Beginner on Cavaquinho

topic posted Thu, December 8, 2005 - 1:58 PM by  Chu
Hey y'all,

My cavaquinho just arrived today. I don't play cavaquinho but I really want to learn. Can anybody suggest where to start? Are there any books on chords for cavaquinho? I have a good pagode collection but not being a string player, it would be quite impossible for me to transcribe from recordings.

Truth be told, I'm a percussionist so please keep your suggestions simple! :-)
posted by:
offline Chu
  • Re: Beginner on Cavaquinho

    Sat, January 28, 2006 - 9:49 PM
    Hey Chu,
    Ok... so here it goes. First, you probably already know Robert Schoville, but he's got the most abundant Samba resources in Madison WI. He plays in Samba Pa Ti and a number of other projects and I'm sure you can find him. I believe he's got a batteria in Madison called the Handphibians.

    Tune your cavaquinho to the Off to the Races: DGBD
    That's standard tuning even though there's a ton of ukelele tuning on the web that says its cavaquinho.
    I also have a cavaquinho and found some chords on the web:

    I hope this helps! If you have any other resources that you've found post 'em back because I could use em!
    • Re: Beginner on Cavaquinho

      Sun, January 29, 2006 - 8:05 AM
      Hey man, thanks very much. Small world, huh? Sure, I know Robert. I used to play with the handphibians before I started my own thing. Robert, like me, is a drummer so we are rather clueless about the cavaquinho.

      I did find a beginner book. "Toque Cavaquinho, Em Um Toque". It is in Portuguese but there are illustrations of the chord fingering positions.

      Thanks again. BTW... what is your "Madison connection"?

      • Re: Beginner on Cavaquinho

        Mon, February 6, 2006 - 12:09 AM
        Congrats on finding the book. All I have are the chord structures, but I don't have any progressions or charts to practice. If you get a chance to copy some over let me know, ok?
        About my Madison connection...
        Almost my entire adult life has been spent in the Isthmus.
        I'm in Chitown now, but Madison is home.
        I left a bunch of good peeps when I moved, but I make it back all the time.
        With a fair amount of certainty, I bet we know a good helping of the same folks and friends.
        Its certainly a small world and barely a degree of seperation for anyone living in downtown Madison.
  • Re: Beginner on Cavaquinho

    Mon, February 6, 2006 - 6:49 AM
    I'd start practicing pressing your index finger in front of one fret and plucking the string, then on the same string, next fret up, pressing your middle finger down and plucking the string, then your ring finger. As you hear that those notes are clear, move to the nest string up and do it again. Start trying to pluck strings to do a scale. Then, by the time the book of chords arrives, you'll have some blisters on your fingers to begin.
  • Re: Beginner on Cavaquinho

    Mon, April 9, 2007 - 4:42 PM
    Hey, Everyone - I play cavaquinho, too. Have you seen FolkReps instruments? They make Portuguese traditional instruments. One of my cavaquinhos has old-world machine head tuning pegs that are really different. I also have a 6-string and a couple other Portuguese instruments. You can see a lot of cool instruments if you go to (that's my site, and I put a link to FolkReps).
  • Re: Beginner on Cavaquinho

    Wed, June 20, 2007 - 8:38 AM
    I thought I'd piggy-back on this thread before starting a new topic for this question...

    I'm interested in learning cavaquinho, but before I go out and buy one I was wondering whether or not it would be possible for me to just restring/retune my ukulele? Or are the two instruments too different? Can anybody help?
    • Re: Beginner on Cavaquinho

      Tue, June 26, 2007 - 11:23 PM
      My uke has nylon strings, the Cavaquinho has metal strings. The neck of your uke might not hold up. The cavaquinho is probably reinforced with steel. I have a tenor ukulele and it is very close to the same size as the Cavaquinho, the soprano ukes are smaller. I have been playing the rhythms on my uke and I think it sounds great.
      Down down down up down, down down down up down...

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