Wikipedia:List of hoaxes on Wikipedia/Trembulo

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The trembulo is a stringed instrument. It is now quite rare and not often played anymore, usually replaced by the standard guitar or the mandolin.


The exact origins of the trembulo are unknown, but some sources point to a Portuguese origin some time around 1600.[1] It has similarities with some cavaquinhos from Portugal. It seems likely to have developed from the 4-course renaissance guitar. Similarities to the renaissance guitar (from Spain), the mandolin family and the chitarra battente (from Italy) and the larger Balkan tamburitza instruments suggest a Mediterranean origin. The trembulo does not have a fixed body shape, and although most have a waisted guitar-shaped body, there are also trembulos with pear-shaped bodies like a mandolin or keyhole shaped bodies.[2]

The traditional trembulo

A trembulo with the body carved out of a single block of wood in the traditional manner. This trembulo has a guitar-shaped body. (Original image showed a small guitar-like instrument sitting on a carpet with its seven strings loose and threadlike. There is a small circular hole in the center.)

The traditional trembulo has four courses of double nylon strings (probably originally gut). All the courses are tuned in octaves, giving a unique sound, somewhat like a tiple, but softer due to the nylon strings, and somewhat more like a lute. It is believed to have evolved from the baroque guitar or vihuela, suggested by its slender shape, although it may also be related to the mandolin or cittern families. It usually has a scale length of between 380 and 450mm, but some have as long as 500mm. It is carved out of a single block of wood, like jaranas and charangos. Usually a light wood is chosen for easier vigorous playing such as fast strumming. For the same reason, wooden (or nowadays sometimes plastic) pegs are used instead of geared metal machine heads.

Modern trembulo

Nowadays, the trembulo can be either carved from a block of wood (the traditional method) or made from bent sides like other modern guitar-family instruments.

Usually the trembulo has four double courses, but there are also variants with three double and one single for the lowest (seven strings) and two single and two double (6 strings). A 6 string version is sometimes known as a trembulo fusão. The highest courses are always double, while the lower ones are sometimes single.


A4 A3, D4 D3, B4 B3, E4 E3 (all octaves) or A4 A3, D4 D3, B4 B4, E4 E4 (lower courses in octaves) or A4 A4, D4 D3, B4 B3, E4 E4 (middle courses in octaves, called tiplito tuning. This tuning is used mainly on 8 string Trembulos and is used for chordal accompaniment.

  • Fourths tuning:

A4 A3, D4 D3, G4 G4, C4 C4. This tuning is used on 7 and 6 string Trembulos and is used for solo or melody playing.

  • Setola tuning:

A4 A3, D4 D3, A4 A4, E4 E4.

For shorter scale lengths, the tuning intervals will be the same, although the notes may be higher.

There are also non-traditional tunings sometimes used, for instance using the intervals of a ukulele, the same as the top 4 of a guitar (A, D, F# B), but in this case it is debatable whether it can still be classed as a trembulo. Another non-traditional tuning is to tune in fifths like the mandolin family.[3][4]


  • Long scale: Up to 500mm scale length.
  • Medium scale or Medio: Around 450mm scale length.
  • Short scale or Pequeno: Around 400mm scale length.
  • Pequenita or Piccolo: less than 400mm (rare).

Sometimes the body size is the same, and only the neck gets longer or shorter.


  1. ^ The Stringed Instrument Database
  2. ^ About the Trembulo
  3. ^ "A study in fretted four-string instruments tuned to fifths. For mandolin, mandola, mandocello, tenor guitar, tenor banjo, bouzouki, TREMBULO, cura, domra, etc. "
  4. ^ "For all four-string fretted instruments tuned to fifths: mandolin, mandola, mandocello, tenor guitar, tenor banjo, bouzouki, trembulo, cura, domra, etc. "

See also

[[Category:Guitar family instruments]]
[[Category:Portuguese musical instruments]]