-2013, 01:07 AM
The Yamaha GL1 specifically is an inexpensive laminate instrument. Laminate instruments are getting very good but its still a laminated instrument. Its got too many strings that are TOO close together. I really want to play a 6 string again and I just MIGHT as a slide instrument in open tuning but it depends on whether your up for the learning curve or whether you play 6 string instruments already.

Me? I'm quite good with 4 strings but I would have to learn all over again with 6 strings.

Anthony

Linho
02-08-2013, 01:14 AM
I own several Ukuleles, but I really like my Yamaha Guitalele. Here's a short sound sample:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=u69ezdaYR8A

After getting used to the Ukulele my guitar feels way to big for me, but sometimes I just want to add more depth to my sound. :)

Strung with ADG d'Addario and CEA Martin Flourocarbon it sounds very balanced. The playability is good, and it makes a lot of fun. But the best thing on it, it is really really cheap. I played many more expensive Tenor Ukuleles which were worse in my opinion. So I recommend anyone who wants to try a Tenor sized Ukulele tuned Guitar to open your mind and give the Guitalele a chance. Compared to its price it's a really great instrument! :D

It makes too much fun to be ignored because of the two more strings. ;)

(Ok, I can say that, I also own a harp ukulele. :rolleyes: )

The Big Kahuna
02-08-2013, 01:45 AM
I've fallen in love with the Kanile'a GL6. I think it's going to be my next purchase. Well...my K1-T needs a baby sister.

PhilUSAFRet
02-08-2013, 02:16 AM
Cordoba Guileles way better than the Yamaha. Ukulele sized guitars are not new. There are quite a few Latin American "guitars, guitarras, charangos, cuatros, etc. etc. that are uke-approximate in size that have been around for centuries. I see some gorgeous ones on ebay all the time. Perhaps some of the string sets for thm will work on an guilele.

villafranca
02-08-2013, 04:49 AM
I like my Yamaha Guitalele well enough, but at that size, I'd much rather play a uke. The string spacing on the Guitalele is way cramped. I think Guitaleles sound much better fingerpicked than strummed -- it's a lot like a mini-classical guitar than a uke.

I got mine for $69 from one of Musician's Friend's Stupid Deals of the Day, so I don't regret buying one. It was in a nice sunburst finish, to boot!

- Sean

nighthunte29
02-08-2013, 05:26 AM
I love mine, I received it yesterday and and I am already comfortable with string spacing, the neck also seems to fit my hand perfectly, I like to look at is as a tenor ukulele with two bass strings.
I am finding it increasingly fun to make random chord progressions and to just improvise anything, there is so much more depth to the sound with the bass strings, and the frets are suitably sized, I struggle hugely to play a regular guitar.
After a day of playing the strings no longer stretch and it is staying perfectly in tune, many people say to buy different strings, but I remain to see no problem with the stock ones, at least until I hear the difference between these and different ones.
A great thing about it is that any song you know on guitar, you can play exactly the same, it will just be in a different key, it gives it more of a ukulele feel, but still with good depth and volume.
I am still finding it rather surprising how much volume this thing actually projects, you can really shred it!
There are some great resources online to, I was surprised to even find a chord chart, but I have also found a whole site dedicated to classical music, the Guitalele and Johann Sebastian Bach just go together magically!

Lori
02-08-2013, 05:49 AM
It can be a real challenge to get the right strings and the right Guitarlele together. Because of the size of the instrument, the lower notes really can't compare well against a Classical Guitar. With the strings I have on mine (a KoAloha DVI) the bottom is OK, but the top is too mellow. I have it strung with strings for EADGBE, and have tuned it sharp by a couple of steps to make it sound brighter. Standard Guitarlele tuning would be ADGCEA, but another option would be to tune those extra strings like a harp ukulele, giving you extra open base notes. I find my all-koa instrument muddy when strummed with my current set up, but it sounds fine for fingerpicking, and would be a nice addition for group playing. It is a lot easier to play than my classical guitar.

–Lori

mattydee
02-08-2013, 06:21 AM
It can be a real challenge to get the right strings and the right Guitarlele together. Because of the size of the instrument, the lower notes really can't compare well against a Classical Guitar. With the strings I have on mine (a KoAloha DVI) the bottom is OK, but the top is too mellow. I have it strung with strings for EADGBE, and have tuned it sharp by a couple of steps to make it sound brighter. Standard Guitarlele tuning would be ADGCEA, but another option would be to tune those extra strings like a harp ukulele, giving you extra open base notes. I find my all-koa instrument muddy when strummed with my current set up, but it sounds fine for fingerpicking, and would be a nice addition for group playing. It is a lot easier to play than my classical guitar.

–Lori

I picked up a Yamaha GL-1 for cheap, but have never played guitar before. How would you suggest those bass strings be tuned?

I'm finding the fretboard cramped to learn guitar chords on, for sure, but if I were just playing 4 string chords and allowing those bass strings to ring I fretted, it might be nice.

Tootler
02-08-2013, 06:30 AM
Tried one once. didn't really like if. Too many strings

Barbablanca
02-08-2013, 06:32 AM
I'd keep the GL Tuning as it comes. That's what makes it sound like a member of the Uke family. Tuned EADGBE it'd surely just sound like a kid's guitar.

Although I'm playing Uke more and more, and my MIAS has fast become UAS, I still like the familiarity of the 6 strings and the lack of a re-entrant string on the GL for some things. Plus, as I said above, the tuning is reminiscent enough of a Uke, but the extra bass strings add possibilities - even if they are not deep down bass sounds.

Basically, I love all instruments I can get my hands on - and at €57 this was one of the best value for money instruments I've got ;) It's certainly an improvement on the 3/4 size Steel Strung Guitar Yamaha produced some time back (which I bought to try and teach my daughter to play on when she was younger. Sadly, she didn't take to it. However, the good news is I showed her three basic chords on a Dolphin Uke recently and she has started picking it up when she thinks I'm not listening ;).

missameeames
02-08-2013, 07:15 AM
I bought my Yamaha Guitalele because I like the convenient size of the uke, but missed playing guitar. I thought a baritone might be similar enough to make me happy, but I really missed the bottom two strings of a guitar. I figured with the guitalele, I could practice my guitar pieces just as easily as I do with uke during the day. My biggest issue with them is the small nut and narrow string spacing. I chose the Yamaha over the Cordoba because the nut is 2mm wider, but I'd still like it to be a tad wider.

With all the great things I've been hearing about the Gretsch ukes lately, I'm really curious to hear what people will think of their new "Guitar Ukulele" and can't wait to start seeing reviews on them.

Tootler
02-08-2013, 07:19 AM
However, the good news is I showed her three basic chords on a Dolphin Uke recently and she has started picking it up when she thinks I'm not listening ;).

That's daughters for you. Don't admit anything to Dad ;)

Toucan Mango
02-08-2013, 07:34 AM
Does any one know how heavy they are compared to a tenor ukulele? a lot, a little?

Lori
02-08-2013, 08:40 AM
Does any one know how heavy they are compared to a tenor ukulele? a lot, a little?

I would say the Yamaha and the KoAloha are light, similar to a tenor.
–Lori

nighthunte29
02-08-2013, 08:44 AM
It will be balanced different due to the big 6 string head though!
Having said that I don't notice it while playing whatsoever.

Lori
02-08-2013, 08:48 AM
I picked up a Yamaha GL-1 for cheap, but have never played guitar before. How would you suggest those bass strings be tuned?

I'm finding the fretboard cramped to learn guitar chords on, for sure, but if I were just playing 4 string chords and allowing those bass strings to ring I fretted, it might be nice.

Check out this Daniel Ho demo of the KoAloha DVI and it's tuning.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3ObKpWPXG9c&list=FL5rh_i-MPkvdnPuUVT_lFLw&index=36
–Lori

greyghost
02-08-2013, 09:06 AM
Aquila has a special guitalele set--they work really well on mine.

Toucan Mango
02-08-2013, 09:24 AM
Thank you!
I would say the Yamaha and the KoAloha are light, similar to a tenor.
–Lori

mattydee
02-08-2013, 09:37 AM
Check out this Daniel Ho demo of the KoAloha DVI and it's tuning.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3ObKpWPXG9c&list=FL5rh_i-MPkvdnPuUVT_lFLw&index=36
–Lori

Sweet. Thanks!

Markr1
02-08-2013, 01:05 PM
I recently bought a Koaloha D-V1 from a UU member about 1 1/2 months ago. I really like it. I've been playing guitar for about 27 years and since starting the uke a couple of years ago have been wanting one of these and I'm happy I got it. I can't tell any difference in the weight between my tenors and the guitalele. The string spacing is right for fingerpicking and quite easy to do. I use a thumbpick for it since that's what I use with my guitars. I don't have a problem with fret spacing unless I'm trying to use bar chords further up the neck. I would think if your a guitar and ukulele player then your going to like the guitalele as much as I do. I bought some Aquila Guilele set for it from Elderly for it tuned ADGCEA and think they sound great. Next I'm looking to see what kind of pickup to get for it. I would like the LR Baggs 5.0 but I'll have to take it to my luthier and make sure it will work with the wider bridge. He installed a Baggs 5.0 in my Kamaka HF-3 and said he thought the under saddle would be long enough to work in it.
Those are my thoughts on the guitalele. Hope it helps.

fumanshu
02-08-2013, 01:20 PM
I have almost all the ''guitarlele'' on the market and the best....i mean the best sounding one tone wise is the Kanilea GL-6.....They are quite cool instruments if you do like to play guitar and want something small.....

But for sure you will never get the bottom end of a classical guitar.........and this is also the biggest difference between the different guitarlele on the market........some have nice bottom end, other are just ok..... Again I prefer the Kanilea GL-6 the best.....

drbekken
02-08-2013, 02:08 PM
Thanks for all the answers to the thread! For the record: I went out and bought one - a Yamaha - today. Will come back with comments in a few days!

itsme
02-08-2013, 02:43 PM
I have the Yamaha Guitalele and it's great for what it is. The build quality and sound are excellent for its price point. As a classical guitarist, I do find the fretboard a bit cramped in comparison.

The included gig bag is pretty flimsy. It fits into a couple of my tenor gig bags, but not into a molded polyfoam case like the Uke Crazy/Lanikai.

FWIW, I put standard D'Addario CG strings on it with no problem.

Markr1
02-08-2013, 02:52 PM
I bought the Uke Crazy hardcase from Elderly for my Koaloha and it fits it like a glove.

japarts
02-08-2013, 03:33 PM
I bought a Yamaha Guitalele years ago and for a long time couldn't put it down. It really inspired me to play and compose. I've played guitar and ukulele for decades now, so something that sits so nicely between the two is fun times two for me. Then I played one made by an experienced luthier. The sound difference was so obvious that I've now shelved the Yamaha for a very long time. I have a custom guitalele on order.

itsme
02-08-2013, 03:47 PM
I bought the Uke Crazy hardcase from Elderly for my Koaloha and it fits it like a glove.
Had to do a double take before I realized you said hardcase. In my experience, most hardshell cases have a bit more wiggle room than the polyfoams, especially at the top (headstock) end.

My polyfoam case fits my Mainland tenor snugly. There's no room for a Guitalele's longer headstock and ever-so-slightly larger body. When I held them up together (too lazy to get out a measuring tape), the nut to bridge scale length looked identical, but the headstock has to accommodate tuners for 6 strings instead of just 4 so it's going to be a bit longer.

ancient
02-09-2013, 05:37 AM
Just got my new Kanilea GL6 Thursday from Hawaii Music Supply. I emailed them about my intrerest in the GL6,and got an almost immediate response from Andrew. He had a beautiful curly koa GL6 from the NAMM show. Andrew sent me pictures of it a couple of days later. It was BEAUTIFUL!! Needless to say it is now in my music room.
It sounds as good as it looks. This one has an actice pickup installed and I tried it out yestrday.I have to say that it still has the acoustic sound through the amp. The neck is wider than the Yamaha so the string spacing is better. I spent a good part of my life playing Classical Guitar,and now I can continue playing those pieces with a smaller instrument. I also play ukulele which was my first instrument as a child,and still love playing it.
I plan to post some pictures of the GL6 soon.

drbekken
02-10-2013, 09:57 PM
Right.
So I have been a Yamaha GL1 guitalele owner for a few days.
The instrument is quite nice, even if the fretboard feels a bit cramped.
I like the sound of it, but in my opinion, it's a small guitar rather than a uke.
Still, I can understand its popularity.
I'll post a video one of these days.

nighthunte29
02-10-2013, 11:43 PM
Try putting a high G on it! :D