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The cümbüş (pronounced [dʒymˈbyʃ]; sometimes approximated as /dʒuːmbuːʃ/ by English speakers) is a Turkish stringed instrument of relatively modern origin. Developed in the early 20th century by Zeynelabidin Cümbüş as an oud-like instrument that could be heard as part of a larger ensemble. In construction it resembles both the American banjo and the Middle Eastern oud. A fretless instrument, it has six courses of doubled-strings, and is generally tuned like an oud. In shape, though, it closely resembles the banjo with a metal resonator bowl and skin body head. It has a loud, metallic, resonant tone and is widely heard in Middle Eastern popular music.



The Cümbüş Company in Istanbul, Turkey manufactures several different models. They include:

  • The standard cümbüş: short neck, fretless, tuned like an oud
  • Saz-cümbüş: long neck, tie-on frets, tuned like the popular Turkish instrument the Baglama Saz
  • Cura-cümbüş: like the Baglama Saz model but higher pitched like a Cura Saz
  • Tambur-cümbüş: super long neck, tuned like Turkish classical instrument the Tambur
  • Yaylı tanbur - cümbüş: like the Tambur model, but played much like a cello with a bow
  • Guitar-cümbüş: fretted, tuned like a guitar
  • Mando-cümbüş: fretted, small, tuned like a mandolin
  • Cümbüş-Ukulele: fretted, small, tuned like a Ukulele

The word cümbüş is derived from the Turkish for "fun", as the instrument was marketed as a popular alternative to the more costly classical oud. When Mustafa Kemal Atatürk decreed that families take surnames, Zeynel Abidin adopted the name of his famous instrument. Cümbüş Music is still an active company in Istanbul and manufactures a wide range of traditional Turkish instruments.

Use in Western popular music

See also

External links



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