What’s the difference between an Ukulele and a Cuatro

So you discovered that there’s an instrument called Cuatro and probably know about it’s resemblance to the Ukulele. It is true that the similarities are numerous but there’s a spectacular difference: The Cuatro has a reentrant tuning where its fourth and last string is tuned on an octave lower, almost as low as the first string.

Ukulele. From Wikipedia
Ukulele.  Wikipedia
Traditional Cuatro

This means all solo, melodies, sounds are going to be produced by the third string and not by the last one.

  • The Ukulele and the Cuatro share a similar rhythm strumming technique.
  • The Ukulele and the Cuatro both use nylon strings.
  • The Ukulele is normally tuned starting with the G meanwhile you tune a Cuatro starting with the A
  • There are four different Ukulele sizes as there’s only one Cuatro size (similar to the Ukulele Baritone)

So you have the possibility of playing an instrument that resembles the Ukulele but produces a more colorful, vivid and deeper sound because its reentrant tuning.

Any other difference between the Cuatro and Ukulele?

Besides the physical differences, there’s also an important factor to consider when playing a Cuatro. The Cuatro strumming has its bases on a technique called “upward chunk”, which is, in most cases, not known or used by Ukulele players. This is because the Cuatro is used in music genres that are play in 3/4, where you’ll complete a chunk per measure, but every two measures there will be a chunk down, and then a chunk up.

This type of technique pursues the imitation of a percussive instrument while playing the chords. So, the Cuatro is very different in this regard: is used in both harmonic and percussive ways.

Where to buy an Ukulele?

One of the most trusted stores for Ukulele is Uke Like The Pros. We invite you to visit the store and select your next ukulele, delivered directly to your address

Where to buy a Cuatro?

Buying a Cuatro is a bit more difficult, as the musical instrument comes from South America, where access to luthiers and cuatro makers is a bit more cumbersome. For this reason, we’ve created the TuCuatro Store, where we offer and deliver to your home the Venezuelan Cuatro, just visit the store and select the instrument you would like to purchase, we’ll take care of contacting the luthier for you, selecting the cuatro, do a sound test and package it for you to receive it at your address.

How to start playing the cuatro?

The first thing to start playing a Cuatro is to learn how to tune it. We can teach you all the basic aspects of a cuatro, including the particular reentrant tuning at our Basic Cuatro Courses page. TuCuatro has plenty of courses available for you, all of them free and available for you right now. Head to our Cuatro and Bandola Courses Page and select the course you want to start right now.