The güiro is a percussion instrument consisting of an open-ended, hollow gourd with parallel notches cut in one side. It is played by rubbing a wooden stick 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. 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.

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 güiro is made by carving the shell of the gourd and carving parallel fluting on its surface. 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.

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 known as Calabazo, Guayo, Ralladera, Rascador, and is considered a percussion instrument.


Reco-reco is the brazilian güiro, used in samba baterias and other brazilian music styles. It is about 25-30 cm long, opened metal tube with 2-3 spirals bent along it. Played with a metal stick pulled over the spirals.

Works that use the instrument


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