The Tanbur (Persian: تنبور) can refer to various long-necked string instruments originating in Mesopotamia, Southern or Central Asia. These instruments are used in the traditional music of Iran, India, Kurdistan, Armenia, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Turkey, Tajikistan, Kazakhstan, and Uzbekistan.
Nowadays Kermanshahan tanbur (or Kurdish tanbur) is played all over Iran, and that is what is called just “tanbur” in Iran nowadays. Iranian tanbur is mainly designed in Kermanshahan, Kurdistan Province and Lorestan. Kermanshahan tanburs are more famous and accepted and are specially designed in Kermanshah’s Goran Region and Sahneh. The tanbur is currently the musical instrument used in Ahl-e Haqq rituals, and practitioners venerate tembûrs as sacred objects.
The Iranian tanbur has a narrow pear-shaped body that normally is made with 7 to 10 glued together separate ribs. Its soundboard is usually made of mulberry wood and some patterned holes are burned in it. The long neck is separate, and has three metal strings that the first course is double. The melody is played on the double strings with a unique playing technique with three fingers of the right hand. Iranian tanbur is associated with the Kurdish Sufi music of Western Iran.
It measures 80 cm in height and 16 cm in breadth. The resonator is pear-shaped and made of either a single piece or multiple carvels of mulberry wood. The neck is made of walnut and has fourteen frets, arranged in a semi-tempered chromatic scale. It has two steel strings tuned in fifth, fourth, or second intervals. The higher string may be double-coursed.