View Full Version : Excellent guitalele / guilele alternative

07-13-2014, 01:15 PM
I've been considering a guitalele or small guitar for a while and bit on an Amazon Warehouse $65 deal (list $85) for a Giannini GN-R "1/2 size" guitar http://www.giannini.com.br/novo_eng/produto.asp?id=1079. After a day of playing around with it, I love this baby guitar and wanted to share my experience with uke fans who may be thinking about making the jump to 6 strings.

First of all, "1/2 size" is inaccurate: that usually denotes an instrument with a 21-inch scale. This little guy measures 19.25" nut to bridge, which is actually 1" shorter than my 20.25" Lanikai CK-B baritone--but I believe about an inch longer in scale than the Yamaha guitalele. External dimensions are almost identical to my CK-B (and it fits perfectly in the same aftermarket case), and resonant frequency of the soundbox is c below middle C -- again, same as my CK-B. It has 18 frets, vs. 19 on the CK-B.

This is a classical-style instrument, so the neck has little or no taper toward the top. This is great because it gives spacing between the strings about the same as my Lanikai tenor uke. Close enough that you can still cover 2 strings when you want to, but far enough that you're not always bumping them.

Fit, finish, and appearance: it's a gorgeous instrument with a deep, glossy, but natural-colored finish. The mfg description lists hardwoods throughout, but I'm guessing laminate (?). At any rate, it does not at all look like a children's or starter instrument: it looks like a professional, but miniature, instrument. My only quibble is that the factory was a little sloppy with the prep and varnish on the inside of the headstock slots: there are some dribbles and rough spots.

Tuning: I have this in mind for pop/acoustic strumming much as I use my ukes, so I tuned the lowest string to G and then regular intervals up from that (same as guitar 3rd fret). Most folks tune guitalele up another step (6th string A / capo 5), but I want to keep it a little lower because many pop songs are recorded in their original versions on capo-3 (so I can just play these songs open). The 2 wound strings at the bottom are a little slack at that tuning, and the lowest string buzzes a bit up to the 5th fret. It does not buzz when tuned to A, so I think the neck and action are good.

At any rate, the factory strings feel cheap and stretchy, so one of the first things I will do is replace them. I'm looking at either the d'Addario EJ46 nylon set (heavy weight) or possibly their requinto set J94, which is made for short-scale guitars and has a similar, heavier weight compared to the Aquila guitalele nylgut set. That should cure the buzz from my drop-tuning.

Nice, mellow sound -- much darker than my CK-B, but that could be a combination of many factors (different wood, shorter scale, different strings, lower tuning, etc.) It really does have the sound of a scaled-down Spanish guitar as opposed to a uke-like sound. That makes it a nice alternative to uke.

Electric: my little Cherub clip-on pickup works great, positioned so the clip is between the two high strings.

Anyway, I know this is not a uke at all, but with all the interest in guitaleles on this board I thought folks might appreciate this mini-review. I would not hesitate to recommend this little guitar to anyone considering a guitalele.

07-13-2014, 06:12 PM
how wide is the nut? can you measure that please? I feel a bout of gas coming on. I see a gnr pl for 65usd on Amazon.

07-14-2014, 01:05 AM
The nut is 1 3/4" wide, bnolsen. That is 1/8" wider than my Gibson Maestro 3/4 size steel-strung acoustic, which confirms my subjective impression of more room up there.

07-14-2014, 04:16 AM
Thanks. Still looking for that elusive 2" nut. I guess the islander has that. Just build a reasonably priced laminate guitalele tenor with 2" nut someone, please!

07-14-2014, 04:57 AM
I've been looking for a small guitar and ordered one. Why would you choose the hard strings over lighter tension like ej43?

07-14-2014, 05:39 AM
Hi Strumsilly,

Harder strings = more string tension = less flex. In this case, I'm trying to remedy a fret buzz on the lowest string.. I know from experimenting that tuning the offending string up 1 step corrects the issue, so using a harder string with lower tension should work.

The Big Kahuna
07-14-2014, 05:43 AM
Thanks. Still looking for that elusive 2" nut. I guess the islander has that. Just build a reasonably priced laminate guitalele tenor with 2" nut someone, please!

Just measured mine. 49.5mm at the nut.