Erik Davies

Based in Bangkok, Thailand Erik plays guitar with a local band and is also focusing on music composition.  He...

Ronroco Scales

In this first lesson we quickly review how to tune a ronroco and then proceed to review how scales are composed on this instrument.

For people trying to work from Spanish language websites the table below may prove to be a useful guide. Rather than using the standard notes refered to in English (A, B, C, etc) most of these sites use the European based system of La, Si, Do, Re. Note that in South America there are slight variations , but most of them are intuitive. So for instance, Sol becomes Sun (for you astromer geeks Sol is the name of our sun) and Si which means yes in Spanish is sometimes refered to as Yes.

















South America


Si (H) Yes







I will try to introduce these types of useful hints in future lessons to help people interested in accessing the vast, but somewhat confusing resources available in Spanish. 



To the uninitiated guitarist, any instrument with double strings can be daunting. You'll likely spend alot of time when you first pick up your charango/ronroco tuning your instrument. This is the first step in learning your instrument. As I mentioned in my first blog, the way both charangos and ronroco's are tuned (using reference notes on a piano keyboard) are as follows:   charango  G32 G32 • C37 C37 • E29 E41 • A34 A34 • E41 E41   ronroco  D27 D27 • G32 G32 • B36 B24 • E29 E29 • B36 B36   The numbers by the note indicate their position on a piano keyboard. For easy reference you can go to a number of virtual piano websites if you dont know the keyboard. One I know is  virtual piano  [1] but there are many others.  [1]

The next step in playing the ronroco is getting to know your fret board. There are a number of ways for doing this. One is to have a diagram of the fretboard with all the notes from the open to the 12 fret. The diagram above shows the ronroco fretboard from open tuning to the 12 fret (after which notes are repeated).Take some time to get to know the patterns that emerge. Like a guitar you'll notice that there is a pattern to where notes appear. You can play with the NTS interface and select certain notes so that you can see where they appear on the fret board. Then pick another.

The second step is to construct scales on the fret board. One can practice a scale by going up a single string, then 2 strings and so on. As tedious as these exercises are, spending a few minutes every day doing this will give you a solid command of the fretboard. This type of exercise is invaluable when composing and or jammig with other players. Because ronrocos and charangos are tuned the way they are, one can use alternative picking (thumb versus index and middle finger) to go up and down scales.

Personal Note: One can easily skip these steps and go straight to learning a song. I think its important to balance both. Learning a song you love will give you the drive required to apply yourself to the instrument. There are, however, limits to how far one can go before a lack of theory and basic knowledge catches up to you. I therefore encourage any starting guitarist or ronroco player to try and strike a balance between songs and theory.