Machete (musical instrument)

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Classification String instrument (plucked, nylon stringed instrument usually played with the bare thumb and/or fingertips, or a felt pick)
Hornbostel–Sachs classification
(Composite chordophone)
Developedin Madeira, Portugal
Related instruments

The machete (Portuguese: machete de braga) is a small stringed instrument from Madeira, Portugal. It has a double bulged body, traditionally made of wood, with a small rib and has four metallic strings, which depending on the region, may be attached by wooden pegs. Its slightly larger cousin, the machete de rajão, has five metal strings. Nowadays, it is not uncommon for the instrument to be made out of linden or poplar. Historians believe the machete was introduced in Madeira from Braga as a braguinha and subsequently brought to Hawaii by Portuguese immigrants in the late 19th century as a possible predecessor of the ukulele.[1]

Portuguese diaspora to the Americas and to Hawaii[edit]

Many Portuguese immigrants in Hawaii were Madeiran

In 1846, when a famine struck Madeira over 6,000 of the inhabitants migrated to British Guiana. In 1891 they numbered 4.3% of the population.[2] In 1902 in Honolulu, Hawaii there were around 5,000 Portuguese people, mostly Madeirans. In 1910 this grew to 21,000.[3]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Ruymar, Lorene (1 September 1996). The Hawaiian Steel Guitar and Its Great Hawaiian Musicians. Centerstream Publications. p. 10. ISBN 978-1-57424-021-4. Retrieved 21 August 2012.
  2. ^ "Portuguese emigration from Madeira to British Guiana Archived 18 September 2013 at the Wayback Machine"
  3. ^ "Portuguese Immigrants in the United States: Chronology, 1900–1919". Library of Congress. Archived from the original on 6 February 2018. Retrieved 26 August 2017.