Types: Chordophones > Lutes > Guitar > Guitarillos.
Hornbostel-Sachs No#: 321.322.5
Region: Central America.
Description: The origin of the Mejoranera is unclear and there are different theories. The likely introduction came with the sailors who introduced a form of tap dance called the “zapateo”, in Panama the same dance is also called the “mejorana” dance, which includes this instrument. This instrument is a direct descendant of the Baroque guitar, it does bare similar in shape and depth to the Puerto Rican bordonua.
It first appeared at the town of La Mesa in Veraguas, but is now popular in all central provinces. Veraguas, Herrera and Los Santos, and the most representative musical instrument of this country.
Tunings: There are several alternate tunings in use they are identified as calls in Spanish as Por Veinticinco “by 25” or Por Seis “by 6” for example. Played with a plectrum or by hand for picking or strumming. It is found and widely used in the region of the central provinces of the Isthmus of Panama.
|Por Veinticinco||E / B / A / a’ / D|
|Por Seis||E / B / G / g’ / D|
Construction: Although of smaller construction the Mejoranera is similar appearance to the guitar. The wood used to make the body, bracing were cedar, hawthorn cedar [G. globosum], chira, beans, Jamaican and espavé. Having only five single strings and a short neck having up to only six frets. The frets were set in a chromatic manner.
The pegs and the flat pegbox are made of wood or and traditionally, the instrument has no metal parts. The bridge is quite pronounced and has two feet that are attached to the harmony table. It carries a rope, tied through a pair of holes in the body, to be used as a strap around the neck of the performer.
Citations: Bibliography: Rey, A.; Schaeffer, M. 1945 “Boletín del Instituto de Investigaciones Folklóricas”. California Folklore Quarterly. 4 : Websites: