“Cuatro de Puerto Rico” ……. our typical musical instrument!!


Cuatro de Puerto Rico ....... our typical musical instrument!!

The cuatro is the national instrument of Puerto Rico. It belongs to the lute family of string instruments, and is guitar-like in function, but with a shape closer to that of the violin. The cuatro of Puerto Rico has ten strings in five courses, tuned from low to high B3 B2♦E4 E3♦A3 A3♦D4 D4♦G4 G4. (note that the bottom two pairs are in octaves, while the top three pairs are tuned in unisons).


The cuatro is the most familiar of the three instruments which make up the Puerto Rican orquesta jibara (i.e., the cuatro, the tiple and the bordonua). A cuatro player is called a cuatrista.


Note that cuatro is a name also applied to a number of other somewhat differently -configured instruments, including the Venezuelan Cuatro, and some small Spanish instruments.


History: Very little is known about the exact origin of the Cuatro. However, most experts believe that the Cuatro has existed on the island in one form or another for about 400 years. The Spanish instrument that it is most closely related to is the vihuela poblana (also known as the Medieval/Renaissance guitar), which had 4 courses, 2 strings each for 8 strings in total as well as the Spanish Medieval/Renaissance 4 course and the Spanish Laúd, particularly in the Canary Islands.

There was a ‘cuatro antiguo’, which had 4 single strings, then 8 strings in 4 doubled courses, and then the modern cuatro with 5 double courses. Despite the name, however, the origins are not clear.


Types of Puerto Rican cuatros: There are three main types of cuatro: cuatro antiguo of 4 orders and 4 strings, the “Southern” cuatro of 4 orders and 8 strings, and the cuatro “moderno” of 5 orders and 10 strings.

The 4-string “cuatro antiguo”: This is the original Puerto Rican Cuatro. It was made from a single block of wood and used 4 gut strings. This instrument may have evolved from the Vihuela Poblana. It was used to mostly play Jibaro music.


The 8-string “Southern” cuatro: This Cuatro evolved from the old 4 string cuatro. It was made like a guitar and had 4 pairs of steel strings. It was used to play salon genres like the mazurka, danza, waltz, polka, etc.


The 10-string cuatro “moderno”: This cuatro evolved from the baroque era 10-string Bandurria and Laud from Spain. It is made from a single block of wood and it has 5 pairs of steel strings. It is the most common used today and is used to play jibaro music, salon genres, salsa, pop, rock, classical, jazz, and even American bluegrass and many more styles.

Source, for more information: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cuatro_(Puerto_Rico)


Charlie Rodriguez – Malagueña


Published on Jun 17, 2013

Presentación de Pedro Guzmán y su Jíbaro Jazz en Plaza Del Caribe, en concierto para los Padres, el viernes 14 de junio de 2013. Vídeo por Daniel Aranzamendi.


We ALL are ONE!!


We ALL are connected by MUSIC!!