The Requinto Guitar: All You Need to Know

The Requinto guitar is a smaller-sized acoustic guitar with a higher pitch. It has its roots in traditional Latin music and has lasted through the decades to even appear in poplar music. Today, the Requinto has its modern adaptations, but the traditional acoustic 6 string variation remains the standard. Lets dive into the requinto guitar in more detail.

Traditional vs Modern Requinto

The traditional requinto guitar has a smaller scale length by about 20% compared to a typical acoustic or classical guitar. A lot of the time the requinto will feature a cutaway for accessing those higher positions on the fretboard.

The modern variation is essentially a 12 string guitar (6 strings in pairs), however tuned differently. We will talk more about tuning below. The 12 string requinto is a staple of the Norteño style Mexican music called serrieño.

Requinto Guitar Tuning

Let’s talk a bit about tuning. Aside from the difference in scale, tuning brings forth the second biggest variation from the standard guitar.

Traditional 6 String Requinto Tuning

Traditional 6 string Requinto Guitars are often tuned to A-D-G-C-E-A, maintaining a higher pitch compared to conventional guitars. This tuning contributes to the instrument’s unique tonal characteristics, making it well-suited for melodic and intricate playing styles.

requinto-guitar-tuning-diagram

Additionally, you can achieve requinto tuning on a standard 6 string guitar by simply using a capo on the 5th fret.

12-String Requinto Guitar Tuning

The 12-string variation of the requinto guitar is tuned differently from a typical 12-string guitar. In a typical 12 string the courses (or sets of 2 strings) on the lowest 4 strings (EADG) are tuned an octave apart and the high 2 strings (BE) are tuned the same.

The requinto style 12-string tuning calls for all 6 string courses to be set up with in unison. So no octaves.

Doing this comes with its own set of issues. The pressure on the neck from 2 identical strings sets will be much higher than what the 12-string neck intends with the octave strings. To go around this you can use lighter gauge strings sets, or turn down the guitar by half or a full octave.

Alternatively, and our preference you should get your 12-string guitar professionally adjusted to accommodate the requinto guitar tuning on your 12 string. You can read more about this here.

Peso Pluma: Bringing Back the Requinto

A good example of the requinto guitar in popular music can be heard in the songs of Peso Pluma. One of the instruments in his 7 piece acoustic band is, you guessed it, the requinto guitar.

His requinto player, Carlitos, utilizes both the 6 string and 12 string variations throughout their performances (the 12 string being more common).

In this video you can see Peso introduce the band, where you can see Carlitos holding a beautiful 12 string requinto guitar.

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