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Modern fibreglass guiro.jpeg
Modern fibreglass Cuban güiro
Percussion instrument
Other names Calabazo, guayo, ralladera, rascador
Classification Idiophone, could be made from wood, gourd, metal, plastic or fiberglass
Hornbostel–Sachs classification 112.23
(Scraped idiophone, vessel)
Playing range
Speed of scrape produces some variation
Related instruments
Güira, reco-reco, guacharaca, washboard
Sounds of the guiro

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The güiro (Spanish pronunciation: [ˈɡwiɾo]) is a Latin-American percussion instrument consisting of an open-ended, hollow gourd with parallel notches cut in one side. It is played by rubbing a stick or tines along the notches to produce a ratchet-like sound.

The güiro is commonly used in Puerto Rican and other Latin-American music, and plays a key role in the typical rhythm section of important genres like cumbia and son. Playing the güiro usually requires both long and short sounds, made by scraping up and down in long or short strokes.

The güiro, like the maracas, is often played by a singer. Another type of güiro, commonly found in Brazil, is the reco-reco, is made of a cylindrical metal box that encases two or three steel springs. These are stretched over a lid, against which a metal stick is rubbed.

Construction and design[edit]

The güiro, which was adapted from a pre-Columbian instrument[citation needed], is a notched, hollowed-out gourd.[1] The güiro is made by carving parallel circular stripes along the shorter section of the elongated gourd.

It is played by holding the güiro in the left hand with the thumb inserted into the back sound hole to keep the instrument in place. With the Brazilian güiro, after frictioning the springs it's possible to make use of the prolonged reverberation, or muffle them with the fingers. In some models, the box also has a bottom hole, allowing the musician to change the internal reverb by covering it or not.

Modern instruments found in Cuba now feature a square-shaped cut-out opposite of playing side in which to facilitate holding the instrument more comfortably.

Use in Classical Music[edit]

The güiro is used in classical music both to add Latin American flavor, and also purely for its instrumental qualities.

Examples include:

Villa-Lobos, Uirapurú

Norton Gould Latin-American Symphonette

Stravinsky, Le Sacre du printemps[2]

Other meanings[edit]

In Regla de Ocha, a güiro is a musical performance and ceremony that uses shequeres, hoe blade, and at least one conga to accompany the religious songs of the Orishas.[3]


See also[edit]


  1. ^ Sue Steward (1 October 1999). Musica!: The Rhythm of Latin America - Salsa, Rumba, Merengue, and More. Chronicle Books. pp. 6–. ISBN 978-0-8118-2566-5. Retrieved 16 April 2013. 
  2. ^ Karl Peinkofer and Fritz Tannigel, Handbook of Percussion Instruments, (Mainz, Germany: Schott, 1976), 154.
  3. ^ Caudillo, Diane Elizabeth. Prayers to the Orishas. A Look at Santeria. 2007