Gopichands, also known as gopiyantras or khamaks, are a popular folk instrument of Bengal. The gopichand is an instrument much used by the wandering minstrels known as the Baul.
There are several variations on the construction of gopichands. They may be as small as a foot long, or as long as three feet. Two to three feet is the normal length. The traditional gopichand consists of a length of bamboo that is split through most of the length. The two ends are pried apart and attached to a resonator. This resonator may be a coconut, gourd, metal container or a hollowed out cylindrical section of wood. The open end of the resonator is covered with taught skin and a string penetrates the center. This string is attached to a reinforced section in the center, then passes through the hollow of the resonator and attaches to a tuning peg located in the bamboo.
The sound of the gopichand is very distinctive. There is a peculiar bending of the pitch as the two legs of the bamboo are squeezed together by the left hand while the right hand plucks the string. This is a rhythmic instrument rather than a melodic instrument and it is used to accompany instruments such as kartal, dotar, or khol.
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.