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Unusual Instruments: Strings

Backgrounds and Videos of Unusual and Unique Musical Instruments


An instrument where sound is created by striking, plucking, or bowing cords stretched across the instrument to produce tones.


The hurdy-gurdy is a stringed instrument that produces sound by a crank-turned, rosined wheel rubbing against the strings. The wheel functions much like a violin bow, and single notes played on the instrument sound similar to those of a violin. Melodies are played on a keyboard that presses tangents—small wedges, typically made of wood—against one or more of the strings to change their pitch. Like most other acoustic stringed instruments, it has a sound board to make the vibration of the strings audible.

Most hurdy-gurdies have multiple drone strings, which give a constant pitch accompaniment to the melody, resulting in a sound similar to that of bagpipes.

- from Wikipedia


The crwth (pronounced 'crooth') is an ancient stringed instrument from Wales. 

The name crwth is originally a Welsh word, derived from a Proto-Celtic noun *krotto- ("round object") which refers to a swelling or bulging out, a pregnant appearance or a protuberance, and it is speculated that it came to be used for the instrument because of its bulging shape.

- from Wikipedia


An igil is a two-stringed Tuvan musical instrument, played by bowing the strings. (It is called "ikili" in Western Mongolia.) The neck and lute-shaped sound box are usually made of a solid piece of pine or larch. The top of the sound box may be covered with skin or a thin wooden plate. The strings, and those of the bow, are traditionally made of hair from a horse's tail (strung parallel), but may also be made of nylon. Like the morin khuur of Mongolia, the igil typically features a carved horse's head at the top of the neck above the tuning pegs, and both instruments are known as the horsehead fiddle.


The autoharp is a trademark for a string instrument having a series of chord bars attached to dampers, which, when depressed, mute all of the strings other than those that form the desired chord. Despite its name, the autoharp is not a harp at all, but a chorded zither.

Modern autoharps have 36 or 37 strings, although some examples with as many as 47 strings, and even a rare 48-string model exist. They are strung in either diatonic (one, two, or three key models) or chromatic scales. Standard models have 15 or 21 chord bars, or buttons, available, a selection of major, minor, and dominant seventh chords.

- from Wikipedia