Also:       phanduri      

Title: Voyage en URSS--Mitsem Souri; N. Nadirachvili, salamouri, R. Nadirachvili and G. Assanachvili, panduri. Label: Le Chant du Monde. Format: CD. Catalogue#: LDX 274 921. Track: 20.

Contextual Associations

The panduri is a strummed bowl-lute chordophone of Georgia, which is located in western Asia between the Black and Caspian Seas. It is associated with several ethnic groups most of whom live in villages in the eastern mountainous area (the Caucasus) of Georgia. Traditionally the instrument is played chiefly by men for accompanying solo songs and polyphonic choral singing. During much of the 20th century when Georgia was part of the Soviet Union, the panduri and other regional folk instruments were modernized and became tools of social engineering in the hands of state-run folkloric ensemble musicians. In post-Soviet times, while still part of living village culture of now independent Georgia, the panduri is also found in national folkloric groups based in the capital and other cities.


The vaulted bowl resonator of the panduri (see detail image) is made from five slats or ribs of wood that are individually shaped and bent before being glued together, their ends glued to semicircular blocks of wood. The resulting pear-shaped hollow body is covered with a flat soundboard of straight-grained softwood (spruce or pine) that, near its center, has a circular soundhole (see main gallery image). A pressure bridge, held in place by the downward force of the tensioned strings, is placed a few inches below the soundhole, above a small second hole burnt into the soundboard. The neck and scroll-shaped pegblock are carved from a single piece or wood, the two sections divided by an inserted wooden nut (a raised ridge). The flat topside of the neck serves as the instrument’s fingerboard, which has seven wood frets inserted into grooves cut laterally across it. Glue is used to join the foot of the neck to the upper resonator block. Three nylon strings (historically of gut) in single courses have nooses at their bottom end that are looped around a shared tail button imbedded in the block at the bottom end of the resonator. After bending over the bottom edge of the soundboard and passing over the bridge, the strings continue in a parallel plain just above the soundboard and the fretted fingerboard until they make contact with the nut. They are then threaded through and wound around the ends of lateral-mounted tuning pegs. All three strings have the same vibrating length of 19.5 inches as measured from the bridge to the nut.

Player - Instrument Interface and Sound Production

The panduri can be played either by a seated of standing performer and held horizontally or with its pegbox end raised up to about a 45-degree angle, the soundboard facing outwards. The player strums the strings in both directions with upward and downward motions of the right hand, stopping the strings against the fretted fingerboard with the fingertips of the left hand. Single-line melodies are not generally played; at all times 2- or 3-part polyphonic music, generally doubling vocal parts, is played. The standard tuning for the panduri is: G3 - A3 - C4 (interval pattern of M2 - m3), with a range of G3 - C5. It is a diatonic instrument, not fretted to produce a chromatic scale. The instrument has a modest dynamic range.


Some scholars speculate that the three-string panduri evolved from an archaic and now extinct two-string version of the instrument, mostly on the grounds that there are separate two-voice and three-voice polyphonic repertoires played on the modern day three-string instrument. They argue that the individual strings on the instrument are named after the voice parts in Georgian polyphonic choral music, and two-part polyphonic choral music is considered older than three-part music. It is unclear just how old the three-string version of the panduri is. Panduri string carriers (resonator and neck sections) are also made from a solid block of wood covered with a wood soundboard. This likely is an older design than that of the instrument described here.

Bibliographic Citations

Chkhikvadze, Grigol , and Joseph Jordania. “Georgia.” In Grove Music Online, accessed October 7, 2014:

n.a. 1984. “Panduri [phanduri].” NGDMI v.3: 10.

Shilakadze, Manana. 2010. “Polyphony and Folk Musical Instruments.” In Echoes from Georgia: Seventeen Arguments on Georgian Polyphony. Rusudan Tsurtsumia and Joseph Jordania


Instrument Information


Continent: Asia

Region: West Asia

Nation: Georgia

Formation: Georgian

Classification (Sachs-Von Hornbostel revised by MIMO)

321.321 chordophone--necked bowl lute: the handle is attached to or carved from the resonator, like a neck

Design and Playing Features

Category: chordophone

String carrier design: lute - joined

Resonator design, chordophone: bowl with wood soundboard

String courses: single

Vibrational length: pressure bridge to ridge-nut

String tension control: friction peg

Method of sounding: strumming

Pitches per string course: multiple (by pressure stopping against fretted fingerboard)


29.8 in. length 7.3 in. greatest width 3.7 in. greatest depth of resonator

Primary Materials

string - synthetic

Entry Author

Roger Vetter