Luthier Lineu Bravo and the art of building ‘cavaquinhos’

Guitar making is not Luthier Lineu Bravo’s only art. Another instrument that he makes with a lot of joy is the ‘cavaquinho’. The process is similar; however, it takes some special care because of the small pieces of the instrument. The luthier has to pay close attention to the details so that he can reach the perfect balance.

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The ‘cavaquinho’ has a special meaning to the luthier: “I really appreciate this instrument since it was the first one that I started playing when I was 10 and also the first one that I made when I was a teenager”, explains the luthier.

The construction of cavaquinho was a milestone in the luthier’s career, who asserts the importance of this experience: “The first instrument that I built was the cavaquinho. I used to play it so I ended up building other cavaquinhos. I used to make it as a hobby, and that’s how I got familiar with this art.”

For the luthier, building cavaquinhos was a big learning: “The cavaquinho is smaller and has a smaller speaker sound, so it demands much more attention to reach the balance and the perfection I need. You have to be much more careful when building cavaquinhos, that’s why it is easier to make bigger instruments”, explains Lineu.

Lineu Bravo admits how hard it is to obtain the perfect tuning on an instrument like this: “The cavaquinho is much more delicate, so it is harder to build it with a perfect tuning.”

When you master the art of making cavaquinhos, you master the art of building all the others: “When I found out the secret of how to have the perfect tuning on the cavaquinho, it became easier to build other instruments”.

About Lineu Bravo

Lineu Bravo is an autodidact luthier and fond of good music. From an early age he developed intimacy with wood at his father workshop. He built his first instrument when he was 14. Since then, his guitars, ‘cavacos’, mandolins and ‘violas’ have been purchased by respected musicians. Guinga, Marcus Tardelli, Zélia Duncan, Marco Pereira, João Bosco, Yamandú Costa, Chico Buarque, Ulisses Rocha, Hamilton de Holanda, Ângela Muner, Rogério Caetano, Maurício Carrilho, Luciana Rabello, João Lyra, Maurício Marques, Edson Lopes, Alessandro Penezzi, Juarez Moreira, Fernando César, Jayme Vignoli, Flávio Apro, Giacomo Bartoloni, Swami Jr, Rosa Passos, Ana Carolina, Zé Paulo Becker, and Douglas Lora are some of them.

Melbourne University, in Australia, is going to receive five instruments made by Lineu Bravo Luthier

Lineu Bravo Luthier has just finished an international order. It was requested by Ken Murray, a teacher at Melbourne University, Australia, in November 2014. The five instruments are: a seven string guitar, a tenor guitar, a “cavaco”, a mandolin and a “caipira” guitar. The delivery is going to take place in May 2016.

The instruments are going to be sent to the the Melbourne Conservatorium of Music (MCM) at the University of Melbourne, where Doug de Vreis, also Lineu Bravo’s client, is the main teacher of Brazilian guitar in the contemporary guitar course.

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Paulo Aragao visited the school two years ago and worked with the students over three weeks. Ken says that, since then, they realized the importance of developing more ensemble arrangements for the students and exploring a wider range of instrument combinations. He applied for a grant from the university for 5 instruments to help them realize these intentions, and they were successful.

Here is an excerpt from the funding proposal for these instruments, already approved: “This project aims to build a unique set of five Brazilian stringed instruments made by Brazil’s foremost guitar luthier Lineu Bravo for use by MCM students in both contemporary and classical guitar programs.  This combination of instruments is not owned by another Australian University.”.

They are planning a concert in December to showcase the new instruments. “This will be led by Doug de Vries and includes a number of staff and students from the MCM, including myself and Adam May.  The concert will also coincide with an international symposium on the history of the guitar.”, says Ken Murray.

The University

Melbourne University was founded in 1853 and is the 33rd  best university in the world, according to the “Times Higher Education World University Rankings 2015-2016”, and in Australia, it is the number one.

It is a public university that stands out in the following areas: Arts, Human Science and Biomedical Science, with almost 40.000 students.

The Conservatorium

The Conservatorium of Music provides graduation and post-graduation programs of the highest quality apart from a diverse range of innovative and creative research. Their staff are among the most gifted and passionate musicians, teachers and researchers in Australia, and they challenge and inspire our students to become future leaders in music.

The Melbourne Conservatorium of Music hosts a regular series of concerts by students and staff, as well as high profile Australian and international guests.

- Melbourne University Official Website 

- Melbourne Conservatorium of Music Official Website

- Lineu Bravo’s news on his Facebook page

- Lineu Bravo Luthier Instagram

- Follow Lineu Bravo Luthier on Twitter

Do you know how a luthier works? The construction of instruments is an art that demands time, talent and dedication. A single handmade instrument takes months to be built and, during this process, the art is born.

A luthier's workshop

A luthier’s workshop

In the workshop, the luthier uses many tools to fit each component in its place, each string, each part of the guitar, cavaco or, maybe, mandolin.

There are molds, in different sizes and forms, for each instrument, that, after a long time of work, become artisanal music instruments: cavaquinho, mandolin, nylon guitar, tenor guitar, 7-string-steel guitar.

Some pieces are so delicate that, in order to be fit and shaped with precision, it is necessary to use a magnifying glass. The nut (little piece of bone made out of the shin of the ox) that holds the strings of the instrument, is one of them.

Another frequently used tool in the workshop is the clamp. There are a lot of sizes of clamps and they are helpful to fix the parts of the music instruments.

The handmade construction of instruments, as we see, is an art, and the artist, the luthier, molds, creates, invents and reinvents.

 – Lineu Bravo’s news on his Facebook page

- Lineu Bravo´s pictures on his instagram