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Commonly referred to as the cello-guitar, the Brahms guitar was invented in 1994 by classical guitarist Paul Galbraith in collaboration with the luthier David Rubio. It was originally conceived in order to perform Johannes Brahms' Theme and Variations Opus 21a. David Rubio's protégé, luthier Martin Woodhouse, has innovated the design and continues to build Brahms guitars.
The instrument is an eight-string guitar, adding both a high and a low string to the conventional six string guitar. The tuning adds a low A (a fifth below the standard low E, and a high A (a fourth above the standard high E), giving AEADGBEA. The guitar's frets are fanned to allow for the different string lengths. The instrument also has an external, box-shaped resonator, increasing its volume.
The Brahms guitar is held as one holds a cello, allowing ease and freedom to the body and hands.
Other adapters include Joseph Ehrenpreis, Everton Gloeden and Luiz Mantovani of the Brazilian Guitar Quartet, and Galbraith's former students Redmond O'Toole and Matthew Korbanic. The Brahms guitar is also in use by the Dublin Guitar Quartet who use the instrument in their arrangements of Philip Glass, Kevin Volans and Arvo Part string quartets.