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.

In 1940, the rhythm becomes a Brazilian symbol

‘Samba’, the most popular Brazilian music genre, has European and African origins, but it has taken over the country with black culture symbols.

The word was first mentioned in 1838 in a newspaper of Pernambuco called “O Capuceiro”. In Rio de Janeiro, the word ‘samba’ appears only in the late twentieth century, always linked with rural feasts, the black community and Bahia.

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This music genre started taking shape with urban characteristics and percussion instruments, and now it has been consolidated as the main music style of Rio de Janeiro.

The expansion of samba took place thanks to two aspects: the newly-launched radio and the encouraging to the carnival by schools of the time.

In the 1940’s, the rhythm became a Brazilian symbol and earned status and international fame. Nowadays, the world sees Brazil as the birthplace of Carnival.

The word ‘samba’ has created solid roots and, as a result, a lot of etymological branching, such as samba-choro, samba de terreiro, samba-enredo, samba de gafieira, samba-rock, etc.

The first composers have built a cultural legacy. Some of them are: Jozé Luiz de Moraes, o Caninha, Heitor dos Prazeres, João da Baiana, Pixinguinha e Donga.

The Samba National Day is celebrated on December 2nd and was created to honor Ary Barroso. Firstly, the date was celebrated only in Bahia, but it turned out to become national.

Source: Almanaque do Samba

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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.

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