Type: Lute > Chordophone.
Hornbostel-Sachs No#: 321.322.6
Region: Central America.
Description: The Mexican vihuela is a guitar-like string instrument from 19th-century Mexico with five strings and typically played in mariachi groups. The Mexican vihuela has more in common with the Timple Canario (timple of Canary Islands) due to both having five strings and both having vaulted (convex) backs. The Mexican vihuela is tuned similarly to the guitar.
Playing Techniques: This instrument is strummed with all of the fingernail tips to produce a rich, full and clear sound of the chords being played. A finger pick (la púa) on the pointer finger and or the second and third fingers, gives it a brighter and clearer sound when strummed. Many vihuela players do allow their finger-nails to grow just as their guitarist counter parts for the same reason. This is to allow a clear, clean tone when the instrument is plucked or strummed by hand.