Here are the string instruments that Todd performs and records with: 
= Recommended listening
All instruments can be entered into to see video performances by musicians from around the world



This is the latest collaboration/creation with luthier Fred Carlson, which is the culmination of an idea I had to combine a nylon-string baritone guitar neck (tuned low to high B, E, A, D, b, e) with a small Chinese Gu Zheng-type section with 11 strings. With the special tuners that Fred designed (photo on L), each string has a tuning range, on either side of the bridge, of about a minor 3rd.

The strings can be bent in a Gu Zheng-like style by pushing on the string behind the tuner or on the opposite side of the bridge of the string plucked. The instrument has Brazilian Rosewood sides and back and a cedar top. The blend of the baritone range and the Gu Zheng strings is just magnificent!

Another unique feature is the low profile, L-shaped capos (middle photo) that utilize a hole at the intersection of almost every string and fret.

The L-shaped capos are pushed in and turned, holding the string at that position. The main baritone neck has modern "friction" tuners. They look and feel like traditional friction tuners (i.e. Cello or Oud) but are actually mechanical inside (photo on R.) * Todd Green


Swar Rabouditar

This is my fourth collaboration with luthier Fred Carlson. It's a combination of an Indian Swar Mandal, an Oud, a Rabab and a guitar.

It has five tied-on nylon frets with the rest of the neck fretless.

There's a harp section on the lower bout, tuned to the scale of the piece.

There are also two accent strings, which are hard to see in the picture, alongside the lowest string.

It has nine main strings, which are double course on the top three and single course on the lower three.

Todd Green uses an Oud tuning, (low to high, D, G A, d g c).
* Todd Green

13-String Classical Guitar

13-String GuitarMy most recent acquisition is this 13-string classical guitar, which is a collaboration with Michael Thames of Santa Fe, NM. After hearing his “Dresden” 13-string, which is a guitar version of a lute, where a number of the strings are harp-type (no fretboard underneath),  I contacted him to build one where all the strings are fretable. 

The first six strings are like a standard guitar tuning, the 7th through 13th are descending  from D, one step below the low E on a guitar, then C, B, A, G, F and E, which is one octave lower than the low E on a guitar.

The last three strings are a longer scale length, as you can see. The instrument has Indian Rosewood sides and back with a Cedar top.
*Stephan Schmidt









Nylon-String Double-Neck Guitar

Built by luthier Fred Carlson, consisting of a standard classical guitar and a six-string bass classical guitar.

The bass strings are custom made and are tuned one octave lower. This instrument is also built with some of the most beautiful Brazilian rosewood I have ever seen.

As far as I know, this is the only instrument of its kind.
* Todd Green






Another instrument built by luthier Fred Carlson. It is a standard six-string guitar with 12 resonating (sympathetic) strings running through the neck and over their own flat bridge inside the body.
* Todd Green, Alex De Grassi

Harp Banjo (aka The Banjarp)

The latest creation from luthier Fred Carlson is this banjo prototype with a harp section. It has five main playing strings with the octave sixth string being the lowest string of the harp section. The tuning I use is E, B, e, b, d. To see how this prototype further developed, go to Fred's website (see "links".)



Classical (Nylon String) Guitars

These are my three 6-string classical guitars, none of

which are tuned to a normal tuning. All of them have cedar tops. The Giussani (L in photo) has a Brazilian rosewood sides and

back, and at the moment is tuned B, F#, d, f#, b, f'#. The O'Leary (M in photo) has Madagascar rosewood sides and back and is tuned C, G, d, e, a, d'. The Howell (R in photo) has Indian rosewood sides and back and has variable tuning.
* Julian Bream, David Russell, Eduardo Falu, Rafael Arias and Ralph Towner




9-String Semi-Fretless Guitar

The original design for the 10-string came from Narciso Yepes in the early 60's in collaboration with the renowned guitar maker Jose Ramirez. This formerly fretted "workhorse"classical guitar has been modified to be fretless on the top 6 strings, which are in a DADGAD tuning.

I have removed the 7th string and the 3 lowest strings are still fretted. I had a standard capo modified (see close-up photo) so I am able to capo the 3 bass strings to play in any key. The open tuning on these strings has been E and A one octave below the 6th and 5th string and B, but I will change these as needed.

This allows me to play Middle Eastern and Indian music on a Western guitar. This unique instrument has a spruce top and Indian rosewood sides and back.






Spanish Baroque Guitar 

This guitar was a bridge between the lute, a direct descendent of the Middle Eastern Oud, which wound up in Spain during the Andalusian period (from 711 to 1492) and the modern classical guitar. Much smaller than the modern guitar, it has 5 double courses, with the high string generally being left single. One of the more popular tunings, which I use, is high to low: e, bb, GG, Dd, aa. This tuning is similar to the first five strings of a modern guitar, but the a's are one octave higher. The design in the sound hole is handmade. The top is spruce and the sides and back are maple. It has tied-on frets similar to many instruments in the Middle East and Central Asia.
* Rolf Lislevand, Stephano Maiorana, Miguel Rincon


Mandolin Family

This group photo shows the historical mandolin family acrossthe bottom, starting in the center with the 6-course Baroque Mandolin with 11 maple ribs on the back and a spruce top (tuned gg, bb, ee, a'a', d'd', g"g" with friction tuners.) This instrument was built in Italy by Matteo Baldinelli. Next, chronologically, came the Italian Neopolitan Mandolin called the Bowl Back Mandolin in the West, with 17 alternating mahogany and rosewood ribs and a spruce top (tuned gg, dd, a'a', e'e') on the right. Both of these mandolins, traditionally, had gut strings,which now are nylon. On the left is the modern A-StyleMandolin with steel strings (also tuned gg, dd, a'a', e'e'.) And, yes, that is a Soprano Ukulele ontop, which has been strung with a single-course mandolin tuning.
*Chris Thiele, Mike Marshal, Anna Schivazappa

8-Course Renaissance Lute

The European Lute is a direct descendant of the Persian Barbat (they look almost identical,bothhaving tied-on frets made of gut or nylon) and is the antecedent of the Spanish guitar. It was the premier plucked string instrument in Medieval, Renaissance and Baroque music, both in instrumental and vocal music. During those periods the number of courses went from 5 and 6 in Medieval music, 7 through 10 in Renaissance music and 10 through 13 in Baroque music. On most lutes inall these periods, the first or highest course is a single string, and on some of them the lowest course as well. The one I play is an 8-course Renaissance lute made in France by Nigel Solomon. The standard wood on almost all lute tops is spruce. The tuning on the Renaissance lute is a minor 3rd higher than the standard Western guitar tuning. Mine is tunedhigh to low: gg, dd, the 3rd course is traditionally aa but I tune it a#a#, ff, Cc, Gg, Ff, D#d#
*Nigel North, Paul O’Dette, Robert Barto


Oud (Middle East)

The Oud, Er-Hu, Surpeti, Gembri, and SentirThe Oud is the most popular string instrument throughout the Middle East and North Africa. It is a short-necked, fretless instrument, which was brought back to Europe by the crusaders, where it influenced the development of the lute, which is the predecessor of the classical guitar. This instrument was originally called "Al-Oud" (which means "the wood"), a phrase that evolved into "Lute" in Europe and "Oud" or "Ud" in the Arab world. The earliest known Oud was discovered in a tomb from the reign of Queen Hatshepsut of Egypt, approx. 1500 B.C. Turkish Ouds (left side of photo) have a somewhat shallower body than Syrian and Egyptian Ouds (right side of photo.) The body is made of strips of hardwood, such as rosewood, walnut, maple and mahogany, usually in two contrasting colors. The peghead angles sharply back from the plane of the neck and has ebony friction tuners. All Ouds have ivory filigree over the soundhole and the Arabic Ouds also have elaborate mother-of-pearl inlay (see close-up.) There are eleven strings, arranged in five double courses, with a single bass string. The standard Turkish/Armenian tuning is low to high: E, AA, BB, ee, aa, dd. The Arabic tuning is a whole step lower. The top four strings are generally tuned this way, but the two lowest strings can be changed, according to the "makam" (the scale or mode) that is being played. Traditionally, the strings were plucked with an eagle quill, known as a "mizrap". Today, most players use plastic plectrums.

This beautiful Arabic Oud, built by Viken Najarian (who also built the Turkish Oud mentioned above for me over 15 years ago.) This instrument is somewhat unique as far as traditional Arabic Ouds go. I had Viken put a cedar top instead of spruce, make the neck wider than what is traditionally done and set it up with a tuning that is a whole step lower than standard Arabic tuning. This required a wound second course which is traditionally plain nylon.
* Hamza El Din, Hossein Behroozi-Nia, Munir Nurettin Beken, Munir Bachir, Simon Shaheen, Rahim Alhaj


Saz or Baglama (Middle East)

A popular, long-necked lute, played throughout Turkey, Iran, Iraq, Syria, Lebanon and Egypt. This is a seven-string instrument, divided into three courses, tuned, from low to high, Gg, Dd, Aaa.

Like many Middle-Eastern string instruments, the Saz also has tied-on nylon frets. Unlike most plucked string instruments, the sound-hole is on the bottom instead of the top of the body.
* Kord Bayat, Talip Ozkan, Erdal Erzincan



Tanbur (Turkey)

TanburThe name Tanbur is a generic term used for many different types of plucked instruments throughout the Middle East and Central Asia. This one from Turkey was the main plucked instrument used in the classical music of the Ottoman Empire. The back is made of thin wooden ribs, the top of very thin spruce without interior bracing. As you can see, the very long, thin neck has many more frets on it than a Western guitar.

This enables the musician to play the quartertones needed in Turkish makams. The strings are steel and brass and configured in different groupings, usually double-coursed. Though the one I play has eight tuners I have it strung with only six strings, (tuned low to high Aa, ee, aa.) Usually all the melodies are played on the first course, with the rest only occasionally strummed to give the listener a sense of the key center. The Yayli Tanbur, which can be bowed or plucked, is a fairly modern rendition of this classic Tanbur, which is plucked only.
* Necdet Yasar



Yayli Tanbur (Turkey)

Pictured are a traditional, wooden Yayli Tambur (on right) with eight strings tuned DD, AA, DD, dd, a skin head and a Cumbus (pronounced joom-bush) with a metal body and a synthetic head usually tuned DD, AA, dd. On both, the bridge rests on the head like on a Western banjo.

Most of the melody is played on the high course where the strings are placed right next to each other to give a stronger sound.

The neck has tied-on nylon frets, which are spaced for Middle-Eastern scales, which include quarter-tones. It is also possible to pluck the strings on the Cumbus.
* Ali Jihad Racy, Fahrettin Cimenli, Mesut Demir


Kanun or Qanun
(Middle East)

The Kanun in Turkish and Armenian music or Qanun in Arabic music is one of the most important instruments in all of Middle Eastern music, similar to the stature of the piano in Western music. The word “kanun” translates to canon or law. It is usually played with a plectrum attached to each index finger or with the nails. The smallest Kanuns have 72 strings in triple courses.

There are multiple levers for each course, which enable the player to get the exact quartertone notes in Middle Eastern music. The levers can also be used to modulate keys and create vibrato.

It is thought that the Kanun is a descendant of the Egyptian harp.
* George Abyad, Halil Karaduman, Elie Achkar



Tar (Iran)

The tar is the king of the plucked-string instruments in Iran. Like a lot of Iran's instruments, variations from this instrument are played throughout Central Asia. The body is carved out of a mulberry tree.

The long neck is fitted with camel bone and has six strings in pairs, usually tuned Root, fifth, root. The bridge rests on a skin top which give the tar its characteristic sonority. The frets are nylon and tied on. They can be adjusted to get the notes used in Persian music between the notes in the western scale.
* Mohammad Reza Lotfi, Amir Koushkani, Hamid Montebassem

Setar (Iran)

The Setar (center of photo) is a small lute with a long neck. It has four metal strings. It has been mentioned in literature and poetry since the 12th Century. Like the tar, the setar has tied on frets made of nylon (see close-up.) It is plucked with the index finger and used extensively by Sufi mystics in Iran.
* Mohammad Reza Lotfi, Shahram Nazeri

Kamencheh (Iran)

This popular spiked fiddle is played throughout the Middle East. Similar instruments called Rabab in Egypt and Turkey and Ghijak in Central Asia are used in their classical and vocal musics.The four metal strings on the Persian instrument (left side of photo) can be tuned like a western violin G, D, A, E, or root, fifth, root, fifth or root, fourth, root, fourth. It is held upright, resting on the player's left thigh, and the horse hair bow is made more or less taut by the players' fingers in order to heighten the sensitivity of touch in the course of playing. The instrument is turned on the pivot to access the strings while the bow is held in the same position. The bridge rests on a skin top (see close-up.) 
* Kayhan Kalhor, Asghar Bahari, Sa'id Farajpuri

Fasil Kemenche (Turkey)

This three-stringed traditional violin (right side of photo) is used in the classical and Sufi religious music of Turkey. It is held upright on the lap and played with a bow. Like the Indian Sarangi, the left hand fingers don't press directly on the strings, but touch the string on the side with the fleshy part of the finger between the nail and the first joint.
* Tanburi Cemil Bey, Necdet Yasar Ensemble


Santur (Iran)

The Persian Santur is the original Santur. It is a three-octave dulcimer with 72 strings arranged in 4-string courses. It is played with very thin, wooden hammers with felt on the ends. It can be made out of various kinds of wood depending on the desired sound quality. Both instruments have adjustable bridges, allowing you to play three octaves on the Persian one. Though the Santur originated in Persia, it has universal appeal. The Greeks have a similar instrument called a Santoori; the Chinese have the Yang Chin; the Hungarians have the Cymbalon; and the Germans have the Hackbrett. 

Sarangi (India)

For many centuries, the Sarangi has been the premier bowed instrument of India. It is held upright on the lap and bowed with the palm facing up. Instead of pressing the strings with the top of the fingers of left hand, the player presses the sides of the strings with the cuticle (see close-up.)  In earlier times, its primary role was to accompany classical vocal music, because of its voice-like quality.

Today, it has been accepted as a solo instrument as well. There are three main playing strings tuned tonic (Sa), fifth (Pa) and tonic (sa). In addition, there are 30 to 40 resonating strings (see close-up.) All these strings pass through the bridge, which rests on a skin head. Some of these are tuned to the rag (scale) and some are chromatic. These tuners are at the top and along the side of the body.
* Ram Narayan, Sultan Khan, Ramesh Misra, Dhruba Ghosh 




Slide Guitar (India)

This instrument, designed and modified by Kalyan Godden, is an adaptation of a western dobro-style slide guitar which is played on the lap. It has extra strings off the playing neck which are tuned to the Raga (scale) played. There are also two accent strings and four main strings tuned B, F#, b, e. These are played with a tone bar, similar to what western dobro players use.




Santoor (India)

The Indian Santoor, from the northern state of Kashmir, for centuries was an accompaniment to vocalists. Originally it was called a "Shata Tantri Veena," or the 100 string lute. The Santoor pictured has 93 strings arranged in 3-string courses.

A standard Indian tuning has the Sa (or tonic) as the lowest note. The first octave is tuned to the Raga to be played. The rest of the strings are tuned chromatically. It is played with two relatively thick, wooden hammers.
* Shiv Kumar Sharma


Tamburas or Tanpuras (India)

In traditional Indian music, the tamburas provide the drone, which delineates the key in which the solo instruments perform. The traditional tamburas come in two sizes, called the male (left side of photo) and the female (right side of photo.) They each cover a different range of keys in octave.

These instruments can have four to six strings and are usually tuned to the tonic (Sa) and the fifth (Pa) of the raga (scale) being played. The large tuners at the top are for basic tuning.

There are fine tuners at the bottom for more precise tuning (see close-up.) Sometimes, small pieces of thread are placed between the string and the bridge for more sustain and "buzzy" quality to the sound.

These traditional tamburas are huge and delicate instruments,which are difficult to travel with. There are smaller versions, the Instrumental Tambura (left side of bottom photo) and the portable Vocal Tambura (right side of bottom picture.)
* Any traditional classical Indian music


Rubab (Afghanistan / Pakistan / Iran)

An instrument from the lute family, played mostly in Afghanistan and Pakistan. This is a beautiful instrument, carved out of a single piece of mulberry wood. Originally from the Kabul-Ghazni region of Afghanistan, it is regarded as the predecessor of the Indian Sarod. The neck and upper body are hollow and covered with a thin piece of wood. The lower body is covered with skin. The three main playing strings are usually tuned a fourth apart. Though the key of a concert Rubab is usually D, the strings are tuned, low to high, C#, F# and B. In addition, there are 12 to 16 wire sympathetic strings, which are tuned to the scale the raga is in. The lowest and highest of these are on the same plane as the main plucked strings for rhythmic accents. It also has just three tied-on frets and the rest of the fingerboard is fretless. There are three sizes of Rubabs. The two in the picture are the middle and large  concert size. 
* Ustad Mohammar Omar,  Homayun Sakhi, Aziz Herawi




Dombra (Kazakhstan)

This type of instrument (on the left in photo) is played throughout Central Asia and Mongolia. In some countries it is fretless but the Kazakh Dombra has tied-on nylon frets. All of these instruments (called Dombura, Danbura, Dombor, Dombyra depending on the country) have two strings and are plucked. The Kazakh style will incorporate some occasional rhythmic tapping on the body as well. The body and neck are usually mulberry or apricot wood. The strings, traditionally gut, but now nylon, are usually tuned in a fourth or fifth interval i.e. A, D or A, E. 

Komuz (Kyrgyzstan / Uzbekistan)

The Komuz (on the right in photo) is the main instrument of Kyrgyzstan. It is a three-string fretless lute, usually made of apricot wood.

It involves many playing techniques, mainly with the right hand including plucking, strumming and striking the string in various rhythmic patterns with very stylized hand and arm gestures. The strings are generally all the same gauge but are tuned a, E, a.
* Nurak Abdrakhmanov, Namazbek Uraliev

Dotar (Uzbekistan)

The Dotar (center in photo and close-up) is popular throughout Central Asia and can be fretless or have tied-on frets like this one. It is also called Tambur or Dombra. Dotar is Persian for "two strings".

They are tuned to the tonic and fifth. Traditionally, the body is made of mulberry wood and the neck of apricot wood.
* Abdorahim Hamidov


Sato (Uzbekistan)

A long-neck lute from Central Asia played mainly in Uzbekistan and Tajikistan, the Sato is made from hollowed-out mulberry wood with beautiful inlay on the side, neck and top.

As with all string instruments of Central Asia and the Middle East, the Sato has tied-on frets.

The sound holes are a few drilled holes in a geometrical design. It can be plucked or bowed. 


Ghaychak or Ghijak or Sarinda (Iran, Central Asia)

This is a double-chambered bowed instrument with the sound box carved out of a single piece of wood. The lower chamber is covered with skin. In Iran (L in photo) the left hand will finger the notes with the tips of the fingers and in Central Asia (R in photo) it is played like the Indian Sarangi with the cuticles pushing on the strings. The Iranian instrument has viola strings and is tuned like the viola but also has lots of alternate tunings. The Central Asian has three strings tuned E, B, e. The Iranian Gheychak was made in Iran with Claro Walnut from Northern California, so being here in Northern Nevada, it has now returned almost to it's origin!


Tajik Rawap or Pamir Robab (Tajikistan)

This beautiful instrument (to the left in the photos) is a fretless instrument with a hollowed-out body of apricot wood covered with skin, sometimes strung in double course, though mine is single-course. This Rawap has a high accent string like the Afghan Rebab with the tuner halfway up the neck. This one is tuned gg, G, g, F, A, D, G, C.

Dolan Rawap (Western China)

Similar in appearance to the Kashgar Rabab, this instrument comes from the neighboring Dolan people. Rawap is the Chinese spelling & pronunciation for Rabab.

Carved from a single piece of mulberry wood, hollowed out, with two straight extensions, the body is covered with a thick skin. Highly decorated with inlay, it has a neck just as long, but wider than the Kashgar Rabab.

This instrument can have metal or nylon strings. The one I play has two upper nylon strings and a cello string for the lowest string. There are ten extra strings that run over the same bridge which allows them to resonate as you play. They can also be strummed.

Dranyen or Dramyen (Tibet)

The Dranyen is the only plucked instrument in Tibetan folk and classical music. It is a fretless instrument with a thick, rather heavy neck.

The body and part of the neck are carved out of one piece of wood with carved ribs on the back (see photo.) It has six strings in three courses, originally made of silk, but a lot of players today use badminton strings.

The tuning is somewhat unusual, AA, dd, GG.
* Acho Namgyal





Pipa (China)

A string instrument from the lute family, dating back over 2000 years. The Pipa has a unique pear shape, with four large friction tuners. The four silk strings are tuned, low to high, A, D, E, a.

There are bamboo frets glued to the belly of the lute. The traditional playing technique includes very fast tremolos, using all of the right hand fingers in succession.

The higher quality Pipas have very ornate, hand-carved ivory head-stocks, on this instrument, a dragon (see close-up.) 
* Wu Man, Tang Liangxing, He Shu-Feng





Er-Hu (China)

This is the most widely used bowed instrument in China. It became popular in the Sung dynasty, approx. 1,000 years ago. This instrument only has two playing strings that are suspended above the body. The bow goes between the strings and requires both sides of the hair to be rosined. The sound box is covered with snake skin (see close-up), which gives the instrument its distinctive tone. The more yellowish-beige pigment there is in the skin, the younger the snake was and the better the tone is considered to be.  
* Zhu Changyau, Liu Ying



Matouqin (Mongolia)

The Matouqin ("ma-toe-chin") is a two-string bowed instrument in the range of the Western cello. Traditionally a lot of the instrument was made from different body parts of a horse, including horsehair from the tail for the strings. The modern-day instrument is made of wood with bunches of thin nylon strands making up the strings. string instrument from the lute family, dating back over 2000 years. The Pipa has a unique pear shape, with four large friction tuners. The four silk strings are tuned, low to high, A, D, E, a. There are bamboo frets glued to the belly of the lute. The traditional playing technique includes very fast tremolos, using all of the right hand fingers in succession. The higher quality Pipas have very ornate, hand-carved ivory head-stocks, on this instrument, a dragon (see close-up.) 
* Qinggele, Darima






Gu Zheng (China)

This beautiful instrument is made from a rare wood in China called zitan (gee-tan) with jade decorative flowers.

This is the original Asian zither influencing similar instruments in Japan, Korea and Vietnam.

The strings are plucked on the short side of the bridges. You can bend the notes by pushing on the left side of the strings. It is usually tuned to a pentatonic scale.
* Angela Jui Lee

Dan Tranh

This plucked zither derives from the Chinese Gu Zheng. The Dan Tranh has a smaller body and uses plain steel strings instead of steel-wrapped silk strings. Like the Gu Zheng, it is tuned to a pentatonic scale. This one has 17 strings tuned in Dmaj/Bmin. Like all Asian zithers, the player plucks the strings to the right of the bridges while pushing down to bend the string to the left of the bridges.

There are multiple levers for each course, which enable the player to get the exact quartertone notes in Middle Eastern music. The levers can also be used to modulate keys and create vibrato.

Gu Qin (China)

The Gu Qin ("chin") is an ancient Chinese instrument renowned for its subtle, tranquil and deep qualities. It has seven strings which are plucked with the right hand as the left hand slides in and out of the melody notes.

The entire top is the fingerboard with white position markers called huis ("ways".)




Zhong Ruan (China)

A plucked lute instrument with bamboo frets like the Pipa, but with a more guitar-like tone.

It comes in three different sizes, this being the middle one.

It is tuned G, D, g, d.
* Miao Xiaoyun 

Vihuela Andina (Chile)


A custom-built instrument by guitarist/luthier Mauricio Garay Sid in Renaca, Chile. It has a cedar top with jacaranda sides and back. It has seven courses consisting of four single bass strings; G, A, B, f# and three double courses; bb, ee and aa.
*Mauricio Garay Sid








Charangon – This instrument is outside the traditional trio that it is pictured with. It is a specialty instrument that could be called a baritone Charango, pitched a fourth lower.

Charango  - This is a ten-string South American mandolin with a very small body. Traditionally, the body was made out of an Armadillo shell, but these days it can also be made out of wood. It has five courses, that are tuned gg, cc, EE, aa, ee. This is a popular instrument in Andean music.
Waylacho - The Waylacho uses similar tunings to the Charango, but sounds a fourth higher.

Ronroco - The Ronroco uses similar tunings to the Charango, but but with different lower octave strings. My instrument, like my Charango, was built by Gamboa, one of the premier builders in Bolivia.
* Sukay, Alejandro Camara, Gustavo Santaolalla

Tiple (Venezuela)

This is a 12-string, small, guitar-like instrument (left side of photo) played mostly in the northern regions of South America. It has a triple-course set-up of the top four strings of a guitar (D. G, B, E). All the strings but the first one have a lower octave string in the middle of each course.

Requinto (Central and South America)

The Requinto (right side of photo) is also called an alto guitar. This instrument is tuned a fourth higher than a standard guitar. Mostly used for playing melodies in Mexican music. I like to play solo pieces on it.
* Jeff Linsky

Valiha (Madagascar, Africa)

A tube zither, made out of a large, hollowed-out piece of bamboo, sometimes called a tube harp. It has metal strings, tuned in a two-octave, diatonic scale, that encircle the whole body. I tune mine to a G-maj/E-min scale. The individual strings are tuned with small, movable wooden bridges. The melodies are played by going back and forth between the hands, like a Kalimba (an African thumb piano.) The sound is very similar to that of an Irish folk harp.
* Justin Vali

Donso Ngoni (Mali, Africa)

This string instrument, originating in West Africa, has a body made of calabash with a dried animal skin stretched over it. It has six strings in the bass range of the Kora family of African harps.This one uses the traditional "tuners" made of rawhide. The buzz-plate (see close-up creates a rattling effect when plucking the strings,which I generallydon't use.
*Don Cherry (CODONA)











Lira da Braccio and Gitterns

The Lira da Braccio (left in photo) is a European bowed instrument popular from the late Medieval to the early Renaissance periods to accompany the improvised recitations of lyric and narrative poetry. It was a transition instrument between the medieval fiddle, or Vielle, and the classical violin. The Lira has two free-standing strings that serve as an octave drone and five playable strings. The tuning I use on this instrument is G g for the drones and the rest, low to high, C c g d g’. The Gitterns (Long-Scale on the right, Short-Scale below) were popular plucked Medieval instruments, originating sometime in the 13th century. The bodies are carved from solid pieces of wood with tied-on frets. They both have five double courses. The short-scale is tuned DD, AA, dd, gg, cc. The long-scale is tuned a 5th lower GG, DD, gg, cc. ff. All three of these instruments were built by Glenn Braun of Chicago.
* Igor Pomykalo, Le Miroir de Musique




Viola d’Amore and 5-String Cello

Here we have two unusual variations on standard Western orchestral instruments. The Viola d’Amore (left in photo) is a variation on the 4-String Viola, which started appearing in Europe at the end of the 17th century. It is believed to be derived from Middle Eastern and Indian bowed instruments because of the resonating strings. Though originally this instrument was built with a flat back, my instrument is an arched-back like the orchestral Viola. Mine is called a 7x7, which means it has seven playing strings and seven resonating strings. The main strings are tuned. Low to high, A, d, a, d’, f#’ (or f’), a’, d”. The resonating strings have a wide variety of tunings, depending on the key one is playing in, but a popular on is reflecting the main strings

The 5-String Cello (right in photo) is a standard Cello with a high E added.
* Thomas Georgi, Jasser Haj Youssef, Rachael Barton Pine




7-String Bass Viol

This 7-String Bass Viol is my most recentaddition. It is also called the Viola da Gamba, Its size and range is very similar to the Cello, which eventually replaced it after the Baroque period. However, unlike the Cello, which uses an endpin, the Viol is traditionally played between the legs (hence the name 'Viola da Gamba', literally 'leg-viol'). Also, unlike the Cello,which has a sloped back, the Viol has a flat back with a cantered top (see photo). The viol first appeared in Europe in the late15th century and subsequently became one of the most popular Renaissance and Baroque instruments. Viols were heard primarily in ensemble, or consort, music.

* Jordi Savall, Paolo Pandolfo





Eminence Electric Upright Bass (EUB) and Shen 3/4 Willow Upright Bass

The Eminence EUB (left in photo) is the bass I use when touring. It is a 5-string with a low B and a piezo pick-up that I run into the mixer in concerts. The Shen (right in photo) is a beautiful acoustic upright that I use for recording in my studio. The C-extension (photo below) was added by Robertson’s Violin Shop in Albuquerque, NM. The levers permit an open Eb, D, Db and C below the normal low E.
* Charlie Haden, Scott LaFaro, Miroslav Vitous, Dave Holland, Edgar Meyer









Archtop and Resonator Guitars

These are two of my latest guitar acquisitions. On the left is the Loar LH-650 archtop which is a hand carved, solid, spruce top with solid-figured maple back and sides. It has a one-piece mahogany neck and a floating pickup. I use flat-wound strings to get that nice, warm Jazz tone. On the right is the Hot Rod Steel Guitar. This instrument is based on the traditional National resonator guitars. These were originally designed before amplification so guitars could be heard in orchestras in the 1920’s and 30’s. These days, they are mostly used in Blues with and without a slide. The one I own is a single cone. They are also made with a tricone.
*(Archtop) Wes Montgomery, Grant Green, Kenny Burrell, Jim Hall, Pat Metheny, Peter Bernstein (Resonator) Doug MacLeod, RL Burnside, Keb’ Mo’.

12-String Guitar

I have two of these Taylor 12-strings, one which is tuned to a standard DADGAD down to C, and the other uses all kinds of unusual tunings including some where the individual courses have different notes.


Ukulele (Hawaii)

The 8-string tenor Uke (L in photo) and the smaller soprano Uke (R in photo) are part of the lute family of instruments, using nylon or gut strings. The difference with the soprano Uke that I use is it is tuned like a Mandolin; G, D, a, e. The tenor Uke has four double courses; Gg. Cc. Ec. Aa. This tuning gives it its very characteristic Andean sound.
*Jake Shimabukuro



Electric Guitars

My last instrument as an electric guitarist was a 1955 Fender Telecaster, which I sold 30 years ago. (They are now selling for $20K+, WOW!) Bill Nash is building beautiful replicas of these rare 1950’s Fender guitars. 

So the three electric guitars I use are, left to right, a Bill Nash replica 1953 Telecaster, an Epiphone ES-35 Pro, and a Bill Nash replica 1957 Stratocaster.
*Robben Ford, Stevie Ray Vaughn, Eric Clapton, Peter Green, Jeff Healey, Albert King, Chris Cane, Sonny Landreth, Lonnie Mack, and Joe Bonamassa


This unique instrument was built by Mario Martin of Guitar Mill in TN. It is a fretless version of his hybrid Tele/Strat.







Electric Basses

Pictured on the right is the ESP LTD 6-String Bass with active electronics. Though I can play this as a standard bass, I have it tuned somewhat differently than how a bass player would tune his 6-string. Mine is tuned low to high: B, E, A, D, F#, B, which is one octave lower than a baritone guitar. I like to play more guitar chordal pieces on this instrument. On the left is a fretless Fender that I play in the traditional way. Between the two of them is the TC Electronics BG250. Great tone, very loud, and amazingly light-weight.



Unlike with the western violin and cello, all these bows are played with the palm up. The Kemenche bow (center left) has very loose hair. The player grabs hold of the hair and controls the tension. The Baroque bows (left and center right) are made out of snake wood (a very hard wood).

They are also played by gripping the hair for tension control. The Sarangi bow (right in photo) does not have adjustable tension. It is gripped on the frog (the wooden piece at the top).

The palm-up grip is the traditional way of holding bows throughout the world and almost all the bowed instruments throughout the world are played vertically.


Here is a selection of the different slides I use for Western guitar, Indian slide guitar and some Central Asian string instruments. The ceramic slides circling the center one in the photo are made by Doc Sigmier of Rocky Mountain Slide Company. The center one is a very unique tone-bar made by Kalyan Godden, which is used with the Indian slide guitar as it is played on the lap like a Western Dobro.
*Debashish Bhattacharya, Vishwa Mohan Bhatt, Ry Cooder, Bonnie Raitt, Kelly Joe Phelps, Sonny Landreth, Derek Trucks


I use a variety of standard and customized capos. The customized ones allow me to fret notes individually anywhere on the neck. As you can see on the guitar in the picture, I am able to use any amount of capos to create unusual tunings. These are generally used on the guitars and bass, but I even have one for the cello.

Photos with grey background by Gary Jameson, Reno, NV (775) 825-8999