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Thread: Portuguese guitar ?

  1. #26
    totally amateur k0k0peli's Avatar
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    Default Re: Portuguese guitar ?

    Quote Originally Posted by Sabicas View Post
    I didn't mean to hijack the thread, but yeah, the cumbus is perfect for eastern and spanish sounds. It's a simple design but resonates differently than a banjo. That bowl is deep and the doubled (all unison) courses seem to never quite be in tune. That's mainly because of the way the neck is actually sitting on an adjustable fulcrum and is primarily held in place by the strings themselves. Also, it doesn't sound nearly as good in standard guitar tuning. The sympathetic string drones are a very significant part of the charm (and the not so great sound of playing in certain keys). It's loud, brash and alive.
    Since this is threadjacked, I'll mention my two Cümbüsi, one fretted, one fretless, both with deep stainless steel bowls (only slightly dented). I bought those some years ago for US$300 total at Lark In The Morning. I leave the fretless one in Turkish or Armenian modes to play (badly). I've restrung the fretted one in fifths + a fourth (C2-C3, G2-G3, D3-D4, A3-A4, E4-E4, A4-A4 -- I didn't want to risk taking it up to C5) and now call it a banjo-cittern. Before restringing, I left the action too high, tuned it like a 12-string guitar, and played raccuous bottleneck blues. That bolt-on neck is pretty funky, yes. And yes, the resonance is NOT like what we think of as banjos -- certainly nothing like my banjo-uke, banjo-mandolin, or 5-string banjo. It sure can be loud, though!

    Especially the fretted Cümbüs seems less the product of luthiers and more the output of indifferent tinkers. The neck does not bolt on quite straight. The frets are not spaced for correct intonation -- frets 10-11 are further apart than frets 9-10! And don't even ask about the nut and bridge. Note: The wooden bridge has sharp corners; I almost need to wear a fingerless. For all that, it's a fun instrument.

    I'll post a full report on my conversion in a few weeks -- those instruments are at home and I'm on the road for awhile longer.
    Mandos: Coleman & Soviet ovals; Kay & Rogue A5's; Harmonia F2 & mandola
    Ukuleles: 3 okay tenors; 3 cheap sopranos; Harmonia concert & baritone
    Banjos: Gretsch banjolin; Varsity banjolele; Orlando 5-string; fretless & fretted Cümbüs o'uds
    Acoustic guitars: Martin Backpacker; Ibanez Performance; Art et Lutherie; Academy dobro; Ovation 12-string
    Others: Maffick & First Act dulcimers; Mexican cuatro-menor; Puerto Rican cuatro; Martin tiple; electrics
    Wanted: charango; balalaika; bowlback mando

  2. #27

    Default Re: Portuguese guitar ?

    Quote Originally Posted by DavidKOS View Post
    I need to find the proof again but the mandolin was indeed introduced and played in Hawai'i before the development of the 'ukulele, maybe by 20-40 years.
    Somewhere I have a digital copy of an 1895 catalog entry for a ukulele, which is said to have 4 metal strings tuned like a mandolin. I'll see if I can find and post it. Murky waters, though, if you ask me. But not to be confused with Muddy Waters; that's different.

  3. #28
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    Default Re: Portuguese guitar ?

    Quote Originally Posted by Christopher Stetson View Post
    Somewhere I have a digital copy of an 1895 catalog entry for a ukulele, which is said to have 4 metal strings tuned like a mandolin. I'll see if I can find and post it. Murky waters, though, if you ask me. But not to be confused with Muddy Waters; that's different.
    While misunderstanding is certainly a possibility, it could be early conflation of the ukulele with other Portuguese instruments which are very similar but with steel strings, particularly the cavaquinho and the machete (the later being the direct ancestor of the uke). Best of my knowledge, mando tuning is not among the common cavaquinho tunings, but maybe there was a trend for it back then. Both of those two had steel strings, and honestly I'm not entirely sure how the uku came to have gut/nylon strings, but vintage ukus made by the original luthiers who emigrated from Portugal to Hawaii and popularized the instrument are strung in gut.

    EDIT: oh, and regarding the introduction of the mando:

    The mandolin was sometimes featured as a lead instrument in the Hawaiian orchestra. It was introduced to the Hawaiians by the Spanish traders in the 1800s. Some accounts suggest that the Portuguese travelers brought the mandolin with them when they came to the islands between 1878 and 1879..." Pele's tears: reclaiming the lost gems of Hawaiian music in western music styles. Shirley Sebree Vantage Press, 1994

    So pretty contemporaneous with uke; one of the key moments in uku history is when the SS Ravenscrag pulled into Honolulu August 1879, since the newspapers right after talked about the music the Madeiran Portuguese immigrants were playing in public, and three cabinetmakers off that same ship became the first three luthiers to build what we know call the ukulele in Hawaii.

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  5. #29
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    Default Re: Portuguese guitar ?

    Since there isn't much history of covering the Portuguese guitar in the CBOM (cittern/bouzouki) forum, I made a new thread there a few weeks back to get into technical discussion, and also to ponder the musical possibilities of the PG compared to the larger family of citterns:

    http://www.mandolincafe.com/forum/sh...ern%29-as-CBOM

  6. #30

    Default Re: Portuguese guitar ?

    Hello Jim.

    Do you still have the portuguese guitar? If so, can you tell me what does the label inside says?

    Thanks!

  7. #31
    Oscar Stern
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    Default Re: Portuguese guitar ?

    Grover makes Ultra-Lightweight Sealed Geared tuners which weigh slightly less than the Watch Key Tuners so it'll reduce the weight. I think w/ Guitar style tuners a Guitar strap might help keep it in playing position.

  8. #32
    Registered User Jill McAuley's Avatar
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    Default Re: Portuguese guitar ?

    Quote Originally Posted by s11141827 View Post
    Grover makes Ultra-Lightweight Sealed Geared tuners which weigh slightly less than the Watch Key Tuners so it'll reduce the weight. I think w/ Guitar style tuners a Guitar strap might help keep it in playing position.
    The last post made on this thread was nearly 5 years ago. Since the OP hasn't continued to post on it it's likely that they found the answers they were looking for.
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