Types of present day tanpuras
There are generally three main types of tanpuras; they are known as the Male, the Female and the Instrumental tanpuras. Their main difference lies in their size, because each has its own tuning preferences. The longest tanpura, the male, has the lowest tuning and the thickest strings. (For technical details of tunings and string sizes etc. see Manual). Slightly shorter in length and with a lighter choice of string thickness is the female tanpura. The instrumental tanpura, commonly known as tanpuri, used for accompaniment of the instrumental performances, is about half the length of the male tanpura. The male and female types have a gourd as a sound box. The tanpuri is made from one piece of wood.
There are two main styles in building tanpuras in North India, namely those from Calcutta or those from Miraj. The Calcutta tanpuras are more finely finished, whereas the Miraj tanpuras, although not so delicately finished, have a beautiful deep rounded sound. It is this full-bodied sound that has made Miraj famous, and it is well known that the best tanpuras come from there.
In the South, Thanjavur is associated with the best tanpuras. Instrument makers have succeeded in creating small tanpuras with equally fine resonance.
The South-Indian or Carnatic tanpura is known as the Tanjore tambura. The body is made from a complete full block of jackwood. South Indian tamburas have a wooden tumba. Its bridge is made of hard wood, unlike the Miraj models.