View Full Version : Where can I find a cavaquinho ?

11-07-2010, 09:20 AM
I live in Michigan, United States, and I am interested in purchasing a cavaquinho (the steel string Brazilian version of a tenor ukulele) but I don't know where to look at. Right now, the only option I found is from Amazon (Giannini). Can some forum member help me with some suggestion ? I am looking for a not too expensive instrument. Thanks !

11-07-2010, 12:00 PM
I would check both ebay and Elderly Instruments (located in Michigan also). Elderly is an awesome resource for anything musical, in my opinion. I have purchased from them for many years. They may have one or more in stock. Google them--they have a really good website.

11-07-2010, 03:01 PM
Try ebay-Brazil (Mercado Livre):


As with e-bay, you can pick up used instruments here. Giannini are probably the best, and they make both all solid instruments, and laminates at economy prices. Rozini also have a good rep. BTW, this is more of a concert size instrument rather than tenor, and the tunings in metal strings whether like slack key uke, "octave baritone uke" or mandolin, are very high. Because of the heavier construction needed for the metal strings, it is not a good candidate for the classical treble type strings used on the ukulele - it would be somewhat like putting ukulele strings on a mandolin.

There's a video on our site which shows it's capabilities as both a solo and rhythm instrument:


Good Luck!

11-08-2010, 01:42 AM
Thank you for the suggestion to look at the local E Bay. The problem is that all the sellers that I found do not sell to United States !

11-08-2010, 03:38 AM
I haven't browsed through there recently. There were always some sellers that wouldn't do international - just like on the US ebay. Maybe there are fewer now, but with a little patience, I think someone will pop up.

11-08-2010, 09:30 AM
You can try Buffalo Brothers in Carlsbad California.


Look under ukuleles. They have a Antonio Pinto de Carvalho cavaquinho listed for $599 with hard case. I have no idea on the quality of the cavaquinho, but Buffalo Brothers has a great reputation.

Also, the last time I looked California was in the US...

...just barely.


Anton K
11-08-2010, 10:03 AM
(Interesting instrument. No matter where you place a finger you have a decent chord since it is tuned DGBD. McNally strum sticks are tuned G D G.....)

02-22-2011, 11:37 PM
(Interesting instrument. No matter where you place a finger you have a decent chord since it is tuned DGBD. McNally strum sticks are tuned G D G.....)

I read though, that some tune it DGBE, like a baritone uke, which would make it easy to play for us, same chord shapes, etc.

In hearing one played on YouTube, however, it sounds very high-pitched, so I would guess it to be an octave higher than baritone tuning (of course usually with that dropped 1st string to D), so more in the range of sopranino or "pocket" uke (DGBE, an octave above baritone). Is that correct? I would think they would need to be strung with some very light gauge steel strings, to tune up that high?

03-04-2011, 08:24 PM

If you want some help to find someone to buy a cavaquinho please contact me, I live in Brazil and cavaquinhos are very easy to find around here. They are smaller than the tenor ukulele, they are more alike the concert. There are some smaller models also, called "cavaquinho paulistinha". They are a little bigger than the soprano uke.

3 years ago when I started playing the ukulele, people who was interested in playing the instrument used to strung the cavaquinho with nylon guitar strings, because you couldn't find ukuleles in stores. Importing to Brazil is very expensive. The tax is 60% over the price of the product + shipping, so ukuleles were always very scarce around here. Today you can find Kala and Lanikai ukes in some stores.


I'm a guitar player and at the first time I played a cavaquinho I tuned the first string to E. It sounded very strange, because the usual chord shapes and voicings are very important to keep the cavaquinho unique characters. I find playing the cavaquinho harder than the uke, very unconfortable to play if you are not used to, since the strings are steel and the tension is very high. Also, the samba playing on the cavaquinho requires a great right hand ability and the

Don't know if you knew it, there is a banjo version of the cavaquinho.

03-04-2011, 08:26 PM
This is a guy who tried to tune the cavaquinho to ukulele tuning (with steel strings) http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dre1M0xSYNg