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
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
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
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.