The cuatro is the national instrument of Venezuela, and of course it is so called because it has 4 strings. Other names are : guitarra pequeña, guitarrita, guitarilla.
There are similar instruments with five (cinco) and six (seis) strings (see further on).
The cuatro is also used in part of Colombia. On the Dutch island Bonaire it is called kuarta, quarta or kwarta.
In Venezuela there are two different kind of cuatro, used and produced in different parts of the country : in Lara State the cuatro Larense and in Sucre State the cuatro Cumanés.
- The cuatro Larense is usually a bit more expensive and used professionally. It does not have much decoration : often only the rosette around the soundhole.
- The cuatro Cumanés has much more marquetry decoration : different coloured pieces of wood on both the front and the fingerboard.
The cuatro is made like a small guitar, with a flat back. The top of the front (above the middle of the soundhole) is protected by a thin layer of darker wood.
The fingerboard is flush with the front and has metal frets. The length of the neck is depending on the number of frets : 14, 15 (the usual number), 17, 19 or 22 frets. There are no frets on the front. So while the scale increases, the body keeps the same size.
The tuning head is either a flat peghead (on the cheaper models), with 2x2 tuning machines from the back, or (now more standard) like a guitar : a slotted open peghead with two tuning machines on both sides.
The 4 nylon strings run to a flat bridge (with nut), which is glued to the front.
Tuning is guitar-like, but with octave jumps (re-entrant) : a d' f#' b. This tuning is used for all sizes.
Distribué par AF Content Manager
Autres dénominations : venezuelancuatro