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Old 02-23-2016, 10:55 PM   #1
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Default Good buy on charango I think...

http://www.ebay.com/itm/281919315455

I think I just got a decent buy on a good charango. I've learned that patience pays off with buying musical instruments. I'm not always patient. I was forced to be this time.

I'd never heard of a charango until recently. A friend went to Ecuador and brought back a tourist grade charango as a gift for me (much appreciated). I can play a ukulele so that means that I can at least start to play a charango (similar tuning).

It has a high action and twisted neck, no saddle, etc. It's playable but not enjoyably so.

I'm learning from my "research" that it's hard to buy a decent charango because they aren't mass produced, there are no "reviews" and it's hard to get much info from sellers. They are rarely available for a hands on look.

The prices they sell for are all over the place but "student" grade ones are around $200 and "professional" ones are $400 and up. There are no guarantees that any of them won't end up with bowed necks. There is no truss rod and they are (usually) made from a single piece of wood. Quality seems to be all over the place as well.

I just bought a professional grade unplayed but "used" charango on ebay for $200 that I think is going to turn out to be a good deal. It's being sold by an individual here in the U.S. (so low shipping and good communications). It was listed for $350 "buy me now" or "make an offer". It had been on ebay for a long time and the listing was about to expire with no offers. I made an offer for $175 and they countered with $200 which I accepted.

The individual (rather than a store) has been on ebay since 2013 and has 37 transactions (100% positive). They posted plenty of pictures and the instrument appears to be everything I'm looking for and as described.

I'm lucky in that not that many people in the U.S. have ever heard of a charango so the seller, at this point, had to realize that he might not be getting any more offers. $200 is still a decent amount for an instrument you've had unplayed in your closet for years.

The wood quality (from the pictures), the fact that it doesn't have a zero fret, does have a saddle, doesn't have useless carvings and other bling but is listed as a "professional" model tells me that it is a decent quality charango and probably originally cost twice what I'm paying.

I was at the point where I had decided to just stay with my cheap tourist grade charango unless I came upon a good charango in person and it's pretty hard to find a good one for $200 or so (that I was willing to pay) unless you are in Bolivia on vacation and can personally search one out.

Now the waiting begins!

Last edited by Seattle; 02-23-2016 at 11:03 PM.
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Old 02-23-2016, 11:52 PM   #2
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Count me as one of the ignorant ones, I never heard of one.

Of interest, pine trees in Peru grow really straight and are often hand planted, so they should have some good material to work with. I don't know if they are a soft or hard pine or how much sap they hold (can create a crack as the sap works itself out of the body), but that looks like a nice instrument.

Heck, getting a hand-crafted instrument from hand-planted trees is about as "hand-made" as it gets. Even if it was a basket case, that cover looks cool and would make a nice conversation piece for the money.

How do they sound, by the way? Like a ukulele or what?
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Old 02-24-2016, 12:43 AM   #3
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Quote:
How do they sound, by the way? Like a ukulele or what?



https://youtu.be/S-vJ_89bz3o
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https://youtu.be/yZa6VblN5R0
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Old 02-24-2016, 01:06 AM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Gull14 View Post
Count me as one of the ignorant ones, I never heard of one.

Of interest, pine trees in Peru grow really straight and are often hand planted, so they should have some good material to work with. I don't know if they are a soft or hard pine or how much sap they hold (can create a crack as the sap works itself out of the body), but that looks like a nice instrument.

Heck, getting a hand-crafted instrument from hand-planted trees is about as "hand-made" as it gets. Even if it was a basket case, that cover looks cool and would make a nice conversation piece for the money.

How do they sound, by the way? Like a ukulele or what?
Many of them in Bolivia and Peru are made of pine. I think it's a hard pine. In any event many good instruments are made of them there.

They can sound like a harp, depending on how it's played. The tuning is GCEAE like a ukulele with an "E" repeated. It is reentrant tuning but not because of the "G" as that is a low G. The "A" as I recall is lower in pitch than the preceding "E".

The 10 strings are in courses and all but the middle E course are tuned in unison. The middle E course is an octave pair. So, it has a unique sound but anything you can play on the ukulele you can play on the charango if you don't use the last "E" string.

In many cases you can just let it ring out but if the middle E is fretting then you either have to fret the same way on that E or just mute it.

It is usually played (without a pick) with strumming of the back of the fingers like a ukulele or finger picked or both. The strings are nylon.
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Old 03-17-2016, 02:27 PM   #5
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Very cool. I was in Peru this past November and picked up one by a local maker. Converted I think I paid about $100 so even if I don't play it much it'll make a nice wall hanging without feeling I paid too much.

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Old 03-17-2016, 05:29 PM   #6
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Nice! They are a very nice sounding instrument I think.
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