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View Full Version : Someone please appraise my new (old) Venezuelan Cuatro!



sk8man121
01-21-2013, 11:48 AM
Hi all,

Long-time lurker, first-time poster. I recently bought a Venezuelan Cuatro on Ebay, and I was hoping some people could make some comments on it, as not much is known. As you probably know, the Cuatro is similar to a baritone uke with a thicker body and tuned ADF#B.

Here is the original listing of the instrument, along with many photos (http://www.ebay.com/itm/Vintage-ornate-VENEZUELAN-CUATRO-baritone-ukulele-rare-beautiful-great-sound-/380550336814?ssPageName=ADME%3AX%3ARTQ%3AUS%3A1123&nma=true&si=%252FcS8xIRAcOb6EGmrpAZuEYnAw5U%253D&orig_cvip=true&rt=nc&_trksid=p2047675.l2557).

I scored this for a cool $250. This is what the seller had to say when I asked for more details on the origin of the instrument -

"hey, glad you like the cuatro, it definitely is pretty awesome! I think you got a hell of a deal too, I thought it would fetch more! I don't really know much about it, I bought it from the estate of a deceased ethnomusicologist several years ago, he bought it in his travels. My guess is mid-20th c, circa 40s, 50s, but that is just a guess. Enjoy it! Positive feedback always welcome!!"

It sounds and plays beautifully, and has no issues that I can see structurally. My friend who is a forester and knows woods quite well told me that the sides, back, top and neck are all solid woods; he things tropical hardwoods.

I'm hoping to get as much info on this as possible, especially to find out what it is truly worth. Any help is much appreciated!

sk8man121
01-21-2013, 12:06 PM
Just as an aside; does anyone here play/own one of these? I personally am a baritone uke player, which is what made me spring for this purchase...

Lalz
01-21-2013, 01:08 PM
Wow! I've never seen a cuatro like this one, it is quite the stunner! Congratulations :)
Dirk from South Coast Strings who's a member here on UU knows a lot about cuatro. I think his username is southcoast?

sk8man121
01-21-2013, 01:11 PM
Oh great! It really is beautiful man. The inlays alone; just gorgeous.

sk8man121
01-21-2013, 02:53 PM
can anyone else weigh in?

itsme
01-21-2013, 03:14 PM
Did you buy it to play it or to "flip" it (e.g., turn around and sell it for more than you paid)?

Personally, I only buy instruments to play, not as investments or something to turn a profit on. If you bought it with the latter intention, well, it's probably a little late to be questioning the value of what you've already bought. :p

But it's a very nice looking instrument. I hope you will enjoy playing it. :)

Lalz
01-21-2013, 03:56 PM
If I bought a vintage instrument I'd want to know more about its origins and history, even if I had no intention to re-sell it. It's always interesting to get some background info.

sk8man121
01-21-2013, 04:02 PM
If I bought a vintage instrument I'd want to know more about its origins and history, even if I had no intention to re-sell it. It's always interesting to get some background info.

This. Of course I didn't "buy it to flip it;" I'm not a rare instruments dealer and have no interest in being one. All I'm trying to do is learn more about what I have in my hands here.

sk8man121
01-21-2013, 04:23 PM
More than anything else, I want to know if what I have here is truly special, or is just a run of the mill instrument that looks truly special.

I don't know enough about identifying/appraising instruments, so just the fact that I don't 100% know what I have here is enough to make me feel sort of anxious to get some confirmation.

Rick Turner
01-21-2013, 04:52 PM
Very cool. Google up and look for YouTube videos by Marta Topferova who is a fantastic singer and who plays the cuatro.

BTW, the V. cuatro re-entrant tuning involves that 1st string being an octave lower than you'd expect. Quite opposite from the uke...

sk8man121
01-21-2013, 04:59 PM
I have it tuned right now with the A at 220 and the B a perfect 2nd above that (but below the 2/3 strings in pitch) at 247. Does that sound right? It plays beautifully like that.

The best thing about this is that I have my baritone uke tuned GDAE in 5ths like an octave mandolin. This is opening a new world of textures for me.

Lalz
01-21-2013, 05:05 PM
I have it tuned right now with the A at 220 and the B a perfect 2nd above that (but below the 2/3 strings in pitch) at 247. Does that sound right? It plays beautifully like that.

The best thing about this is that I have my baritone uke tuned GDAE in 5ths like an octave mandolin. This is opening a new world of textures for me.

If you use a cuatro tuning, the "my" and "fleas" in "my dog has fleas" are both an octave lower than on ukuleles tuned to the same key (usually D), if that makes sense.

sk8man121
01-22-2013, 09:24 AM
Bumping this for today's crowd...

adrianifero
02-23-2013, 04:51 PM
If you use a cuatro tuning, the "my" and "fleas" in "my dog has fleas" are both an octave lower than on ukuleles tuned to the same key (usually D), if that makes sense.

In Venezuela we are used to say "CamBur PinTon" where the "Cam" and the "Ton" are both an octave lower. This is know as the traditional venezuelan tuning, although there are other different tunings for the venezuelan cuatro but not as popular as the typical cam-bur-pin-ton