Tuning For Guitalele: The Complete 2021 Guide

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. 

So what’s 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

In this clip I play a lick from the Here Comes the Sun in standard tuning with standard nylgut guitalele strings.

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 should work fine on a guitalele. 

If your guitalele doesn’t have bridge pins, you can use these strings which are actually designed for the guitalele. 

High G Guitalele Tuning: ADgCEA

You’ll notice a slightly different sound in this video with the high G string compared to the video in the previous section.

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. 

Strings for High G Guitalele Tuning 

When you try out high G guitalele tuning, I recommend using a lighter gauge G string. 

Otherwise, if you try to tune the standard G string up an octave, you may break the string, and you will put unnecessary tension on the instrument. 

On the ukululele, the G string is typically the same gauge as the A string.

So you can either buy a single G or A string along with a pack of guitalele strings, or you can take the G or A string from a ukulele string set. 

Unfortunately, it’s hard to find a single G or A string. 

(It’s actually common to find a single low G string for those who want to tune their ukulele more like a guitar with a low G).  

And if you do find a single G or A string, it’s usually not much less expensive (or not less expensive at all) than a full set of ukulele strings.  

That’s why I typically recommend taking a G or A string from a ukulele string set. 

Again, the ukulele string you use depends on whether your guitalele has bridge pins. 

If your guitalele has bridge pins, I recommend this set for the high G tuning – it’s what I use in the above video.

If your guitalele doesn’t have bridge pins, I recommend using a G or A string from this set for high G tuning.

Standard Guitar Tuning (EADGBe) and High E Tuning (eadgbe) for the Guitalele

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, you can use Aquila’s standard guitar tuning guitalele strings

These strings are suitable for people who want their guitalele to be a classical travel guitar. 

Guitaleles are great for this purpose because they’re actually smaller than most 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. 

11 replies on “Tuning For Guitalele: The Complete 2021 Guide”

Don Severancesays:

Hi, I have a baritone (30”) guitalele that I want to tune ADGCEA. Where can I get strings? Would classical guitar strings work? Thanks, Don

Harrison Alleysays:

Hi Don,

Thanks for writing in. Classical guitar strings should work fine. If your guitalele has bridge pins, I’d recommend these classical guitar strings.

If it doesn’t, I’d recommend these.

kayla kunkelsays:

What kind of capo would you recommend for a guitalele?

Harrison Alleysays:

Hi Kayla,

Capos designed for classical guitars typically work best for the guitalele like this capo.

Let me know if you have any further questions!

Hey there, I bought my Guitalele used so it was pre-strung with I believe nylon acoustic guitar strings. I loved the sound of it! I play the Uke so at first it wasn’t a big leap but then a string broke so I went to replace them and I bought the standard red Aquila strings. The sound was way lower, and not the jaunty fun I had been accustomed to. My instrument also got a bit dried out so the sound was off. But I think it’s fixed now and so I’m wondering, how do I get that fun jaunty sound back? Especially with nylon classical acoustic strings?

I’m thinking I was tuning it high G, but its actually been months since I’ve worked with it much because it needed repair and I got frustrated with trying to figure out the sound.

Harrison Alleysays:

Hi Mezz,

Thanks for writing in! There doesn’t seem to be a consensus among manufacturers for how to tune a guitalele. Carmel sent me my guitalele with a standard guitar tuning (EADGBe). When I first played the instrument in standard guitar tuning, I also felt like the sound was too low. However, once I tuned it up to the standard guitalele tuning (ADGCEa), I found the sound I was looking for. My recommendation is to tune it up to the standard guitalele tuning (ADGCEa). Nylon classical strings and your instrument should be able to handle that tension. However, in the unfortunate event that a string breaks, check out my string recommendations in the article.

Thanks! This article I think may finally help me solve the mystery of my missing jaunty sound^.^

Hello, I find it difficult to tune my guitalele and I even stretched the strings to tight which created a mark on the strings when I was tuning it with a chromatic application tuner. Is it okay to tune the 3 strings as the A D G of the guitar and the 3 nylon strings as the CEA of the ukulele? Thanks!

Harrison Alleysays:

Hi there!

ADGCEA is the standard guitalele tuning. So I’m not quite sure what you mean.

Are you wondering whether you can tune the lowest three strings EAD like the guitar and the highest three strings CEA like the uke/guitalele?

If so, I don’t think this would work like you may anticipate since EADCEA doesn’t correspond to any alternate tuning I know of.

I may be able to offer better help if I knew which strings and guitalele you are using.

I tuned my Yamaha guitalele to match my guitar EADGBE using the stock strings . Will it hurt the guitalele as some said that’s too much tension to the strings ? I don’t know how to tell if strings are too tight . Should I get other strings instead ? I am using my guitalele as portable guitar and I don’t really want it to be at the recommended A tuning 🙂

Harrison Alleysays:

Hi Joyce!

Standard guitar tuning (EADGBe) is actually lower than standard guitalele tuning (ADGCEa). So tuning your guitalele to standard guitar tuning shouldn’t put too much tension on your strings or instrument. It’s actually likely putting less tension on your strings and instrument than it was designed for.

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