Mariachi is a type of musical group, originally from Cocula, Jalisco, Mexico. Usually a mariachi consists of at least three violins, two trumpets, one Mexican guitar, one vihuela (a high-pitched, five-string guitar) and one guitarrón (a small-scaled acoustic bass). They dress in silver studded charro outfits with wide-brimmed hats. The original Mariachi were Mexican street musicians or buskers. Many mariachis are professional entertainers doing paid gigs in the mainstream entertainment industry. Professionals are normally skilled at more than one instrument, and they also sing. They sometimes accompany ranchera singers such as Vicente Fernandez or even pop star Luis Miguel. Although ranchera singers dress in a traje de charro(Charro suit), they are not mariachis.
Although mariachis are hired to play at events such as weddings and other formal occasions, such as a quinceañera (a girl's fifteenth birthday celebration), they are very often used to serenade women because many of the songs in a typical repertoire have as a theme the desire to touch the heart of the opposite sex. Some of the songs are sad; others are about how much that special someone appreciates your company. Trios of mariachis can be found for hire in different places at night (the best known venues are Plaza de los Mariachis in Guadalajara and Plaza Garibaldi in Mexico City) for the purposes of serenading. Mother's days are also another popular occasion for mariachis. Hiring prices can immensely vary and are normally not cheap. Large parties, weddings or special events should not go without the presence of Mariachis, as people will expect them.
Tourists frequently confuse mariachis with all types of buskers seen in Mexico, such as jarochos. Mariachi refers to musicians who dress and play in a style typical of the Mexican state of Jalisco, although the style and music played has spread far beyond the limits of Jalisco and jalisciense music itself. Generally a guitarrón and a vihuela must be included for a group to be considered a mariachi.