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Vihuelas for Sale on Reverb

If you’ve ever seen a mariachi band, you’ve probably seen a vihuela and not even known it. The vihuela mexicana is the younger cousin to the guitar in mariachi music, and it’s perfectly set up to duet with its six-string counterpart. With its convex/vaulted back and familiar tuning, it's a great addition to the arsenal for any guitarist looking for ways to add texture and depth to their sound.

What Is a Vihuela?

Vihuela can refer to two instruments: the traditional Spanish vihuela from the 15th century and the modern Mexican vihuela. The Mexican vihuela is common in mariachi groups, and is similar in structure and tuning to a standard guitar.

How many strings does a vihuela have?

A modern Mexican vihuela has five strings, and the modern vihuela tuning is A-D-G-B-E, with the A, D, and G strings tuned an octave above the guitar. The historical Spanish vihuela, which was popular in the 15th century, had either five or six strings, tuned G-C-F-A-D-G or C-F-B♭-D-G-C.

What does a vihuela sound like?

Though it is tuned to the same notes as a standard guitar, the Mexican vihuela strings are tuned higher, giving it a distinct tenor sound. This helps it pair well with the lower sound of a Spanish guitar. Because it is most commonly played with the fingernails or finger picks rather than the flesh of the fingers, it has a bright, clear sound when played. Some say its sound lies somewhere between a ukulele and a nylon-string guitar.

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