The sarod is a string instrument that is most famously associated with Indian and hindustani music. This fretless chordophone has four to six melody strings that are played with a plectrum or the fingers, plus unplayed drone and sympathetic strings that can number from 13 to 20. Unlike a guitar, the player uses their fingernails on the fretboard rather than their fingertips.
History of the Sarod
The sarod’s most early ancestor is commonly believed to be the rabab (sometimes the rubab). The rebab was a lute-like instrument that probably developed in the 10th century and there are paintings and murals that suggest it existed in countries such as Iran in the 13th century. The rebab had sympathetic strings but unlike the sarod, this instrument was played with a bow on the strings and also had frets on the neck. Variations on the rebab began to arrive in India by the 16th century and were soon widely adopted. The name sarod means “beautiful melody” in Persian but it is unclear how and when this name change and design occurred. During the 19th century, the instrument became larger in size and more prominent in hindustani music. Today the sarod is commonly constructed from Indian teak wood with a stainless steel fretboard. The sound produced is comparable to the versatility of the human voice and the sarod is often played alongside other traditional Indian instruments like the tabla.
Inventor: Amjad Ali Khan

Where to Buy

£400 - £1,000

Hear the Sarod

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How to Play

A stringed instrument played by plucking the strings with the fingers to create sound. The player uses their fingernail instead of their finger tips on the fretless board.

In Popular Music

The sarod may be uncredited on popular music recordings like 'Norweigian Wood' and 'Within You Without You' by The Beatles as they sought an indian influence on their music.

Famous Players

Ali Akbar Khan, Amjad Ali Khan, Aashish Khan

Close Relations

Sitar, Veena
Video Credit: Philharmonia Orchestra
Understanding the Sarod




19th century






Instruments of Music

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