Type: Lute > Chordophones.
Hornbostel-Sachs No#: 321.322.6
Country: Many Portugal, Angola & Brazil.
Region: Iberian Peninsula, Western Europe, Africa & South & America.
Description: The cavaquinho [pronounced [kɐvɐˈkiɲu] in Portuguese] It is a small Portuguese string instrument in the European guitar family, with four wire or nylon strings. More broadly, cavaquinho is the name of a four-stringed subdivision of the lute family of instruments. A cavaquinho player is called a cavaquista.
Etymology: The word “cavaquinho” alone usually refers to the Portuguese cavaquinho. The instrument’s name cavaqu-inho means “little wood splinter” in Portuguese. The Venezuelan concert cuatro is very nearly the same instrument, but somewhat larger.
|Name||Country / Region||Tuning|
|Portugal||C / G / A / D|
|Brazil||D / G / B / D|
|Solo||Brazil||D / G / B / E|
|‘Mandolin’||Brazil||G / D / A / E|
|‘Cavacolele’||Hawaii *||G / C / E / A|
|Brazil||A / A / C♯ / E|
|Brazil||G / G / B / D|
|Brazil||D / A / B / E|
Varieties: There are several forms of cavaquinho used in different regions and for different styles of music. Separate varieties are named for Portugal, Braga [braguinha] Minho [minhoto], Lisbon, Madeira, Brazil, and Cape-Verde; other forms are the braguinha, ‘cavacolele’, cavaco, machete, and ukulele.
a.) The Brazilian cavaquinho is slightly larger than the Portuguese cavaquinho, resembling a small classical guitar. Its neck is raised above the level of the sound box, and the sound hole is usually round, like cavaquinhos from Lisbon and Madeira.
b.) The Venezuelan concert cuatro is very nearly the same size and shape, but has its neck laid level with the sound box, like the Portuguese cavaquinho.
c.) The cavaco is a smaller version of the Brazilian cavaquinho, similar in size to the Portuguese cavaquinho. It is part of a samba ensemble (see the international section, below). The name cavaco means “wood splinter” in Portuguese – probably back-formed from the original name cavaquinho (“little wood splinter”).