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Guira from Dominican Repub.jpg
A small güira, with handle, obtained in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic, in 2007
Percussion instrument
Classification percussion
Hornbostel–Sachs classification
(scraped idiophone)

A güira (Spanish pronunciation: [ˈɡwiɾa]) is a percussion instrument originating in the Dominican Republic, generally used in merengue, bachata, and its subgenres, which in use is similar to the maraca or the trap-kit’s hi-hat but formed of sheet metal—in practice, sometimes from a five gallon oil can played with a stiff brush, similar to the Puerto Rican güiro. Performers on the güira are referred to as "Güireros".


The güira is most often found in merengue tipico where it serves as one of many percussion instruments used. The güira is brushed steadily on the downbeat with a "and-a" thrown in at certain points, or played in more complex patterns that generally mark the time. Modern cumbia also sometimes features a güira. Typical rhythmic patterns include the golpe. Dances featuring the music range from the fast-paced Merengue derecho to the slower merengue apambichao.

Güira Making[edit]

According to Francisco Javier Durán García, New York City based instrument maker, the traditional art of güira making involves a tree stump, hammer, nail, metal tube, and wood block.[1] The instrument is hand fashioned from sheet metal into a long, cylindrical tube along with perforated sides.

Brief sample of güira

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Güira vs Güiro[edit]

The Dominican güira is similar in usage to the Puerto Rican güiro though of distinct timbre. Whereas the guiro is often a hollowed out gourd, thus producing a more wooden tone, the metal construction of the güira gives it a characteristic metallic timbre.

Cultural significance[edit]

The güira as part of the Merengue Típico is emblematic of Dominican heritage. When Rafael Trujillo came to power in 1930 he made the music the national emblem.[1]


  1. ^ a b Hutchinson, Sydney. "Pinto Guirá and his Magic Bullet". Pinto Guirá and his Magic Bullet. New York Folk Lore Society. Retrieved 17 September 2013.