How to Play a Guitarrón?

Which musical instrument do you enjoy listening to the most? Some people have a preference for the strum of a guitar or the trill of a flute. Others are fond of the piercing notes of a piano or the rhythmic beat of a drum set. However, for many, it’s all about what they consider the foundation of any musical ensemble – the bass.

Bass instruments produce low-pitched music. Often, their role in a song is to establish the rhythm. And there are plenty of instruments that fall into this category. There’s the bass fiddle in orchestras, and of course, the bass guitar in many bands. The tuba and bass drum are often responsible for keeping the rhythm in marching bands. And no traditional mariachi band is complete without a special bass instrument. What are we referring to? The guitarrón, of course!

“Guitarrón” may sound similar to the word “guitar,” but the two instruments are quite different. They both have six strings, but the guitarrón is much larger. It also has a deep, v-shaped back. This allows the guitarrón to produce a deeper, louder sound than a guitar.

In a mariachi band, the guitarrón plays alongside violins, trumpets, guitars, vihuelas, and harps to create unique music. Like other bass instruments, its role is to maintain the band’s rhythm.

How do you actually play a guitarrón? To begin, make sure you hold it correctly. The back of the guitarrón should be against your chest, with the instrument’s head level with your eyes. Guitarróns are often heavy, so use a strap to assist you in holding it up.

Once the guitarrón is in position, hold the neck of the instrument with your left hand. Your left thumb should be on the back, with your fingers resting against the strings. With your right hand, pluck and release the strings in front of the sound hole. That’s how the guitarrón produces sound!

The guitarrón is most commonly found in mariachi bands. However, it has also been played in more unconventional settings. Randy Meisner, of The Eagles, played the guitarrón in the band’s 1976 song “New Kid in Town.” The instrument is also a favorite of Simon Edwards from the 1980s British band Fairground Attraction.

Have you ever listened to mariachi music? It’s often lively and easy to dance to. The next time you hear a mariachi band, pay close attention to the low, resonant sound of a guitarrón.

Give It a Try

Find an adult friend or family member who can assist you in trying out these activities.

  • If you want to learn to play a musical instrument, a good starting point is to learn how to read music. What is the most important thing about the basics of reading music? Do you have any questions? Share what you have learned with a friend or family member and ask them to help you find answers to your questions.
  • Do you have a preferred instrument to listen to? If not, ask a friend or family member to assist you in listening to the sounds of different instruments online. Which one do you enjoy the most? Why? Write a paragraph that describes the sound of your favorite instrument and explains why you like it so much.
  • Uncertain about what a mariachi band sounds like? Listen to a mariachi band’s cover of a well-known rock song. Can you identify the guitarrón? Point it out to a friend or family member! Then, see if they can help you find the original version of the song. How is the mariachi version similar or different?

Sources for Further Reading

  • (accessed 22 Oct. 2019)
  • (accessed 22 Oct. 2019)
  • (accessed 22 Oct. 2019)
  • (accessed 22 Oct. 2019)
  • (accessed 22 Oct. 2019)


1. How do you hold a guitarrón?

To play a guitarrón, you need to hold it in a specific way. Place the body of the guitarrón on your lap, with the neck pointing upwards. Use your left hand to hold down the strings on the neck, while your right hand is used for strumming or plucking the strings.

2. What are the basic techniques for playing the guitarrón?

There are several techniques you can use to play the guitarrón. The most common technique is strumming, where you use your fingers or a pick to brush across the strings. Another technique is plucking, where you use your fingers to individually pick the strings. You can also use a combination of strumming and plucking to create different sounds and rhythms.

3. How do you tune a guitarrón?

Tuning a guitarrón is important to ensure that it produces the correct notes. The guitarrón is typically tuned to a standard tuning of ADGCEA. To tune it, use a guitar tuner or a piano to match the pitch of each string to the desired note. Adjust the tension of the strings by turning the tuning pegs until the pitch is correct.

4. What are some common chords used in guitarrón playing?

There are several common chords used in guitarrón playing. These include the basic major and minor chords such as C, G, D, A, and E. Additionally, there are also more advanced chords such as seventh chords and barre chords that can be used to add complexity to your playing. Learning these chords will allow you to play a wide variety of songs and styles on the guitarrón.

5. Are there any specific techniques for playing the guitarrón in different music genres?

Yes, there are specific techniques for playing the guitarrón in different music genres. For example, in traditional Mexican music, the guitarrón is often used to provide a rhythmic bass line. In flamenco music, the guitarrón is used to create percussive sounds by tapping the body of the instrument. It’s important to study and practice these genre-specific techniques to master the guitarrón in different musical contexts.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *