How to Play the Charango

By Todd C. Ruzicka ; Updated September 15, 2017

Things Needed

  • Charango
  • Plectrum (pick)

The charango, a South American stringed instrument similar to a ukulele, is an instrument that can produce either a harp-like or rhythmic sound. Originally, the body of the charango was made from the shell of an armadillo. Today, the charango is crafted from wood and, despite its small size, this instrument creates a big sound. Because of its tuning, you'll need to know a few things about the charango before you can play it.

The charango has ten strings set in pairs. Starting with the set of strings closest to the top of the instrument, the strings are tuned to G, C, E, A and E. Tune the strings.

Place your hand on the neck of the charango. Ignore the high "E" string for the moment. You will see that you have the tuning of a ukulele. Use your fingers to form chords that you would normally play on a ukulele.

Form chords that you would normally use on the highest four strings of a guitar. These chords will work on the second, third, fourth and fifth strings of the charango.

Pluck the strings with the fingers of one hand, while forming chords with the other. This should create a gentle, harp-like quality.

Strum the strings, using a plectrum or pick. This will create a strong, loud, rhythmic sound. Use this technique when accompanying singers or other instruments.

About the Author

Todd C. Ruzicka is a writer, musician and educator. He has an English B.A. degree and a minor in mass communications from Minnesota State University Moorhead. Ruzicka's work has been published in Dagobert's Revenge magazine, online music periodicals and various college newspapers.