Musician Builds World's Largest Acoustic Instrument

PHOTO: Luis Colon Ortiz, built a 30 foot long version of Puerto Ricos iconic instrument, the Cuatro. It could be the worlds largest acoustic instrument.

A musician from Puerto Rico says that he has built the world's largest acoustic instrument, a 30 foot long, Puerto Rican cuatro that weighs 1.4 tons.

The cuatro is a guitar-like instrument with ten strings, not four, as its name suggests. It sort of sounds like a mandolin and is used regularly by folk music groups on the Caribbean island.

Luis Colon Ortiz, the musician and artist who built the giant cuatro, says that he was not looking for any publicity or "Guinness world record."

"I simply did this for personal satisfaction, and then it caused a sensation among people," Colon told a journalist from the EFE news agency, who visited his cuatro in the town of Barranquitas.

Up to 15 people can fit into Colon's giant cuatro. Its sound chamber contains a small exhibit on the history of Puerto Rican folk music, with newspaper clippings, memorabilia and videos of famous groups. Colon's giant cuatro can be hauled around on a trailer as well, so it's like a portable exhibit on the history of Puerto Rican music.

Colon, 40, has been making musical instruments for 14 years. He said that his super-sized cuatro was not a mere "statue," explaining that you can actually tune the instrument and play its chords with a giant guitar pick.

Historians believe that the cuatro is a distant relative of the Oud, an Arab instrument that was brought to the Americas by Spanish conquistadors. Puerto Rican peasants adapted the Oud by making its back flat and also by making it smaller.

The cuatro is now an icon of Puerto Rican music. It is most popular in the inner areas of the island where it was first developed.

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