Tips & Tricks

How to make an arame for your berimbau

Making an arame is always a chore, definitely if you’re extracting the steel wire from a car tire. A first tip I can give, is to try using bicycle tires, most of them also have the same type of steel wire and they’re easier to cut open. Or you can just buy the proper (music) wire, that’s a lot less hassle and the quality is better. Continue reading to learn which type of wire you need exactly.

Once you have the raw wire ready, preparing the arame itself doesn’t have to be hard. Practice makes perfect and most people (including myself) aren’t really good at making arames because we only need to do it very rarely. There are basically two ways to train yourself: make a whole bunch of arames in a single afternoon so you can really practice your technique, or play lots of berimbau so you have to deal with broken arames more often! And also, instead of asking your teacher for a new string, make it yourself the next time you need one.

List of materials

Before starting the tutorial, let’s go over the things you need. You don’t need a lot of tools, most things you probably already have laying around the house:

  • scissors,
  • scotch tape,
  • a wire cutter,
  • the verga (base of the berimbau) for which you want to make an arame,
  • a small stick (like a baqueta or similar), not required.
  • steel wire,
  • cotton rope, with a diameter of 3mm. You need at least 30cm.

About the steel wire

Either extract wire from a car or bike tire. You best use a worn down tire, those are easier to cut open. Not every brand has the same quality and thickness of steel wire, so you might have to experiment a bit to find one that suits your berimbau best.

You can also buy steel wire on roll. In that case you have to look for spring tempered, stainless steel wire with a thickness of 0.8 – 0.9mm. Use 1mm if you want to go for a lower sound (e.g. “afinação baixa“). This is very similar to music wire, that is used for pianos for example.

About the cotton rope

It doesn’t have to be cotton rope per se, natural rope like jute twine or sisal works as well. I just prefer cotton since it’s durable and easy to handle.

Tutorial

In the video below, I show you how I make arames without a lot of effort. Know that this is the way I do it, it is certainly not the only right way. Everyone of course has his own method. If you make arames a different way, please share your experience in the comments below!

The tutorial is available in both English and Dutch. Please don’t pay too much attention to my terrible English, I always thought it was better until I heard myself talk during editing.

English

Dutch

— Vinho

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