I’ve been playing the guitar since 2003, the ukulele since 2011, and the guitalele since 2019.
As I’ve played these instruments, I’ve become familiar with each instruments’ standard tuning and tuning variations.
If you want to learn about guitalele tunings, this is the post for you.
So what is standard tuning for the guitalele?
A guitalele is tuned to ADGCEa in the same intervals as a guitar but up a fourth as if you were to capo the guitar on the fifth fret.
The top four strings of the guitalele are tuned the same as a ukulele, GCEA, except the ukulele’s G string is tuned up an octave, just two steps down from the high A string.
Standard Guitalele Tuning: ADGCEa
Most guitaleles come strung like a classical guitar with the top three strings made of nylon and the bottom three strings made of nylon wound with wire in the standard tuning: ADGCEa.
Standard guitalalele tuning will sound just like a classical guitar capoed on the fifth fret.
The ideal strings for a guitalele in standard tuning depend on whether your guitalele has bridge pins.
My guitalele has bridge pins, and thus requires ball-end strings.
However, many guitaleles don’t have bridge pins and therefore require standard nylon strings with loops on the end that secure them to the bridge.
Unfortunately, there aren’t many string options when it comes to guitaleles.
Thus, if your guitalele has bridge pins, I recommend these ball-end classical guitar strings.
Although these are classical guitar strings, they work fine on the guitalele.
If your guitalele doesn’t have bridge pins, you can use these strings which are actually designed for the guitalele.
Also, check out my complete guide to guitalele strings for more information about my string recommendations.
High G Guitalele Tuning: ADgCEa
Alternatively, you may want to tune your guitalele more like a ukulele with the G string pitched up an octave.
This alternate tuning allows you to play ukulele songs when playing only the top four strings.
It also gives your instrument an interesting sound when playing all six strings.
High G guitalele tuning actually reminds me of Nashville tuning.
It’s a fun and simple way to give your instrument a new sound.
Standard Guitar Tuning (EADGBe) and High E/Octave Tuning (eadgbe) for the Guitalele
If you’ve ever wondered if a guitalele can be tuned like a guitar, then this section is for you.
The answer is yes, you can absolutely tune a guitalele like a guitar: EADGBe.
However, note that it’s a non-standard tuning for the guitalele.
As a reminder, standard guitalele tuning is ADGCEa (the same as standard guitar tuning as if you were capoing on the fifth fret).
Aquila, one of the few string manufacturers that actually makes strings specifically for the guitalele, has strings for two alternate setups: standard guitar and high E tuning.
If you want your guitalele to have the exact same tuning as a standard guitar and your guitarlele doesn’t have bridge pins, you can use Aquila’s standard guitar tuning guitalele strings.
Guitaleles are great for this purpose because they’re actually smaller than many travel guitars, and are thus even more portable.
If instead you’re interested in the sound of a guitar tuned up an octave, you can try Aquila’s high E tuning string set.
This is the same tuning as a mando guitar and allows you to play in the same tonal range as higher-pitched instruments like the mandolin or mando guitar.
Again, check out my guide to guitalele strings for more detail on string recommendations for either of these tunings.
If you’re familiar with alternate tunings for the guitar, you’ve probably heard of DADGAD tuning.
This fun alternate tuning allows you to get a different sound from your guitar with a more versatile alternate tuning than say, an open tuning.
There a few ways to accomplish DADGAD tuning on a guitalele.
First, when tuning away from standard guitalele tuning, the equivalent of DADGAD tuning is actually GDGCDG.
This is going to give you that same DADGAD sound you would get on the guitar but as if you were capoed on the 5th fret.
You can also tune your guitalele all the way down to DADGAD, just like you would on a standard guitar.
Finally, you can use a short cut capo like this one from Keiser to capo only strings five, four, and three on the second fret of the guitalele.
This will give you an equivalent tuning of GDGCDG capoed on the 2nd fret or AEADEA.
I hope this guide helps you understand the various tunings for the guitalele.
Let me know in the comments if you have any further questions!