We may notice that many string instruments come with markings to indicate where certain frets are. These are used as reference points to orientate themselves where they are on the fretboard of the instrument. Many Cuatros, do not have this when they are fabricated. They do not carry any markings on the fretboard nor on top of the neck which faces the Cuatro player. We have only come across one luthier who makes use of markings on professional Cuatros being Yasuji D’Gucci. This is done not to make things easier or seem less professional, but to vary away from the norm as no Cuatro will have this.
In this video, Cheo Hurtado indicates that it is important to get to know your instrument and to play without these markings. This way, if you pick up any other Cuatro, you will be able to play it with no difficulties. In fact, the marking of frets is not allowed in competitions such as the Siembra del Cuatro.
Having Marks on Your Cuatro
Cheo Hurtado does have a point being that it is good to be able to play without visual aids such as the markings on the instruments. We do recommend to make use of some kind of marking however to help you during your learning experience with the Cuatro. This will simplify things and in fact, it will help with the familiarization of your own Cuatro. sometimes, it is not necessary to place stickers on the fretboards or anywhere. The wood of the Cuatro or the wear of the Cuatro can give some points of reference in the form of a different shade of wood or a scratch. We are all not professionals just yet, so feel free to make use of the marking points.