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

Description: The cuatro is the name of a family of Latin American instruments found in South America, and in Puerto Rico and other parts of the West Indies. Although some have viola-like shapes, many cuatros resemble a small to mid-sized classical guitar.

In Spanish 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 ;

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