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Building the Tar

Building the Tar

by Nasser Shirazi

Originally published in American Lutherie #10, 1987 and Big Red Book of American Lutherie Volume One, 2000

The Tar (meaning “string” or “chord” in Farsi) is a classical Iranian stringed instrument which has two body cavities and is played by plucking the strings. The two sound chambers are covered with two separate skin membranes. The instrument’s six strings are tuned in pairs and are played with a brass plectrum inserted in a lump of beeswax. The tar is an integral part of classical Iranian music ensembles, along with the kamanché, setar, ney, santour, tomback, and oud.

The soundbox is extensively made of mulberry wood, although other woods such as maple, walnut, and apricot have also been used. Use a well-seasoned wood with no knots, checks, or other wood defects known to luthiers.

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