The Guitarra portuguesa

The guitarra portuguesa is a member of the string instrument family. It orignates from Portugal and was invented around the 13th century. It is sometimes referred to as the portuguese guitar or portuguese guitarra.

The Portuguese guitar is a descendant of the Medieval citole, based on evidence of its use in Portugal since the thirteenth century (then known as ‘cítole’ in Portuguese) amongst troubadour and minstrel circles and in the Renaissance period, although initially it was restricted to noblemen in court circles. Later it became popular and references have been found to citterns being played in the theater, in taverns and barbershops in the seventeenth and eighteenth century in particular.

The guitarra portuguesa is a plucked string instrument with twelve steel strings, strung in six courses of two strings. It is one of the few musical instruments that still uses watch-key or Preston tuners. There are two distinct Portuguese guitar models: the Lisboa and the Coimbra. The differences between the two models are the scale length, body measurements, and other finer construction details. Overall, the Coimbra model is of simpler construction than the Lisboa model. Visually and most distinctively, the Lisboa model can easily be differentiated from the Coimbra model by its larger soundboard and the scroll ornament (caracois – snail) that usually adorns the tuning machine, in place of Coimbra’s teardrop-shaped (lagrima) motif.

The portugese guitar is mostly used to play Fado, which is a music genre traced to 19th century Portugal.

How do I play the instrument?

Use the pads of the fingers or fingernails to pluck the strings in a similar fashion to a lute

Are there any instrument silimar to this one?


How long does it take to learn?

It takes a few weeks to learn the basics

Is there special equipment needed for the instrument?


Rock with a Star!

Let’s enjoy the sound of this instrument through this wonderful performance by Ricardo J. Martins