String musical instruments include a wide variety of instruments, some originating thousands of years ago. The pitch of string instruments depends not only on the string length but also on its thickness, weight and tension. The vibration of strings against the soundboard produces sound. String instruments come in a variety of shapes and sizes, from the Oud to the Sitar to the Harp.


     Balalaika

The Balalaika is a lute-like folk instrument of northern and central Russia, a descendant of the 16th century dombra. The Balalaika has a triangular body and a long neck with frets. It has a flat back and a thin, slightly arched soundboard.



     Banjo

The banjos referred to here are not the typical Kentucky banjos. These banjos are keyboard dulcimers. The keyboard dulcimer has strings and keys, and is played by depressing keys while plucking or strumming the strings.



     Berimbau

The berimbau is a Brazilian instrument with African roots that was later successfully incorporated into capoeira. The berimbau is a single steel stringed bow with an attached metal resonator to amplify the sound.



     Bouzouki

The Bouzouki is a Greek string instrument. The mid size is called Tsouras and the mini is called Baglama. The Bouzouki is produced in tetrachordo or trichordo, which means 3 or 4 course strings. If you can play a fretted instrument, you can learn to play the Bouzouki.



     Cumbus

The Cumbus was developed in Istanbul in the 1900s. Its development is believed to be inspired by the Oud. The modern cumbus has a Mylar soundboard held in place by a bolted tension ring. It is a sturdy and loud string instrument.



     Dilruba

The Dilruba is a fiddle-like instrument which is played with a bow. The Dilruba is carved from wood, has a goatskin soundboard, has main and sympathetic strings. A bow is drawn across the strings which causes them to resonate, and the bridges are moveable to adjust the tone.



     Dulcimer

There are several varieties of dulcimer: mountain dulcimer, american hammered dulcimer, and persian hammered dulcimer. The hammered dulcimer is played by striking the strings with small hammers, with the dulcimer resting either on the lap or on a table or stand. The mountain dulcimer is played by strumming the strings with the fingers or a pick.



     Ektara

The Ektara is simple and fun to play. One string can be made to give a range of tones by applying pressure at various points along the neck. Gopiyantro, often called ektara, means one string and that is the most popular instrument for a Baul singer. Baul is one of the few widely known and appreciated types of folk music in Bengal. Baul is not only a kind of music, it is basically a Bengali religious sect. Watch this video to see how to play the ektara and dotara, along with tuning tips..



     Esraj

The Esraj is held upright in your lap and played with a bow like a small bass fiddle. You press the strings between the frets while stroking the strings with a bow.



     Gopichand

The gopichand, also, known as gopiyantra or khamak, is a very popular folk instrument of Bengal. The sound of the gopichand is most distinctive. The two legs of the bamboo are squeezed together by the left hand while the right hand plucks the string, producing a peculiar bending of the pitch. The gopichand is typically a rhythmic instrument rather than a melodic instrument.



     Harp

The harp is one of the largest of all string instruments. There are three basic forms of harp: bowed, angle, and frame. Most harps are played with the fingertips, although some harps are played with the fingernails. Most of the harps offered here are intended for playing, although they also make a beautiful home decor item. Both Celtic Irish harps and contemporary harps are available for sale. Some of the larger harps indicate shipping by freight carrier.



     Harp, Lyre Harp

The lyre harp is a stringed musical instrument. The lyre harp is smaller than the traditional harp and is usually held on the lap when played.  However the size is not what distinguishes it as a lyre harp; it is constructed differently than a traditional harp.



     Kanoune

This predecessor of the piano, the Kanoon (also spelled Kanoune) string instrument is mentioned in 10th century Arabic writings. Today it's a popular musical instrument throughout North Africa, the Middle East, Turkey, Persia and even Eastern Europe.



     Kemenche

The Kemenche is a bowed spike fiddle native to the southern shore of the Eastern Black Sea. It has been called the Black Sea Fiddle, the Pontic Lyra or the Karadeziz Kemencesi. It is played with a bow, in the upright position. Rest the kemence on your knee when sitting, or hold out in front when walking and dancing. The strings are pressed straight down onto the fingerboard like a violin. The bow is a simple, historic, design requiring your thumb or finger to tension the synthetic hairs as you play. When playing the kemence, two or all three strings are bowed at the same time. The open string(s) sound as a drone to the melody. The close proximity of the strings allows double stopping, drones, trills and other embellishments.



     Laouta

Throughout history, versions of the laouta instrument have made their mark in various civilizations from Spain to China. Today, the oud is known as ut or ud in Turkey, laouta in Greece, udi in Africa and barbat in Iran.



     Lute

The medieval lute was characterized by its vaulted body and flat soundboard. One of the most notable features of the lute is the pegbox, which is placed almost at a right angle to the neck.



     Oud

Throughout history, versions of the oud instrument have made their mark in various civilizations from Spain to China. Today, the oud is known as ut or ud in Turkey, laouta in Greece, udi in Africa and barbat in Iran. The oud is considered the most important Arab instrument and is called the prince of the instruments.



     Psaltery

An ancestor of the modern European zither is the psaltery, a development of the Turkish qanun that reached Europe in the 11th century. The psaltery is played with a bow or sometimes plucked with the fingers, either resting on the lap or leaning against the chest. The psaltery looks like the hurdy gurdy but differs because the hurdy-gurdy is able to sound one or two notes while it produces a continuous drone.



     Rabab

The term Rabab is found in ninth and tenth century texts,and is the oldest known Arabic word for a bowed instrument Capable of a range of dynamic accents. This instrument is the essential melody instrument of the nomadic Bedouins; customarily played by the sha'ir, or poet-singer, to accompany heroic and love songs. A rabab player rests the instrument vertically on his or her knee and draws the bow across the string in a similar fashion to a cello player.



     Rebab

As part of the generic "lute" family, there are two basic types of rebab: wooden fiddles with pear-shaped or elongated bodies, and spiked fiddles, named for the extension or spike on the bottom of the instrument on which it stands when played. The word rebab is an Arabic term that can be translated as bowed string instrument. Dating back at least to the 8th century, the rebab has been closely associated with Islamic culture and is thought to be the earliest ancestor of the contemporary violin. While its roots are probably in Arabia or Persia, the rebab's influence has reached as far east as Indonesia and west to regions of Europe and Africa. Its diffusion is closely tied to the growth of the Islamic world and the development of extensive trade routes after the 10th century.



     Rebec

This category features Rebecs and Kemences, the Turkish Rebec.



     Santoor

The Indian Santoor is the oldest known string instrument of India. While it had originally been part of the classical music in Persia, the santoor was a highland folk instrument in India. The Indian Santoor is a flat shaped instrument in the form of a trapezoid. Two light wooden hammers are included to play along the metal strings providing an exotic sound.



     Sarangi

The Sarangi has no frets or fingerboard. It has three main strings that lay over the sympathetic strings. The bow is held palm upwards. It is drawn across the main strings, just above the bridge. The fingers of the left hand note the strings. This is done by pressing and sliding the bottom of the fingernail against the side of the string. Players often use talcum powder on their palms to facilitate the gliding of the hand up and down the neck. The gliding of your nails along the strings creates the sound characteristic of Hindustani music. Listen to the sound of the Sarangi.



     Sarod

The Sarod evolved from the Rebab; some refer to it as a bass Rebab. It is a relatively recent instrument, having its origins perhaps no more than 200 years ago. There are 8 played strings, 2 drone strings and 7 sympathetic strings. Floral inlays and a brass toomba add to the visual interest. It is played with a pick made of coconut shell. Listen to the Sarod.



     Saz

The Saz is a chordophone and is a member of the long necked Lute family. Such long necked Lutes have an ancestry that can be traced as far back as the ancient cultures of Babylon and Sumeria. Today the Saz is the most important instrument of the Turkish folk. The Saz may even define the poetic heart of the Turkish people. Its general shape is similar to the Bouzouki and Oud. The traditional method of playing the Saz is to pluck with the fingers of the right hand and note the strings with the fingers, and occasionally the thumb, of the left hand. Today however, most players use a plastic plectrum to strum the strings. Professional players also use electronic pickups to amplify the sound. When playing with the fingers or a plectrum, players can add rhythm, by hitting the soundboard with the right hand.



     Shahi Baaja

The Shahi Baaja is also referred to as the royal instrument. The Shahi Baaja is an electric and slightly modified version of the Indian bulbul tarang, a type of Indian zither with keys which depress several of the strings to change their pitch. The Shahi Baaja has main strings and drone strings.



     Sitar

The Sitar is the most popular instrument of North Indian classical music. It can have up to four main strings, three or four drone strings and thirteen sympathetic, or resonating strings. There are a few versions that are available today. The Sitar is made of seasoned gourd and wood.



     Spike Fiddle

The spike fiddle is considered a rebab, which is part of the lute family, and typically has 2 or 3 strings. The word rebab is an Arabic term translated as bowed string instrument. It is closely associated with Islamic culture, and dates back to at least the 8th century. Its roots are probably in Arabia or Persia, and its influence has reached from Indonesia to Europe and Africa (it is thought to be the earliest ancestor of the violin). There are two basic types of rebab: wooden fiddles with pear-shaped bodies, and spiked fiddles, named for the spike on the bottom of the instrument on which it stands while being played. Spiked rebabs typically have no frets, but instead, the fingers of your left hand become movable bridges.



     Sur Bahar

The Sur Bahar is also called the bass sitar. It is a large instrument (21 inches x 60 inches) with double toombas. This instrument is tuned by as much as a full octave lower than a Sitar. The playing of this instrument and the Sitar are similar enough that one should be able to play both comfortably. The Sur Bahar has much longer sustainable tones, and is suited well to playing slow alaps. The Sur Bahar does lend itself to complex melodies, since the skilled player can create a glissando of up to one octave on a single fret.



     Tambura

Classified as chordophones, Tamburas are in the lute family. Tambura is the southern Indian pronunciation while Tanpura is the name commonly used in northern India. Tamburas (or tanpuras) are the classical drone lute of Indian music. While they look somewhat like a single toomba sitar, they differ in significant ways. Compared to the sitar, tamburas have fewer strings, no sympathetic strings, no frets, and a moveable bridge used to adjust the pitch. These instruments look as exotic as they sound.



     Tuners for String Instruments

Chromatic tuners are great for tuning string instruments. There are electronic tuners and a pickup, which clips directly to the instrument, eliminating background noise interference.



     Ukulele, World Varieties

The ukulele (also spelled ukelele and nicknamed uke) is a small guitar-like instrument which brings to mind the island of Hawaii. Ukuleles commonly come in four sizes: soprano, concert, tenor, and baritone. The ukulele size and tunings have been brought to world string instruments with the new uke instruments in this category: Baroq-ulele, with the body of a Baroque guitar; Balalaika Ukulele; Lute-kulele; and coming soon, the Sitar-kulele.



     Veena

Veena, also known as Vina, was a type of stick zither with the fingerboard stretched between two gourds, but it underwent structural changed in teh 16th century. The modern Veena instrument is a kind of lute, with a hollow neck attached to a large hollow body and a soundboard made of wood. It has a softer, sweeter tone than the sitar and is the principal instrument of classical southern Indian music. The Saraswati Veena, Rudra Veena and Vitchitra Veena are featured.