Category Archives: Guitar


Seminstrunnaya Gitara

Name: Seminstrunnaya Gitara.
Type: Chordophones > Lutes > Guitar > Types > Extended.
Hornbostel-Sachs No#: 321.322.5
Country: Russian Federation.
Region: Eastern Europe.

Description: The Russian guitar [in Russian: семиструнная гитара], sometimes referred to as a “Gypsy guitar”. This type of acoustic seven-string guitar was developed in Russia towards the end of the 18th century. While sharing most of the same organological features with the Spanish guitar.

Some historians insist on English guitar ascendancy. It is known in Russian as the semistrunnaya gitara [семиструнная гитара], or affectionately as the semistrunka [семиструнка], which translates to “seven-stringer”.

History: Although a number of sources associate the invention of the Russian guitar to Andrei Sychra [1773 – 1850]. There are strong reasons to believe that the instrument was already in use when Sychra began his career. Sychra was very influential in creating the school of Russian guitar playing.

He was a very prolific composer leaving a thousand compositions, seventy-five of which were republished in the 1840s by Stellovsky and then again in the 1880s by Gutheil. Some of these were published yet again in the Soviet Union in 1926.

Usage: The Russian version of the seven-string guitar has been used by professionals because of its great flexibility, but has also been popular with amateurs for accompaniment [especially Russian bards] due to the relative simplicity of some basic chords and the ease of playing alternating bass lines.

Tuning: Although these instruments appear similar in shape and acoustics. The Russian and Spanish guitars are tuned differently. The Spanish guitar in tuned to a reentrant tuning containing the intervals of fourths and thirds being the bottom D / G and B strings. Where as the Russian 7 string guitar tuning centres on a G major, the first and most common tuning tuning is an Open G not dissimilar to the Open G “Spanish” or “Tarro Patch” tuning for the six string guitar, with an added bass note being the D bass string.

Seminstrunnaya Gitara Tunings
Names Tunings
Open G D G B D G B D
Bulat Okudzhava D G C D G B D 
G Minor D G C D G BD
Tuning in Classical lit. C G B D G B D
Open G G B D G B D G

Citations: Bibliography: Casey, Fred 2003 From Russia, with strings attached, American Lutherie: The Quarterly Journal of the Guild of American Luthiers [Instrument Plan]. 8222 South Park Avenue, Tacoma WA 98408 USA – The Guild of American Luthiers. Number 75; Anatoly Shiryalin, “Guitar poem”, Moscow, 1994 p.11; Timofeyev, O. and Bazzotti, M – The Seven-String Guitar in 19th-Century Russian Culture; phee, Matayana – A Brief History of the Russian Seven-String Guitar ;

Baroque Guitar

Name: Baroque Guitar.
Type: Chordophones > Lutes > Guitar > Types > Baroque.
Hornbostel-Sachs No#: 321.322.5
Period: 1600-1750.
Country: Many.
Region: Western Europe & Europe.

Description: The Baroque guitar [c. 1600–1750] is a string instrument with five courses of gut strings and moveable gut frets. The Baroque guitar replaced the Renaissance lute as the most common instrument found in the home. The earliest attestation of a five-stringed guitar comes from the mid-sixteenth-century Spanish book Declaracion de Instrumentos Musicales by Juan Bermudo, published in 1555.

History: The first treatise published for the Baroque guitar was Guitarra Española de Cinco Ordenes [translated in English as: Spanish Five Order Guitar]. The Five-course Spanish Guitar c. 1590 by Juan Carlos Amat. The baroque guitar in contemporary ensembles took on the role of a basso continuo instrument and players would be expected to improvise a chordal accompaniment. Intimately tied to the development of the Baroque guitar is the alfabeto system of notation. The repertoire includes unaccompanied solo pieces, song accompaniments, dance music and mixed ensemble works.

The instrument was a part of the musical culture of European nobility and aristocrats of the time. Given the number of guitar tutors and solo works published for guitarists of varying levels of accomplishment. The guitar must have also been a part of the musical life of non-aristocratic social strata as well. A substantial repertoire of solo works written for the five course Baroque guitar survives. This music is written in tablature notations that were published throughout Europe from the late 16th to the mid-18th centuries.

Tunings: There were three ways to which one could tune the baroque guitar. The table listed below, includes the names of composers who are associated with each method. Very few sources seem to clearly indicate that one method of stringing rather than another should be used and it is often argued that it may have been up to the player to decide what was appropriate. The issue is highly contentious and different theories have been put forward.

Baroque Guitar Tunings
Musicians Tunings
Gaspar Sanz [Spain, 1674] A D G B E
Antoine Carre [France, 1671] D G B E

Citations: Bibliography: Guitarra Española de Cinco Ordenes [translated in English as: Spanish Five Order Guitar]. The Five-course Spanish Guitar c. 1590 by Juan Carlos Amat ; Declaracion de Instrumentos Musicales by Juan Bermudo, published in 1555; Manfred F. Bukofzer – Music In The Baroque Era: From Monteverdi to Bach, London: J. M. Dent & Sons – 1st UK edition 1948, P. 47 ; Harvey Turnbull, The Guitar – From The Renaissance to the Present Day 3rd, impression 1978 London: Batsford ISBN 0 7134 3251 9 p. 15: Chapter 1 – The Development of the Instrument. Lex Eisenhardt, Bourdons as Usual – In The Lute: The Journal of the Lute Society, vol. XLVII 2007 ; Schirmer Books, pp. 139-153 ; Bibliography: O’Dette, Paul. 1994. “Plucked Instruments,” In A Performer’s Guide to Renaissance Music. ed. Jeffery T. Kite-Powell ; New York: Schirmer Books, pp. 139-153 ; Turnbull, Harvey, and James Taylor. 1984. “Guitar, 1-4” NGDMI v2: 87-99 ; James Tyler, 1980 The Early Guitar: A History and Handbook. London: Oxford University Press ; Websites: Grinnell College Musical Instrument Collection / Baroque Guitar ;

Chitarra Battente

Name: Chitarra Battente.
Type: Chordophones > Lutes.
Hornbostel-Sachs No#: 321.322.5
Tuning: A D G B E
Country: Calabria, Italy.
Region: South Europe & Mediterranean.

Description: The chitarra battente [in Italian “strumming guitar”] however “battente” literally means “beating”. The word “battente” is directly related to the particular playing technique used when playing this particular musical instrument. It is member of the lute/guitar sub-group of the chordophone family. It is similar to the 5-course baroque guitar.

History: It is considered a folk instrument, though it has its origins in the Italian court music in the early Baroque era. Musicologists refer to the “historical” as well as the “folk” chitarra battente. There are many extant historical 17th century instruments in museums.

Varieties: The chitarra battente comes in three sizes. The medium and large instruments are the most common. The instrument may have five or four courses of strings. These courses are typically double or triple, a“course” being a group of 2 or 3 strings plucked as a single unit. Thus chitarra battente is typically a five or four-course instrument.

Construction: There is a great variation in the waisted profile of the chitarra battente. The variations exist in the design, atheistic and the materials used in the construction of the musical instrument.


Guitarra Del Golpe

Name: Guitarra Del Golpe.
Type: Chordophones > Lutes > Guitarillos.
Hornbostel-Sachs No#: 321.322.5
Country: Jalisco, Michoacán, Mexico.
Region: Central America.

Description: The Guitarra del Golpe is a variety of guitar found in Michoacán, Mexico. It has five single nylon strings. The strumming is similar in style to the vihuela [as featured in mariachi ensembles].

Guitarra Del Golpe Tunings
Name Tunings
Standard Michoacán D G C E A
Tecalitlán D G B E A
Urban Up G C E A D
Urban Below G C E A D
Vihuela A D G B E

Citations: Websites: / Guitarra Del Golpe entry ;


Name: Bordonua.
Type: Chordophones > Lutes > Guitarillos.
Hornbostel Sachs No#: 321.322.6
Country: Puerto Rico.
Region: Caribbean, Latin America.

Description: The Bordonua [in Spanish: Bordonúa] is a large, deep bodied lute. Bordonua usually are 15 cm or 6 inches in depth. Bordonua are native to Puerto Rico. They are made using several different shapes and sizes.

In 1849 a book published under the title “El Gibaro” written by Manuel Alonso. Alonso describes the bordonúa as a large guitar, roughly made and sometimes with no more tool than a knife or a dagger and that played the “bass voice” of the instrumental group jíbara [orchestra jíbara]. In 1887, the chronicler Francisco del Valle Atiles notes that it had six thick strings.

Over time the, the bordonúa ceased to be part of the folk orchestras. During the 1950s, an effort to rescue the use of this instrument was carried out by the Institute of Puerto Rican Culture embarked on a program to revive the traditional string instruments of Puerto Rico.

Bordonua Tunings
Names Tunings
6 Stringed  F# B E E A D
10 Stringed A D F# B E

Artisans were commissioned to build bordonúas and began to develop a method for teaching students how to play the instrument. Today, this instrument is an essential part of many folk music groups.

Citations: Bibliography: Stanley Sadie ~ New Grove Dictionary Of Musical Instruments – Book A to F Vol. 1 Page 252 ; Websites: Encyclopedia PR / The Bordonua ; Francisco Marrero Ocasio, Los instrumentos de cuerda en Puerto Rico 2003. CD Vuelvo a mi Estrella. Taller Musical Retablo ; William Cumpiano / Bordonua [Wayback machine] ;

Cuatro Cubano

Name: Cuatro Cubano.
Type: Chordophones > Lute > Guitarillos > Cuatro > Cubano.
Hornbostel-Sachs No#: 321.321.6
Country: Cuba.
Region: Caribbean & Central America.

Description: The Cuban cuatro [cuatro Cubano], is similar to a Cuban tres, but with 4 courses of doubled strings, instead of the usual 3 courses. It is usually tuned in a reentrant tuning G4 / C4 / E4 / A4. This is also the standard tuning for ukulele.

Cuatro Cubano
A D F# B


Cuatro Puertorriqueño

Name: Cuatro Puertorriqueño.
Type: Chordophones > Lute > Guitarillos > Cuatro.
Hornbostel-Sachs No#: 321.322.5
Tuning: B / E / A / D / G
Country: Puerto Rico USA.
Region: Caribbean & Central America.

Description: The Puerto Rican cuatro or Cuatro Puertorriqueño is shaped more like a viola than a guitar. It has a total of 10 strings arranged in five courses or doubled strings. The Puerto Rican cuatro the most familiar of the three instruments of the Puerto Rican orquesta jíbara [i.e., the cuatro the tiple and the bordonua].

Several sizes of the Puerto Rican cuatro exist, including a cuatro soprano, cuatro alto, cuatro traditional, the standard instrument, also called cuatro tenor and cuatro bajo [bass]: All of the Puerto Rican cuatro family have strings 5 courses or 10 doubled strings and are tuned in fourths.


Bajo Quinto

Name: Bajo Quinto.
Type: Chordophones > Lute > Guitarillos > Bajo.
Tuning: x / A / D / G / C / F
Hornbostel-Sachs No#: 321.322.5
Country: Mexico.
Region: Latin America.

Description: Bajo Quinto [in Spanish: the name translates into English as “fifth bass”]. A reference to the omitted sixth course of doubled strings present on the instrument. This instrument is popular in the southern states of Mexico, Oaxaca, Chiapas. The usage of the Bajo Quinto is to these southern states analogous to the Bajo Sexto  in the Northern regions.

Playing Technique: A plectrum is used often as the strings are quite thick on the bajo-sexto.

Citations: Bibliography: Avetardo, J. T. ed; Puro Conjunto: An Album in words and Pictures; Center for Mexican American Studies, The University of Texas; Austin, Texas: 2001 470p. ISBN 0-292-78174-1 Bajos de espiga – Diccionario de la Música Española e Hispanoamericana. Sociedad General de Autores y Editores ; [in Spanish] Dictionary of Spanish and Spanish-American music. General Society of Authors and Publishers [in English] Madrid 2002 ISBN 978-84-8048-303-2 ; Hernandez, Ramon; An Informal History of the Bajo Sexto; in Aventardo, Ch. 12, pp. 127–130. The Texas-Mexican Conjunto Bajo sexto / quinto ;

Bajo Sexto

Name: Bajo Sexto.
Type: Chordophones > Lutes > Guitar > Guitarillos > Bajo.
Tuning: Ee / AA / DD / Gg / Cc / Ff
Hornbostel-Sachs No#: 321.322.5
Country: Mexico.
Region: Central America.

Description: Bajo sexto [Bajo = Bass = Sexto meaning “sixth” in reference to its 6 courses 12 strings. Each course is paired or doubled. A closely related instrument is the bajo quinto [Spanish: “fifth bass”] which has 10 strings in 5 double courses. The origins of this instrument are somewhat unclear. As most of the history is oral transmitted by those who play and build the instruments.

History: In the 17th and 18th centuries, Mexican artisans built several types of instruments with double strings in three, four, fifths, sixth, seventh and eight courses, influenced by their Spanish ancestors. Descendants of these instruments are bandolon, guitarra séptima, quinta huapanguera, jarana jarocha, concheros string instruments, and guitarra chamula, among others. The manufacture of bajo quinto and sexto reached a peak in quality and popularity in the 19th century in central and southern Mexico, in the states of Guerrero, Michoacán, Morelos, Puebla, Oaxaca and Tlaxcala.

Playing Technique: A plectrum is used often as the strings are quite thick on the bajo-sexto.

Construction: The bajo-sexto is a member of the guitar family. Physically this instrument appears to be quite similar to the 12-string guitar. There are some slight differences. The Body is usually a bit deeper. The neck is shorter, joining the body at the 12th fret. Modern 12-string guitars usually join at the 14th fret; being a bass instrument the strings are thicker.

Citations: Bibliography: Avetardo, J. T. ed. Puro Conjunto: An Album in words and Pictures; Center for Mexican American Studies, The University of Texas; Austin, Texas: 2001. 470p. ISBN 0-292-78174-1 Bajos de espiga. Diccionario de la Música Española e Hispanoamericana. Sociedad General de Autores y Editores. Madrid 2002; ISBN 978-84-8048-303-2 ; Hernandez, Ramon; An Informal History of the Bajo Sexto; in Aventardo, Ch. 12, pp. 127–130. The Texas-Mexican Conjunto Bajo sexto / quinto ;


Name: Bijol.
Type: Chordophone > Lute > Guitar.
Hornbostel-Sachs No#: 321.312.6
Country: East Timor.
Region: South East Asia.

Description: The bijol or Bidu four stringed guitar that is apart of the Timorese string bands found West Miomafo District, North Central Timor. This instrument usually provides accompaniment for the lead instrument, being a fiddle called a heo in Miomafo as the lead instrument. All the instruments in these ensembles are adapted to the local Indigenous tastes even though they were introduced from Western instruments such as the guitar and violin.

Citations: Bibliography: Palmer Keen, ~ White Bird Flew From Afar: Encounters with Bidu in Timor ; Discography: From the East: Sumbawa, East, Timor Vol. 16 LC9626 – SFW40443 [PDF file] ; Websites: Bidu: String Music from the Foothills of Mt. Mutis, Timor [youtube video] ;