Friday, November 18, 2011
Here's Don Mario Hernandez doing "Mi Vacilon."
That instrument he's shredding away on is the tres, originally a Cuban instrument, though his is the Puerto Rican version.
Looks like a guitar. The Cuban tres has six strings, but they are arranged in three pairs (or "courses") where the two strings in each pair are tuned to be complementary to one another. You can play it like a normal guitar but each plucked "note" is actually a chord, made up of two notes. The Puerto Rican variation is the same deal, just with three strings to a course instead of two.
I've wanted a tres cubano for a while, ever since I saw Marc Ribot play his fake tres -- just a regular guitar set up like a tres -- in his fake Cuban band, Los Cubanos Postizos. It seems like they were pretty easy to find a decade ago when Cuban son music hit big, but now they're more scarce. I've encountered a few, but the quality isn't there. Now, seeing him play this beast, I'm lusting after the PR tres.
Anyway, enough of my yapping. Take it away Don Mario!