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Thread: Purchasing a bandolim or cavaquinho?

  1. #1
    Registered User SincereCorgi's Avatar
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    Greetings, MandolinCafe choro experts- can any of you suggest a way to obtain a proper Brazilian-made bandolim or cavaquinho without booking a flight to Rio de Janeiro?

    I have become very interested in choro music and am very seriously considering purchasing a bandolim and/or cavaquinho. The higher-end Giannini instruments seem to get cautious approval on this board and elsewhere but almost always with the caveat 'but there are so many fine Brazilian luthiers that you should consider purchasing one of their instruments instead'.

    Does anyone here have any experience doing this? I was thinking of spending in the $700-$1000 range for the bandolim and maybe a little less for the cavaquinho. What tend to be the standard prices for such instruments? Has anyone had a satisfying experience with a particular luthier or his instruments? Is my budget unrealistically low?

    Right now I'm playing on a MidMo M4 which pleases me very much (if that gives you any hints) but while it has a better tone for choro than a bluegrass-ier mandolin, I have an itch to be playing on the 'real thing'.

    Thanks in advance for any advice- I've almost hauled off and ordered a Giannini cavaquinho a couple times but I'm forcing myself to wait for some sage advice.

    Trevor

  2. #2

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    About a year and a half ago, I bought a Bandolim Especial (rosewood) from Joao Batista of Sao Paulo. I paid $1540, plus about $140 for FedEx shipping to the US.

    It's a wonderful instrument - I've brought it to Brazil since then, and Brazilian players are always very impressed with it. Joao was very easy to work with - I paid him by credit card and he shipped the instrument right away, I had it within two weeks of ordering it.

    The only caveat is that I'm not sure whether or not he speaks English - I only corresponded with him in portuguese, so that could be an issue.

    Here's a link to the instrument on his website:
    http://www.jbinstrumentos.com.br/index.p....emid=73

    You can hear the bandolim in action on my choro group's new CD - check out http://www.myspace.com/grupofalsobaiano

    Good luck!

  3. #3

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    I have had two very nice bandolims from a builder name Caio Caravelli. I did the order through a friend, Paulo Sa (http://www.paulosabandolim.com/), who is an excellent Brazilian mandolinist, and a big fan of Caio. I think a couple years ago it cost around $1700.00 with shipping. Feel free to contact me directly if you have more questions. garypaynephoto@mac.com

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    http://www.luthierbarros.com.br/


    Just curious, Cavacos are really different than a bandolim.... is it the music that attracts you or the instruments....

    I am currently building a Cavaquinho for myself...
    I was disappointed in a high end Brazilian unit and returned it.... workmanship and humidity cracking problems right out of the case... others seemed to like them so I won;t reveal the maker.

    Incidentally the prices quoted in previous posts seem high .. unless I am totally out of touch.




  5. #5
    Registered User SincereCorgi's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by
    Jeff said: Just curious, # Cavacos are really different than a bandolim.... #is it the music that attracts you or the instruments....
    That's an interesting question- I guess the music? I like choro music very much and part of that is the unique timbre of the instruments. I get a lot of pleasure out of just the 'notes' -- I love ragtime harmony, and the genres are clearly close cousins -- but my MidMo (which I like very much) doesn't have the characteristic dry chiming sound of a bandolim.

    As for the cavaquinho- well, I already can play ukuleles with moderate proficiency, and figured that if I'm paying for shipping from Brazil I might see if I can kill two birds with one slightly larger stone. Those amazing Henrique Cazes videos on YouTube didn't hurt either. How much did the instrument you purchased cost, Jeff? I know you want to protect the innocent, but was it a private luthier or a certain giant Brazilian stringed-instrument company?

    Also, thanks very much to everyone who is posting in this thread. Right now I'm leaning toward contacting Jaoa Batista with some questions (hooray for Portuguese-speaking friends) but I'm going to wait a few months to make sure this is worth the money. So, please, I'm still all ears for any other suggestions or anecdotes.

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    Registered User Doug Hoople's Avatar
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    In general, while both bandolim and cavaco are capable of the full range of musical expression, you'll find that the bandolim focuses much more on melogy, and the cavaco much more on rhythm.

    Both are also harmony instruments, but the harmony seems to be couched in terms of the primary function of each instrument.

    I think you'll find that your opportunities for melody will be much more constrained on cavaco than bandolim. On the other hand, you may not be as free with the bandolim to play rhythm. You can play rhythm on bandolim, but it's kind of a different animal. Hamilton de Holanda, at the Symposium a year ago, and probably a little tongue-in-cheek, frowned on trying to use the mandolin to play rhythm at all! #

    My apologies if you already know all this. But if you're trying to make an either/or choice, these observations about typical use may help make that choice.

    In a perfect world, you'd just get both and have a blast playing everything!



    Doug Hoople
    Adult-onset Instrumentalist (or was that addled-onset?)

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    Registered User SincereCorgi's Avatar
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    Hey Doug, I read your account of your trip to Brazil with pleasure and, yes, I had worked out that the two instruments have different roles in a typical 'roda de choro'. So I guess you could say that this is definitely a 'perfect world' scenario where I was thinking of buying both the sports car and the pickup truck, so to speak. #

    Incidentally, I did see in your diary that you were going to talk to 'Claudhino' about places to purchase good cavacoquinhos and a reasonable price- did that ever come to anything?




  8. #8

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    Hi, I`m also luthier and I only made mandolins up to now but I want to make a cavaquinho. If you are interested I can make a cheap price because it will be my first cavaquinho.

    My email is davidsh@ibest.com.br

  9. #9
    Registered User Doug Hoople's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by (SincereCorgi @ Sep. 06 2008, 13:42)
    Hey Doug, I read your account of your trip to Brazil with pleasure and, yes, I had worked out that the two instruments have different roles in a typical 'roda de choro'. So I guess you could say that this is definitely a 'perfect world' scenario where I was thinking of buying both the sports car and the pickup truck, so to speak. #

    Incidentally, I did see in your diary that you were going to talk to 'Claudhino' about places to purchase good cavacoquinhos and a reasonable price- did that ever come to anything?
    Glad you enjoyed the account. I still have a day and a half to recount.

    I didn't talk to Claudinho about a cavaquinho. The trip was coming way too quickly to its final days, and I was still wrestling the the "Honey, look what followed me home from Brasil" conversation.

    Now I'm sorry I didn't. I'm playing in a Pagode band, which is mostly percussion and cavaquinhos, and I had a quick strum of a friend's. I was surprised how much more responsive it felt to playing rhythm, and it sounded great.

    I'm still wrestling with the jack-of-all-trades-master-of-none thing, otherwise I'd be actively seeking to buy one right now. My guess is that there's a cavaquinho in my not-too-distant future.

    But I've also just started on on a fan-fret 10-string mandolin that my father-in-law built for me this summer, and it's all I can do to figure it out.

    An embarrassment of riches! Life is pretty good when these are the problems that we're trying to wrestle with!
    Doug Hoople
    Adult-onset Instrumentalist (or was that addled-onset?)

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    The cavaquinho was from a well known Brazilian luthier... $1100 #US #

    Note that the Cazes you tube videos were in the DGBE #tuning #not the traditional #DGBD #tuning.

    I built all the jigs, moulds #workboards etc for Cavaquinhos about 5 years ago #and just finished my first protoype body (I'm busy)..I'll make the neck over the winter or as I have time then #to work out the kinks and refine the process... #I have enough wood to build about 200 #cavacos #maybe more... most of it 20-40 years in my shop...

    Aspiring adult prodigy




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    Registered User Brad Weiss's Avatar
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    Here's another comment on this topic...

  12. #12

    Default Re: Purchasing a bandolim or cavaquinho?

    I have a builder friend who would like to know if there are any plans anywhere for building a decent bandolim. He'd be glad to setup his shop to do them here in the Pacific NW. He builds amazing guitars, and has a great shop to work from. He said if I got him plans, he'd be glad to tackle it. He's built mandolins in the past.

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    Default Re: Purchasing a bandolim or cavaquinho?

    Contact DavidLuthier (who posted above). I bought a very nice bandolim from him that he made, and maybe he'll sell you a copy of his plans. But you would be much wiser to buy one from him.

  14. #14

    Default Re: Purchasing a bandolim or cavaquinho?

    hallo,
    I'm brasilian and I play bandolim (mandolin) and a bit cavaquinho. To buy a good bandolim you need to buy a Do Souto or a Giannini top model, but the best is the Do Souto, that you can buy for about 1500US$. The Giannini is a bit inferior but is a very good instrument (I have one model ABO-3 1978 - out of production) especialy the top of line, solid brasilian rosewood and solid sitika top, like mine.
    The cavaquinho the best is Do Souto too, Giannini is not good. You can buy from a luthier like Araujo also, he make bandolins too. (about 700US$).
    Do Souto was an old luthier that lived in Rio de Janeiro and their instrumments are always much sought because the higth quality of this. But there are rare and expensive too. They were made for choro.
    Both, cavaquinho and bandilim, are used in choro, cavaquinho is best for acompanish and bandolim is best for solos, but we have - or had - very good solists and composer that make solos in cavaquinho.
    I hope I've help you.
    best regards.

  15. #15

    Default Re: Purchasing a bandolim or cavaquinho?

    just to you guys realized what is cheap and what is expensive Tercio Ribeiro is around u$6.000 to U$7.000,00. Besides that you need a craftsman to achive masterpiece, as the name says the instrument in a way to achive a goal, and it`s all deppending of the player to reach


    - just to point the obvius, DOUG check http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=H4bUmXbq-yo watch all but specially at 4:27

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    aka aldimandola Michael Wolf's Avatar
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    Default Re: Purchasing a bandolim or cavaquinho?

    Thanks for the video-link Marcos, its a wonderful thing that we have so many splendid videos of Hamilton and others available on the net. Always a new inspiration.

    I had the chance to play a Pedro Santos Bandolim recently at a dealer and I found it to be a terrific instrument. It was very well made, perfect playable, responsive and it sounded immediately like Choro. Very clear highs and also strong base, but not chunky, more airy. It had a very piercing, but to my ear still pleasing tone and wonderful sustain. You could play it very loud.
    The only reason I didnīt buy it then was this Bandolim from Switzerland coming in my way while I was trying to sell another mando to get "Bandolim-money".
    I once emailed Pedro Santos and his Rosewood model currently costs 1700,-$. We communicated in English. Since Pedro has some illustrious clients, like Dudu Maia, this may also speak for his instruments.
    Last edited by Michael Wolf; Aug-04-2009 at 6:15am.

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    Registered User Doug Hoople's Avatar
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    Default Re: Purchasing a bandolim or cavaquinho?

    Quote Originally Posted by marcos p View Post
    - just to point the obvius, DOUG check http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=H4bUmXbq-yo watch all but specially at 4:27
    Thanks for the link, Marcos! Great stuff, as usual.

    Of course, Hamilton was half-joking when he told us that the bandolim is not a rhythm instrument.

    I still smile when I think back on it. Here's how I recall the exchange. You might even remember it, Marcos. You were there, translating for Hamilton during class at the Symposium.

    I asked if we should try to play rhythm on the mandolin like a cavaquinho player would. Hamilton wagged his finger, shook his head no, and said the mandolin is a melody instrument.

    When I said, "But you play rhythm on the mandolin." He smiled and said, "Ah, but I play cavaquinho!"

    He was half-joking, but, as I understood it, he was half-serious, too.

    I understood him to mean that we should avoid banging away on big chords the whole way through, and that we should master the rhythm patterns instead of just blindly hammering away in a fuzzy general rhythm. I also understood him to mean that the mandolin is noisier than the cavaquinho, and that we should try to keep a lid on that big sound to make space for the rest of the music and the musicians.

    The video is a perfect example (which I'm sure is why you chose it!).

    In the whole 5-minute tune, there's only about 5 or 10 seconds (at 4:27) in which Hamilton strums hard on all 10 strings. In the opening, he's playing very hot extended rhythm, capturing the essentials of the harmony, but playing only on a couple of strings and/or playing highly articulated and very rhythmic double-stops and arpeggios.

    Dudu has taught us to play rhythm on the mandolin more or less along the same lines, making sure that we're observing the underlying rhythm pattern, but spreading the load through arpeggiation.

    That's a helluva lot harder than just strumming away, but it does sound much better.

    You guys make it look and sound so easy!
    Doug Hoople
    Adult-onset Instrumentalist (or was that addled-onset?)

  18. #18

    Default Re: Purchasing a bandolim or cavaquinho?

    I also just bought a used bandolim, Joao Batista model, similar to Jesse's, built in 2000 from the guy at Carmel Music, who used to import them. I've not found any others on the used market and I looked quite a bit. It's been wonderful to play it. Paid under $1200 for it. Only thing about it I wonder about is how the neck is attached, if I ever needed to reset it, how I would get it off. But the tone is beautiful, loud, and most definitely a playable radiused neck, which I love. Some have commented it's neck is a bit cramped, but I've adopted to it quickly. I would agree with Michael, when he says that they can have a "piercing" sound. The highs can be very 'brilliant'. Maybe too brilliant?

    If you really want to get one, contact Dudu Maia and head down to Brazil. He's an incredibly gracious person, as are all the Brazilian players I've met. He told me, prior to my finding the used Batista, that he would get me to a builder that was good and within whatever price range I could afford. And actually going to Brazil is probably worth saving up for. It's an amazing country. One that more North Americanos should become familiar with.

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    Default Re: Purchasing a bandolim or cavaquinho?

    I am also looking for a well made bandolim , thanks to all for the great information

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    Registered User Jim MacDaniel's Avatar
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    Default Re: Purchasing a bandolim or cavaquinho?

    I am looking for a budget cavaquinho -- do any of the factory brands (Giannini, Rozini, etc.) make an inexpensive one that stays in tune and intonates well? (my two main requirements)
    "The problem with quotes on the internet, is everybody has one, and most of them are wrong."
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    Mandolin shirts, hats, case stickers, & more at my Zazzle storefront

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    Default Re: Purchasing a bandolim or cavaquinho?

    Hey all, sorry to dredge up a 9-month-old thread, but came across this while looking for info on Tone Gards for bandolims (anyone know if they fit or if I need a custom one built?). But I digress.

    I lucked out and bought my used '94 Joao Batista rosewood bandolim from Pioneer Music Co. here in P-Town, I think it was ~ $850. The previous owner had it in Montana, let it dry out, and developed hairline cracks that needed some repair. Anyhow, I love the thing now and sold my Weber to buy it

    Has anyone had issues with customs and CITES (http://www.acousticmusic.org/CITES-and-ESA-sp-78.html), transporting Brazilian rosewood instruments back into the U.S.? Seems like a dicey proposition, especially since my bandolim didn't come with any documentation about CITES status. But I noticed some of you have traveled internationally with yours in the past.

    **edited** The search function is my friend: http://www.mandolincafe.com/forum/sh...ngered+species
    Last edited by Tom Pinit; May-26-2010 at 1:07pm. Reason: used search function

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    Registered User MandoNicity's Avatar
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    Default Re: Purchasing a bandolim or cavaquinho?

    Very interesting thread. I too have been bitten a bit by the cavaquinho bug and am also interested in a budget model like Jim. Seems it's either cheap #### off Ebay or expensive stuff I can't afford.

    JR

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    Default Re: Purchasing a bandolim or cavaquinho?

    I am a big Forro fan. I purchased a Giannini GCSM10 EL Cavaquinho on Amazon last year. The first one I purchased had some cracking around the pickup interface. They accepted my return and my 2nd one was perfect.

    I recently had it set up, and I have to say that it's one of the nicest instruments that I have ever played. The build quality and intonation are excellent. I have Martins, Fenders, Gibsons and Yamahas that aren't this much fun to play. I highly recommend it!

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    Default Re: Purchasing a bandolim or cavaquinho?

    This girl is rocking the Cavaquinho:
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=w8Rs1kP5bTQ

  25. #25

    Default Re: Purchasing a bandolim or cavaquinho?

    Hey, if you like Cavaquinho, check this out...
    http://www.youtube.com/user/esturdil.../3/Wdc8_DWHjYo
    and this...
    http://www.youtube.com/user/esturdil.../2/4zs9cmyb798

    my oh my

    Now a year after buying my Joao, I'm still playing it daily. It's a great instrument, and has held up pretty well, with some minor issues. (Cracking nut needs replacement, and I do too though, looking to add a pickup to it), And yes, I would love a cavaquinho too, but life is short. I'll buy one someday, but for now, there is no reason a north americano can't play rhythm on a bandolim or mandolin. For cryin' out loud, this is the land of Sam Bush! Just do it! When you get to Rio, just lay back and drink when it's not your turn. They got some killer clear liquids down there! A day with Caipirinha and you'll play anything they pass to you!
    Last edited by Al Bergstein; Sep-21-2010 at 1:00am.

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