Guitalele

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The guitalele is a string instrument that combines characteristics of a guitar and a ukulele. It typically has six strings and is tuned 5 semitones higher than a guitar in standard tuning The guitalele offers a unique tonal quality and has become slowly popular for its portability. The guitarlele has roots in latin America where similar instruments are still played today.
History of the Guitalele
The history of the guitarlele is tied to the ukulele, which dates back to its Portuguese origins. Its likely ancestors are small string instruments known as a machete or cavaquinho, thought to have developed in the Madeira region. These instruments made their way to the islands of Hawaii with migrants in the 1800s and soon there were new Hawaiian influenced designs produced. Migrants such as Jose do Espirito Santo, Augusto Dias and Manual Nunes are widely regarded as the first luthiers to create the recognisable ukulele design. By the 1890s, the first instruments being sold as “ukuleles” were becoming popular. Since the creation of the ukulele in Hawaii, many varieties have evolved including the banjolele, concert ukulele and baritone ukulele. The guitarlele is a combination of both a guitar and a ukulele which is, in short, a six-string guitar played at a higher range - each string is 5 semitones higher. Guitarists could play at the same range if they were to place a capo at the fifth fret. The concept was realised by several manufacturing companies during the late 20th century, including Japanese instrument maker Yamaha who produced the Yamaha GL1 Guitalele. These standard tunings meant the guitarlele was pitched to the chord A. The guitarlele is a relatively new instrument and as such has not appeared on many popular music recordings but is growing in popularity as a portable instrument.
Inventor: Unknown

Where to Buy

$100 - $300

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How to Play

A hybrid instrument that combines features of a guitar and ukulele, played like a guitar but with a higher pitch.

In Popular Music

The guitalele has been used on many popular music recordings including ‘Riptide’ from 2013 by Australian singer-songwriter Vance Joy. It may also be featured in the background instrumentation of songs such as ‘Lazy Song’ by Bruno Mars and ‘Home’ by Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros.

Famous Players

Yamandu Costa, Taimane Gardner, Paco de Lucía

Close Relations

Guitar, Ukulele
Video Etienne de Lavaulx
Understanding the Guitalele
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1990s

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