- Just what exactly is a guitalele?
- Find out if a guitalele is the right instrument for you
- We rank the 7 best guitaleles to help you buy better.
For some players, especially those with smaller hands, the guitar can be a bit too big and unwieldy to manage. Or if you are a frequent traveler, you might have felt that guitars are way too heavy to carry around.
This is where the guitalele comes in.
In this guide, we take a look at a new kind of instrument called a guitalele.
What is a guitalele?
Guitalele is a small guitar or a 6-stringed ukulele that is super-light and easy to carry around.
Guitaleles are about a quarter of the size of a classical guitar, and many compare playing guitaleles to playing guitar with a capo on the 5th fret.
Why would I need a guitalele?
These lie somewhere in between a full-sized guitar and a ukulele.
If you are used to playing ukuleles but also want to play guitar, going from a 4-string ukulele to a full-sized 6-string guitar might be a daunting task.
That’s where the guitaleles come in. They can serve as a great stepping stone from a ukulele to a full-sized guitar.
Guitaleles are also perfect for guitar players who need a portable mini-guitar, or for anyone that might have thought that guitars are too big and cumbersome to play.
Differences between a guitalele and a ukulele
While the guitalele and ukulele are both travel instruments that use nylon strings, that’s really where the similarities end.
Ukuleles have a longer history dating back to the 19th century. They are Hawaiian inventions that originated from the lute family (much like guitars).
But guitaleles came much later in 1997 and were designed as a hybrid of guitar and ukulele by the Yamaha Corporation.
Both instruments have different tuning as well. The ukulele’s standard tuning is G4, C4, E4, and A4, while a guitalele has an ADGCEA tuning (the same as a guitar with a capo on the 5th fret).
Guitaleles share more similarities to a guitar than a ukulele, making the transition from guitaleles to a full-size guitar much smoother.
What are the Best Guitaleles in 2022?
Yamaha GL 1 is our best overall pick It’s a highly-reviewed, well-built, classic guitalele that is offered at an affordable price.
The Caramel Acacia KOA Guitalele CB207G Gigbag Kit is our top value pick as it includes a gig bag, guitar picks, cleaning cloth, strap, and instructions to give any beginner a nice jumpstart on their musical journey.
Finally, the Gretsch G9126 is our premium pick. With its beautifully-built design and amazing playability that the legendary brand Gretsch is so well known for.
Here are our top 7 picks for the best guitaleles available in 2022:
- Yamaha GL 1 (our top pick)
- Caramel Acacia KOA Guitalele CB207G Kit (best value)
- Gretsch G9126 (premium pick)
- Kmise Guitalele
- Luna UKE Tribal 6
- Ortega RGL5EB
- Vorson EGL-ST Guitarlele (electric guitalele)
1. Yamaha GL1
The Yamaha GL1 Mini 6-String Nylon Guitalele is half guitar, half ukulele, and 100% fun.
- After years it's still a best-seller
- Classic look
- Reliable and long-lasting
Yamaha’s GL1 is the classic guitalele model that started it all. Even today it’s still one of the first models that come to mind when people think of guitaleles.
The Yamaha GL1 is affordable, comfortable, built to last, and easy to carry around.
Yamaha’s GL1 has a classic design with a natural-looking finish, featuring a spruce top with a meranti back.
The spruce top provides a delicate and full sound that smoothly accents those mids and highs. Both fingerpicking and using a pick sound great acoustically.
The design of the Yamaha GL1 is very similar to a Yamaha classical guitar from the body, saddle, the headstock, and it sounds like a mini classical guitar, too.
The nylon strings on its ¼ classical guitar body make it very comfortable to play, and the 17-inch scale makes it a good starting point for kids and players with smaller hands.
It has 19 frets and 6 strings, so can offer much more creative and musical possibilities than a Ukulele.
The Yamaha GL1 comes in at only 3 lbs, and with the included soft case, traveling with this guitalele will be so much easier than with a full-sized guitar.
In many ways, the Yamaha GL1 can be misinterpreted as a toy guitar, and as a long-time guitar player myself, that was my first thought as well.
But after trying it out a little, it became evidently clear that this is a serious instrument with a ton of musical potential.
The GL1 was louder than I have expected it to be, and it had a well-balanced sound that was pleasant to the ear.
It’s also quiet enough to be used at home for some late-night practice without angering family and neighbors.
But it’s a great creative tool on its own, and a great portable musical tool for an affordable price.
Don’t expect perfect craftsmanship from the Yamaha GL1, because, at the end of the day, it’s aimed toward learners. But coming in at roughly $100, who can complain!
The GL1 has a plastic saddle that is not the most robust thing in the world, we do have some confidence that this instrument will last for a long time.
2. Caramel Acacia KOA Guitalele CB207G Kit
Made of acacia with beautiful wood grain patterns, this guitalele is the perfect choice for moonlit beach strolls and bonfire singalongs.
- Standard guitar tuning
- Value pack including gigbag, picks, and a strap
Caramel is well-known as a Ukulele brand who has also branched out into producing guitaleles.
The Caramel Acacia KOA Guitalele CB207G Kit comes with a delightful slew of accessories including a gig bag, guitar picks, cleaning cloth, and a ukulele strap to get you started.
Caramel CB207G is the cheapest guitalele on this list.
This package is perfect for a complete beginner because you get a whole traveling pack at an affordable price to get you started on your journey.
The Caramel CB207G features a striped acacia wood body with a mahogany neck. Although it is made with some cheap woods, the loudness and the tone are more than adequate for a beginner to get started.
Considering the lightness, it projects surprisingly well and is a great little package for things like campfire songs.
It’s also comfortable to play because of the nylon strings and body shape design, and as such is one of the most comfortable guitaleles you’ll find on the market.
But we don’t recommend this guitar if you specifically need steel strings on your guitar, because this guitalele was not designed to handle the stress of steel strings.
3. Gretsch G9126
Featuring a solid quartersawn mahogany top and laminated mahogany body with an ovangkol fingerboard, this beautifully designed 6-string uke delivers a great tone and feel.
- High-quality tone
- Fishman Kula preamp
- Luxurious design with the all-mahogany body
Gretsch is known as one of the most legendary guitar manufacturers alongside big guys like Fender and Gibson, and the G9126 is Gretsch’s effort to have their own version of the guitalele.
The Gretsch G9126 is our premium pick for this list as it has everything you could ask for in a guitalele: luxurious design, the ability to plug into an amp or PA, and excellent touch and sound.
Gretsch’s G9126 is built to last with high-quality body wood and details. It has an all-mahogany body and neck which has a wonderful rich bass and wonderful warm resonant tone.
One of the main aspects that stands out is the Fishman Kula preamp, which is one of the highest quality pickups for a guitalele. It will allow you to plug into any amplifier or pedal to further expand your tonal palette.
The design is luxurious, with the mahogany open-pore finish, it’s a beautiful instrument that looks much more than just a toy.
Mahogany is one of the best types of wood you can find for guitars, as it provides a deep and warm tone with a solid amount of projection and resonance.
The mahogany neck with ovangkol is also exceptionally comfortable, which makes it a joy to play and provides a premium-feeling experience.
The Gretsch G9126 is recommended for experienced guitalele players who want the best-sounding instrument possible.
4. Kmise Guitalele
This extremely portable guitalele is a pleasure to take out for travel, and you play it everywhere.
- Affordable guitalele package
- Adjustable action (included Allen wrench)
- Smooth fretboard
Kmise’s Guitalele is also another affordable guitalele package that would be perfect for a beginner.
Much like the CB207G, it comes with a whole host of great accessories including a tuning machine, adjustable action, gigbag, guitalele strap, and some picks to get you started.
The Kmise Guitalele features an all-mahogany body, and even a walnut fretboard, which is pretty impressive for such a cheap price.
With a mahogany guitalele headstock, 18:1 tuners, well-finished fretboard, and a C-shaped neck, this guitalele is surprisingly well-built for the price.
The unique thing about this package is the fact that it comes with an Allen wrench for adjusting the neck relief. A feature often omitted on the cheaper instruments.
Kmise Guitalele has good resonance and response. Because it is such a comfortable instrument, it will be a perfect companion to frequent traveling musicians or even for songwriters.
Although the brand itself is not particularly well-known, the package itself is a steal for the price.
And to ensure you’re totally happy with your purchase, they offer a “30 Protection Days Plan” so you can try this one out truly risk-free.
5. Luna UKE Tribal 6
Get incredible design and tone with the Tribal Mahogany 6-String Baritone Ukulele from Luna.
- Mahogany body
- Unique Hawaiian body ornamentation
- RIch tone
Luna is a company that produces low to mid-priced guitars and ukuleles with an emphasis on creating artistic products.
The Luna UKE Tribal 6 is a unique guitalele with Hawaiian body ornamentation with entwined guardian spirits, and it is also a quality guitalele offered at an affordable price.
Although not as popular and well-reviewed as the other guitaleles on this list, the Luna UKE Tribal 6 is an affordable guitalele with high-quality features.
UKE Tribal 6 has an all-mahogany body with a mahogany neck and a standard C-shaped neck profile.
The Luna headstock with white Pearloid tuners adds a modern touch to the design.
Additionally, Luna’s original Hawaiian body ornamentation with “entwined guardian spirits and contemporary longings” definitely makes this guitalele stand out in terms of design.
Luna’s UKE Tribal 6 is almost like a quality mini-classical guitar and many classic guitar players themselves have mentioned that this instrument is an ideal travel instrument.
Playing simple classical and fingerstyle guitar pieces are easy and enjoyable on the Luna UKE Tribal 6.
6. Ortega RGL5EB
The RGL5EB offers everything you already know and love about guitaleles, with an additional Ebony Natural Open Pore Finish making it stand out from the rest.
- Ebony top, back, and sides
- Nature Open Pore finish
- Short-scale guitarlele
Ortega’s RGL5EB is an ebony body guitalele that has a sapele top that has this great sort of 19th-century aesthetic to it.
This is the only vintage-looking guitalele on our list, and the unique body design is sure to offer a unique playing experience.
The Ortega RGL5EB has a short-scale with just a 435mm and has only 18 frets. It is the only instrument with an ebony body on this list which makes it stand out from the rest.
The RGL5EB is part of the Ortega Timber Series, and it is a well-built, luxurious guitalele with a mahogany neck, satin finish, and walnut fretboard and bridge.
The classic Ortega headstock with Gold Plated Diecast Tuning Machines, with Tortoise Style ABS Binding, the design is on-point and luxurious looking.
The Ortega RGL5EB is extremely comfortable because of the short-scale length, making the string tension very low and the strings easy to fret. It’s perfect for children or players with small hands.
The rich ebony color and dark tonality are its unique characteristics, and it’s certainly an attractive guitalele to carry around.
If you’re into darker tones, the Ortega RGL5EB would be your top pick.
7. Vorson EGL-ST Guitalele
The Vorson EGL-ST 'Guitarlele' is a brilliantly designed and built small scale, 6 string electric guitar tuned for big tones and wide range.
- Super portable mini electric guitar
- Two single-coil pickups
- ADGCEA tuning on an electric guitar body
Last but by no means least, we have an electric guitalele to finish off the list, the Vorson EGL-ST.
The Vorson EG-ST is a Stratocaster-style guitalele and is a fun mini electric guitar to add to your guitar arsenal.
Vorson EGL-ST Guitalele might receive some mixed reviews from musicians, but it’s certainly a unique instrument to have around.
All the other guitaleles had nylon strings and were close to a mini classical guitar. But the Vorson EGL-ST is based on the Fender Stratocaster, and it has a basswood body with a total of 19 frets.
The tuning of ADGCEA (ukulele tuning) on a Strat body makes it weird but fun to play around with, and the two SY-2 single-coil pickups provide a wide range of tones to experiment with.
The Vorson EGL-ST is also available in Gloss Black, Metallic Burgundy, and Metallic Blue.
The Vorson EGL-ST is an excellent choice for young players who want to get started on electric guitars, or even seasoned musicians who want to experiment with something new and creative.
The shorter scale length makes it very comfortable to move around and bend notes.
But the downside is that you need to have a separate guitar amp to play this instrument, which you will unfortunately need to buy separately.
Guitaleles are relatively new and unknown instruments, but the market for them is growing day by day.
If you ever wanted to try out guitars but were afraid that a full-sized one might be too big or uncomfortable to play, guitaleles are a great place to start.
Or for players transitioning from ukuleles to guitar, getting a guitalele might be a great way to challenge yourself and make some great music along the way.