Guitar or Guitalele?:
The Outdoor Guitar™ is available tuned EADGBE (Standard Guitar) or ADGCEA (Guitalele). This can be somewhat confusing, because a baritone ukulele is actually tuned like the first four strings of a standard guitar. You can also think of it as a baritone ukulele with two additional bass strings, or a six string baritone ukulele. Standard guitar tuning on the Outdoor Guitar™ will have a lower pitch, deeper tone, and familiar guitar sound.
The Guitalele, also known as a Guitarlele and Guilele, blends the guitar and ukulele. The 20 in (50 cm) scale length is the same as a baritone ukulele. The Guitalele is tuned ADGCEA, and plays like a standard guitar with a capo on the 5th fret, allowing you to play all of the same chord shapes of a standard guitar and a ukulele. This will also give the instrument a higher pitch, closer to the sound of a ukulele.
Standard guitar tuning and guitalele tuning on the Outdoor Guitar™ use different gauge strings, so it’s not possible to use the same strings for both tunings. You can change the tuning of the instrument by changing the strings without any modifications. The strings for the Outdoor Guitar™ are custom made for us by D’Addario, and we are not aware of additional manufactures that make strings for a 20” scale length guitar. It’s possible to match the gauges that we use with other string manufacturers.
E tuning: E .056W A .042W D .033W G .028W B .0397 E .0317
A tuning: A .042W D .033W G .028W C .0397 E .0317 A .0275
At first glance, our instruments look simple. It's the simple designs that are the most difficult to create. Take a closer look at our instruments and you'll notice the top, bridge, saddle, fingerboard, frets, fret markers, nut, headstock, and bushings are molded as one singular part. That's 600°F carbon fiber polycarbonate, pushed into a 1250 pound hardened steel mold, under 420 tons of pressure, through a .100" thick gap, at the speed of sound.
Carbon & Glass Fiber Polycarbonate:
Polycarbonate reinforced with carbon fiber strands give the instruments a natural grain structure that greatly increase strength and acoustics.
The chemistry of our high-performance resins started with testing the properties and acoustics of tone woods from around the world; such as Port Orford Cedar from the Oregon Coast, Western Red Cedar from British Colombia, Rosewood from Brazil, Koa from Hawaii, and Spanish Cedar. We then worked with a chemist to translated what we learned and developed a comparable composite thermoplastic resin. We then used state of the art CAD (Computer Aided Design) systems, FEA (Finite Element Analysis), and Mold Flow Analysis to help us design our instruments.
Outdoor Guitars are the only instruments made with composite polycarbonate. Most plastic instruments use ABS (Acrylonitrile Butadiene Styrene), which is much easier to mold than high-performance polymers like polycarbonate, requiring 2/3 less tonnage than is required to mold an Outdoor Guitar.
Unfortunately, ABS is much softer than polycarbonate, so it doesn’t have ideal acoustic properties and won’t retain their shape in high temperatures. It’s not recommended leaving an ABS instruments in a hot car during the summer. Competing instruments are molded with ABS because the cost of raw materials are many times less expensive than polycarbonate reinforced with glass and carbon fibers. As far as we know, all ABS plastic ukuleles are made overseas. Outdoor Guitars are injection molded in Washington State and assembled in Bend, Oregon.
Being outdoors is a source of inspiration, and many of us choose to express ourselves through music. However, natural elements, awe-inspiring as they are, can also wreak havoc on instruments. At Outdoor Guitar™, we believe that you should be able to carry your creative outlet with you wherever you go.
Outdoor Instruments™ can be used in all weather conditions. The low temperature range of composite polycarbonate is -40° F (-40° C) and the high temperature range is 250° F (120° C). Feel free to take your Outdoor Guitar™ snowshoeing during the winter on Mt. Hood or trekking during the summer through Joshua Tree. Low temperatures, high temperatures, and humidity will not affect your the stability of your Outdoor Guitar™. Strings will require re-tuning from rapid temperature changes.
Our instruments are a favorite choice for kayakers, river rafting guides, surfers, and people who live at the marina. If you use your guitar in or near salt water, be sure to rinse it with fresh water and dry very well.
Strings & String Action:
Outdoor Guitars and Guitaleles use nylon strings custom made by D’Addario in Farmingdale, New York. Nylon was developed by DuPont during World War II, and D’Addario was sent samples by Dupont in 1947. They immediately began experimenting with this new material, consulting with many of its regular customers in developing the strings.
The playability of a stringed instrument is often measured by its string action. String action is the height of the string from the frets. This measurement is made from the bottom of the string to the top of the 1st fret and 12th fret. The action on our guitar is 2.75mm on the 4th string at the 12th fret. This is as low as we can get the action and still have an instrument with strings that don’t buzz on the frets when played. We set the action of our instruments during the glue up process, where we clamp them to solid machined aluminum fixtures during the curing process.
Horn Shaped String Slots:
Our instruments are injection molded from composite polycarbonate, which allows us to create complex and precise features that can’t be made by hand. One of those features are horn shaped string slots, which are used on the nut of our Ukuleles, Banjoleles, and Guitars. We also use horn shaped holes on our floating Banjolele bridge.
Stringed instruments use a nut made from a hard material like bone or other synthetic materials that are attached to a wooden neck between the fingerboard and headstock. Slots are filed into the nut, determining the string spacing and height from the fingerboard.
String slots are typically filed by hand or with a jig. It can take years of experience to get the slots filed to the correct depth and angle. The slot should be angled downward and pointing toward their corresponding tuning machine and string post.
Straight string slots have two termination points. One at the front edge of the nut and a second point at the back of the nut. Even if the vertical angle was filed correctly, it’s almost certain the side angle isn’t perfectly aligned with the string post. This adds pressure to the back of the nut and reduces pressure on the front of the nut.
A horn shaped string slot has one termination point at the front of the nut, with a smooth transition to the string post at any angle, improving sound quality and intonation.
We took our nut design one step further by compensating for the diameter of each string. This is accomplished by stepping the height of the nut at each string location.
Outdoor Guitar™ For The Beginner:
Our travel size guitars are perfect for learning how to play a stringed instrument. They have a short scale length and a narrow fingerboard, making chord shapes much easier to learn. The fingerboard is sized between a classical guitar and a steel stringed acoustic guitar, 1.75in (45 mm) at the nut. The 20 in (50 cm) scale length is actually the same as a baritone ukulele. A beginner may find the fingerboard width on a classical guitar too wide for fingers to reach, and the width of a steel stringed acoustic guitar too narrow, causing your fingers to touch more than one string. Our treble strings are monofilament nylon and the bass strings are silver plated copper with a multi-filament nylon core. Steel strings are hard on fingers until they start to grow a callus (thick pad that develops on fingertips) and nylon strings let you play and practice much longer.
The Outdoor Guitar™ is affordable, making it a great transition instrument to a more expensive classical air acoustic guitar. Our travel size guitars start at $365 and should last a lifetime. Most instruments in this price range are made overseas, so less expensive materials like plywood and stamped steel tuners need to be used. Our instruments are made from carbon fiber polycarbonate and use custom cast metal tuning machine baseplates with precision ground gears.
YouTube videos are a great way to learn how to play the guitar. Many songs use only a few simple chords, and thousands of videos are available teaching popular songs. Another popular way to learn songs on the guitar are with tabs. Tabs (tablature) are a form of music notation indicating instrument fingering rather than musical pitches. Websites like https://www.ultimate-guitar.com, https://www.songsterr.com, and https://guitarprotabs.org have thousands of songs listed. Another great source is https://yousician.com, where you can learn to play the guitar with interactive lessons on a phone app.