The guitar, that resonance box with the shape of a woman that we all know, had
at the beginning only four strings. Vicente Espinel added one more at the end
of the XVI century. In fact, it is not exactly known who added the sixth one
or when it was added. The strings used today are six: three of them are catguts
or made of plastic, and the rest are bas strings. The guitar completes the image
of the "gaucho", the same as his "china"(female companion), his horse or his
The traditionalist Ricardo Muñoz, in his magnificent history of the guitar,
says of this instrument: "The guitar is the nomad’s instrument par excellence,
it was his companion during the hard walks. The Spanish, tanned by the sun and
winds of the plain in his endless campaigns throughout Europe, never abandoned
the guitar. Even in the fight he used to sing his feats and loves. The immigrant,
during the endless sea journeys, finds in the moan of the guitar’s strings
a great relief for his miseries.
The "vihuela" (old guitar) probably came to America this way, and then it was
perfected by Espinel. It took so deep roots in these lands that the almost legendary
"gauchos", the nomads of the plain, and the "payadores" take it with them everywhere,
always ready to sing their troubles and loves, their wild freedom, their quarrels,
feats and adoration to the theater of his victories… From the "payador’s"
guitar there sprout notes of feeling and bravery, notes full of delicacy and
emotion. In the guitar, it always vibrates the artistic sensitiveness of those
who identify with the deepest shows of the popular Argentinian music. The "gaucho"
found the deep, simple, sweet feelings of his poetic and dreaming soul: the
There was no party without guitar; with it the "gaucho" sang his simple but
warm airs of expression and accompanied with rhythmic or accurate strums the
popular songs or dances of the time. He used to sing his loves to the girl standing
by the mortar, or from the catlike, dappled, bay or sorrel well dressed horse
that he skillfully rode. He used to sing his troubles around the fire and playing
his guitar he improvised the purpose of the meeting, his sorrows, happiness
or victories won in the open air or among the rocks of the fields…"