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Instrumental Tanpura
Male Tanpura
Female Tanpura

Sound Sample

Just like the Sitar the Tanpura is one of the long neck lutes. It is usually stringed with 4 or 5 metal strings (rarely with 6 strings) and it is a basic note instrument and as such an important component in classical Indian music. They are tuned to the basic note and its fifth and octave. The strings are only plucked. A characteristic feature of the Tanpura is its sound that is very rich in overtones and the special rich sound effect that is produced by the constant playing of the individual strings and which has an intensive effect on the listener. The Tanpura is thus not only an ideal accompaniment for traditional Indian music, but also an ideal companion for musical meditation, overtone singing or modal improvisation.

Like for the other instruments TARANG offers a wide range of northern Indian Tanpuras of different leading instrument makers. All Tanpuras are handmade unique objects and not instruments from industrial mass production. For this reason, all indications of size and design are only clues and not binding assurances. Also for Tanpuras we can fulfill your special wishes in cooperation with an instrument maker. Please contact us if you have special ideas.


The Indian Tun wood is mostly used for building a Tanpura. It is an Indian variety of the well-known teak wood. The instruments receive a shellac varnish using natural pigments. Yellowish to reddisch shades are the rule. These come in different lightness and range from transparent to almost black. Simple Tanpuras usually have decorative borders of celluloid and plain celluloid inlays as well as woodcarvings at the resonance boxes, turned pegs and fine tuners mostly of plastic. De luxe models stand out through their eloborate inlaid works in the cover as well as carved wooden pegs. The fine tuners are usually swan-shaped. All in all there is a better quality of material and workmanship.


By using strings of different thickness, the tuning of the Tanpura can be varied to a limited extent.

The standard tuning of a Tanpura consists of fifth, octaves and basic note. In the following examples other possibilities of traditional tuning of a Tanpura are listed when a Raga, that is accompanied, does not have a fifth. In addition, we have listed some more tuning examples for 5-string and 6-string Tanpuras. The creative scope of musicians in tuning their Tanpura, however, is hardly limited at all. Independent of the traditional Indian guidelines any tuning is possible.

4-stringed Tanpura:
Standard tuning: fifth - octave - octave - basic note
1st alternative: fourth - octave - octave - basic note
2nd alternative: seventh - octave - cotave - basic note
3rd alternative: sixth - octave - octave - basic note

5-stringed Tanpura:
Standard tuning: fifth - octave - octave - octave - basic note
1st alternative: fourth - octave - octave - octave - basic note
2nd alternative: seventh - octave - octave - octave - basic note
3rd alternative: sixth - octave - octave - octave - basic note
4th alternative: fifth - seventh - octave - octave - basic note
5th alternative: fourth - seventh - octave - octave - basic note
6th alternative: fourth - sixth - octave - octave - basic note

6-stringed Tanpura:
Standard tuning: fifth - octave - octave - octave - octave - basic note
1st alternative: fourth - octave - octave - octave - octave - basic note
2nd alternative: seventh - octave - octave - octave - octave - basic note
3rd alternative: sixth- octave - octave - octave - octave - basic note
4th alternative: fifth - seventh - octave - octave - octave - basic note
5th alternative: fourth - seventh - octave - octave - octave - basic note
6th alternative: fourth - sixth - octave - octave - octave - basic note


A Tanpura can be held and played upright resting either on the lap or on the floor, or horizontally on the lap or on the floor in front of the player. The classical playing technique requires to put the thumb of the playing hand to the neck of the Tanpura so that it serves as a support. The fingers should be placed parallel to the middle part of the strings. Then the 1st string is plucked with the middle finger and the 2nd, 3rd and 4th strings with the index finger. The plucking is done by the soft insides of the fingertips so that the plucking is more like a soft stroking of the strings. The string should be set resonating softly without an audible touch. The strings are plucked in a regular rhythm but after the touch of the 4th string there should be a slightly longer pause before the 1st string is played again. This gives the 4th string the opportunity to echo a little longer. The playing rhythm should not sound too mechanical or uniform. It is important to convey the impression of a freely floating, lively vibration.

The Tanpura is in Indian music a fundamental, elementary instrument. It does not come to the fore so much, but connects all the instruments involved by its sound tapestry in an unobtrusive way. Thus it contributes to a unified musical experience.



There are three main categories of Tanpuras, which vary in shape, size, structure, basic tuning and use:

Instrumental Tanpura
The instrumental Tanpuras with a length between 95 and 115 cm are the smallest Tanpuras. They are stringed with 5 thin steel strings and have, compared to the other two Tanpura categories, a flat wooden resonance box and neck. The sound can be described as clear silvery. The characteristic tuning of an instrumental Tanpura is around middle C. Instrumental Tanpuras are used in Indian music for example in Sarod or Sitar concerts.

Male Tanpura
The male Tanpuras with a length of 140 - 150 cm are the longest Tanpuras. Their whole build is generally more voluminous. This allows a low tuning around low C. The characteristic resonant, powerful sound is a very special experience. Male Tanpuras are well suited for accompanying male singers.

Female Tanpura
The build of female Tanpuras corresponds, apart from the size, to that of the male Tanpuras. With a size of around 120 to 130 cm, they are a little smaller than those, that is why their tuning is around G, i.e. in both tuning and timbre between the instrumental and the male Tanpuras. They are equipped with 4 strings and are traditionally used for accompanying female singers.

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Tarang's offer on Indian Musical Instruments

TARANG offers on principle only high-qualtiy musical instruments. This is made possible by close personal contact to the suppliers and a strict selection of the instruments that are included in our range of goods. We do not offer any instruments which reach the west from unknown sources via importers and which are often resold by middlemen without any quality check and setting of the instrument. The demand from the west is relatively high in India. The purchase prices are negotiated to the lowest limit by the western countries, especially for high ordered quantities. This has effects on the required care and circumspection in craftsmanship, on the experience and mentality of the commissioned manufacturer and the use of parts of the instruments that are often of a poor qualtity. Irrespective of the qualification of the skill in craftsmanship, this leads, in some cases, to results that do not deserve the name instrument. Thus it is easily comprehensible that it is essential, when bying an Indian instrument, to know the sources. TARANG only supplies instruments from indisputable sources. All instruments are delivered adjusted and ready to be played.

Of course, we understand that somebody who purchases an instrument is also dependent on accessories and spare parts. Also in this respect we can satisfy the needs of our customers. Should an instrument be defective at any time, we can arrange for appropriate restoration. As a rule we can deliver any instrument offered on our website within 1 - 2 weeks. Our international lists of teachers enable everybody to find information about a teacher in their proximity. You can expect from us: reasonable prices, prompt service and straightforward processing of purchase and delivery.

The financial aspect also has to be mentioned. Despite the high quality we offer, we also do our best to offer you these instruments at very competitive and reasonable prices.


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