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Thread: Guitalele question

  1. #1

    Default Guitalele question

    Does anyone know if any brands of guitalele come already tuned in guitar E tuning instead of A tuning?

  2. #2


    Quote Originally Posted by Ukulelerick9255 View Post
    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!
    Guinea proverb: "A cow that has no tail should not try to chase away flies."

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Jun 2014


    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.
    Enjoying instruments by - Beau Hannam - Jay Lichty - Jerry Hoffmann - Luis Feu de Mesquita - Kala - Kamaka - Kanile'a - KoAloha - Ko'olau - Moore Bettah - Pono - Romero Creations - and others

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Aug 2016
    Twin Cities, Minnesota, USA


    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!

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Aug 2009
    Stormville NY


    Quote Originally Posted by Ukulelerick9255 View Post
    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

  6. #6



    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 voilą ! 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.

  7. #7


    Kanilea made a mini guitar in the Islander series tuned in E I wonder how that would sound in comparison

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Mar 2013
    JoCo, NC (near Raleigh)


    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.
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    Cocobolo 16" SC#1-gCEA, SC SLMU
    Ono #42 19" baritone, Ab, LW
    Imua iET-Bb, M600
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    Rogue bari
    Bonanza super tenor, cFAD SC LHU
    Kala KSLNG, Eb SC XLU
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    Hanson 5-string tenor, dGCEA
    Jupiter #47, G, TI CF127
    Kala KA-GL-Koa, G EFS, O Warm/Worth B


  9. #9
    Join Date
    Jan 2016
    Toronto, Ontario


    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


  10. #10
    Join Date
    Apr 2015
    Toronto , Canada


    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

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