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Thread: Cavaquinho?

  1. #1

    Default Cavaquinho?

    Just picked up this beauty at an antique store. It was identified as a "Cavaquinho: Brazilian/Portuguese Mandolin". Tried to tune it GDAE. The strings fought back, so I got them into 5ths but all a minor third down. If I wanted Mandolin tuning, would that just be a matter of getting the right strings? I'm a keyboard player, new to the string world. Thanks!

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  2. #2
    Registered User Bruce Clausen's Avatar
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    Default Re: Cavaquinho?

    Cavaquinho is really more of a uke than a mandolin. Portugal and Brazil both have great mandolins and mandolinists. Normal tuning for cavaquinho is d-g-b-d (like on a 5-string banjo), and I'm told in Brazil you're cheating if you put the high d up to e (to get guitar tuning).

    If you really wants fifths, you may want to find different strings for it.

    Oops, just looked at your photo. It is probably some sort of Portuguese mandolin, but not a cavquinho. What's the string length?

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  4. #3

    Default Re: Cavaquinho?

    If I hold it up to my new F-model Mandolin, the nut to bridge length lines up. Same for the fret positioning (pretty much). Is the idea that a Cavaquinho has a different string length and isn't just a Mandolin strung differently?

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    Registered User Bruce Clausen's Avatar
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    Default Re: Cavaquinho?

    Cavaquinho has a guitar-shaped body and is strung singly, not in unison pairs. In my experience (choro jams) it's strung pretty light and used as a strumming instrument, while the mandolin is used for solo lead playing.

    There are some experts here that will know much more...

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    Default Re: Cavaquinho?

    Quote Originally Posted by Erik-Kenyon View Post
    If I hold it up to my new F-model Mandolin, the nut to bridge length lines up. Same for the fret positioning (pretty much). Is the idea that a Cavaquinho has a different string length and isn't just a Mandolin strung differently?

    That is definitely a bandolim and not a cavaquinho. The twist is that is a bandolim with Preston tuners and those are a different beast; a trademark of the Portuguese guitar. You usually need a little devise that twists the non-loop end of the string into a tight loop so it will hook on the tuner. I am not familiar with a mandolin string producer who makes strings looped at each end, but others can correct me there.

    As mentioned, a cavaquinho is like a uke and is strung in single courses.
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    Default Re: Cavaquinho?

    Quote Originally Posted by Erik-Kenyon View Post
    If I hold it up to my new F-model Mandolin, the nut to bridge length lines up. Same for the fret positioning (pretty much). Is the idea that a Cavaquinho has a different string length and isn't just a Mandolin strung differently?
    I have a delvecchio resonator cavaquino that I've tuned to GDAE with medium gauge mandolin strings, and it sounds great. It has a 13" scale length, shorter than most mandolins. Since they have four strings not eight, less pullin' on the neck. May need to play with string gauges to find what's optimal for the scale length and robustness of your particular instrument.

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    Default Re: Cavaquinho?

    Quote Originally Posted by mjbee View Post
    I have a delvecchio resonator cavaquino that I've tuned to GDAE with medium gauge mandolin strings, and it sounds great. It has a 13" scale length, shorter than most mandolins. Since they have four strings not eight, less pullin' on the neck. May need to play with string gauges to find what's optimal for the scale length and robustness of your particular instrument.
    Oops - just looked at that photo and noticed the headstock. I agree with sub-optimal: doesn't look like the cavaquinos I know.

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    Default Re: Cavaquinho?

    I build cavaquinhos. That is not a cavaquinho.

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    '`'`'`'`'`'`'`'`'`'`' Jacob's Avatar
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    Default Re: Cavaquinho?


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    Registered User DavidKOS's Avatar
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    Default Re: Cavaquinho?

    Quote Originally Posted by Bruce Clausen View Post
    Cavaquinho is really more of a uke than a mandolin. Portugal and Brazil both have great mandolins and mandolinists. Normal tuning for cavaquinho is d-g-b-d (like on a 5-string banjo), and I'm told in Brazil you're cheating if you put the high d up to e (to get guitar tuning).
    Most players use the aficionao traditional, but I've seen books where they tune it with an e on the 1st string, aficionao natural, for certain things.

  15. #11
    Mando accumulator allenhopkins's Avatar
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    Default Re: Cavaquinho?

    Think you have one of these (recent Dusepo posting).
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