Useful tips and information
Cuica - shopping guide
Cuicas come in different sizes from 6'' to 10''. The standard size is the 9'' cuica. The larger the skin, the louder the instrument. Not only the size but also the skin´s thickness influences the sound. The 6'' cuica is built very simple and is extremely light-weighted. For playing in the bateria it is definitively not loud enough. If you want to get to know the cuica as an instrument or you´re just looking for a cheap and handy travel-instrument, this size is just right.
Inox or steel sheet?
Some manufacturers produce cuicas from expensive inox (stainless steel) with brass hardware. Those instruments are very pretty and are definitively for a lifetime. Cuicas made out of steel sheet are a lot cheaper. They are galvanized (Artcelsior) or coated (Contemporânea). Cuicas have become quite expensive lately, so this material is an attractive and a more favourable alternative. The material of the body does not really have any influence on the sound of the cuica. Here the choice of the skin, the gambito (bamboo cuica stick) and last but not least of course your playing technique is much more important than any material choice.
Goat skin head or synthetic head?
Natural skins sound fantastic but can cause difficulties. The thickness of the skin is an important factor and influences the sound. A thicker skin is louder than a thin one but it doesn´t react so easy. A thin skin is great for playing melodies, but the sound is less loud. The little bamboo stick (gambito) is knotted into the skin and is exchangable when broken. Synthetic skins are quite practical. The gambito can be screwed into a thread which is attached to the skin, so it´s really easy to replace. The volume is pretty similar to a thick goat skin head. Still, a systhetic head can never replace a goat skin head.
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