If you’re interested in how to learn the guitalele, here’s my quick guide:
- Get the right instrument.
- Learn basic chords.
- Practice simple songs that use those chords.
- Continue learning songs of increasing complexity.
- Learn music theory and different styles of playing when you get in a rut.
In the sections below, I’ll elaborate on each of these points.
In the meantime, don’t worry.
Although learning any musical instrument can be challenging, this guide will provide you with the baby steps you can take to start learning this instrument today.
Also, know that the guitalele is very similar to the guitar, but it isn’t simply a miniature guitar.
It has its own tuning which gives it a unique sound.
And although this guide is specifically for learning the guitalele, you should be able to apply some aspects of this guide to learning other instruments.
I’ve been playing the guitar since 2003 and the guitalele since 2019.
I don’t know everything about the guitalele, but I’m happy to share what I’ve learned so far.
Lastly, know that the guitalele goes by many names including the guitarlele and guilele.
I will use these terms interchangeably in this post.
Let’s get started.
1. Get yourself a quality guitarlele.
Getting a quality guitalele is a critical step in learning this instrument.
The good news is, you don’t have to break the bank to get a decent guitalele.
I ordered this fairly inexpensive Caramel guitalele from Amazon and have been very pleased with it.
If you want something even cheaper, I’ve heard great things about this guitalele too.
Getting this step wrong can frustrate the entire process of learning the guitalele.
You want to get an instrument that is at least functional and the guitaleles I’ve mentioned in this section will do just fine to start your educational journey.
2. Learn basic guilele chords.
I recommend learning songs on your instrument of choice as soon as possible.
Learning songs is fun, exciting, and should give you the motivation to continue learning your instrument.
If you start with something more dry like music theory, you will probably lack the motivation to keep learning the guitalele.
To that end, I recommend learning simple guitalele chords.
With a handful of chords, you can play countless songs!
The good news is, I’ve written an article about the guitalele chords every guitalele student should learn complete with chord charts!
Check it out here.
3. Practice simple songs that use those chords.
Once you can form those simple chords, start trying to strum along with songs that use those chords.
If you don’t know where to start with songs to learn on the guitalele, check out this post.
In that post, I reference 10 songs you can learn on the guitalele.
By learning how to strum along with real songs, you will learn how to strum the guitalele.
At first, strumming will probably feel stiff and unnatural, and transitioning from one chord to the next will be slow.
But, with enough practice, you should eventually be able to strum fluidly and transition chords to the rhythm of each song.
For more guidance about how to learn songs quickly and efficiently, check out this post.
4. Continue learning songs of increasing complexity.
As you learn songs on the guitalele, try to learn them to a “performance-ready” level.
I mention in my article about how to learn songs quickly and efficiently that I define learning songs to a performance-ready level as learning them:
- accurately (largely without error),
- at the actual tempo (or close to it) of the song,
- without requiring tabs or a lyrics sheet (you’ve memorized music and lyrics),
- and with confidence (enough to play in front of someone).
At first, you will have difficulty strumming along with the simplest of songs.
But eventually, if you want to improve your guitalele skills, you should get to a performance ready level with that simple song.
Then if you want to continue improving your guitalele skills, try to learn songs that are slightly more difficult than the songs you already know.
This will force you to grow as a guitalele player.
I recommend everyone become performance ready in at least 10 songs.
I think those who can play 10 songs well reach a level of competence and confidence that really helps the educational journey.
5. Learn music theory and different styles of playing when you get in a rut.
If you can play 10 different guitalele songs, and you want to grow as a guitalele player, keep learning songs of different keys, styles, time signatures, and tempos.
These variations will give you added skills and help you discover what types of songs you enjoy learning.
Remember to choose songs that are only slightly more difficult than your current repertoire.
If you choose something that’s way above your skill level, you will probably get discouraged and never actually learn it.
As you learn more about keys, styles, time signatures, and more, you will realize that these subjects are part of a vast world of music theory that you can use to improve your skills.
I have found that most music beginners find theory dry and boring.
But intermediate to advanced musicians often find theory fascinating as they begin to understand why what they play sounds good.
In my own musical journey, I’ve found that learning theory and songs of different keys, styles, time signatures, and tempos from my repertoire helps me out of a rut.
If you play an instrument for any significant amount of time, you’ll probably find yourself in ruts occasionally.
This happens to most musicians.
Just remember these tips to add spice to your musical education.
FAQ: Is guitalele good for beginners?
The guitalele has some qualities that are good for beginners.
For instance, its smaller size and nylon strings typically make this instrument easier for beginners.
However, you can find these qualities in a less than full-size classical guitar which can be even better for a beginner.
The guitar has an abundance of learning materials, while the guitalele doesn’t.
And although you can technically transcribe learning materials from the guitar to the guitalele because of the guitalele’s similar tuning intervals, this can be challenging for a beginner.
Thus, I think a guitar is a better instrument for a beginner than a guitalele.
And a guitarlele is the perfect instrument for a guitarist looking for an instrument with a fresh sound.
I hope this guide gives you direction on how to learn the guitalele quickly and effectively.
At the same time, I hope you remember that learning an instrument doesn’t need to be a race or a competition at all.
The beauty of music is that it can bring you lifelong satisfaction regardless of your skill level if you allow it.
Are you learning the guitalele now?
If so, let me know where you are in your journey and how I might help you in that journey in the comments below!