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Thread: Builders in Cuba (mandolin, tres, or other)

  1. #1
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    Default Builders in Cuba (mandolin, tres, or other)

    Hi everybody,

    Im going for vaccation to Cuba in a couple of weeks and have always been intrigued by Cuban stringed instruments, particularly the tres and the tiple. I would love to check out some instruments there, but as with many things Cuban, the full potential of the interenet is not quite realized.

    So can anybody provide names or addresses of good builders in Havanna or at some other places? What about prices? I used to own a tiple from Venecuela years ago that sounded awsome but intonation was way off, and judging from some youtube videos, intonation may not be the forte of some cuban instruments either - what should I be looking for, what can I expect?

    Thanks!
    Who am I and if yes, how many?

  2. #2
    Caf habitu Paul Hostetter's Avatar
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    Default Re: Builders in Cuba (mandolin, tres, or other)

    People I know who have visited Cuba found next to nothing the talk about. The few instruments actually built there were of extremely poor quality, and they also saw a few made in and brought over from Mexico, which has normal trade relations with Cuba. Those weren't anything very special either. Perhaps you'll find something better?
    .
    ph


    Paul Hostetter, luthier
    Santa Cruz, California
    www.lutherie.net

  3. #3
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    Default Re: Builders in Cuba (mandolin, tres, or other)

    Thanks Paul,

    so far I found a guitar and violin workshop mentioned in my guidebook, which appears to ber located way off the beaten track. As that is not what Im looking for, Ill probably go to the beaches instead But of course, I will keep my eyes open in Havanna and Trinidad. I have a soft spot in my heart for the tres and the tiple and I think either could sound awsome in a celtic/roots context.
    Who am I and if yes, how many?

  4. #4
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    Default Re: Builders in Cuba (mandolin, tres, or other)

    So now Im back after having a great time and heres what I saw:

    As Paul said, the quality of the instruments for the most part is very low. The ones that are for sale for the tourists are reasonably priced at 50 bucks. They are not playable and most likely not being made for people who actually play them in mind. They are not really decorative either, which makes me wonder which market the makers are targeting in the first place.

    I played a tres owned by a picker in a bar band in Trinidad and, while being a much better instrument, it had serious issues regarding playability and intonation. I think I heard only 2 or 3 instruments that really sounded nice and intonated fine.

    The playing, however, is another thing, and it was, without exeption solid, pretty good, or superb. These guys can play, and they have a very interesting right hand technique, halfway beween Monroe- style downstroke playing and guitar style DDU cross-picking. See this video (starting at 2:30): http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WM1-w...eature=related

    Mandolins: nada!

    My wrap up: Loved the music, the people, the country, the drinks, the weather, the beaches, took a few percussion and dance lessons, would love to play in a traditional or salsa band. Drop me a line if you live in the greater Vienna, Austria area and want to play that music (we can all dream, can`t we
    Who am I and if yes, how many?

  5. The following members say thank you to Klaus Wutscher for this post:


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