Portuguese Guitarras For Sale (revised April 19, 2015) A venda guitarras portuguesas $895 and up

A few weeks ago, I received a small shipment of Portuguese guitarras. I have sold a few of this shipment and I presently have 2 Lisboa guitarras ($895 and $995) and 4 Coimbra guitarras ($895, $995, $1095) at these prices. I also have a deluxe Cypress model for $1700. Prices include the guitarra, case, string winder, extra set of strings, fingerpicks and my set-up/refinement of frets. Prices do not include California sales tax if applicable. Prices are FOB Irvine, California.

When the guitarras arrive in California I dress the frets and set up the action--see my photo essay on how I set up guitars, press here.


Lisboa style, Alfama 5

Lisboa Style, Alfama 5

Lisboa style, Alfama L7

Coimbra style, Mondego C5

Coimbra style, Mondego C5


Solid Cypress Body guitarra, $1700 plus tax and shipping

You can see/hear the Cypress guitarra in a YouTube video in an unlisted section at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CrEbdaoiQ3M


A Note about Prices advertised on the internet

I should mention that prices advertised on the internet for guitarras located in Portugal do not suggest the complete price (and shipping risk). In addition, to the price for the guitarra, you will need a case ($150 plus freight), a string winder ($35 to $60), fingerpicks ($1 to 2 each), extra strings ($11 to 15 per set), learning materials and you must pay for shipping ($125 to $150), customs clearance charge ($25 to $100), US customs duty (6 to 10%), shipping/damage insurance (.5%) and probably employ an instrument maker in the US to refine the frets and adjust the bridge height and string depth $100+). There are very few instrument repair people who have experience setting-up Portuguese guitars. Most cannot change strings because they do not have a string winder to make the lopp ibn the string. Shipping damage is also a very real problem. Years ago, the first guitarras I imported from Portugal arrived damaged; on the first Lisboa guitar the snail of the scroll head had broken off. On another shipment 2 of 14 guitarras had complete body damage. Packing from Portugal has been a continuing problem. The last 8 guitarra came in fine but the exterior carton was damaged in shipping.

My experience

I have a long experience with Portuguese and Spanish instruments. I have imported Portuguese guitarras for over 30 years and Spanish guitars for 50 years; I have imported a few hundred Portuguese guitarras and over 10,000 guitars from Spain. I play them, I set them up, I have repaired them and I have build a few also.

My experience with Portuguese fado extends back to 1971 when I started to perform with Fado musicans in Montreal. At that time I was doing Ph.D research on Portuguese immigrants while in graduate school (Anthopology) at McGill University. For years I have presented a free lesson on how to play the Lisboa Guitarra; it is still on my website along with several videos.


Lisboa and Coimbra guitarras

There are currently 2 different styles of Portuguese guitarras: the Lisboa and the Coimbra. A 3rd type of Portuguese guitarra from the 19th century, a model from Porto, is now obsolete; it usually had a carved head.

Lisboa head (above)

The Lisboa guitarra (Lisboa is the Portuguese word for Lisbon) has a scroll type head (which is much like a violin head). It has a string length of 440mm or sometimes a 458mm which allows it to be tuned in the traditional fado tuning. The traditional fado tuning is: bb., aa, ee, Bb, Aa, Dd (1st to 12th string). This instrument is the typical guitarra used to accompany fado singing in Lisboa, and for playing Lisboa style variations.

Coimbra Head (above)

 The Coimbra guitarra has a teardrop or shield type head design. It has a string length of 470mm which allows it to be tuned in the Coimbra style which is: aa, gg, dd, Aa, Gg, Cc (1st to 12th string). This tuning is one full step below, that is, two frets lower, than the Lisboa tuning. This tuning is associated with the music and song of the University of Coimbra, located in central Portugal. (My wife, Jeanette, and I attended the University of Coimbra during the summer of 1974.)

The Coimbra style of guitarra is linked to the instrumental music of Carlos Paredes and, his father, Artur Paredes, and to university student serenades. In recent years some Lisboa fado guitarists have been using this longer scale Coimbra instrument to accompany fado; that is, they have been using the Lisboa tuning on their Coimbra guitarra with the 470mm scale. To use the the Lisboa tuning on a 470mm scale guitarra, it is necessary to use lighter tension strings than those usually sold for Coimbra guitarra. In my free internet lesson on my website I give the typical strings gauges for Lisboa and Coimbra guitarras. While there are player who use the Lisboa tunings on Coimbra instrument, it is important to realize that the Lisboa tuning has much higher tension and put more stress on the instrument. It seems that most Lisboa instruments can accept the additional tension but I warn player to carefully watch what the higher tension can do to their instrument (it might damage the soundboard, or make it unconfortable to play because the strings are much tighter).

In addition to the difference in head design and scale length, the Lisboa and Coimbra models differ in the proportions of the soundbo. The length of the Coimbra guitarra soundboard is longer than it is wide, while the width of the Lisboa soundboard is wider than it is long. The ornamentation of custom made Lisboa guitarras is often elaborate while the ornamentation of Coimbra guitarras is usually simpler. The elaborate ornamentation often included use of Mother of Pearl, carved heads, and multi-colored purfling.


Here are descriptions of the models we have in stock as of April 19, 2015.

The Alfama is a Lisboa style guitarra, it is named after an old district in Lisbon which is historically linked with Fado. The Alfama model L5 and L7 has a solid spruce soundboard (face), hard wood fingerboard (African blackwood), laminated African Sapele (a type of mahogany) back and sides, scroll head, wood veneer rosette, glossy finish and a 440mm string length. The Alfama L8 has laminated African Mongoy (Ovankol) back and sides

We do not import or export any instruments with Mother of Pearl inlay because there are customs restriction in many countries (US, Canada,UK, Australia, Common Market, Japan) for related species such as white abalone which looks like some mother of pearl; the 2008 Lacey Act in the US imposes severe penalties for trading in various endangered species; some countries allow importation but require registration of shell products; the present laws are confusing and inconsistently applied.

Occasionally people ask for a guitarra without a case. If they want to pickup the instrument at my shop in California that is okay, but if we are going to ship it we must sell the guitarra with a case to properly protect the instrument. My experience has shown me that it is false economy to buy the guitarra without a case. This is because it is nearly impossible to find a case later that fits these instruments and players who buy without a case typically damage their instrument when they carry it around. I have seen a number of old instruments owned by a grandparent which a grandchild inherits--if it has been in a case it may have survived the journey through time. If it is not stored in a case it is usually physically damaged, cracked, wooden parts have shrunk and fret ends are sharp because they are sticking out beyond the shrunken fingerboard. A case not only protects an instrument from physical damage from impact but also it protects the instrument from rapid loss or gain of humidity which can/will cause cracking.

The other important item needed by any Portuguese guitarra player is a string winder. In order to install strings on the guitarra it is necessary to have a string winder to make a loop at one end of the strings. Portuguese guitarra strings come with a loop on only one end because each instrument has a slightly different string length. The typical installation procedure is to attach the looped end onto the base of the guitarra and then pull the other string end up to the tuning mechanism where the exact length is noted and then to make a loop so the string custom fits the particular guitarra.

There are 3 models of the Alfama, models L5 ($895), L7 ($995) and L8 ($1095). These models differ mainly in ornamentation and the type of tuning machine. These price includes a case, a string winder, finger and thumb picks, an extra set of strings. Shipping and tax is extra.

For beginners I strongly recommend Portuguese Guitar: Fados e and Counter-Melodies, Method to Play and accompany the Fado of Lisbon, Book 1, by Eurico A. Cebolo. This book comes with a CD. Price is $45 plus shipping (plus tax if you are in California).

I should point out here that I personally prepare each guitarra before Jeanette packs it up for shipment. I spend several hours on each guitarra to insure that it is easy to play. You can see the fret work I typically do in my shop by going to Fret Dressing on YouTube at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iZOqW5S1NVM.

In addition to the refining of the frets I focus attention on the height of the bridge and the nut. Also I take apart the threaded rods on the tuning mechanism, file rough places smooth and lubricate the rods. If these matters are not attended to the mechanism will be difficult to use and there is a possibility that the hook which holds the string in the tuning mechanism may cut the string. This attention to detail is what I am known for in the guitar community.


The Mondego model is a Coimbra style guitarra. It is named after the Mondego River which goes through the city of Coimbra. This model features the same woods as the Alfama models but has a teardrop shaped head and 470mm scale so it can be tuned as a Coimbra guitarra which is one full step lower (2 frets) than the Lisboa guitarra.

The Mondego model C5 and C7 has a solid spruce soundboard (face), hard wood fingerboard (African blackwood), laminated African Sapele (a type of mahogany) back and sides, tear drop head design, wood veneer rosette, glossy finish and a 470mm string length. The Mondego L8 has laminated African Mongoy (Ovankol) back and sides.

We do not import or export any instruments with Mother of Pearl inlay because there are customs restriction in many countries (US, Canada,UK, Australia, Common Market, Japan) for related species such as white abalone which looks like some mother of pearl; the 2008 Lacey Act in the US imposes severe penalties for trading in various endangered species; some countries allow importation but require registration of shell products; the present laws are confusing and inconsistently applied.

Occasionally people ask for a guitarra without a case. If they want to pickup the instrument at my shop in California that is okay, but if we are going to ship it we must sell the guitarra with a case to properly protect the instrument. My experience has shown me that it is false economy to buy the guitarra without a case. This is because it is nearly impossible to find a case later that fits these instruments and players who buy without a case typically damage their instrument when they carry it around. I have seen a number of old instruments owned by a grandparent which a grandchild inherits--if it has been in a case it may have survived the journey through time. If it is not stored in a case it is usually physically damaged, cracked, wooden parts have shrunk and fret ends are sharp because they are sticking out beyond the shrunken fingerboard. A case not only protects an instrument from physical damage from impact but also it protects the instrument from rapid loss or gain of humidity which can/will cause cracking.

The other important item needed by any Portuguese guitarra player is a string winder. In order to install strings on the guitarra it is necessary to have a string winder to make a loop at one end of the strings. Portuguese guitarra strings come with a loop on only one end because each instrument has a slightly different string length. The typical installation procedure is to attach the looped end onto the base of the guitarra and then pull the other string end up to the tuning mechanism where the exact length is noted and then to make a loop so the string custom fits the particular guitarra.

There are 3 models of the Mondego, models C5 ($895), C7 ($995) and C8 ($1095). These models differ mainly in ornamentation and the type of tuning machine. These price includes a case, a string winder, finger and thumb picks, an extra set of strings. Shipping and tax is extra.

For beginners I strongly recommend Portuguese Guitar: Fados e and Counter-Melodies, Method to Play and accompany the Fado of Lisbon, Book 1, by Eurico A. Cebolo. This book comes with a CD. Price is $45 plus shipping (plus tax if you are in California). While this book using the Lisboa tuning, it can serve as a good method for learning the Coimbra guitarra. There is a detailed description of the contents of this books at: http://www.fernandezmusic.com/Portuguese_Guitar_Methods.html

I should point out here that I personally prepare each guitarra before Jeanette packs it up for shipment. I spend several hours on each guitarra to insure that it is easy to play. You can see the fret work I typically do in my shop by going to Fret Dressing on YouTube or In addition to the refining of the frets I focus attention on the height of the bridge and the nut. Also I take apart the threaded rods on the tuning mechanism, file rough place smooth and lubricate the rods. If these matters are not attended to the mechanism will not be easy to use and there is a possibility that the hook which holds the string in the tning mechanism may cut the string. This attention to detail is what I am known for in the guitar community.


We have specially made gig bags for Portuguese guitarras. These gig bags have a shoulder strap, and a pouch on the outside. The price is $70 plus shipping (and 8.0% sales tax if delivery is in California). Cureently we have these bags in light green, darker green, red, white and black.


We accept VISA., Mastercard or money orders in payment.

Shipping with insurance and packing is about $80 to $85 for Fedex ground service across the US (5 day). These are just estimates--we will quote a precise freight/packing price per shipment.

Contact me below by e-mail or call 949-856-1537 for further information on Portuguese guitarras for sale.


If you are in the United States or Canada you will find that my prices are very competitve with those sold by a mail order company from Portugal because my price includes the freight to North America and US Customs duty. If you order from Portugal you will be charged customs duty and customs clearance fees after the goods get here. Canadian customers will probably be responsible for GST or HST. If you live in California I must charge 8.0%sales tax, if you live in other states there is no sales tax.


If you come to see me in Irvine, California I will also thrown in an introductory lesson on playing the Portuguese guitarra.

If you wish to e-mail me, click on my address: mailto:ron@fernandezmusic.com

Playing the Portuguese Guitarra Lisbon Style (an Internet lesson)

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Ron with spruce face, solid rosewood "Severa" Model