Category Archives: Cuatro


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.


Cuatro Venezolano

Name: Cuatro Venezolano.
Type: Chordophones > Lute > Guitarillos > Cuatro.
Hornbostel-Sachs No#: 321.321.6
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. Cuatro’s also 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 ;