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, basses, and more, I’m a multi-instrumentalist with some experience in this domain.
The requinto guitar is a traditional string instrument. 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 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 of 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 lower 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.
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:
As you can see, the standard guitar is larger than a requinto, which accounts for its bigger sound
The tuning of the requinto and the standard guitar is the same: 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 it lacks a truss rod.
You can find great requinto strings by D’Addario here.
What can we expect from two instruments that are practically similar in terms of tone quality?
Well, the main difference between them is the sound.
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 kind of tricky 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.
Requinto guitars are often less expensive than a flamenco guitar 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.
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 this chord bible, you won’t find many dedicated learning resources (let alone many in English) for the requinto.
Sure, since both instruments are tuned similarly, you can transpose flamenco guitar learning resources and chord charts. 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 guitar and have an interest in performing Latin American music genres
Want to have the sound of the guitar you know and love from your favorite music
Are a requinto newbie from a Latin American country and you want to focus on bolero, son, and other genres using your instrument
Want to play all kinds of genres from all over the world
Want to learn how to play the guitar, but have small hands
Want to learn how to play the guitar, regardless of the size of your hands
Requinto Guitar Vs Standard Guitar: Conclusion
I hope to have helped you to clarify the differences between the requinto guitar and the standard guitar
Each instrument has a unique tone that is worth exploring.
Which are you considering?
Let me know in the comments!