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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 Flea."

"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:

This 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.
Here 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 ("Dad Always Buys Eggs And Bacon," according to U'Bartt)
Coimbra 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.
These 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.
Portuguese 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.
Many 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.
Here's Bartt playing Portuguese Guitar and Cavaquinho on "The Portuguese Waltz," one of his own compositions. The cavaquinho is the higher-pitched instrument.
On "Vincent," by Don McLean, Bartt is playing Portuguese guitar on two tracks and singing on a third track.
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"Long Live the Ukulele."

Click Bartt to read the lyrics

 
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