Structure and Operation

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The Pandura is essentially a long necked lute. While there were various versions, the underlying structure was the same: A slender, long neck, with three strings running from the narrow end to a semi-hemispheric resonating chamber. There is no hole in the resonating chamber, such as in guitars, just a hollow half-apple shaped body of wood, cut very thinly. Due to the thinness of the wood, the soundboard is curved, allowing for optimum resonance and volume when the strings are plucked. From the resonating chamber, the long neck extends and upon which, the frets rest. Depending on the type of pandura and the era/region, it could have anywhere from five to eighteen frets, distributed over half the length of the entire instruments. The interesting part about this distribution was the inclusion of both fixed and variable frets. For example, the eighteen-fretted pandura had five frets that were fixed, and the remaining thirteen were interspersed between them. The strings themselves are stretched between a small wooden bridge placed close to the bottom on the soundboard, and a raised nut near the end of the neck. The bridge itself is a precursor to the bridges used on modern day violins and other bowed instruments.

The operation was very similar to a modern day lute or banjo. Since straps were not a phenomenon in those times, the instrumentalist would usually play from a seated position, plucking strings with the right hand while manipulating the frets with the other. However, since the pandura was rather small and very lightweight, one could imagine it being played as one would an ukelele.

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