10 Guitarlike Instruments You Should Try Playing

24 minutes read

Think you’ve seen all there is in the realm of stringed instruments because you play the guitar? There’s a whole world of guitarlike instruments out there, each with its own unique sound and cultural background. From the lively ukulele of Hawaii to the soulful oud of the Middle East, we’re on a mission to broaden your musical horizons. This guide is not just for seasoned musicians but for anyone curious about the diverse array of strings beyond the guitar. Dive in and discover the rich tapestry of guitarlike instruments that are waiting to be explored.

Difference between guitarlike instruments and guitar family instruments

As your reliable guitar aficionado, I’ve been lucky enough to explore the diverse universe of stringed instruments. From strumming the exotic Balinese sitar to plucking the Appalachian dulcimer, I’ve seen, heard, and played it all. Let’s dive into the fascinating differences between guitar family instruments and their guitarlike counterparts. You never know, your next musical obsession might be waiting!

Guitarlike Instruments: More Than Meets the Eye

Guitarlike instruments are a fascinating group that resemble our beloved six-stringed companion but with their unique twists. These instruments belong to the lute family – an extensive array of plucked string instruments. According to Gunner Lawson, one of the authors of the Instrument Guys, plucked string instruments are instruments that produce sound when the strings are plucked. Despite their similar DNA to the guitar, they boast distinctive features like shape, size, and string count that contribute to their one-of-a-kind sounds and playing techniques.

Take, for instance, the ukulele. This petite four-stringed instrument has captured the hearts of beach enthusiasts and indie musicians. Then we have the banjo, whose unmistakable twang is the heartbeat of Bluegrass music. And the mandolin, with its eight strings tuned in pairs, infuses sweet, high-pitched melodies into folk and classical tunes.

In the vast world of guitarlike instruments, I’ve come across some truly unique specimens. The sitar, a cornerstone of Indian classical music, boasts up to 21 strings and a long, hollow neck. The oud, a pear-shaped string instrument prevalent in Middle Eastern music, comes with 11 or 13 strings. While they deviate significantly from the traditional guitar, each of these instruments offers an unparalleled sound and playing experience.

Exploring the Guitar Family Tree

On the other side of the spectrum, we have the guitar family instruments. These are closer to the guitar as we traditionally know it. They feature a flat wooden soundboard, a curved back, a fretted neck, and six strings. The majority of strings are tuned in fourths, except for the second and third strings, which are tuned to a major third. This unique setup is what gives guitar family instruments their distinctive, versatile sound.

Within this family, you’ll find a wealth of variations. The acoustic guitar, with its hollow body, is the perfect companion for a campfire sing-along or a folksy open mic night. Then there’s the classical guitar, whose nylon strings produce a soft, mellow sound, making it the ideal instrument for playing Bach or Segovia.

For those who crave more power and intensity, the electric guitar is your weapon of choice. Its solid body and magnetic pickups allow you to rock out at a concert or serenade at a blues jam. Let’s not forget the bass guitar. This four-stringed maestro is the rhythmic foundation of any rock band or jazz ensemble.

The history and evolution of guitarlike instruments

Are your fingers itching to strum your six-string, or are you simply curious about its roots? Whatever your chord, let’s go on an intriguing time-trip, exploring the origins and transformation of guitarlike instruments.

The Oud and the Lute: The Progenitors

“The history of the guitar generally goes back to two instruments, the oud and the lute” (Musicians Institue, 2018).

Picture this: the year is 700 AD, and we’re right in the Middle East’s vibrant heart. The music of the oud, a pear-shaped, fretless instrument, reverberates through the bustling bazaars. With 11 or 13 strings, this Arab marvel is played with a plectrum, producing a unique, enthralling sound.

Zip ahead a few centuries, and we’re in Europe, where the lute is the star of the show. With its curved back, fretted neck, and 6 to 30 strings, the lute commands attention, whether plucked by fingers or a plectrum.

The Moorish Influence: The Guitarra Latina

Around the 8th century, the oud and the lute made their way to Spain, courtesy of the Moors. These instruments played pivotal roles in the birth of the guitarra latina, an instrument widely considered the modern guitar’s direct ancestor. It stood out with its four strings and hourglass-shaped body, producing a distinctive sound.

The Vihuela: The Perfect Blend

In a stroke of musical brilliance, the guitarra latina and guitarra morisca, a round-bodied Moorish instrument, were fused to create the vihuela. This six-course instrument, popular in Spain during the 15th and 16th centuries, resembled a lute but was a crucial stepping stone towards the modern guitar.

Evolution Continues: The Four-Course and Five-Course Guitars

The vihuela didn’t last forever, though. It was replaced by the four-course guitar, a deeper, narrower instrument, tuned to C–F–A–D′. But this wasn’t the end. The 17th and 18th centuries brought the five-course guitar, with a tuning shift to A–D–G–B–E′ and an increase in frets.

A Sneak Peek into the Modern Era: The Six-Course Guitar

The 19th century ushered in another transformation: the six-course guitar, also known as the classical guitar. This era saw wooden pegs replaced with metal screws, an enlarged body, and a bigger sound hole. The six-course guitar was versatile, used across genres like classical, flamenco, folk, jazz, rock, and pop. It set the stage for the guitars we’re familiar with today.

The Modern Marvels: Acoustic and Electric Guitars

Finally, we’re in the modern era. The classical guitar diverged into two paths: the acoustic guitar, with a steel-stringed soundboard for a louder, brighter sound; and the electric guitar, boasting a solid body that could be amplified and distorted by electronics.

Isn’t it incredible to see how our beloved instrument has changed over time? From the oud and the lute to today’s acoustic and electric guitars, each evolutionary step has enriched the world of guitar music.

Guitarlike instruments: the evolution of guitar
Image Credit: Source

Cultural and musical significance of guitarlike instruments

A Melody of Diversity: Guitarlike Instruments

Music: it’s a universal language that transcends borders and cultures. And at its core, you’ll often find a variety of guitarlike instruments. These aren’t just your regular six-stringed guitars, but a diverse collection of plucked string instruments from the lute family. 

Although they may differ in size, shape, and number of strings, each of these instruments has a unique sound that defines the music of their respective cultures. So, let’s embark on a musical journey around the globe to discover some of these melodious wonders:

  • Ukulele: This four-stringed jewel from Hawaii adds a distinct flavor to the island’s music, with its light, cheerful sound. 
  • Banjo: An American classic, the banjo’s twangy tones form the backbone of country and folk music. 
  • Mandolin: Hailing from Italy, the mandolin’s crisp, bright sound resonates in genres from bluegrass to rock.
  • Sitar: A hallmark of Indian music, the sitar’s intricate melodies are fundamental to raga and fusion music.
  • Harp: With its soft, ethereal notes, the harp adds a touch of magic to Celtic music.
  • Lute: A favorite during the European Renaissance, the lute’s dulcet tones added depth to the music of the era.
  • Balalaika: This triangular Russian instrument punctuates folk music with its distinctive sound.
  • Dulcimer: The sweet, gentle tones of the Appalachian dulcimer are a common feature at music jams.
  • Oud: A cornerstone of traditional Middle Eastern music, the oud’s rich, deep tones are unmistakable.
  • Lyre: Adding old-world charm to traditional music, the ancient Greek lyre resonates with history.

Music and Culture: A Symbiotic Relationship

Beyond their unique sounds, these guitarlike instruments play a crucial role in defining and expressing the cultural identity of different regions. Can you picture a Hawaiian luau without the joyful strumming of a ukulele? Or a Spanish flamenco performance devoid of the passionate strumming of a guitar?

Similarly, an American bluegrass festival would lose its essence without the banjo’s twang, just as an Indian classical concert would lack its soul without the mesmerizing tunes of the sitar. 

Whether it’s a Celtic folk session resonating with the soft notes of the harp, a European Renaissance fair echoing with the lute’s dulcet tones, or a Russian folk dance punctuated by the balalaika, these instruments are indispensable to their cultural events.

And let’s not forget the Appalachian jam session animated by the dulcimer, the Arab maqam filled with the oud’s profound notes, or a Greek rebetiko session infused with the ancient melodies of the lyre. These instruments are more than just tools for creating music; they’re cultural symbols, deeply intertwined with their people’s history, traditions, and identity. 

So, music isn’t just about the sounds we hear. It’s a powerful force that resonates with our souls, connects us across cultures, and breathes life into our shared human experience. Next time you pick up your guitar, remember: you’re not just holding an instrument. You’re holding a symbol of unity, a bridge between cultures, and a vessel carrying the heartbeats of countless musicians around the world.

10 Guitarlike Instruments You Should Try Playing 

Ukulele

The ukulele is like a miniature version of a full-sized guitar.
Photo by: ukulelecebu

Ever laid eyes on a charming, tiny instrument that looks like a guitar’s adorable cousin? That’s a ukulele, my friends! A small yet mighty member of the lute family, with four nylon strings that sing a delightful tune. Imagine a guitar, but with a cheerful, laid-back vibe that’s hard to resist.

Now, let’s step into our musical time machine and head back to the 19th century. The ukulele, or ‘uke’ as it’s fondly known, found its home in Hawaii, thanks to Portuguese immigrants who introduced its predecessor – the four-stringed machete from Madeira. This tiny instrument quickly charmed its way into the Hawaiian music scene, becoming an integral part of the island’s culture.

Even Hawaii’s royalty couldn’t resist the uke. King Kalākaua incorporated it into royal performances, positioning it as a symbol of Hawaiian identity1,2. The term ‘ukulele’ translates to “jumping flea” in Hawaiian, which probably refers to the lively movement of fingers on the fretboard.

Mastering the Uke: A Joyful Journey

So, how does one make music with a uke? Just like its big cousin, the guitar, you pluck or strum the strings with your fingers, thumb, or a pick. You can change the pitch by pressing down on the strings against the frets. Essentially, it’s like playing a guitar, but with a tropical twist!

Ukuleles come in various sizes and tunings, including the popular soprano, concert, tenor, and baritone. These are usually tuned to G–C–E–A or A–D–F♯–B. Once you master the basics, you’ll be strumming beautiful melodies in no time.

Still not convinced? Here’s why the ukulele is a fantastic addition to any musician’s repertoire. Firstly, it’s beginner-friendly. The uke is easy to learn, affordable, and portable. You can take it to beach parties, camping trips, or just about anywhere.

Moreover, the ukulele is an incredibly versatile instrument. Despite its size, it can belt out tunes across a wide range of genres from folk, pop, jazz to reggae and Hawaiian. 

Best of all, playing the ukulele is downright fun! It’s a relaxing yet rewarding hobby that enhances your musical skills, boosts creativity and confidence, and brings a ton of joy. Not bad for such a tiny instrument!

Banjo

A man playing the guitarlike instrument banjo under a sunny day
Photo by: mrs_shlokadoshi

For guitar enthusiasts, it’s always thrilling to explore the wider family of stringed instruments. One such fascinating instrument is the banjo, a stringed wonder with a unique resonating sound produced by a thin membrane stretched over a cavity. 

Interestingly, the banjo has its roots in Africa. Enslaved individuals brought this instrument to America during the 17th and 18th centuries, where it absorbed influences from European instruments such as the lute and the guitar.

This cultural fusion resulted in a versatile instrument that’s found its place in various musical genres. From the folksy tunes of Appalachia to the jazzy rhythms of New Orleans, the banjo is a true musical chameleon.

Striking the Banjo: A Symphony of Strings and Benefits

So, how does one play this versatile instrument? Similar to a guitar, the banjo is typically played by plucking or strumming its strings, and you vary the pitch by pressing the strings against the frets. 

However, there are different types of banjos, each with their unique tunings. The most common ones are the 5-string, 4-string, and 6-string banjos, usually tuned to open G, C, or D. But as with any musical instrument, there’s always room for creativity and personal preference.

The banjo is an incredibly expressive instrument. You can tweak its sound to be bright and lively or mellow and melancholic, making it a versatile tool for any musician. 

Additionally, learning to play the banjo is a fun and rewarding challenge. It can help improve your musical skills, unlock your creativity, and boost your confidence. It’s an opportunity to broaden your musical horizon and push your limits.

And let’s not forget, the sound of a lively banjo tune is enough to bring a smile to anyone’s face. So, why not pick up this unique instrument and see what melodies you can create?

Mandolin

The Collings MT is an A style mandolin with carved Engelmann spruce top and carved premium figured maple back.
Photo by: folkwaymusic

A mandolin, with its charmingly petite size and eight melodious strings, is almost like a soulmate to the guitar, hailing from the same lute family. Born in the fertile lands of Italy and Germany, the mandolin is an 18th-century marvel that evolved from 16th-century mandora and other lute-like instruments. In essence, it’s a contemporary, chic cousin of its ancestral counterparts.

The mandolin’s journey to fame was paved by Italian maestros like Vivaldi and Paisiello, and even the iconic Beethoven. It then found its way into the hands of folk and classical musicians across Europe and America. Indeed, this small instrument has a passport full of stamps!

How to Play the Mandolin and What are the Benefits?

So, you’re wondering how to strum this eight-stringed symphony? Much like our favorite six-stringed companion, the guitar, the mandolin is played by plucking or strumming the strings with a plectrum or the fingers. You change the pitch by pressing down on the strings against the frets. 

The Neapolitan and Lombard mandolins are the most common types, typically tuned to G–D–A–E or A–D–F♯–B. It might seem like you’re learning a new musical dialect, but the sweet sound of a well-played mandolin is worth every minute of practice.

Why should you take up the mandolin, you ask? Well, it’s more than just a charming addition to your instrument collection. It’s a versatile tool capable of producing sounds ranging from bright, lively tunes to mellow, melancholic melodies. Picture yourself adding these unique sounds to your musical portfolio!

Sitar

A collection of sitar in a music store.
Photo by: symphony.zone

The sitar, with its exotic allure, takes us on a time travel adventure to the medieval period of the Indian subcontinent. This gracefully crafted instrument reached its peak form in the 19th century. The name ‘sitar’ itself is a hat tip to its Persian origins, derived from ‘sehtar’ meaning “three-stringed”, linking it to the tanbur family of lutes.

This fascinating instrument found fame in the western world, thanks to Ravi Shankar, a virtuoso who introduced its mystical tones to audiences globally. Fun fact: George Harrison, inspired by Shankar, used the sitar’s captivating sound in The Beatles’ “Norwegian Wood.” Now that’s a cross-cultural musical fusion!

How to Play the Sitar and What are the Benefits?

Have you ever gazed at a sitar and wondered how to navigate its maze of strings? It’s played by plucking or strumming the strings with a wire plectrum worn on the right forefinger. The left hand works its magic, manipulating the strings with subtle pressure and sideways pulls to craft enchanting tunes.

The sitar, with its deep pear-shaped gourd body, long hollow wooden neck, front and side tuning pegs, and 20 arched movable frets, is a work of art. It typically has five melody strings, one or two drone strings, and up to 13 sympathetic strings beneath the frets. These are tuned to the notes of the raga, a melodic framework in Indian classical music.

What sets the sitar apart is its unique sound, characterized by a rich tone, complex resonance, and a distinctive buzz produced by the jawari bridge. It’s not just limited to classical music; its versatility lets it adapt to various musical styles, from fusion and rock to pop.

Playing the sitar can be a transformative journey. It enhances your musical skills, stimulates creativity, and builds confidence. It’s a fun and rewarding instrument that can expand your musical horizons and open up a new world of sonic possibilities.

Harp

A harpist playing in the street
Photo by: vitometodio

Welcome to the world of the harp, a musical marvel that has both a fascinating lineage and a sound that can captivate any listener. If you’ve ever seen a harp, you’ll know that it’s a triangular beauty, with strings that stretch across its soundboard at a distinct angle. These strings are not just for show – they’re the magic makers that produce the harp’s unique sound when plucked by the fingers.

The harp isn’t a recent invention. Oh no, this instrument has been around the block a few times. We’re talking as far back as 3000 BCE. Think about that – while ancient civilizations were developing writing systems and building pyramids, they were also jamming on the harp. This versatile instrument has roots in Asia, Africa, and Europe, serving as a vital component in the symphony of their musical traditions.

As centuries rolled on and technology advanced, the harp didn’t just sit and collect dust. It transformed and adapted, branching into several variants like the arched, angular, frame harps, and the showstopper we often see in orchestras today, the double-action pedal harp.

How to Play the Harp and What Are the Benefits?

You’re probably wondering, “How does one play this grand, complex-looking instrument?” Fear not, my friend. The mechanics of the harp aren’t as intimidating as they seem.

Much like a guitar, the harp is played by plucking or strumming the strings. You can change the pitch by pressing the strings against frets or using pedals. Simple, right? Now, there are different types of harps, like the lever harp and the pedal harp, each offering a range of about six octaves. This means you can explore a vast landscape of tonal possibilities.

The harp isn’t just a delight to play; it’s also packed with benefits. It’s a versatile and expressive instrument that can dance between elegant, soothing melodies and bright, lively tunes. Imagine having an entire symphony orchestra at your fingertips – that’s the power of the harp.

The harp can also boost your musical skills, stoke your creativity, and bolster your confidence. There’s nothing quite like the sense of achievement you’d feel after mastering a piece on this regal instrument. So, if you’re up for a new musical adventure, why not give the harp a shot? 

Lute

A lute—a guitarlike instrument—musician performing his music in the street of Sarajevo.
Photo by: schleini.007

Ever pondered where your beloved guitar came from? Allow me to introduce you to the lute, the guitar’s forefather. Envision a deep, round back enclosing a hollow cavity, a neck, and usually a sound hole or opening in the body. Sound familiar?

The lute has a gripping history, hailing from the Middle East and making its European debut around the 8th century, courtesy of the Arabs. It’s essentially an upgraded version of the oud, a fretless instrument with a pear-shaped body and a bent-back pegbox. As the lute journeyed to Europe, it absorbed influences from other instruments, much like our favorite modern guitar styles.

During the Middle Ages, Renaissance, and Baroque periods, the lute was a highly esteemed player in European music, particularly for secular tunes.

Plucking the Strings: How to Play the Lute

Intrigued by the lute? Great! Playing the lute is similar to playing the guitar – you pluck or strum the strings with your fingers or a plectrum, and manipulate the pitch by pressing the strings against the frets.

Bear in mind, the lute isn’t a one-size-fits-all kind of instrument. It comes in different types and tunings, like the six-course lute with 12 strings in pairs, or the ten-course lute with up to 20 strings in pairs or triplets. If a guitar with six strings can create such diverse sounds, imagine the symphony you can create with 20 strings on a lute!

The Perks of Playing the Lute: More Than Just Music

Beyond the joy of playing, the lute offers a rich array of benefits. It’s a versatile and expressive instrument that can produce a spectrum of sounds, from delicate melodies to resonant, powerful notes.

But there’s more to the lute than just music. It’s an enriching experience that can enhance your overall musical skills, stimulate your creativity, and boost your confidence. Plus, it’s a ton of fun!

Balalaika

A man playing the guitarlike instrument balalaika in his studio
Photo by: guitarsofainsalu

Let’s put our guitars down for a spell and embark on a thrilling journey into the mesmerizing world of the balalaika. This isn’t your run-of-the-mill string instrument; it’s a three-stringed Russian folk lute, instantly recognizable by its triangular body and elongated fretted neck. 

Delving into its origins, the balalaika’s tale begins in the 17th or 18th century in Russia. It’s thought to be a descendant of Asian instruments such as the dombra and the domra. Initially, it was the humble companion of peasants and street musicians, used to enliven folk songs and dances. However, as time passed, the balalaika ascended the ranks, becoming a vibrant emblem of Russian culture and identity. 

Strumming to a Different Beat: The Art of Playing the Balalaika and Its Perks

Now that we’ve uncovered some of the balalaika’s history, let’s dive into the exhilarating part – playing it! Just like the guitar, you can pluck or strum the balalaika’s strings using your fingers or a plectrum. Changing the pitch? It’s as simple as pressing the strings against the frets. 

The balalaika comes in various sizes and tunings, each offering a unique sound and playing experience. You’ll commonly encounter the prima, secunda, and alto, usually tuned to E–E–A, A–A–D, or E–A–D. 

Why should you consider adding the balalaika to your musical repertoire? Here’s why:

  • Multifaceted: The balalaika can produce an array of sounds. Whether you’re after bright, upbeat tones or prefer mellow, soulful melodies, this instrument can deliver.
  • Skill Enhancement: Playing the balalaika can hone your musical prowess. It’s perfect for stimulating creativity and bolstering confidence. 
  • Pure Fun: At its core, playing the balalaika is an absolute blast. It’s a fantastic way to diversify your musical journey, offering an exciting diversion from the typical guitar-based tracks.

So, next time you feel like shaking things up, why not take the balalaika for a spin? You might just find a newfound musical passion within this distinctive Russian folk instrument.

Dulcimer

In the realm of stringed instruments, the dulcimer stands out, much like our beloved guitar. This fascinating folk instrument comes in two flavors: the hammered dulcimer and the Appalachian dulcimer.

The hammered dulcimer, a trapezoidal zither adorned with numerous strings, is played using small hammers. This instrument is a seasoned traveler, with variations found in many cultures. You might recognize it as the cimbalom in Hungary, the santoor in India, or the yangqin in China.

Meanwhile, the Appalachian dulcimer, a slender zither with three to five strings, hails from the Appalachian region of the United States. This dulcimer is plucked or strummed, producing a unique, heartwarming sound deeply embedded in the region’s musical tapestry.

Mastering the Dulcimer: A Guide to Playing and Its Benefits

Let’s delve into the art of playing these captivating instruments. The hammered dulcimer demands both hands to wield the hammers, striking the strings on the soundboard. Modifying the pitch involves adjusting the tuning pins or using dampers. Though it might sound complex, the spectrum of tones you can create is truly awe-inspiring.

The Appalachian dulcimer, conversely, rests comfortably on your lap. You strum the strings using a stick or a pick, altering the pitch by pressing the strings on the frets or employing a capo. While it may seem simpler, don’t be deceived. The Appalachian dulcimer possesses a depth and richness that’s truly mesmerizing.

As for the benefits of playing the dulcimer? Here’s the scoop:

  • Versatility: Like the balalaika, the dulcimer can produce a wide range of sounds, from lively, cheerful tones to mellow, introspective melodies.
  • Skill Development: Playing the dulcimer is a rewarding journey that can boost your musical abilities, creativity, and confidence.
  • Pure Enjoyment: Above all, the dulcimer is simply fun to play. It offers a unique experience that can add to your musical palette.

Oud

Let’s paint a mental picture, shall we? Visualize a pear-shaped body, a fretless neck, and a choir of 11 or 13 strings humming in anticipation. You’ve just conjured the oud, a remarkable stringed instrument with a lineage as rich as its sound.

Hailing from the Middle East, the oud is a direct offshoot of the Persian lute. Its influence transcends geographical boundaries – reaching Europe in the 8th century courtesy of the Arabs. As a key player in the evolution of the guitar and the lute, the oud has left an indelible mark on the global music scene.

The term “oud” springs from the Persian word ‘sehtar’ translating to “three-stringed”. It’s a proud member of the tanbur family of lutes, a group celebrated for their distinctive sound and craftsmanship.

Fast forward to the present, the oud is far from being a relic of the past. Thanks to the efforts of renowned musicians like Ravi Shankar, an Indian sitar virtuoso, this ancient instrument now rubs shoulders with its modern counterparts on the world stage.

Mastering the Oud: A Symphony of Hands

The oud offers a singular experience to the player. The right forefinger, armed with a wire plectrum, strums or plucks the strings. Meanwhile, the left hand orchestrates a delicate act of pressure and sideways pulls, manipulating the strings to produce a deep, resonant sound.

The oud’s unique buzz originates from the jawari bridge, a feature that lends a rich, complex resonance to its voice. The resulting sound is nothing short of mesmerizing.

But the oud isn’t a one-hit wonder. Far from it. With its versatility and expressiveness, it’s a multi-genre maestro. Its strings can croon classical, fusion, rock, and pop tunes with equal ease. Whether you’re an old soul or a contemporary spirit, the oud has a melody for you.

Lyre

A snapshot of a guitarlike instrument lyre with its owner.
Photo by: draugaskald

Let’s embark on a journey back in time, to an era when music was as essential as the air we breathe. Amidst this ancient symphony, one instrument stands out for its unique design and cultural significance – the Lyre.

The Lyre is a stringed instrument, somewhat akin to our beloved guitar, but with a distinct edge. Picture a yoke or two arms with a crossbar, extending out from the body at an even level. This unique design has withstood the test of time, dating back to at least 3000 BCE, with roots tracing back to Asia, Africa, and Europe.

The term “Lyre” shares the same etymology as the oud, stemming from the Persian term ‘sehtar’, meaning “three-stringed”. This instrument is yet another illustrious member of the tanbur family of lutes.

In a curious twist of fate, the Lyre was thrust into the spotlight in the 20th century, thanks to musicians like Ravi Shankar who endeavored to introduce this ancient instrument to the Western world.

Playing the Lyre: Striking the Right Chord

Let’s move from the annals of history to the melody of the moment – playing the Lyre. Similar to a guitar, you coax music from the Lyre by plucking or strumming its strings with your thumb, fingers, or a pick. The pitch varies as you press the strings on the frets, creating a vibrant palette of sounds.

The Lyre comes in different versions. The six-course lute, featuring 12 strings in pairs, is a common sight. The ten-course lute, bearing 19 or 20 strings in pairs or triplets, is another popular variant.

You might ask, “Why should I extend my musical repertoire to include the Lyre?” Aside from its historical charm, the Lyre is an expressive instrument capable of generating a spectrum of sounds, from the subtle and refined to the powerful and resonant.

Moreover, playing the Lyre is a rewarding endeavor that can enhance your musical prowess. Whether you’re a seasoned musician seeking a fresh challenge or a beginner keen on exploring the world of music, the Lyre can fuel your creativity and boost your confidence.

So, why not take a break from the guitar strings and give the Lyre a strum? You might just find yourself smitten with its unique sound and rich history. After all, as they say, variety is the spice of life – and playing the Lyre is indeed a spicy experience!

Some tips for learning guitarlike instruments

Choosing Your Ideal Stringed Instrument

Diving into the world of guitarlike instruments? Excellent! Your first task is to select an instrument attuned to your musical preference, financial plan, and skill level. Whether you’re drawn to the country twang of a banjo or the melodious strumming of a ukulele, take sufficient time to choose an instrument that makes your heart sing. 

Unearthing Your Guitar Guide

Embarking on the journey of learning a new instrument requires a guide. A suitable teacher, online course, or instructional book can lay the groundwork in the basics of your chosen instrument. Websites like Guitar Tricks and Fender Play offer a treasure trove of video lessons for guitar, ukulele, bass, and other stringed instruments. Given the quality and range of online resources at your disposal, you are sure to stumble upon one that hits the right chord!

Practice: The Pathway to Perfection

The secret to conquering any instrument? Consistent practice. Initiate your learning with straightforward songs and exercises, and gradually hike up the difficulty level as your skills advance. While it feels like an acoustic adventure merely strumming along, don’t overlook the importance of learning the theory behind the music. Grasping the history and cultural relevance of your chosen instrument can amplify your appreciation and enrich your overall playing experience.

Hop on the Bandwagon

The camaraderie among fellow musicians is unparalleled. Engage in online forums, clubs, or even establish a band where you can exchange tips, constructive criticism, and inspiration. This shared experience can fuel your motivation and make your learning journey more rewarding.

Don’t Forget the Fun 

Remember that learning any instrument should be an enjoyable experience. Experiment with various styles, challenge yourself with novel songs, and most significantly, revel in the music. After all, that’s what it’s all about, isn’t it?

Conclusion

As we conclude our exploration of guitarlike instruments and their rich, varied family, it’s clear that the world of stringed instruments is vast and incredibly diverse. 

Each instrument we’ve discussed, from the ukulele to the oud, offers a unique window into the cultures and musical traditions from which they originate. Whether you’re a seasoned guitarist looking to expand your musical palette or a newcomer intrigued by the sounds of different strings, there’s never been a better time to explore the wide array of guitarlike instruments available. 

This journey into the world of strings reaffirms that music is a universal language, rich with the potential for discovery and innovation. So, let your curiosity lead the way and dive deeper into the fascinating universe of guitarlike instruments – your next musical obsession might just be around the corner.

Alon Cooper

Alon Cooper

Hey! I'm Cooper, and I hope I can be a helpful friend on your musical journeys. I'm a music artist based in Austin & Amsterdam, playing venues with a band / solo, and trying to learn with the most inspiring musicians wherever I go. In the last 8 years I've lived in Australia, northern Europe, the US and more.

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The Guitar Campfire Songbook

I hope this list has given you some great ideas, and if you want to have another bunch of song ideas in a fancy PDF songbook form, then feel free to download the songbook in this link.

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