Folk & Acoustic Musical Instrument Specialists

Balalaika Information and FAQs


Lute-type; triangle shape; national instrument of Russia. Really a family of instruments, including Piccolo, Prima, Secunda, Alto, Bass and Contra-bass.


The Balalaika is a triangular bowl backed lute from Russia. The Balalaika is a family of instruments, the soprano one here is the lead instrument. The family includes six sizes of instrument; Piccolo, Prima, Sekunda, Alto. Bass and Contrabass- the Prima being the most common. They are either 3 string EAA or six string DAE. Sometimes strung with 2 nylon As and a 0.10 plain steel E


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Russia and many other Slavic speaking countries, Turkey and those in Europe once ruled by Turkey use instruments with similar tunings. Russian Domra, Croatian Brac, Baglama, Saz and many more.


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The Balalaika usually has 3 strings tuned E-E-A. Although this is the "classic" tuning, some players tune G-B-D, the same as the top three strings of a Russian Guitar, or E-A-D, like the Domra- A similar Russian instrument. Prior to the developments made by Vasily Vasilievich Andreyev (a 19th century Russian musician) Balalaika players used a "folk" tuning; D-F#-A, and it is likely that other tunings existed as well. Nowdays, although all of these tunings have been or are in use, it is generally agreed that E-E-A is the standard tuning for the Prima Balalaika.