Commonly referred to as the cello guitar, the Brahms guitar was invented in 1994 by classical guitarist Paul Galbraith in collaboration with the luthier David Rubio. The instrument was originally conceived in order to perform Johannes Brahms’ Theme and Variations Opus 21a.

The instrument is an eight string guitar, adding both a high and a low string to the conventional six string guitar. The tuning continues in fourths and the frets are splayed to allow for the different string lengths.

Galbraith’s method is to play the Brahms guitar in the cello position adding greater freedom to both hands and incorporating a resonating box.

Other practitioners include Everton Gloeden and Luiz Mantovani of the Brazilian Guitar. 

2 Responses to Instrument

  1. kasiland says:

    Hello Redmond,

    I have been a fan of Paul Galbraith’s music for years, and as a result I am now a fan of yours as well:-)

    I’ve become fascinated by the Brahms guitar, and think that the instrument is the result of true genius set to solve a problem, ultimately giving birth to a glorious solution!

    As I’ve pondered the virtues of this wonderful instrument, I’ve become increasingly perplexed that it has not caught on and gained a larger following. Then it occurred to me, maybe interest would increase if there were published resources for the Brahms. I’m inclined to think that many more players would become interested in the instrument and ultimately make the transition if there were resources available, such as:

    1. A book detailing the virtues and benefits of the Brahms guitar (your video wet my appetite, but no meal has been made available, yet!);

    2. A book or a series of books offering instruction on how to play a Brahms guitar in both the traditional and the cello positions; and

    3. Published arrangements specifically for the Brahms guitar.

    4. A DVD or two (or three…) with demonstrations of technique, of adapting current repertoire to the Brahms with an emphasis on how some things become easier and better, on overcoming obstacles, and, of course, performances of great works, e.g. those of John Dowland, etc.

    What do you think? If such ideas have not already been considered, then now may be the perfect time. I have a hunch that any of the big music publishers would jump at the chance to be the first to publish such Brahms material for a general audience. Once interest increases, demand will follow, and maybe folks like the CEOs at Cordoba will finally see the light and build an affordable Brahms for folks like me:-)


    • Hi Sean , thanks for your support and enthusiasm! I am also surprised more people don’t take it on. In terms of resources I have always tried to help out people who get in touch , but they have been few and far between and I don’t think it would warrant actually publishing something . It’s a chicken and egg situation , maybe if there was a book then people would be quicker to take it up !

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