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Coimbra

The Coimbra is a Mandola-type instrument with a teardrop body, the main difference being that it has twelve strings—grouped in pairs giving 6 courses—and a unique system of tuning pegs 'sprouting' from the shield-type head, almost like daffodils in a vase! It is also known as the Portugese guitarra.

Tuning, as in all folk type instruments is of the player' own choice. It can get very complicated, but the brightness of sound makes it ideal as a drone instrument. Mine is tuned in open D.

Zenobia March 9, 2008


Coimbra is a city and region of Portugal and was the third city after Lisbon and Oporto to start Instrument manufacture although not until the early 20th Century. Attributed to the popularity of the Portuguese Guitar amongst the students of Coimbra University, the industry flourished. The Instrument came to be known by one of its two styles - Lisboa or Coimbra and is a derivation of the Cittern rather than the Mandola.

Apparently, the difference is in the Scale and shape. The Lisboa is slghtly shorter, slightly narrower neck and a larger waist and a scroll at the tuning peg head. The Coimbra is slightly longer and tuned normally a tone lower and has a teardrop shape. Tunings are not rigidly fixed and the playing style is picking with finger or picks. The last three of the Courses are normally octave tuned while the other three are unison tuned.

banjolin March 10, 2008