String Instruments

The Unique Tuning System of the Tanbur


The Tanbur is an ancient musical instrument that has been used in various cultures across the Middle East, Central Asia, and North Africa. A tanbur is a long-necked lute that has a unique tuning system, which is quite different from other lutes. This blog post will explore the unique tuning system of the Tanbur and shed light on the instrument’s rich history.

The History of the Tanbur:

The Tanbur has a long history, dating back to the Sumerian civilization in Mesopotamia, around 2000 BCE. It is believed that the Tanbur was also played during the era of ancient Persia and Greece, and it has remained a part of traditional music in Iran, Azerbaijan, Turkey, and other neighboring countries.

The Unique Tuning System of the Tanbur:

The Tanbur has a distinctive tuning system that sets it apart from other lutes. The instrument usually has three strings, which are made of silk or gut, and the tuning is based on a system of intervals. While Western lutes are tuned using equal temperament, where each interval is divided into 12 equal parts, the Tanbur’s intervals are not equally divided. The Tanbur’s intervals are based on a natural harmonic series, making it difficult to play the instrument in different keys.

Boma Music and Tanbur:

Boma Music has always been fascinated by the Tanbur’s unique tuning system, which produces a mesmerizing sound that captures the essence of traditional Middle Eastern music. Many renowned musicians use the Tanbur in their performances, including Hossein Alizadeh, Erdal Erzincan, and Dariush Talai. Boma Music offers a wide selection of Tanburs, including authentic handmade instruments made by skilled craftsmen.


The Tanbur is an ancient instrument that has survived through the centuries, preserving the rich musical heritage of the Middle East and Central Asia. Its unique tuning system has intrigued musicians and listeners alike, producing a sound that is both exotic and captivating. If you’re interested in exploring the world of traditional Middle Eastern music, the Tanbur is definitely an instrument to consider. Boma Music offers a variety of Tanburs to suit different budgets and skill levels, so you can experience the beauty of this ancient instrument for yourself.

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