Student of Guitar

Requinto Vs Standard Guitar: The Ultimate Guide (2022 Edition)

Table of Contents

If you’re interested in understanding the difference between the requinto vs standard guitar, this article is for you!

For some background, I’ve played guitar since 2003 and have messed around with many different instrument types since then.

From guitar hybrids to banjos, mandolins, and more, I’m a multi-instrumentalist with some experience in this domain.

And although I don’t yet have a requinto, I do own a guitalele that has the same tuning as the requinto (and the piccolo guitar).

See the below table for clarifying information about these very similar instruments!

Guitalele Pick
Requinto Pick
Piccolo Pick
$139.99
N/A
$189.99
Description:

String Type: Nylon

Standard Tuning: ADGCEA

Scale Length: 20''

Overall Body Length: 30''

Body Depth: 3.15''

Description:

String Type: Nylon

Standard Tuning: ADGCEA

Scale Length: 22 7/8''

Overall Body Length: 35 1/4''

Body Depth: 3 1/2''

Description:

String Type: Steel

Standard Tuning: ADGCEA

Scale Length: 23-1/8"

Overall Body Length: 35"

Body Depth: 2-7/8"

Guitalele Pick
$139.99
Description:

String Type: Nylon

Standard Tuning: ADGCEA

Scale Length: 20''

Overall Body Length: 30''

Body Depth: 3.15''

Requinto Pick
N/A
Description:

String Type: Nylon

Standard Tuning: ADGCEA

Scale Length: 22 7/8''

Overall Body Length: 35 1/4''

Body Depth: 3 1/2''

Piccolo Pick
$189.99
Description:

String Type: Steel

Standard Tuning: ADGCEA

Scale Length: 23-1/8"

Overall Body Length: 35"

Body Depth: 2-7/8"

09/27/2022 07:24 am GMT

The requinto guitar is a traditional stringed instrument and essentially a miniature flamenco guitar.

(To learn more about the difference between a flamenco and classical guitar, check out this post!)

The name “requinto” is used to express that this is the smaller, high-pitched version of another instrument.

We can trace the origins of the requinto guitar back to 18th century Spain and Portugal.

The requinto guitar is very popular in Latin America thanks in part to Mexico’s popular guitar trio Los Panchos.

Guitarist Alfredo Gil used the requinto to achieve a high-register, bright sound perfect for his guitar solos.

Check out this requinto guitar solo and tutorial, from Los Panchos:

A requinto is a high-pitched, six-string guitar with the same type of body as the guitar but a standard tuning up a fourth – ADGCEA.

The standard guitar has a larger overall scale and is tuned lower than the requinto – EADGBE.

In short, both instruments are similar in shape, and the main differences are the size and tuning.

The easy way to tell them apart is by comparing the size and sounds of each instrument.

The standard guitar is tuned in E standard, meaning that the lowest sound it can produce is a low E2.

On the other hand, the requinto guitar’s lowest sound is a higher A2, a sound that is a perfect fourth higher than the standard guitar.

Size

A requinto guitar is smaller than a standard guitar, even when they share the same body shape.

The scale of the requinto is similar to the standard guitar, meaning that the distance relation from nut to bridge of both instruments is close.

However, the requinto’s scale is smaller than the standard guitar’s.

The standard guitar’s size compared to the requinto’s translates into an expansion of the resonance, a larger and wider neck, and wider fretboard spacing.

As a result, a standard guitar will produce lower and deeper sounds than a requinto.

Here’s a table in which you can compare sizes of both a requinto and a standard guitar:

Instrument
Length
Width
Depth
37
17
7
40.16
18.12
6.69

As you can see, the standard guitar is larger than a requinto, which accounts for its bigger sound.

Tuning

The tuning of the requinto and the standard guitar follows the same intervals: perfect fourths from low to high, with no high-pitched strings in between.

The standard guitar is tuned E2-A2-D3-G3-B3-E4, while the requinto guitar is tuned A2-D3-G3-C4-E4-A4.

On one hand, the strings of the guitar are of lower tension.

This is because the instrument needs to handle a lower tuning and a larger scale.

On the other hand, the strings of the requinto are required to be of a higher tension than those of the standard guitar.

Standard Guitar Vs Requinto Guitar: Strings

The strings of both instruments are equally-distanced.

However, there is more space between the strings of the standard guitar because of the larger scale of the instrument.

Although the standard version of the guitar and the requinto use nylon strings, the guitar is more flexible. You can find standard guitars using either nylon or steel strings.

Moreover, you can find guitars with different headstocks and bridges supporting steel strings!

The same does not apply to the requinto, though.

You will only find nylon strings for this instrument.

Note that the requinto is the standard instrument of Latin American music like the bolero and son.

Since the nylon-string tone is associated with these genres, it would be inconsistent with this instrument’s history to put steel strings on it.

Unlike the guitar, steel strings are not a good fit for the requinto’s cultural heritage, musically speaking.

Plus, steel strings would likely warp or break the neck of a requinto because some requintos lack a truss rod and the internal bracing to support steel strings.

That said, you can find great requinto strings by D’Addario below.

Our Pick
D'Addario EJ94 Requinto Strings
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Sound Comparison

What can we expect from two instruments that are practically similar in terms of tone quality?

The tone of a requinto is closer to a ukulele in terms of resonance, depth, and projection like what you hear in the below video.

As a result, with the requinto guitar, you will lose resonance, projection, and depth in favor of brightness.

You can also see how the requinto’s fret spacing makes chord-playing and scales a little bit trickier to play.

Besides that, everything that is played in the low or high strings is perfectly audible.

On the other hand, a standard flamenco guitar offers you a tone that expands the lower end of the spectrum.

On the standard guitar, the high register sometimes loses its resonance and can be kind of weak.

However, the brightness and warmth of chords are better as you may be able to hear in the below video.

Price

Requinto guitars are often less expensive than a flamenco guitars of similar quality.

Of course, you need to consider that a requinto is a smaller and rarer instrument with few (if any) entry-level instruments.

Thus, as is often the case with novelty instruments, you must instead purchase a mid-range requinto like the Cordoba or Ortega.

Requinto Guitar Vs Standard Guitar: Learning Materials

The thing with the requinto is that it is a guitar-like instrument but not a standard guitar.

Thus, apart from the chord bible below, you won’t find many dedicated learning resources (let alone many in English) for the requinto.

The Requinto Chord Bible: ADGCEA Standard Tuning 1,728 Chords
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Sure, since both instruments are tuned similarly, you can transpose flamenco guitar learning resources and chord charts.

Hal Leonard Flamenco Guitar Method: Learn to Play Flamenco Guitar

Hal Leonard's books are famously useful and accessible to beginners!

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The problem is that this is just another hoop to jump through if you’re a requinto guitar beginner.

Which instrument should you pursue?

Like I said before, the decision of which instrument is for you will depend on your musical goals.

Check out this table to help you decide:

You might pursue the requinto guitar if you…
You might pursue the standard guitar if you…
Already play the flamenco guitar and have an interest in playing Latin American music genres
Want to have the sound of the guitar you know and love from your favorite music
You want to focus on bolero, son, and other similar genres using your instrument
Want to play all kinds of genres from all over the world
Smaller hands have prevented you from learning guitar on a standard size instrument.
Want to learn how to play on the instrument size that almost everyone plays on

Requinto Guitar Vs Standard Guitar: Conclusion

I hope to have helped you to clarify the differences between the requinto and standard guitar.

Each instrument is unique and worth exploring.

Which are you considering?

Let me know in the comments!

Also, if you want to read more about the requinto guitar, check out:

4 Responses

  1. Roca Santoyo says:

    I want to know what’s the standard width if the fretboard of a Requinto.

    1. Hi Roca!

      I think you’re looking for the nut width (the standard place to measure the neck or fretboard width of an instrument). Of course, this can vary from instrument to instrument. But the nut width on a Cordoba requinto is 48mm or 1 and 7/8″.

      1. I try looking for requinto guitars to buy and all the “requinto” guitars in the Ortega websites are in E standard tunning and most of the guitars in the Cordoba websites either don’t have the cutaway and are in E standard tuning,

        Where could I find a requinto guitar, what brands, etc.,

        Thanks!

        1. Hi Kevin,

          It’s hard to find requinto guitars tuned A to A available online. That said, this is the one I recommend. It will come from the factory tuned E to E.

          It even says on its sales page:

          “The Requinto comes strung with high tension Savarez guitar strings, which are meant to be used in standard E tuning. Because the scale length of this guitar is slightly shorter than a full size guitar, the tension will be slightly lower than a full sized guitar as a result, but will still play very well in standard tuning. The Requinto can be tuned up as high as a minor third up to G standard tuning, which will increase the tension, but any tunings higher than this are not recommended, as the added stress of the higher string tension of these tunings will compromise the long term health of the instrument.”

          But I personally wouldn’t have a problem tuning this instrument A to A, especially if you’re using requinto strings like these.

          Nylon strings just don’t put as much tension on an instrument as steel strings do.

          So tuning up slightly to standard A tuning should be just fine.

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