The cavaquinho (pronounced [kavɐˈkiɲu] in Portuguese) is a small string instrument of the European guitar family with four wire or gut strings. It is also called machimbo, machim, machete (in the Portuguese Atlantic islands and Brazil), manchete or marchete, braguinha or braguinho, or cavaco.

A Portuguese (L) and Brazilian (R) cavaquinho.

The most common tuning is D-G-B-D (from lower to higher pitches); other tunings include D-A-B-E (Portuguese ancient tuning, made popular by Júlio Pereira) and G-G-B-D and A-A-C#-E. Guitarists often use D-G-B-E tuning to emulate the highest four strings of the guitar.[1] The G-C-E-A tuning is sometimes used to emulate the soprano/tenor ukulele,[2] an instrument developed from the cavaquinhos brought to Hawai'i by Portuguese immigrants in the late 19th century.[3]



The origins of this Portuguese instrument are not easily found. Gonçalo Sampaio, who explains the survival of Minho region’s archaic and Hellenistic modes by possible Greek influences on the ancient Gallaeci of the region, stresses the link between this instrument and historical Hellenistic tetrachords. The author holds that the cavaquinho and the guitar may have been brought to Braga by the Biscayans.[citation needed]

There are different kinds of cavaquinho. The minhoto cavaquinho, associated with the Minho region in Portugal, has the neck on the same level as the body, and the sound hole is usually in the raia format (raia is Portuguese for batoidea).

The Brazilian cavaquinho, associated with Brazil, as the cavaquinhos associated with Lisboa and Madeira, differs from the minhoto in that its neck is elevated in relation to the body, and the sound hole is traditionally round; thus it is more akin to the traditional guitar.

International use

Cavaquinhos akin to Brazilian standard

It is a very important instrument in Brazilian music, especially for samba and choro. The standard tuning in Brazil is D-G-B-D (although D-G-B-E and the mandolin tuning G-D-A-E are also used for soloing). Some of the most important players and composers of the instrument's Brazilian incarnation are: Waldir Azevedo, Henrique Cazes, Paulinho da Viola, Luciana Rabello, Alceu Maia, Mauro Diniz and Paulinho Soares. The samba cavaco is the connection between the rhythm and harmony sections, playing the rhythm comping. It is played with a pick, with sophisticated percussive strumming beats.

The cavaquinho is also found in other places where the Portuguese left an imprint, such as Cape Verde and the USA (especially Hawaii), and became an important part of the popular music of those places.[citation needed]

The Hawaiian Islands have an instrument very similar to the cavaquinho, called the ʻukulele, which is based on the machête or braguinha (variation on the cavaquinho), brought to the islands by Portuguese immigrants. The Hawaiian ʻukulele also has four strings, though tuned differently (usually G-C-E-A), and a shape somewhat similar to the cavaquinho. The machête was introduced into Hawaiʻi by Augusto Dias, Manuel Nunes, and João Fernandes in 1879.

During the 15th Century the four-course cavaquinho was brought to Africa by Portuguese sailors.[citation needed]


Further reading

  • Richards, Tobe A. (2008). The Cavaquinho Chord Bible: DGBD Standard Tuning 1,728 Chords. United Kingdom: Cabot Books. ISBN 978-1-906207-09-0.  — A comprehensive chord dictionary instructional guide for the Brazilian and Portuguese cavaquinho.

External links

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Look at other dictionaries:

  • Cavaquinho — Português Cavaquinho Brasileiro Ein Cavaquinho ( …   Deutsch Wikipedia

  • Cavaquinho — Saltar a navegación, búsqueda Cavaquinho. El cavaquinho es un instrumento portugués de 4 cuerdas, pariente de la guitarra y el timple y antecedente directo del ukelele y del cavaco. Es muy utilizado en la música tradicional portuguesa. En la mús …   Wikipedia Español

  • Cavaquinho —   [portugiesisch, kava kɪnjo], auch Cabaquina, ein in Portugal und Brasilien verbreitetes Zupfinstrument, das Konstruktionselemente von Gitarre und Mandoline in sich vereint. Die Cavaquinho ist eine kleine Variante des viersaitigen Cavaco und… …   Universal-Lexikon

  • cavaquinho — s. m. 1. Pequeno cavaco. 2.  [Música] Instrumento musical de quatro cordas e sons agudos, parecido com uma viola pequena. = BRAGA, BRAGUINHA, MACHETE 3. Pessoa que toca esse instrumento. 4. dar o cavaquinho por: gostar muito de.   ‣ Etimologia:… …   Dicionário da Língua Portuguesa

  • Cavaquinho — Le cavaquinho est un instrument de musique d origine portugaise à quatre cordes pincées ressemblant à une guitare. Il peut aussi être désigné sous le nom de machimbo, machim, machete, braguinha (du nom de la ville de Braga). On peut penser qu il… …   Wikipédia en Français

  • cavaquinho — noun A small string instrument of the European guitar family with four wire or gut strings. Syn: machimbo, machim, manchete, marchete, braguinha, braguinho, cavaco …   Wiktionary

  • cavaquinho — ca·va·qui·nho …   English syllables

  • cavaquinho — ˌkavəˈkē(ˌ)nyü noun ( s) Etymology: Portuguese, diminutive of cavaco piece of wood, from cavar to dig out, hollow out, from Latin cavare to hollow out : a Brazilian stringed musical instrument somewhat smaller than a ukulele …   Useful english dictionary

  • Nelson Cavaquinho — (October 29, 1911 – February 18, 1986, birth name Nelson Antônio da Silva) was one of the most important singer/composers of samba. He is usually seen as a representative of the tragic aspects of samba thematics, with many songs about death and… …   Wikipedia

  • José Cavaquinho — (* 20. März 1884 in Guaratinguetá im brasilianischen Bundesstaat São Paulo; † 1. Mai 1951 in Rio de Janeiro), eigentlich José Rabelo da Silva, war ein brasilianischer Cavaquinhospieler, Gitarrist, Flötist, Dirigent und Komponist, der auch unter… …   Deutsch Wikipedia

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