Tuning: Ukulele & Charango

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.

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2 Responses to Tuning: Ukulele & Charango

  1. El Charango – a short excerpt from the documentary film

    A brief charango lesson that demonstrates the tuning of the instrument and the various ways that melodies can be executed. By Andrew Reissiger


  2. Slowly but surely the charango is getting known by more and more guitar-type players from all over the world. Yesterday 1600 charango players played together in the soccer stadium of Cochabamba, Bolivia and got into the Guinness Book of World Records. Events like this help spread the awareness of this magical instrument. Viva el charango!



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