If you’re interested in the difference between the guitalele vs requinto guitar, this post is for you!
I’ve played the guitar since 2003, the ukulele since 2011, and the guitalele player since 2019.
So I know a bit about these instruments!
The History and Meaning of Requinto
The requinto guitar is a traditional string instrument. The name “requinto” is used to express that this is the smaller, high-pitched version of another instrument.
We can trace the origins of the requinto guitar back to 18th century Spain and Portugal.
The requinto guitar is very popular in Latin America thanks to Mexico’s popular guitar trio Los Panchos. Guitarist Alfredo Gil used the requinto to achieve a high-register and bright sound for his guitar solos.
Guitalele Vs Requinto Guitar: How Guitaleles and Requintos Differ
So what is a requinto guitar exactly?
A requinto guitar is a nylon-string flamenco guitar pitched up a fourth as if you were to capo the guitar on the fifth fret with the following tuning: ADGCEA.
The guitalele, on the other hand, has the same tuning as a requinto guitar, ADGCEA, but is a hybrid between a guitar and a ukulele and thus more closely resembles a baritone uke but in the tonal range of the standard ukulele.
Now, if both instruments are tuned the same and have the same string-space and fretboard scale, what’s the real difference?
How do you tell them apart?
The requinto is bigger in scale and body than a guitalele, and has flamenco guitar features.
(If you’re interested in learning more about nylon-string guitars and how classical and flamenco guitars differ, check out this post.)
So, while the guitalele is about 20” long from the nut to the bridge, the requinto is about 2” longer.
I’ll discuss their size differences more in the next section.
A requinto guitar is bigger than a guitalele.
The body size of a requinto is similar in scale, shape, and size to that of a travel flamenco guitar.
The guitalele’s body, however, more closely resembles a baritone ukulele, which is smaller on the sides and depth.
Here’s a table in which you can compare sizes of both a requinto model and a guitalele model:
As you can see, the requinto is significantly larger than a guitalele which accounts for its bigger sound.
Guitalele Vs Requinto Guitar: Tuning
The standard tuning of the requinto and the guitalele is in the same intervals as the standard tuning of a guitar: perfect fourths from low to high, with no high-pitched strings in between.
However, as I mentioned above, both instruments are pitched up a fourth: ADGCEA, the same tuning you would achieve if you capo a guitar on the fifth fret.
The strings of both instruments are equally distanced from each other, just like on a guitar.
Also, nylon strings are the standard strings for both the guitalele and requinto guitar.
In fact, requinto guitars cannot support steel strings because they don’t have a truss rod, the metal rod on the interior of the neck that supports the tension of steel and prevent steel strings from warping or breaking the neck of the instrument.
So do not put steel strings on your requinto guitar!
Plus, the slotted head-stock with in-line tuning machines on the requinto guitar is only meant to support nylon, not steel strings.
On the other hand, some guitaleles (like mine) have truss rods and tuning machines similar to acoustic guitars capable of supporting steel strings.
That said, nylon strings are still the standard, recommended strings for guitalele.
And only consider putting steel strings on your guitalele if it has a truss rod!
(If you want to learn more about steel strings on a guitalele, check out my post here where I show what happens when I put them on my guitalele.)
Apart from whether it’s possible to put steel strings on these instruments, know that steel strings will not produce a sound consistent with either of these instruments’ cultural heritage or musical style.
You can find great requinto strings by D’Addario here.
Guitalele Vs Requinto Guitar: Sound Comparison
What can you expect from two nylon-string instruments that have the exact same tuning?
You can actually hear a significant difference in their sound.
A requinto will have greater resonance, depth of sound, and projection thanks to its larger body size.
And a guitalele will likely have a brighter, warmer sound with less resonance and projection.
You can get a sense of the sound difference between these instruments in the video below.
In this video, Terry Carter shows us the same music played on the requinto and the guitalele.
You can see how the requinto’s fret spacing makes chord-playing and scales easier to play and the instrument is sufficiently loud.
On the other hand, the guitalele’s sound is a bit weaker compared to requinto guitar.
That said, each instrument has its strengths and weaknesses.
In the end, it is up to you to see which sound fits your musical ideas better!
Requinto guitars are usually significantly more expensive than guitaleles.
Although the price range varies, requinto guitars can cost about 3 times more than a standard guitalele!
Of course, keep in mind that a requinto is a bigger instrument and bigger instruments almost always come with bigger price tags.
Requinto Vs Guitalele: Learning Materials
The requinto and the guitalele are both guitar-like instruments, not exactly standard guitars.
So while you can find lots of dedicated learning materials for the guitar, you won’t find many dedicated learning materials for the guitalele or requinto guitar.
That said, you can use some learning materials for the guitalele to help you with the requinto guitar since each instrument has the same tuning and there are more learning materials for the guitalele than the requinto guitar.
And once you know the basics, you can then adapt a flamenco guitar resource to help you level up your requinto guitar expertise.
Which instrument should you pursue?
Like I said before, the decision of which instrument is for you will depend on your musical goals. Check out this table to help you decide:
You might pursue the requinto guitar if several of the following are true.
You might pursue the guitalele if several of the following are true.
You already play the flamenco guitar, and you want to play in a higher tonal range.
You already play the nylon-string guitar and would like to play in the tonal range of a ukulele.
You already play the flamenco guitar and would like a flamenco travel instrument with a twist.
You already play the nylon-string guitar and would like a nylon-string travel instrument with a twist.
You want to learn how to play the flamenco guitar but have small hands.
You want to learn how to play the nylon-string guitar, but have small hands.
You are willing to pay a bit more for your instrument than the guitalele.
You want an inexpensive instrument.
You already play the flamenco guitar, capo on fret five frequently, and would like a dedicated capo-five instrument.
You already play the nylon-string guitar, capo on fret five frequently, and would like a dedicated capo-five instrument.
Are willing to learn this instrument with almost no dedicated learning materials.
Are willing to learn this instrument with few dedicated learning materials (but more than the requinto guitar).
I hope this post has helped you understand the differences between the requinto guitar and the guitalele!
If you have any further questions about these instruments, let me know in the comments!