Find out what a small guitar is, how to play it, what are the advantages and disadvantages of this musical instrument and, in the end, if you should buy it or not.
What is a small guitar ?
A small guitar, as the name suggests, is a type of guitar that is smaller than a classical guitar. The size changes significantly.
As with quartet instruments, which have different sizes such as 4/4 – 3/4 – 2/4 or 1/2 – 1/4, guitars sizes can also vary.
As you can see in this picture, it is better to buy a 1/2 or 3/4 guitar for children than a large one for adults.
The expression small guitar refers to the two smallest guitars, namely the 1/8 and the 1/4. And as you can read, this type of instrument, sometimes called mini guitar or guitalele, unlike those for adults, measures between 44cm and 48cm.
Playing guitalele or small guitar ?
You may have already heard about the guitalele, said “hybrid between guitar and ukulele”.
This guitalele does not exist!
It is not a hybrid but simply a mini guitar that looks like a ukulele because of its small size, i.e. 1/8 or 1/4, and sometimes its high tone.
It’s important to understand this, otherwise you might think you have to play the small guitar differently and that’s not quite the case.
But yes, this kind of guitar named guitalele can be played differently, depending on how you tune it. Clearly, because of its size, you will have to put more tension on the strings to make them sound.
So, in principle, the guitalele is tuned differently than a guitar.
If i have to tune my guitar in E – A – D – G – B – E, the small guitar can be tuned in A – D – G – C – E – A.
But it doesn’t have to. It can be tuned like a normal guitar.
This type of tuning is only used to prevent the strings from breaking and the sound from becoming too high. However, if you have strong strings, there is no problem to tune your mini guitar like a normal guitar.
What are the benefits and drawbacks of the small guitar ?
As you can imagine, the main advantage of this small guitar is that it is small. Unlike a classical guitar, it doesn’t take up much space and can be transported more easily. You can also take it on a bus or a plane, without paying extra and without being afraid to leave it in the luggage compartment or in the hold.
But there are also disadvantages, depending on how you choose to set it up.
If you decide to tune your mini guitar differently than a normal one :
This can become a disadvantage if you already know how to play the guitar. Because the guitar notes change if you tune it differently, the positions change. You will have to relearn all the guitar chord positions.
This is not very comfortable and I only recommend it if you plan to play this mini guitar from time to time.
If you tune a small guitar like a guitar :
This too has its drawbacks. As I said, tuning your small guitar differently has its uses. The sound will be less sharp and the strings, less tense, won’t break easily.
So, if you tune it like a normal guitar, you will be able to play it in the same way. But the instrument will have a very different sound, too high (a bit like a ukulele) and the strings will be more fragile.
Buy a Small guitar | guitalele or not ?
For me, there are two types of situations.
1 – You already know how to play guitar and you want to buy a guitalele to travel and play it occasionally. Then, yes, one of these! It doesn’t matter that the sound is high and the strings are fragile. What matters is that you can play it anywhere.
2 – You don’t know how to play the guitar and you want to learn with a smaller guitar, because you are a child or because you have smaller hands and you don’t like playing with a big guitar. So yes, but tuning it to A – D – G – C – E – A.
Tuner guitalele in A – D – G – C – E – A on Decibel Score
Because if the goal is to always play with this instrument, the sound must be good and pleasant (not too high) and the strings must be resistant. Imagine having to change the strings every week? What a nightmare.
I hope this article has helped you understand what a small guitar is, how to play it, what are its advantages and disadvantages and if it is worth buying. Long live music !