Portugal is the birthplace of the ukulele, but it had
a different name back then. It began life as the "braguinha."
On the island of Madeira, Portugal, a
woodworker named Manuel Nunes carved a braguinha and carried it aboard a merchant
ship in 1879. The
Ravenscragg was bound for Honolulu, Hawaii. Nunes was accompanied by many
others, including a sailor named Fernandez. When the sailing party landed,
they celebrated by strumming away. Hawaiians
were impressed by the nimble-fingered musicians. They thought their flying
fingers resembled the sand fleas whose descendants still nibble the ankles
of Hawaiian tourists. The Hawaiians re-christened
the braguinha, calling it the "Ukulele," which translates to "Jumping
"Long Live the Ukulele"
is a song by Ukulele Bartt that chronicles the evolution of the uke. You can
hear U'Bartt playing his ukulele and his FolkReps cavaquinho, braguinha and
Portuguese guitar on the song by clicking the picture HERE:
is Ukulele Bartt's 6-string cavaquinho. Slightly smaller than a tenor ukulele,
it has steel strings. Although the traditional tuning varies according to region,
it can also be tuned like a uke. U'Bartt tunes his to G-C-E-E-A-A, with the
two higher strings doubled.
is Bartt's Portuguese guitar. It has 12 steel strings and is about 2/3 the size
of a western guitar. Although it's traditionally played with Portuguese finger
picks, Bartt often uses flatpicks or even his fingers. It's tuned to D-A-B-E-A-B
according to U'Bartt)
and Lisbon are two geographic regions of Portugal. Their instruments vary slightly.
On the left is the headstock of a Coimbra instrument; on the right is a Lisbon-style
headstock. The difference is purely cosmetic. Both instruments are played exactly
the same way.
are Portuguese finger picks. They're attached under the tip of the nail, and
tightened with an elastic string. Traditional players wear them only on the
first two fingers of the picking hand.
machine head instruments must be strung with loop-end strings. The loop fits
onto a hook on the tuning head, and is tuned by twisting the screw up or down
to tighten or loosen the string.
Portuguese instruments are also made with Western-style tuning pegs, like this
green ukulele from FolkReps.
Click on the images to see more Portuguese instruments and accessories. FolkReps
has more than 50 types of instruments available.
Bartt playing Portuguese Guitar and Cavaquinho on "The Portuguese Waltz,"
one of his own compositions. The cavaquinho is the higher-pitched instrument.
"Vincent," by Don McLean, Bartt is playing Portuguese guitar on two
tracks and singing on a third track.