Dan Tranh | Dan Tranh Music, How to Buy & How to Play

About the Dan Tranh


From Vietnam, the Dan Tranh is a plucked zither that is very similar to the Guzheng from China as well as the Gayagum from Korea. These are only a few of the other similar instruments in other Asian countries.


Essentially, the Dan Tranh consists of a long sound box that has steel strings, tuning pegs located on the top, and movable bridges. It once had 14 strings back in the 13th and 14th century and a century later the instrument was created with 15 strings. The more modern Dan Tranh has 6 strings and this version became popularized in the 1970s and 1980s. Today, you can find this instrument with up to 25 strings.



Traditionally, the body of this instrument is only between 104 cm and 120 cm in length. The soundbox of this instrument is created with six side-pieces, a flat bottom plate, and a curvy top plate. These top and bottom plates are typically created from Paulownia wood while the other wooden pieces are created from hard wood. Much like other string instruments, each of the string varies in diameter. When tuning these instruments, they are tuned to a pentatonic scale. This instrument is one that is definitely changed with the times to make it more modern though musicians tend to choose based on their own personal preference for this instrument.

Dan Tranh Music


Women would play this instrument for the royalty in the capital city of Hue


What is great about this instrument is that it sounds amazing as a solo instrument but also adds a unique flavor to a larger ensemble. When you look back at the origins of this instrument, women would play this instrument for the royalty in the capital city of Hue. Generally, you see this played on its own but sometimes it is played along with a vocalist or as part of an orchestra.



You will find this instrument in compositions that are culturally significant to Vietnam. This is the official instrument of Vietnam so you can expect this instrument in most music that comes out of this country.

How to Play the Dan Tranh


This is an instrument that is played by being plucked and lays down flat, similar to the autoharp. On the performer’s finger, they would typically wear a pick that is made from tortoise-shell, plastic, or metal. Typically, a performer will pluck the strings of the instrument with their right hand while the left hand will bend the strings to create various sounds.



Going back to the traditional way of playing this instrument, the performer will only generally use their thumb and index finger to play though they sometimes played with their middle fingers as well, using up to 3 fingers. For the more recent music compositions created for this instrument, a player may use an entire hand to play the instrument. In other recent works, there is even a call for the player to use both of their hands in order to make music. In addition to plucking, you can also create unique sounds by using such techniques as cupping, stroking, or pressing the strings as well.


How to Buy a Dan Tranh



The Dan Tranh can be quite hard to aquire. There are very few websites that sell the Dan Tranh. However, if you are in Vietnam, it should be no problem getting a hold of one. One website that sells Dan Tranhs is (not sponsored in any way):




If you are interested in buying some fun Dan Tranh accessories, you check out the products from Amazon down below:

(Keep in mind that the links below are affiliate links, which means that if you purchase via those, the website gets a small portion of the sale, which will help greatly in keeping it running).








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