Yamaha GL-1 Guitalele Review

Finding a proper guitalele to purchase can often be a tough decision. Many of these instruments are manufactured only for novelty’s sake, and do not have the proper materials or craftsmanship to produce a decent sound. The Yamaha GL-1 aims to be a guitalele worthy of its manufacturer, and mostly succeeds in this regard.

The Yamaha Guitalele is a great addition to the Best Travel Guitar Family, Inexpensive, and not a Toy!  The Guitalele is a lot of guitar packed into a really small package.  I was iffy on this one and I don’t know why really.  I guess I have had my hands on quite a few different travel guitars and I thought $99.00 wasn’t going to buy me much.  Well, I was wrong, probably the best $99 dollars I spent all year.  It’s perfect for travel, it’s fun, and it’s actually quite loud.  So what makes us say these things.  Let’s review.

Before delving into the features of the Yamaha GL-1, it is important to consider the price. At just around 100 dollars, the GL-1 is a bit pricier than most standard quality ukuleles, and substantially cheaper than most guitars. As a fusion of both instruments, however, this price is to be expected. A guitalele is a great instrument for a guitarist looking for a new way to play, or a ukulele player who wants to produce a fuller sound. At this price, both types of enthusiasts can experiment without any possibility of buyer’s remorse.

The tuning on this Yamaha guitalele is ADGCEA, meaning the same chords played on guitar can be played on this instrument. The only difference is that the guitalele will sound a bit higher, due to its smaller build. As with most ukuleles, the higher notes and chords will stand out more, but with the GL-1 this is a definite boon. No other instrument can produce such a mix of high and deep sounds, which is probably why the guitalele has become popular with spanish-style players. The instrument is very sturdy, and is made with the highest quality wood materials, meaning it is a instrument that will last for years with proper care. Particular attention was paid to the neck, which has the feel and action of a comparable Fender guitar, only much smaller. At 17 inches, the guitalele is perfect for carry-ons and road trips, and won’t feel so minuscule in the hands of bigger players, like a ukulele might.

Like most instruments, this Yamaha guitalele isn’t perfect. Although they can be changed out, the guitalele comes with nylon strings, as is common for most ukuleles. Also like most ukuleles, the guitalele is prone to going out of tune quite rapidly. It is not uncommon for a musician to find their instrument almost completely out of tune after one extended jam session. Unlike the ukulele, this Yamaha instrument has 6 strings, as opposed to 4. That means a bit of extra time spent tuning, which may frustrate some players. After a certain amount of time, however, tuning the guitalele becomes second nature. Another issue with the strings is that they are very sensitive. Pushing down too much or bending them during play will cause the instrument to go out of tune even faster, although their sturdiness ensures they will not break.

Guitaleles are unique instruments. It is advisable to practice with one before buying, to make sure the purchaser enjoys the sound. If that is the case, then they can enjoy their Yamaha purchase for years to come.

Published in Acoustic Travel Guitars

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  1. Lochsa Lad

    Yes I recommend owning this great instrument. I tune mine to a DADGAD tuning, but in G so GDGCDG, fantastic fun. When in standard tuning I tune to G instead of A to make the switch to the GDGCEG easier and the Guitarelele likes it with lower tension, very playable.

  2. Ben Lax

    Bought a guitalele at the beginning of last summer as I was going travelling. Needless to say, it has been great for taking abroad as you can take it in your hand luggage on planes and don’t have to worry about it being smashed in the hold, and It was great to jam in the airport while waiting for the rental car to be sorted out. Mine holds its tune remarkably well, and I very rarely have to re-tune it (though this may be due to the strings I use D’addario pro arte). I would definately recommend this guitalele.

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