The bulbul tarang (or Indian banjo) is a common string instrument from India. Its name literally means "waves of nightingales".
SPECIAL NOTE - No Warranty on Strings: Whether you purchase an instrument on-line or in a neighborhood store, manufacturers recommend that you change the strings on your instrument as soon as you receive it. Your instrument has completed a long journey to your home. During this time the strings WILL oxidize and this may shorten their life expectancy and may reduce their sound quality. On occasion instruments may arrive with a broken string, therefore, it is recommended that you purchase a replacement set of strings and consider changing your strings as soon as it arrives. Learning to change strings should be the first lesson learned when embarking on the journey of playing a new instrument.
The instrument employs two sets of strings, one set for drone, and one for melody. The melody strings run under a key plate with keys similar to those of a piano, or more often, typewriter. Depressing the keys as the strings are plucked or strummed activates stops on the key plate which shorten the strings and changes their pitch. The instrument is common among folk musicians and children because of its very low price.
The melody strings are commonly tuned to the same note, or in octaves, while the drone strings are tuned to the 1st and 5th of the melody strings. Tuned in this manner, the instrument is uni-tonic, or unable to modulate to new keys. The melody strings may be tuned to different pitches if desired, however, rendering it multi-tonic, but more difficult to play. The bulbul tarang is most commonly played as accompaniment to singing. Indian instruments are usually tuned for the vocals or the particular Raga or song being played. They are not limited to one tuning.
An important note about Indian Banjo quality In general, the quality standards on Indian instruments usually focus on the functionality of the instrument. The esthetic quality is secondary; Indian instruments often sound better than they look. The BulBul Tarang is the most striking example of this phenomenon. Marred finishes, dents, dings, surface imperfections and general blemishes are standard.