Official Guitarron Club and Discussion!

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by el_Bajo_Verde, Sep 13, 2016.

  1. Hello all, I will be getting a guitarron next week and I thought it would great to make a thread about this bass that doesn't get much discussion here on Talkbass.

    The guitarron is a Mexican 6-string short-scale acoustic fretless bass, usually tuned A1 D2 G2 C3 E3 A2. It is plucked in octaves 2 strings at a time, and has seven fret positions. I believe it is 27" scale, someone correct me if I'm wrong. Three metal strings and three nylon strings. If you play it like a traditional bass guitar it doesn't sing out quite as loud, I think the vibration of two strings together is what really makes it play so loudly.

    It's very loud, and even audible with a whole band of acoustic instruments. As far as I know, it's by far the loudest acoustic bass guitar.

    I ordered this H. Jimenez guitarron

    Plenty of cool features:
    • Bridge –Specially designed H. Jimenez Thunderwing™ for deep booming bass response and for optimum performance
    • Fingerboard – Natural Rosewood fingerboard with H. Jimenez logo lasered in the end
    • Strap pins – Chrome strap pins installed for double attached straps (requested by Mariachi teachers)
    • Nut / Neck – traditional Rosewood nut provides warm rich tone / comfortable profile Mahogany neck – 26” scale
    • Bracing – Traditional style brace design
    • Edges – Traditional Mahogany and Maple edges with purfling
    • Tuners – Smooth action geared chrome tuners
    • Arrow sound hole rosette
    • Deluxe padded black nylon logo bag is included with zipper pouch and shoulder straps.
    • The special H. Jimenez designed rosewood Thunderwing™ bridge with saddle allows for optimum performance action tweaking.
    And though this video isn't the guitarron in its tradition mariachi setting, I wanted to show you guys that it is definitely capable of handling modern basslines! I found this video which is an excellent example.

    Last edited: Sep 14, 2016
  2. What a cool video. Congratulations on your pending new guitarron day!
  3. Minirehak 212

    Minirehak 212

    Mar 7, 2015
    Man that's actually pretty cool. If I wasn't so broke I might consider getting one to have around. What do they usually go for?
  4. From what I can tell, the cheap ones are $400 and under, pretty good ones are $600-800 and the best ones made by the top Mexican luthiers are around $1300-1500. The Roberto Morales brand seems to be the most sought after.

    The one I bought cost $599, which is $100 less than what Sam Ash and other stores sell the same model for.

    The most common brand for a budget guitarron is Lucida, and can be found for $399 or so. The popular online music stores carry Lucida.
  5. HaphAsSard


    Dec 1, 2013
    AFAIK the last A should be an A2, i.e. tuned one octave lower than what one expects it to; the reason being, players prefer to have (as an alternative to, or all but supplanting the usual octave shapes) an easy way to play octaves by grabbing the neck at a given position with the thumb and middle finger on the low and high outer strings respectively. How standard the above tuning arrangement is I don't know, but this is what is usually found on the web re tuning of guitarrones (their use in East Asian, Niibori guitar orchestras excepted: tuned E1 to E3 there, like a Bass VI).
    Last edited: Sep 14, 2016
    Joe Chiu, Max Blasto and old spice like this.
  6. Really! Thanks for the information, I will update the original post to reflect that. That is indeed an octave lower than I'd expect.
  7. JMass


    Sep 14, 2016
    Boston, MA, USA
    Hello, I am an upright bass player from the Boston area. I have a Reyes Deluxe Guitarron (made in Mexico) which I bought in 2005 from the Mariachi Connection in San Antonio to play in a mariachi band. It's kind of a middle of the road guitarron I think (it cost me about $800 with the hard case in 2005 and I saw that brand new on the Mariachi Connection, it's listing at $795.

    I played with the band for several years but stopped after an injury and never resumed because once I recovered, I got more well paid work playing bass and piano.

    I am not good at playing electric bass (just electric UPRIGHT bass) - I think it's just that it's so uncomfortable to hold a bass or any instrument for me horizontally (-: So playing the guitarron was not easy for me - especially with the funky tuning and having to hold it like a very pregnant guitar! If you are used to playing electric basses, I think you will be able to adjust to playing the guitarron with some practice. There is definitely a technique to getting the octaves to sound (and playing in tune is challenging).. Good luck with playing the guitarron - mariachi music is really fun to play especially if you have some good folks to play with. If you decide to play other kinds of music and/or tune it differently, it seems like it could be really cool as well - I toyed with playing other chords but I never messed too much with the normal tuning. The action on mine is pretty low and it wasn't really that hard to pull the strings - the tough part for me was playing in tune, reaching notes (longer reach than the upright bass) and having to hold it horizontally instead of like an upright bass.

    A side note, if anyone wants to buy my guitarron, I am looking to sell it to someone within 100 or so miles of Boston. I don't really want to take a chance on shipping it somewhere even with the hard case. And if you live in the area and just want to try one out to see what it's like - let me know. If I haven't sold it yet, you are welcome to try it out.
    twocargar likes this.
  8. Hello all, I found a channel with tutorials so I will post this video I found on playing scales and arpeggios. It's a great insight on the unique way this instrument is played. He doesn't show his plucking hand but you can see which strings are being plucked by the vibrations.

    Note: Some countries use Do Re Mi, etc.. instead of C D E, etc. so in this video, "Do" takes place of "C".
    JonathanAlvarez likes this.
  9. Big Hoss

    Big Hoss Up note, down note, blue note, brown note...

    Considering we had a surprise Mariachi band at my wedding, one of those Sister in law surprises. What can I say? It's a Texas thang...

    Anyway I am VERY familiar with a Guitarron at least from the perspective of someone else playing one...

    I would love to learn them though. Might be funny seeing a fat pasty guy playing one but what the heck?
  10. Ha! I am actually Haitian...I think it would be funnier seeing me playing one!

    "What is this...a black guy in a mariachi band?? :bored:"
    bobyoung53 and Rich Emme like this.
  11. pbass2

    pbass2 Supporting Member

    Jan 25, 2007
    Los Angeles
    Love the guitarron. Nothing else sounds like it. Been playing one for about 20 years or so, but not consistently. Man, when you lay off for a while and pick it back up again, it can be TOUGH! Mine is NOT a really nice one, but it's the real deal (action a mile high, etc.) Was around $400 or so at the time. I've tried a few different types of strings over the years, and eventually had to have mine repaired a few years ago--the bridge was getting ready to pull up.
    Way back when I got mine, I actually got a course on VHS tape for learning, this was pre-Youtube! I typically play it in the traditional way(plucking mostly octaves most of the time, etc.) and in the standard tuning, but I don't play mariachi. I've used mine with Americana acts, folk singers, even with a garage rock artist in sort of an URB kind of way on a doo-wop type of track. For a number of years I played electric bass with a couple of rootsy singer-songwriters and whenever we'd do an "unplugged" gig I'd ONLY bring the guitarron just to force myself to re-interpret the songs on it, and get used to playing it (and playing in tune!). Tried a number of contact mics but ended up preferring to mic it--it's really at it's best with some "air" around it.
    Have fun with yours--it's a great sound!
    el_Bajo_Verde likes this.
  12. Reiska


    Jan 27, 2014
    Helsinki, Finland
    That`s so very cool!!! My next new instrument purchase will propably be a cello, but this definently left a itch to scratch. Maybe, at some point :)
  13. telecopy


    Dec 6, 2009
    Oh! That's cool. I always thought they were like the Ernie Ball Earthwood Bass from back in the '70s. Thanks!
  14. gsquare

    gsquare Pedal Breeders' BIGBoardClub#104;CabronitaClub#8 Supporting Member

    Jun 16, 2012
    Ah, this reminds me of my guitarron days back in the early 2000's, I played with the Mariachi Diablo Del Sol. I often think about getting one again, it was such a fun instrument!
  15. I read that the design of the EB Earthwood bass was actually influenced by the guitarron!
  16. Please update us with your impressions of the Jimenez. I've been on the hunt for the past few weeks and am really close to pulling the trigger on the same one.

    @JMass if you decide to ship that i would be interested. I saw your listing a few days ago but I live in New Jersey so it would be too far of a drive for me to meet in person
    el_Bajo_Verde likes this.
  17. Dluxe

    Dluxe Supporting Member

    Jan 9, 2011
    Didn't Randy Meisner use one on New Kid In Town?
    BearCave likes this.
  18. Eilif

    Eilif Grooving under the MDW runway.

    Oct 1, 2001
    What a great thread! I've been on the verge of getting a Guitarron quite a few times, but never quite pulled the trigger. There's a shop around here that usually has one and even with my poor technique the tone is just wonderful.

    In the end though, I decided that my "alternate" instrument to learn was going to be pedal steel guitar. That's proved to be quite engrossing so I'll probably stick with my doublebass, electric basses and PSG for some time.
  19. My guitarron will be arriving tomorrow!

    In the meantime, other pictures I found online.


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    those three colored strings are very interesting...they look like rounds
    Gaolee, Rezdog and Matthew Fisher like this.
  20. pbass2

    pbass2 Supporting Member

    Jan 25, 2007
    Los Angeles
    The treble strings are typically nylon, as you see here. The bottom strings can be from different metals, usually copper in different variations. I can't remember exactly what I have on mine currently--been on for over 10 years! I just recall going with a slightly lighter tension than what came stock on mine. These guys have a few varieties: Guitarrón Sets
    I think I have the silvered copper, and lighter tension nylon treble strings--I'll have to look for the package! EDIT: indeed, all the strings ARE rounds actually, even the nylon ones. I think if they were flat wounds it would be even harder to get a sound out of the beast. You'll see what I mean when you get yours. It's such a different animal. My understanding is that it was originally conceived of as a "portable bass harp".
    Last edited: Sep 16, 2016
    funkbass187 likes this.