The tanbur is plucked string instrument. It has two strings and because of this it is also called dotar (“do” means two in Persian and “tar” means string). However, in the province of Kerman Shah it is called tanbur and has three strings. The best documents about the history of this instrument are the paintings and descriptions in Farabi’s Musiqi al-Kabir (950 ). In this book, Farabi mentions the two kinds of tanbur; the tanbur of Khorasan and the tanbur of Baqdad.
In Persia, there are eight different kinds of tanbur with different sound characteristics. They are: The tanbur of the eastern Khorasan, the Turkish tanbur of the Northern Khorasan, the Kormanji tanbur of the Northern Khorasan, the tanbur of Eastern Khorasan, the tanbur of Turkmen Sahara , the tanbur of Mazandaran, the Taleshi tanbur, and the tanbur of Kermanshah.
The tanbur of the eastern Khorasan has the biggest sound box or bowl, and the Taleshi tanbur has the smallest sound box. The style of playing the tanbur is mostly similar in all different regions, but the personal styles and techniques of the players plus the different physical shapes of the different tanburs cause some differences in the produced sounds of these different tanburs.
The most well- known tanbur players are: Hussein Samandari, Abdollah Sorur Ahmadi from the eastern Khorasan. Mohammad Hussein Yeganeh, Haj Gorban Solaymani, and Olya Qoli Yeghaneh of the Northern Khorasan. Nazarli Mahjubi from the Turkmen Sahara and Mohammad Reza Eshaqi from Mazandaran. Darvish Amir Hayati, Baba Qolam, and Amrollah Ebrahimi from the province of Kermanshah.