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Cavaquinho

Looks like an Uke, sounds like an Uke, and you could say it's an Uke.
In fact, it's a Cavaquinho: the instrument was first taken to Hawaii in the late 19th century by Portuguese emigrants, and was adopted by the locals (that proves their good taste). To learn more, click on the link:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ukulele#Hawaii

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Comment by Luis Motta da Silva on January 19, 2012 at 1:09pm

Hi, John,

Delicious story, that one about the dog and the fleas! Grandma's know better...

Anyway, that tuning is not used in Portugal, at least not to my knowledge...  thanks for the link, it's always nice to learn something!

Comment by John McFarland on January 15, 2012 at 7:25pm

Hi Luis,

Standard tuning for a ukulele is GCEA. Compared to most stringed instruments it is unusual because the G is not the lowest note. It is tuned to G at a pitch between the 2nd string E and the first string A. Is there a similar tuning for the Cavaquinho?

In old Hawaii a player would tune by ear by singing: "my dog has fleas" and for some reason the notes would come out at the right pitch. At least that is the story my grandmother told me. Go to this website, pluck the four strings by clicking on each arrow and see if it sounds that way to you:

http://www.get-tuned.com/online_ukulele_tuner.php

Regards,

John

Comment by Luis Motta da Silva on January 12, 2012 at 1:49pm

Hi,

There are almost as many cavaquinho tunings as guitar tunings. For instance,

The "Natural" tuning: D-B-G-G or E-C#-A-A (yes, yes, two strings at the same note, like in Balalaikas! You may fret one and leave the other open, or fret both in unison, whatever...)

The "Old Way" tuning: A-E-C-G. The "Ancient" tuning: E-B-A-D. The "Brazilian" tuning: E-B-G-D.

Some people use the classic 4-string Dixieland banjo tuning (the same Florida Gull identifies as "samba" tuning : D-B-G-D.

Apart from Portugal, Cavaquinho is really popular in Cabo Verde and Brazil. In other ancient Portuguese colonies, such as Angola, Mozambique, Guinea-Bissau, Goa, Macau or East Timor, the instrument is known and played, but not with the same popularity.

Beyond different tunings, the playing tecnique is very rich, including several different styles. Perhaps the most uncommon is the so-called "rasgado". Here is a link to a vid you migh enjoy... 

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=osgZpozOmeI

Have a good time!

Comment by FloridaGull on January 11, 2012 at 3:02pm

Tuning was supposed to come out like this:

Brazilian Cavaquinho - Most Popular Tuning Formats

Most Popular Formats in Brazil:

Most used in Samba

1º String - D
2º String - B
3º String - G
4º String - D

Same as the Guitar

1º String - E
2º String - B
3º String - G
4º String – D

Alternative Format (Same as the Mandolin)

1º String - E
2º String - A
3º String - D
4º String - G

Comment by FloridaGull on January 11, 2012 at 3:00pm

Giannini makes a Cavaquinho, too:

SM10.jpg
click to enlarge

GSCM10

Handcrafted all-solid acoustic Brazilian Cavaquinho. Solid Sitka Spruce top, solid Rosewood back and sides, gold plated machine heads and reinforced neck. Supplied with Giannini hard case.

GSCM10 EL

Handcrafted all-solid acoustic-electric Brazilian Cavaquinho with B-Band preamp. Solid Sitka Spruce top, solid Rosewood back and sides, gold plated machine heads and reinforced neck. Supplied with Giannini hard case.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Now, as to tuning - from the Etros Music website (North American importer of Giannini products):

 

Brazilian Cavaquinho - Most Popular Tuning Formats

Most Popular Formats in Brazil:

Most used in Samba

1º String - D
2º String - B
3º String - G
4º String - D

Comment by John McFarland on January 11, 2012 at 2:33pm

Nice! I've heard of the Cavaquinho but have never seen one until now. It really looks identical to a ukulele. Does it use the same "my dog has fleas" tuning?

BTW: thanks or the wiki link. I just found out that ukulele means flea!

The body of my uke is highly figured flame Koa from Hawaii and the neck and pegs appear to be mahogany.

Comment by Bob Tylka on October 21, 2011 at 7:13pm

Very interesting Luis! Thank you!

 

Comment by Luis Motta da Silva on July 14, 2011 at 3:51pm

Hello, Pascal!

Yes, the Brazilian Cavaquinho descends from the Portuguese one. There is also a solid cavaquinho tradition in Cabo Verde. Speaking for myself, I first heard a Cavaquinho in the late 50's from a record of Valdir Azevedo, the Brazilian master. Funny thing: by that time, I lived in Angola, that's where I heard that record. Being born in Oporto, a few kilometers away from the region where Cavaquinho was originated, I came to hear it first in Africa, from a Brazilian record...

Comment by Pascal Proust on July 14, 2011 at 3:26pm
Yes indeed, the cavaquinho should be the instrument that inspired the ukulele. There's also a Brazilian cavaquinho that is a bit bigger - and maybe with different tuning as well - I guess.

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