Why not buy a 1/2 sized guitar instead of a guitarlele?

bellgamin

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When it comes to buying a guitarlele (a baritone uke with 6 strings), what is it? Well, at heart it's simply a 1/2 sized classical guitar. However, if I buy a 1/2 sized classical guitar INSTEAD OF something sold as a guitarlele, I have found that I have a very good chance of getting a much better built instrument at a significantly lower price.

Ergo, I just bought a Cordoba Mini II Santa Fe classical guitar for $240 + $40 S&H. Main differences of my Cordoba VS the average guitarlele:
Nut 1.875" VS 1.5"
Scale 22.875" VS 19-20"
Total Length 34 3/8" VS 30.5" (added length results from the longer scale)
Max Body Depth 3.33" VS 3"
Max Body Width 11.25" VS 10.25"
Strings Savarez Cristal Corum High Tension VS Aquilas
Dual truss rod VS ???

Yes, the Cordoba is a teeny bit larger than a guitarlele, but I can still play it very comfortably while seated in my overstuffed recliner. That bit of extra scale & body size enable the Cordoba to resonately handle the trebles & basses of "standard" guitar tuning (E to E) with a nicely warm voice. It bears zero resemblance to a ukulele's sound. Neither does a guitarlele sound at all like a uke. When I want a ukulele sound, I grab one of my ukes -- I have several & love 'em all. When I want more bottom notes & fuller 9ths & 11ths than a uke can offer, I will grab my Cordoba when it gets here. Of course YMMV so "Everyone to his/her own tastes," as the fellow said when he kissed his gecko.

2 QUESTIONS to mull over:
1- WHY did the Cordoba techs decide to equip this instrument with High Tension strings?
2- Since a guitarlele comes equipped with Aquila Normal Tension strings, why is it better suited for A to A tuning than it is for E to E tuning?
 

Arcy

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It's marketing: a guita(r)lele is a short scale guitar marketed to ukulele players.

Most I've seen using those terms are tenor scale (17") rather than baritone scale (20"), and Wikipedia (the source of all truth in the universe) likens guitalele with 1/4 sized guitars. Your 1/2 size 23" scale is significantly longer.

The typical A-A tuning presumably comes from the 17" scale length. You can get other tunings by changing strings, but it gets trickier to get a comfortable tension.

 

bellgamin

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I appreciate the comments. I'm learning some new stuff. I must add that another reason I like a small guitar is so I can play it in the bathtub -- because singing sounds better in the bathtub. I wouldn't play an electric guitar (amped) in the tub, of course -- even though I've always wanted naturally curly hair. :giggle:
 

bellgamin

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Thanks for the Outdoor Guitar's link, Bill1. It's a beauty & -- over & above its musicality -- it should make a good shillelagh, in case a bear of dingo or axe murderer enters camp at night. (Does Australia have bears?)

I wish I could hear a sound sample.
 

Poul Hansen

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I bought a Cordoba Mini M, not bothering about what is was called but because of super reviews and the wide classical size fretboard. I have one tuned in A and one tuned in E(with the Aquila made Cordoba strings for E tuning) and they sound and play great.

I had the Yamaha Guitalele, which was ok for the price and became more playable after widening the string spacing but it comes nowhere near my Cordobas. I just wish they were glossy so my suctioncup holder would stick to it.
 

Peter Frary

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The various Spanish and Japanese made requintos are designed to be tuned A to A but tend to have a little longer scale than guitarleles and baritone 'ukuleles. Even Jose Ramirez and Alhambra make a few models. Lots of people tune them G to G to mellow out the tension. And then there are the alto guitars—popular in Japan and Europe for guitar orchestras—which are tuned B to B, but sound great tuned A to A. The Spanish made Aria line of alto guitars are very nice but pricy compared to typical guitarleles.
 

bellgamin

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I bought a Cordoba Mini M, not bothering about what is was called but because of super reviews and the wide classical size fretboard. I have one tuned in A and one tuned in E(with the Aquila made Cordoba strings for E tuning) and they sound and play great.

I had the Yamaha Guitalele, which was ok for the price and became more playable after widening the string spacing but it comes nowhere near my Cordobas. I just wish they were glossy so my suctioncup holder would stick to it.
You & several others have lauded The Cordoba Mini. They have ~20" scale like a baritone ukulele. A friend has one & let me play it. It blew my mind away at the amount of volume, sustain, & and resonance coming from its baritone-uke-sized body. I gotta get me one, for sure!
 

Poul Hansen

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You & several others have lauded The Cordoba Mini. They have ~20" scale like a baritone ukulele. A friend has one & let me play it. It blew my mind away at the amount of volume, sustain, & and resonance coming from its baritone-uke-sized body. I gotta get me one, for sure!

Be aware that the Mini M or R and the Mini II are two different instruments. I have the Mini M.

@Peter Frary. I have circumvented the "sitting problem" by sanding and porefilling the back of the guitar, to enable a size small "Guitarlift" with suction cups, to adhere to the instrument. Or you could fix some sticky plastic pads on the back.

On the other I have a sticky patch on the underside for a Gitano type of guitarrest
20211007_112047.jpg
 

bellgamin

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@ Poul Hansen -- I wish you much playing joy with your Mini M. How about a sound sample?
 

Poul Hansen

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How about a sound sample?

It's in the mail still but sadly I'm better at buying and restoring instruments, than playing them. maybe just some chords and sustain tests.
 
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Peter Frary

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I wrote a review of my Cordoba Mini R, and included sound samples. It's a near twin of the Mini M: same design body design, solid spruce top and ply back and sides. The Mini R back and sides are rosewood ply but, honestly, the rosewood is about as thick as a sheet of paper (I drilled a hole for a strap button). I imagine the mahogany ply is the same. The paper thin ply is mainly for looks and has little effect on sound.

Mini R Review
 
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Ziret

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What is the advantage of the Mini M or R versus the Mini II?
 

Poul Hansen

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It's a matter of taste and preferences. Different body- ,nut- and fretboard sizes. Maybe, not sure, solid and non solid top. Different inlays and bindings.
 

Peter Frary

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If you prefer standard guitar tuning, the Mini II has a longer scale and is better for E to E tuning. The original Mini series (20"/511mm) works best for A to A or G to G tuning. My calipers measured the Mini R nut at 50mm, compared to 47mm for the Mini SM-CE. I played my student's Mini II, but didn't measure it. However, it felt too narrow for my technique—more like a hybrid aimed at flat pickers coming over from steel strings. A 50mm or wider nut is ideal for me.
 

Poul Hansen

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I have E tuning on my Mini Ms and it sounds good. Both with Cordoba E tuning strings(Aquila made) and D'Addario EJ44 hard 29-45 .

E tuning is an advantage when following guitar tutorials on the inet.

The 50mm nut is ideal for playing classical, just like a fullsize classical. Some combinations are even easier on the Mini M because of the shorter distance between the frets :)
 
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bellgamin

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@ Ziret ----- manufacturer's specs: The Cordoba Mini VS Cordoba Mini II
Scale 20 1/8" VS 22 7/8"
Truss rod Single action VS Dual action
Frets 18 VS 19
Bridge - Pins VS tied
Nut width 1 7/8" (48mm) VS 1 7/8 (48mm)
Nut string spacing 43mm VS 39mm
Upper|Lower Bout widths 7 3/4"|10" VS 8 3/4"|11 1/4"
Upper|Lower Bout depths 2 1/2"|3" VS 3"|3 1/3"
Overall Length 30 1/2" VS 34 3/8"
"Normal" tuning - A to A (guitar w/capo at 5th fret) VS E to E (standard guitar tuning - no capo)

In sum: the Mini II is slightly larger instrument than the Mini, but it is still an excellent travel guitar & small enough for playing in a recliner. The Mini II's added body space increases sustain across the board & gives its bass a fuller sound. As to preferences, Mini VS Mini II -- to each his or her own. (^_^)
 
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Peter Frary

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Cordoba's specs for nut width and scale tend to vary with individual models. I've owned four different models from the original Mini series and they were all different from the published specs. For example, the nut width (measured with calipers) varied from 47mm to 50mm. I'm guessing different factories produced them as construction quality and sound varied considerably as well. Two of mine were barely playable and I had to return them (bad frets, extreme neck angle, etc).

One of the salesmen at HMS told me they liked them, but stopped selling Cordoba due to constant quality control issues. However, if you can get a good one, it's a great instrument for the money. You'll likely need to work through 3 or 4 to find a good one. Well, those were the odds I ended up with.