- J. Richard Haefer
Five-stringed small guitar of Mexico. Commonly known as the vihuela, it is played in the mariachi ensemble as a harmony and rhythm instrument, and should not be confused with the Spanish vihuela de mano. It has a loud, crisp, rapid-decay sound. The soundbox is typically 39 cm long with a 29 cm maximum width, a 28 cm neck with four to six movable nylon frets, and 50 cm string length. The maximum depth of the sides is 10.5 cm plus an additional 6 cm depth to the apex of the vaulted, angled back. Wooden pegs inserted from the rear of the pegboard are traditional but nowadays most vihuelas have mechanical tuners. The tuning is a-d′-g′-b-e′ but sometimes the lowest three strings are tuned an octave higher. The soundhole (boca) is surrounded by nácar (mother of pearl) and wood inlay in a starburst pattern, and the purfling has intricate ...