Antonio Carvalho GS Tenor Guitalele
Take an all solid acacia tenor ukulele body and put on a short scale classical guitar neck, and you’ve got the Antonio Carvalho GS Guitalele. It is in many ways a miniature guitar, yet to accommodate the short scale, it is tuned AEGCEA. This gives you the top four strings of a uke, with complementary bass strings that fit with guitar chord shapes. It sounds a bit more complicated that in it. Basically, it is something a bit different for noodling around on – made to a good standard from all solid woods. Once you get one in your hands, it all comes quite naturally.
This guitalele is a European affair, made in Portugal and strung with Italian strings, from Galli. Antonio Carvalho is a company experienced in all manner of stringed instruments, including many I didn’t know existed – like the Algerian Mondol, the Cuatro Venezolano and the Spanish Laud. Suffice to say, they know quite a bit about making instruments, and this GS guitalele is a nice example. The satin finish gives an almost handmade look – certainly it is a world away from mass produced gloss instruments – which is part of its charm.
Some quite spectacular looking solid acacia has been used to make this guitalele. That’s really the star of the show, the wood. Although there’s a nice bit of marquetry around the soundhole, the eye is definitely drawn to the rich variation in the wood grain. The slotted headstock is a touch on the bulky looking side, but it doesn’t make the instrument feel unbalanced, in part because the in-line tuners are fairly lightweight and comfortable to use.
The sound is guitalele-esque! When you first play a guitalele you can think, because of the extra bass, that there’s a depth and richness you don’t get from your ukulele. And you’d be right, there’s certainly an added dimension there. I’ve now played quite a few different guitaleles however, and am starting to appreciate that some of them can sound a little muddy, with the sound of individual strings lost in the mix. That’s why I’ve honed in on this Antonio Carvalho guitalele, which offers a more defined sound, particular nice for classical and flamenco pieces (for me anyway!).
It is European made, relatively inexpensive, nice looking and something different in your arsenal. More than enough reasons to try one!