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Mariachi Guitar: The Soul of Mexican Folk Music



Mariachi Guitar

Mariachi music is an important part of the cultural heritage of Mexico, and the guitar is an essential instrument in the genre. The distinctive sound of the mariachi guitar is instantly recognizable, and it has played an important role in shaping the sound of Mexican music. In this article, we will explore the history of the mariachi guitar, the different types of guitars used in mariachi music, and the techniques used to play this beautiful instrument.

History of the Mariachi Guitar

The roots of mariachi music can be traced back to the indigenous people of Mexico, who played various types of stringed instruments. With the arrival of the Spanish, European musical influences were introduced, and the guitar quickly became a popular instrument in Mexico. By the late 19th century, mariachi bands began to emerge, and the guitar became a central part of the genre. Over time, different styles of mariachi music developed, each with its own unique sound and instrumentation.

Types of Guitars Used in Mariachi Music

The type of guitar used in mariachi music is typically a variation of the traditional acoustic guitar. One of the most common types is the vihuela, which is a small, high-pitched guitar with five strings. The vihuela is often used to provide rhythm in mariachi music, playing the role of the snare drum in other types of music.

Another important guitar in mariachi music is the guitarrón, which is a large, deep-bodied guitar that provides the bass rhythm in the music. The guitarrón has six strings and is often played by the lead vocalist of the band.

The classical guitar is also used in some styles of mariachi music, particularly in more traditional forms of the genre. The classical guitar is often used to play melodies and solos, adding a beautiful and complex sound to the music.

Techniques Used to Play the Mariachi Guitar

Playing the mariachi guitar requires a high level of skill and technique. One of the most important techniques used in mariachi guitar playing is the use of arpeggios. Arpeggios involve playing each note of a chord separately, creating a flowing and melodic sound. Other important techniques used in mariachi guitar playing include tremolo picking, which involves rapidly alternating between two or more notes, and rasgueado, which is a strumming technique that involves flicking the fingers against the strings.

Mariachi guitarists also use a number of different tuning systems, depending on the style of music they are playing. One of the most common tunings is the G tuning, which involves tuning the guitar to the notes G-D-G-B-D. Other common tunings include the D tuning and the A tuning.


The mariachi guitar is an essential part of Mexican music, providing a beautiful and distinctive sound that is instantly recognizable. From the small, high-pitched vihuela to the deep, bassy guitarrón, each type of guitar in mariachi music plays a vital role in creating the unique sound of the genre. With its complex techniques and rich history, the mariachi guitar is truly the soul of Mexican folk music.

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