Our Guitars


As well as the requinto, the orchestra uses two contra bass guitars, both made by Cambridge guitar maker Bob Welford. In addition, Peter occasionally plays a bass guitar made by James Baker. Peter purchased in 2006 a new 9 string Terz guitar made by the Essex based luthier Ken Leftwich.

The contra bass guitar typically has a scale length of 700mm, and is tuned EADGBE, one octave below the standard guitar.  It is often given the alternative names, Bass and Double Bass guitar.  It uses standard guitar notation, ie the music is notated as if the top string were E on the standard classical guitar, however what the listener hears is an octave below what would be heard on the standard guitar.

The contra bass should not be confused with the acoustic version of the electric bass which only has four strings and a much longer scale length.

Octave Bass (left), Requinto (right)


When applied to musical instruments, the term requinto is used in both Spanish and Portuguese to mean a smaller, higher-pitched version of another instrument.

The requinto guitar is a six-string nylon guitar with a scale length of 530 to 540mm, this is about 18% smaller than a standard guitar scale (650 to 655mm). Many requintos have cutaways. Requintos made in Mexico typically have a deeper body than a standard guitar (110mm as opposed to 105mm), while requintos made in Spain tend to be of the same depth as the standard classical. In Mexico, the requinto is typically used in a "trio romantico", which includes the use of two other guitars along with the requinto.

There are small, medium, and large bodied requintos. They are usually tuned: A,D,G, c, e, a. (like a guitar fretted at the 5th fret).

Occasionally, one comes across a long-scale requinto--with a scale of 570 to 585mm. Such instruments should be tuned G,C,F,b flat, d, g (like the 3rd fret on a standard guitar) in order not to put too much stress on the soundboard.