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NBD: Arte Don Vasco Guitarrón

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by CrewsControl, Mar 24, 2013.

  1. I just returned from vacation in Puerto Vallarta, where I picked up this beauty.


    It's a genuine Mexican Guitarrón, hecho in Paracho, Michoacán by Arte Don Vasco luthier. The guitarrón was 3,350 pesos and I also got a gig bag, extra set of strings and a strap. The total cost was 3,855 pesos, or US $312.37 at the exchange rate my bank provided. I bought it from Estrellas Music Center in the Zona Romantica district of the city, where there are lots of Mexican arts and crafts shops. I found another guitarrón later at a music store in a shopping mall, and though it was about $100 cheaper, it was also very plain with a black lacquer finish on the sides and back and lacked the mother of pearl inlays.

    The cost to ship it back to the US was prohibitive (over $700 US), but I was able to get it securely packaged in a box at a Mailboxes Etc in Puerto Vallarta for 350 pesos, and the extra baggage fee was US $40.00, so getting it back home cost an additional US $68. Luckily the baggage handlers treated it kindly and the packaging protected it well, so it didn't suffer a scratch.

    It sounds wonderful, and is very loud for an acoustic guitar. The technique involves plucking with the thumb, forefinger and middle finger. The tuning is in fourths like any bass guitar: A D G C F for the first five strings, and the 6th string is tuned to A an octave above the low A. This facilitates doubling notes on the octave, which is another reason it can be loud enough to play in an acoustic group without amplification. But I haven't got the hang of that yet! The action is very high and the string tension is pretty stiff, so it's a workout for both hands. The light-colored figuring on the left side of the fret board provides some "landmarks" for learning the fret positions, and the peak of the shallow triangle where it meets the body marks where the 5th is on each string.

  2. neren


    Jun 5, 2012
    Eugene, Oregon
    Aside from maybe bassoons and contrabassoons, I think guitarrons are just the wackiest, most fascinating instruments. Beautiful big ol' thing you got yourself there!
  3. Wow! That is a beautiful instrument.
  4. Ahh, I see your're acquiring the necessary gear for your upcoming Cannibal Corpse-tribute gig. Nice.
  5. Draculea


    Oct 2, 2011
    Mexico City
    Guitarrons are amazing. I played one the other day, but I could barely manage to make it sound coherently as it requires a different approach from electric/upright bass. I'd like to get me one someday nonetheless, and give it another go. It shouldn't be too hard to find one here in Mexico at a reasonable price, for obvious reasons. Haven't lived here for long, but as I get acquainted with the local music stores, I'll be able to find something worth the money.

    Nice guitarron, enjoy it to the fullest!
  6. Rad! I've always wanted to play and/or own one of those. Hearing them makes me happy.
  7. Felicidades! Bello! :hyper::hyper::hyper:

    I love it!
  8. Baird6869

    Baird6869 RIP Gord Downey. A True Canadian Icon.


    I wanted to buy one when I was in the Mayan last year and couldn't find one.

    At that price, even if you don't play it, it looks cool on the wall!
  9. Rip Topaz

    Rip Topaz

    Aug 12, 2005
    Willow Street, PA
    Beta tester for Positive Grid
    That rosette is beautiful. Great score!!
  10. tastybasslines

    tastybasslines Banned

    May 9, 2010
    Los Angeles, CA
    My mind goes straight to the gutter when looking at the back of the instrument...
  11. Love that guitarron!

    Little known fact, the original lyrics to the George Harrison song were "While My Guitarron Gently Weeps." ;)

    In a perfect world, I would have both a guitarron and a contrabass balalaika.

  12. I was mistaken about the tuning. It's A D G C E A (E not F), so it's just like a 6-string guitar, a 3rd interval separating the 4th & 5th highest string, but A - A instead of E - E.

    One thing I don't much like about it is the sound of the 3 nylon strings. The 3 lower pitched steel roundwound strings sound really good, with a very tight, centered tone, and they are pretty loud. The nylon strings sound almost "chorused" there are so many overtones warbling up and down. They sound flabby, and even a little dissonant. They also go out of tune easily; maybe they need more breaking-in. I suppose that's just part of its charm.

    Mel Bay publishes a 2 DVD set for Guitarron method, but it's in Spanish. :meh: I suppose I could get the gist of it. But some rules of thumb (and a blister on my thumb :cool:) have emerged after playing it over the weekend.

    1. If you are fretting higher than the 4th fret position, you're doing it wrong. :bassist:
    2. I can't do this yet. But I ought to practice it until I can. :help:
    3. If the first song you learn isn't Son de La Negra, you're doing it wrong. :rollno:
    4. YouTube lesson for #3. :D
  13. Guitarron GAS here: http://www.ilovemusica.com/shop.php?cat=8. The Ruben Morales guitarron and viheula seem to be the ones most sought after.

    I got that same $80 gig bag (2nd one down) for less than $30.
  14. Gorn


    Dec 15, 2011
    Queens, NY
    Not exactly ideal for couch noodling, I think. I don't know if that would work while sitting on the couch at a 45 degree angle.
  15. Dang, that is a lovely instrument! I just love the guitarron, and this thread reminds me that I need to get mine back from its current long-term loan.

    I've actually jammed with mariachi musicians on guitarron a little bit; they were excessively appreciative considering my skill level (I think a gabacho playing the guitarron is a dancing-bear situation; the amazing thing is that it plays the guitarron at all!), but as far as I could tell, the top priority is to get the groove right, and almost any choice of notes can be forgiven as long as you get the timing right. Root, fifth, root, fifth, diatonic-run-to-the-next-root, fifth, root, fifth, etc., seems to be reliably harmless. Simple as it may sound, that stuff is more fun than a barrel of monkeys to play.

  16. It works on a couch at a 80 degree angle, almost horizontal. :cool:

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