Portuguese Guitar

Portuguese Guitar

Many years ago, there was a bit of interest in this instrument in irish traditional music. It is a 12 string, lute-shaped guitar, rather like a bazooki with a short neck. I have a venerable Gracio instrument myself, though I use it to play fadinhos, for which is was originally intended.

I am writing because someone here in Portugal is developing a variation of this instrument, which is similar but tuned an octave lower. This would put it in the same register as the tenor banjo. Could be interesting.

If ther is any interest, I will try to get more information

Re: Portuguese Guitar

How are they tunes ?

Re: Portuguese Guitar

sorry
How are they tuned ?

Re: Portuguese Guitar

By twisting little knobs, probably.

Re: Portuguese Guitar

@ Bob himself

HAHA that made my day! :-D

Re: Portuguese Guitar

Friday is a silly day. Might as well go with it.

Re: Portuguese Guitar

Bloke who plays with Leonard Cohen has one, sounds great, bit like a mandolin.

Re: Portuguese Guitar

Not sure how it would sound for Irish music, though it’s a beautiful instrument in fado. If you’re at all into fado, check out Carlos Paredes, his recordings are amazing.

Re: Portuguese Guitar

Firefly, I think your information needs to be checked out precisely;
What are the normal pitches/stringing/tuning associated with the Portuguese guitar ?
How do they compare to the mandolin and violin, for instance ?
Standard tunings on both of these instruments would normally be GDAE, E being the top string and pitched an octave and a third above middle C.
The tenor banjo was originally tuned the same as the mandola and viola, a 5th down from violin, CGDA. Later ITM musicians re-strung and tuned the tenor banjo with heavier strings, to be an octave below the violin, GDAE, where the E string is the same pitch as the top string of a guitar.
So which tenor banjo tuning are you talking about ?
I think it would be more useful if you gave us the actual notes tuned to, both traditionally for the Portuguese guitar, and your friends’ variation. Otherwise we’re all just speculating. String gauges commonly used, and on what scale length, might be a help in the discussion as well.
I’m certainly curious. Were I to visit Portugal with some free spending money I might well come away with one of their instruments, I do acknowledge their attractiveness. Not to mention my nostalgia for the early work of Planxty.

Re: Portuguese Guitar

I bought one of these Guitarras recently from a guy who brought it back from Portugal. The workmanship and sound quality replicate my Fylde bouzouki for which I payed 7 times as much money. As far as tunings it is very flexible and because of the short scale you have to use very light guage guitar strings. It even came with a device for putting loop ends on the strings as you need loops on both ends. If you look at the early Planxty recordings (correct me if I’m wrong) I think Andy Irvine only uses the middle 4 courses of strings and foregoes the outer 2 effectively turning it into a mandolin. Lower priced bouzoukis and mandolins from Chinese factories are poor instruments indeed so a quality instrument from Portugal with a fair price tag attached would get my interest.

Re: Portuguese Guitar

The tuning is, from top to bottom, B,A,E,B,A,D. It’s very odd, but is intended for playing fadinhos (vamped folk tunes in A or D), or accompanying fado corrido (simple folk songs). As as a melodic accompaniment for fados, one tends to use the E string a lot , as it is slack and juicy. Carlos Paredes uses a Coimbra tuning, which is one tone lower, but the same intervals. He has his own personal style and is something of an original musical genius.

I’m not sure the instrument is that good for trad, but the tenor version I spoke of might well be.

Re: Portuguese Guitar

If you start looking on European instrument sites you can find these instruments, and I was under the impression that there were two distinct models, the basic difference being that one had a longer scale and was basically tuned a tone lower as a consequence. So then it would be tuned AGDAGC. Or rather CGADGA. I can see a use in that.
Or re-string completely and tune how you like.
I still think they look fascinating instruments; "Wife ! I know what I want for Christmas !".

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I’ll be in Portugal in September for my work, and have been looking forward buying a guitarra. Where’s a good place to shop for one, firefly? The first time I ever saw a Portuguese guitarra, it was being played by Seán Mc Elwain of Téada, I believe. Sounded fantastic, but that could just be Seán’s playing!

Re: Portuguese Guitar

Now you can try the Portuguese Guitar on Android. Look for Guitarra Portuguesa in Google Play.