Traditional croaking frog guiro

What is a guiro?

A guiro is a type of percussion musical instrument, its history is unknown but is said to relate back to originate in either Africa or South America. The Aztecs created something that is very similar to a güiro, it was known as an omitzicahuastli, whilst this is a bit of a mouthful to pronounce it was also played in the same manner. 

By definition it is a musical instrument with a serrated surface which gives a rasping sound when scraped with a stick, originally made from a hollowed gourd and used in Latin American music, its Spanish pronunciation is ‘ɡwiɾo’.

Other names for the Guiro

The percussive instrument goes by many other names such as Güira, rascador, güícharo, candungo, carracho, rayo

What are they usually made from?

Whilst the body of the guiros are traditionally made from a dried gourd, more modern ones can be made from any material such as wood, metal, plastic, bamboo and even fibreglass. They also come in many shapes and sizes such as a standard block, frog guiros are common, and we have crocodile ones.

When was it invented?

The instrument was discovered as early as 1788

How is it played? 

There are many techniques that can be used to play, but the guiro is usually played by scraping along the notches of the instrument. The sound effect varies from instrument to instrument depending on the materials used, the depth of the notches and spacing between. 

Top 7 Most Popular Guiros

1. Crocodile

crocodile guiro

This is one mean snappy crocodile, stunningly carved, and works well as an ornament! Whilst the one in the photo is natural wood, it does also come in green and is just as snappy! 

2. Croaking Frog

croaking frog guiro 

A boxed croaking frog guiro that is made from high-quality acacia wood, that has been hand carved in northern Thailand. This is a more traditional guiro, and is an extremely popular option. The frogs mouth opening allows for more resonance, and unique sound when struck with the stick but also it's open mouth means that you have somewhere secure to keep your stick when not in use. No music studio is complete without a frog guiro, and his one doesn't require water lilies!

3. Cricket

 cricket guiro

The small cricket wooden guiro block has been hand-painted, and is a perfect insect for children to play! It's a good practice beginner instrument before moving on to the real thing, and as it is so compact it can be used on the go, for a pro! 

4. Bamboo Rasp

 bamboo rasp

This beautiful long bamboo rasp is approximately 35 cm long. The guiro features a simplistic hand-painted dot design on both ends and has deep ridges that allow for a fantastic sound. The stick and the rasp are always together, and can be hung up to save some space. Suitable for the professional musician, or for anyone who has a passion for music. 

5. Gourd Shaker

 gourd guiro shaker

It's more like the traditional type of guiro but it works as a multipurpose instrument being also a shaker with a rainstick type of sound. It has a woven strap by the handle and has been stunningly hand painted in Peru. This shaker guiro is made from natural produce, and the gourd is commonly grown for it's diverse uses. If you want more bang for your buck, then this 2 in one, offers a lot of options in the studio, and is an all-round winner!

6. Tone Block

tone block guiro by stagg

These guiros are most commonly found in school KS3 music classes, in fact this is the first one that I ever played and it was in school. They are perfectly suited for smaller hands, and the medium sized instrument is best suited for a beginner. Reviewers said that the instrument had a pleasing sound that was groovy and delivered a great tone.

7. Kids Guiro

kids toy guiro 

Showcasing the guiro designed for kids, suitable for ages 3 years plus. The rainbow multicoloured stripes will make young children want to play with it and when they do, they will be learning to play music without even realising. Educational toys are fantastic for children and they also last the longest because they take longer for kids to grow out of offering years of play time. It has been carefully crafted from wood and is smooth to the touch. It's lightweight, and comes with a beater.

Up next: What is a Shaker?




This is clearly indigenous. I understand we do have influence from African in our music and I am very proud of my african roots I have in my DNA but their are many variations to instruments in the Americas that simulate animal sound the Aztecs for example have many many whistles that simulate animals. And Iv never heard of or seen an African instrument similar to this. I say this because our Taino had culture. Iv had many discussions with African Americans that say everything about our culture is from theirs and how we have no original culture. We need to start holding pride to things that are Taino

ryan bomzer

@Cindy Herrmann – The exact history of the güiro is unknown, according to speculations the instrument could have originated in south america or africa but the earliest recorded reference to the instrument was in 1788, by a monk and by a Historian in Puerto Rico. It is likely that an American musician would have seen one in the 1970s. I look forward to reading your article, please do post a backlink to this page :)

Cindy Herrmann

When did people start making the frog shape? Were they around in the 1970s? I’m writing a story, and want to know if an American musician could have seen one in the 1970s.


wow I want it

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