Soundbox: White and Purple Spruce Pine
Type of wood: Naranjillo
Strings: Wound Strings
Tuning Pins: Metallic Material
Bridge: Bone frets
General Features: Nbr. 36 Cm Scale
Tuning: The charango has five pairs (or courses) of strings, typically tuned GCEAE. This tuning, disregarding octaves, is similar to the typical C-tuning of the ukulele or the Venezuelan cuatro, with the addition of a second E-course. Unlike most other stringed instruments, all ten strings are tuned inside one octave. The five courses are pitched as follows (from 5th to 1st course): gg cc eE aa ee. Some charanguistas use "octave" strings on other pairs in addition to the middle course. Note that the lowest pitch is the 1st "E" string in the middle course, followed by the "g" course, then the "a" course, then the "c" and finally the "e" strings. This tuning pattern is known as a re-entrant pattern because the pitches of the strings do not rise steadily from one string or course to the next.
Length: 66 cm. (25.98")
Width: 18 cm. (7.08").
There are many stories of how the charango came to be made with it's distinctive diminutive soundbox of armadillo. One story says that the native musicians liked the sound the vihuela (an ancestor of the Classical Guitar) made, but lacked the technology to shape the wood in that manner. Another story says that the Spaniards prohibited natives from practicing their ancestral music, and that the charango was a (successful) attempt to make a lute that could be easily hidden under a garment. It is believed the charango originated in the 18th century Andes somewhere in modern-day Potosí, Bolivia, probably from Amerindian contact with Spanish settlers.