Sunday, December 8, 2019

Five Different Plucked Stringed Instruments

The Ruan (East Asia)

  • From China.
  • Also known as a moon guitar.
  • Has a round wood topped body with four strings and 24 frets.
  • Players use a plectrum.
  • Dates back to the Qin Dynasty (200 B.C.).
  • Used in modern Chines orchestra, tenor or bass.
  • Adapts well to Western folk music.
  • Tuned DADA / GDGD or GDAE / CGDA.

The Domra (Eastern Europe)

  • The three string domra originated in Russian in 1896 and is tuned EAD.
  • The Ukrainian version has four strings, dates to around 1920, and is tuned GDAE.
  • Played with a plectrum.
  • Fills a violin-like role in Russian folk ensembles where it is used to play lead melody lines.
  • The top is almost a circle and has a floating bridge.
  • It has a rounded, bowl-like back.

The Cümbüş (Middle East)

  • Pronounced "joom-bush".
  • Its name means "funny" or "revelry" because wherever it may appear it spreads fun.
  • Invented in 1930 by Zeynd Abidin in Istanbul, Turkey and would later spread to Greece and Macedonia.
  • Has six strings double-course strings, a round metallic top, and a skin or synthetic head.
  • The neck is usually fretless and attaches to the rim by a hinge and screw which allows the neck angle to be changed.
  • Is a cross between an Arabic oud and an American banjo, representing East and West.
  • Never took off in Turkish classical music, but was adapted by folk musicians where its sound cuts through when played alongside instruments like trumpet or clarinet.
  • Played with a type of plectrum called a "mizrap".
  • Usually played in first position; melodies only (no chords).

The Tiple Doliente (Latin America)

  • Tiple is pronounced "tee-play".
  • From Puerto Rico.
  • Its name means soprano.
  • The tiple doliente has 5 single course steel strings tuned in all 4ths, EADGC.
  • The scale is about 350 to 365mm.
  • Players use a pick to pluck single-note melodies.
  • The tiple is one of three Orquesta Jibara Antigua instruments, along with the cuatro and the bordonna.
  • It dates to late 1800's, early 1900's Puerto Rico when it was popular due to its small size and for being inexpensive and easy to build however someone wanted to do it.

The Languedoc Guitar (North America)

  • Electric guitar with a 25.5" scale like a Fender Stratocaster but with a hollow body and dual humbuckers like a Gibson Les Paul.
  • Invented by luthier and sound engineer Paul Languedoc in Burlington, VT, circa 1987.
  • The scale length gives the guitar a Fender-like bite while the hollow body lends it a woody, natural tone with lots of sustain.
  • The hand carved arched top body is completely hollow.
  • The types of tone woods used may include spruce, maple, koa, and padauk.
  • The 24-fret neck is made of laminated curly maple and are set and glued to the body with a carved heel-joint.
  • The headstock is designed to look like the shape of the state of Vermont.


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