Category Archives: Guitarillos

Guitarillos

Bajo Sexto

Name: Bajo Quinto.
Type: Chordophones > Lute > Guitarillos > Bajo.
Tuning: E / A / D / G / C / F
Hornbostel-Sachs No#: 321.322.6
Country: Mexico.
Region: Latin 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, these lutes are directly 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.

Tuning: The use of the E / A / D / G / C / F tuning for this particular instrument allows for switching between notes between an octave apart when playing in certain keys. In guitar parlance this tuning is referred to as “All Fourths” as the intervals of this tuning are all in fourths. It is an alteration or scordatura of the renterant Em11 tuning. By omitting the third in the tuning and replacing it with all fourths.

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 ;

Quinto

Name: Bajo Quinto.
Type: Chordophones > Lute > Guitarillos > Bajo.
Tuning: x / A / D / G / C / F
Hornbostel-Sachs No#: 321.322.6
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 ;

Cuatro Venezuelan

Name: Cuatro Venezuelan.
Type: Chordophones > Lute > Guitarillos > Cuatro.
Hornbostel-Sachs No#: 321.322.6
Country: Venezuela.
Region: Caribbean & Central America.

Description: The cuatro is the name of a family of Latin American instruments found in South America, Trinidad & Tobago and in Puerto Rico and other parts of the Caribbean.  Differences of the cuatros with in this family can vary by shape, size and tuning.

In Spanish the word cuatro means “four” the instrument’s 15th century predecessor was the Portuguese cavaquinho which has four strings, like the original cuatro, modern cuatros often have more than four strings.

Cuatro Venezuelano Tunings
Standard A / D / F# / B
Freddy Reyna E / A / C# / F#

Varieties: However there are variations of this instrument that are considered national instruments, [e.g.. Venezuela]. The cuatro is widely used in ensembles in Jamaica, Mexico, and Surinam to accompany singing and dancing. In Trinidad and Tobago it accompanies Parang singers. In Puerto Rico and Venezuela, the cuatro is an ensemble instrument; for secular and religious music and is played at parties and traditional gatherings.

Modern cuatros come a variety of sizes and shapes and number of strings. Cuatros can either have single-strings like a guitar, or double or triple courses of strings like a mandolin, and vary in size from a large mandolin or small guitar, to the size of a full-size guitar. Depending on their particular stringing, cuatros are part of the guitar or mandolin subfamilies of the lute family.

Citations: Bibliography: “Instrumentos Musicales de Venezuela: Cuatro”. Diccionario Multimedia de Historia de Venezuela, Fundación Polar ; Fredy Reyna: Alfa Beta Cuatro – Monte Avila Editores 1994 ; Alejandro Bruzual : Fredy Reyna – Ensayo biográfico – Alter Libris 1999 ;

Guitarra Leona

Name: Guitarra Leona.
Type: Chordophones > Lutes > Guitarillos > Bajo.
Hornbostel-Sachs No#: 321.322.6
Country: Veracruz, Mexico.
Region: Central America.

Description: The Guitarra Leona [lioness] also goes by other names, bumburona, bombona, vozarrona, big guitar. It is a large-sized four stringed flat-backed composite lute that plays the role of bass in Son Jarocho. Slightly smaller in size to the guitarron as played in Mariachi. It is struck with a plectrum that is usually a piece of bone or carved bull-horn.

Citations: Bibliography: Cultural Atlas of Mexico. Music . Mexico: Grupo Editorial Planeta. 1988. ISBN 968-406-121-8 ;