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The instrument retained its original name — Pau Elétrico or Cavaquinho Elétrico — until the mid 1970s. While pau elétrico models using the original stick design continued to find frequent use in performances until the 80s and 90s, other models with more guitar oriented designs had appeared by the early 1950's [1]. Through the 50s and 60s, it was used exclusively to play an instrumental  arragements based on Frevo music during carnival in Salvador, usually on a moving van or truck known as Trio Elétrico [2] that carried the musicians and the amplification through the streets. The first studio recording of a pau eletrico, by the band Trio Tapajós, dates from 1969.

From the mid 1960s, Osmar Macêdo's youngest son Armando (*1953), familiar with the instrument since his early childhood and then aged around 10, begins to appear as a guitrarra baiana soloist in during Bahian Carnival. Before long, Armandinho Macêdo becomes the undisputed master of his fathers creation, widely expanding it's stylistic horizons by introducing it to Rock and Jazz elements [3]. In the mid 1970's, Armandinhos band A Cor do Som establishes it as a Rock instrument on a national and international level. In 1977, Armandinho began to use the term Guitarra Baiana to refer to it in recordings, which stuck until today [4].

Until the mid 1970s, most guitarra-baianas, including those of other bands, were built by 'Dodô' Nascimento. Following his death in 1978, the fabrication of the instrument dispersed. Numerous builders, such as Vitorio Quitanilha from Del Vecchio Guitars, Luizinho Dinamite or Jader introduced variations of the original corpus design. In 1981, Armandinho himself, inspired by the instrument of electric violinist Jean-Luc Ponty, added a 5th string (a low C) to the Guitarra Baiana [5], and in 1985 Luizinho Dinamite added the whammy bar. The first semi acoustic 10-string guitarra baiana was introduced by Jorge  Itacaranha in 1996.

Today, the models used by Armandinho Macêdo are the last to maintain the original measures (34,8 cms between bridge and nut of and a height of about 3,5 cm). Recent models by a new genration of luthiers like Elifas Santana, M. Laghus or Jean Paul Charles diverge from that design. Those produced by Elifas Santana (right) in collaboration with Osmars' son Aroldo Macêdo for example use a measure that is roughly 4 cms longer and have a more voluminous body.

The Guitarra Baiana played an important part in the development of modern Brazilian popular music, shaping its vocabulary by directly projecting elements of traditional music into contemporary Pop, while beeing widely acknowledged as an authentic part of both. The rise of Axé Music -for better or worse- is unthinkable without it.


The illustration in the top paragraph shows a photograph of Osmar Macêdo playing a guitar shaped pau elétrico in the early 1950s and a similar or identical model. Both items are from the personal collection of Aroldo Macêdo and were displayed in the exhibition "Corredor da História", Salvador, 2009.

The images of the various pau elétrico/guitarra baiana models are from FUNKE & CASTRO JR. (2008). Legends to the images suggest that pau elétrico/guitarra baiana models with a Telecaster oriented shape appeared in the 1950s.

For the Trio Eletrico tradition of Bahian carnival and its origins, see Early 1950s, the first Trio Eletrico

Check out this video from the late 1970s for an example of trio eletrico style with progessive rock elements.

 "...one day I said to Moraes [Moreira] and to my brothers: "This guitar is Bahian". And from 1977, we began to write 'Guitarra Baiana' instead of 'Cavaquinho Elétrico'  on trio eletrico record sleeves..."
(Eu dei um nome para a guitarra que se chamava de pau elétrico, cavaquinho elétrico. Um dia falei para Moraes e para meus irmãos: “essa guitarra é baiana” . E a gente escrevia no disco do trio elétrico 'cavaquinho elétrico', passamos a escrever a partir de 1977, 'guitarra baiana'.)

Armandino MACÊDO (2006)
Interview with 'Micaretando' (in Portuguese)
In: Gláucia Prates Santana & Mônica Reis Pinto: Armandinho e Banda A Cor do Som

This idea wasn't new to the mandolin world. The first electric instrument of that sort (with 5 single strings tuned CGDAE) was developed by Paul Bigsby in 1952. An acoustic mando-viola featuring 5 double strings (Eb-Bb-F-C-Eb) was built by Lloyd Allayre Loar in 1921.