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Guitalele Vs 6 String Ukulele: What’s the Difference? [2021 Guide]

If you’re wondering what the difference is between a guitalele vs 6 string ukulele, this post is for you!

I’ve played the ukulele since 2011 and the guitar since 2003.

I started playing the guitalele too in 2019.

In short, I know about these instruments, and I hope this post helps you think through their differences and which instrument is right for you.

(If you’re curious about how the guitalele compares to a baritone ukulele check out this post. Or if you want to know how the guitalele compares to the soprano, concert, and tenor ukuleles, check out this post. But in this post, I’ll be focusing on the six-string ukulele.)

So what’s the difference between a guitalele and a 6 string ukulele?

A guitalele has six equally spaced strings tuned in the same intervals as a guitar but pitched up a fourth as if you were to capo the guitar on the fifth fret: ADGCEA. The six-string ukulele has the same tuning as the standard ukulele except its C and A strings have octave pairs with the paired strings closer together than the rest of the strings. So the tuning of a six-string ukulele is GCcEAa.

What’s confusing about the terminology surrounding these instruments is that many use the terms guitalele and six-string ukulele interchangeably when they aren’t the same instrument!

So how do you tell them apart?

The six-string ukulele’s strings will NOT be equally spaced, and the guitalele’s strings will be.

I’ll discuss more of these instruments’ similarities and differences in the sections below.

Guitalele Vs 6 String Ukulele: Size

The six-string uke and the guitalele are usually about the same size.

However, there isn’t a standard size for either instrument.

That said, the size of nearly every guitalele and six-string ukulele tends to fall within a narrow range.

You can see this in the table below where I’ve indicated the dimensions of two highly-rated baritones and guitaleles on Amazon.

Instrument
Length (Inches)
Width (Inches)
Depth (Inches)
28.35
10.63
4.33
29.92
10
3.15
28.5
9.38
2.5

As you can tell, these instruments have almost the same dimensions.

Tuning

As I mentioned above, guitaleles and six-string ukuleles have different tunings, but the same number of strings.

Though the guitalele and six-string ukulele standard tuning might not seem to have much in common, they are actually closely related.

I said in the introduction that the guitalele has a standard tuning like a guitar except pitched up a fourth as if you were to capo the guitar on the fifth fret: ADGCEA.

(For a thorough guide to standard and alternate guitalele tunings, check out my post about it.)

Similarly, the six-string ukulele has the same tuning as the first four strings of the guitalele, GCEA, except with the two additional octave strings on the C and A making the tuning: GCCEAA.

In other words, the six-string ukulele has the same standard tuning as the soprano, concert, and tenor ukuleles except with the addition of the two octave strings for C and A.

Also, some tune the duplicate A string to the exact same note as the other A string.

So instead of having one tuned an octave higher than the other, they may be tuned together.

Of course, it’s up to the preference of the player.

Guitalele Vs 6 String Ukulele: Strings

guitalele vs 6 string ukulele
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You can see the difference in distance between the strings in this image of a six-string ukulele’s headstock on the left and a guitalele’s headstock on the right. The six-string uke’s pairs are close together whereas the guitalele’s six strings are evenly spaced.

Hopefully the image above illustrates the primary string difference between six-string ukulele and the guitalele.

Even though these instruments have the same number of strings, their tuning and setup are different.

That said, both guitaleles and six-string ukes use nylon strings.

Check out my complete guide to guitalele strings for more information about strings for the guitalele.

And if you’re looking for six-string ukulele strings, these are highly rated on Amazon.

Sound Comparison

This video will give you an idea of how a six-string ukulele differs in sound from a standard four-string ukulele.

The six-string ukulele will sound very similar to a standard ukulele as you can tell in the above video.

However, its additional two octave strings will give it a louder and fuller sound than a standard uke.

For comparison, a six-string uke is to a standard uke like a 12-string guitar is to a standard guitar.

And just like on a 12-string guitar, the six-string ukulele’s louder and fuller sound comes at the expense of bending the paired strings.

However, most ukulele players don’t employ much bending anyway.

So this is a small price to pay for six-string uke’s fuller sound.

A guitalele will sound almost identical to a classical guitar capoed on the fifth fret.

You can get a sense for its sound in this video of Jon Rauhouse playing on a Gretsch.

This is one of my favorite guitalele licks!

Price

I actually had quite a hard time finding a variety of six-string ukuleles to compare their prices.

Why?

Like I mentioned in the introduction, many people (even manufacturers) use the terms six-string ukulele and guitalele interchangeably even though they aren’t the same instrument!

That said, I did find at least one six-string uke on Amazon.

And it was priced significantly higher than most guitaleles!

(Check here for the latest pricing.)

For reference, I own this Caramel guitalele that is a great entry-level instrument and significantly less expensive than the six-string uke.

Guitalele Vs 6 String Ukulele: Learning Materials

I’ve mentioned before how there just aren’t many dedicated learning materials for the guitalele.

Why?

The guitalele is a hybrid instrument that isn’t nearly as popular as either the guitar or the ukulele.

Because of this lack of popularity, you won’t find many learning resources specifically for the guitalele.

And although you could adapt guitar learning materials to the guitalele because of their similar tuning, this is just one more hoop to jump through as a beginner.

On the other hand, there are plenty of learning materials available for the ukulele.

And although there may not be many learning resources designed specifically for the six-string uke, it shouldn’t really matter.

You can play the six-string ukulele just like a standard ukulele.

It simply has a louder, fuller sound.

Which instrument should you pursue?

Check out the table below to get a sense of which instrument you should choose to learn.

You might pursue the guitalele if you…
You might pursue the six-string uke if you…
already play the guitar and don’t want to learn a new instrument.
already play the ukulele and are looking for a uke with a fuller, louder sound.
are in the market for an inexpensive instrument.
are willing to invest a bit more in your instrument.
are OK learning on your own with few dedicated learning materials.
want to have plenty of dedicated learning materials to help you learn this instrument.

Conclusion

I hope this post has sufficiently clarified the differences between a six-string ukulele and a guitalele!

If something isn’t clear about this distinction or you have another question, let me know in the comments.

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