Next to the sitar, the sarod is the most well-known stringed instrument in Hindustani classical music.
The sarod’s resonant body, neck and peg box are made from one single piece of tun or teak wood. The wooden body is covered with goatskin which has a think horn bridge to hold the strings. The fingerboard on the neck consists of a polished, shiny steel plate and does not have any frets. Strings are pressed down against the fingerboard with the nails and you can easily spot a sarod player because he or she will have long flat-ended nails on one hand!
Like Sitar, the sarod has tarabs, a set of un-plucked ‘sympathetic’ strings that are tuned to each musical note, vibrating when the main strings are played, giving the characteristic ‘echo-like’ effect. The strings are struck or plucked with a pick made of coconut shell while the instrument is placed on the lap, sitting cross-legged.
Performers such as Ustad Ali Akbar Khan and Ustad Amjad Ali Khan have made the sarod known beyond South Asia.