The Cuatro Venezuelan
( more pictures at the bottom of the page )
Its 15th-Century ancestor was the Portuguese Cavaquinho. The predecessor of the Venezuelan cuatro is the four-string Spanish guitar which disappeared in the 16th century after a short period of surging popularity.
The popularity of the instrument in Venezuela and elsewhere may be due to its apparent simplicity, having only four strings, as well as its compact size.
The cuatro is particularly designed for strumming: the fingerboard finishes flush with the top of the instrument, and the upper half of the sound board is often completely covered by a scratch plate made from hardwood.
Most of Venezuelan folkloric music relies on the cuatro as its rhythmic and harmonic base. It is used in most genres of the different regions of Venezuela, such as Joropo in the Llanos, Gaita in Zulia, Galerón in the Oriente or calypso in Trinidad.
Let's talk about the materials used for this instrument that you see on the picture on the left.
The soundboard is Spruce from France ( Jura ), precisely from Bois de Lutherie, two "splited" pieces of thin boards opened as a book ( Called Book matching ) and joined together to produce an aesthetic and mechanical balance.
The Back and Sides and the "Golpeador" are from Brazil, Kingwood from exotichardwoodsukltd in England, very small tree. The Back has been "Book matched" like the soundboard, as you can see the figures are more pronounced so is the symmetry. The sides are from the same tree, to obtain those particular veins the wood must be "flat", "plain" or "slab" sawn.
The Golpeador is the scratch plate you see between the fingerboard and the soundhole, is used to do some percussions while playing, very typic and representative of the Cuatro.
The fingerboard and bridge are from India, Indian Rosewood, cut perfectly quarter sawn for tonal, strenght and durability.
The neck is from an old Mahogany banister ! The only reclaimed lumber of the instrument, why ? Reclaimed wood are mostly very old, so very dry, reliable for their stable structure.
The finish is the old traditional method of "French Polish", shiny, glossy surface, hand polished for long hours. The neck has been oiled for the smoothest and natural touch.
The extras are the inlays incorporated on the Golpeador and the Fingerboard "K" all in Mother of pearl. My initials have been hand carved , "NP", at the very end of the fingerboard. A sound system has been installed inside B-Band A1.2 to amplify on stage or in recording studio.