Patrick over on the dailyfrail.com recently received a charango. These instruments are so cool. I watched a TV show once that show the backs of these instruments being carved out of a block of wood. Then after it was shaped, it was covered with the armadillo skin. This is not like the thinner wood of the ukulele. Take a look at this Web site, and if you can’t read the text, the pictures explain it all.
The charango, like the ukulele, descended from a lute-like instrument and shares the re-entrant tuning of the uke: G C E A E. Patrick has 10 strings on his charango, but apparently the range is from 4 – 15 strings. There’s a lot of tension on the neck from the steel strings.
I have played a charango once at the Ipanema Hippie Fair in Rio, Brazil. I didn’t fully appreciate what I was strumming. Because I’ve watched armadillos rooting through the grasses and hammocks of Florida and found them to be interesting little things, I found holding the charango like what it must be to hold an unmoving armadillo. Not a calming moment — which helped me to rationalize why it would not be good to buy the charango. Plus, I had already purchased a beringbau, shekere and a large gourd bongo. My suitcases were full and I would carry all of my fragile musical instruments over my neck on to the plane (pre 9/11).
That was before I fell in love with all lute-like small instruments, specifically the ukulele. It was fun to see and hear the new charango. Thanks for sharing, Patrick.