Yes dear friends, the little fore-runner and father of the ukulele, the machete, also known as the braguinha, is still being built and played in Madeira. LSH (Long-Suffering-Husband) and I have just returned from Funchal, the capital... where the highlight of the trip for me was a sudden and unexpected visit to the workshop of the luthier Carlos Jorge Pereira Rodrigues. He who builds the machete...
And here is one of Carlos's happy customers, playing his Carlos Jorge Pereira Rodrigues braguinha - or machete, the two are the same as I understand it.
Carlos tells me "Both the Braguinha and the Machete have the same tuning (Ré Si Sol Ré), but on the 19th century they sometimes used Mi Si Sol Ré (french guitar's 4 first strings) on the Machete. The difference between the both instruments is that the Machete was an erudit instrument before the end of the 19th century, then at the end of the 19th century people started "popularizing" the Machete (Machete de Braga), so they started calling it Braguinha."
The machete is tuned DGBD, low to high. I haven't tried to play a uke tuned that way; I understand the fingerings can be tricky.
I have more to share - and I will! But I like to keep my posts short and snappy so for now, I recommend you get over to Al Wood's uke blog, Uke Hunt, where he did a Madeiran Music Special about three years ago -I won't reinvent the wheel, Al is a superb blogger, one of the very best. So get over there and have a look at all the information he shares on the machete!
Al Wood's blog Uke Hunt - Madeiran Music Special