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The güiro (Spanish pronunciation: [ˈɡwiɾo]) is a Puerto Rican percussion instrument consisting of an open-ended, hollow gourd with parallel notches cut in one side. It is played by rubbing a wooden stick ("pua") along the notches to produce a ratchet-like sound. The güiro is commonly used in Latin-American music, and plays a key role in the typical cumbia rhythm section. The güiro is also known as calabazo, guayo, ralladera, or rascador. In Brazil it is commonly known as reco-reco.



The güiro is believed to have originated with the Taino people. The güiro is a notched, hollowed-out gourd, which was adapted from a pre-Columbian instrument. Others maintain that similar instruments were also used in other parts of Central and South America, and brought to Puerto Rico by the Arawak Indians. The earliest known reference to the güiro is in the writings of Fray Íñigo Abbad y Lasierra in 1788. He described the güiro as one of several instruments that were used to accompany dancers. The other instruments would typically include maracas, tambourine and one or more guitars.


The güiro is made by carving parallel fluting on the surface of the shell of the gourd. It is played by holding the güiro in the left hand with the thumb inserted into the back sound hole to keep the instrument in place. The right hand usually holds the scraper and plays the instrument. The scraper is more properly called a "pua". Playing the güiro usually requires both long and short sounds, which are made by scraping both up and down in long or short strokes. The güiro, like the maracas, is usually played by a singer. The instrument's rasping sound adds counterpoint to folk music but is less often used in salsa bands.

Other meanings

Güiro is also another term for a shekere as well as the ensemble and rhythm used when playing this instrument. In Regla de Ocha, a güiro is a musical performance/ceremony that uses shequeres, hoe blade, and at least one conga to accompany the religious songs of the Orishas.


Cuban güiro

Thai toad shaped güiro

Puerto Rican güiro

Mexican güiro

See also


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