10/28/2010

c.Recent Bolivian Charango


Here's a nice little trade-in, built recently, in Bolivia. Charangos are wonderful little super ukulele-type instruments with family history rooted in the same instruments the uke was developed from... well... close enough anyway. Traditionally they've got armadillo-shell backs, but this one has the (more typical since the mid-1900s) one-piece carved wood back and neck. Sound is bright, jangly, sweet, and bouncy. These are great instruments for recording and strumming on long trips... both of which I've done with my own charango quite a bit.


Having an inlaid "pickguard" is typical on charangos because they get strummed heavily with the nails, as is the wide-grained pine top. These instruments are typically tuned, in unison, GCEAE from "low" to "high." The middle "E" pair, however, is octave tuned.

Clever uke players can switch the top high "E" set over to the bass side, and retune it down to a D, to get a DGCEA tuning, which shares the same intervals as a guitar (ie, guitar capoed at the 5th fret is tuned ADGCEA with the GCEA part of it the same pitch as a uke... so... if you're familiar with shapes on both uke and guitar adding an extra pair of strings on the bass side is no problem).


Charangos have a scale length that's right between a tenor uke and a baritone uke.



Good bridge.



See how cool that one-piece back/neck is?




The body shape of the carved charango mimics the original armadillo-shell types quite closely.

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