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I agree, that's an interesting instrument. Quiet but with a nice tone - I figure there's some significant skill involved in getting the right "wah" tone by moving it against the chest.

Your post prompted me to do some research on tradional Thai instruments. If you're curious then you might want to check out the following links:

Check out the wacky double-necked Phin.  I love that headstock arrangement.

The link from that blog to the "Thai Ghost Festival" vid doesn't seem to work but I think I tracked down the full movie online at the following URL - looks like one seriously crazy party!

The "guitar" bit referred to in the blog is at about 22 minutes in.

Thank you for sharing Mark. You did some good research. It is interesting to see that a 3 string instrument to the Thai music community is a norm. Also, you can hear their heavy reliance on the pentatonic scale too. Enjoy.   

Hi all. I actually have been looking for one of these for over a year, and I finally found one from Thailand. =)

This particular one I have has 4 strings. Sometimes, they only have 2, and I have seen them up to 5 strings.

Without getting too in depth about thai musical notation, the cents, or the values between their note system, is not the same as C-C#-D etc...

After extensive research, this is what I also know about them, and the one I have:

Tuning: (they use their own symbols)

ด ร ม ซ ล    
When looking at a thai scale, instead of DO, RE, MI, FA, SOL, LA, TI, DO (C, D, E, F, G, A, B, C), they use F-G-A-Bb-C-D-Eb.'s my hypothesis after writing back and forth with the luthier that the closest way in a Western sense would be TI, DO, MI, SOL, or (Eb, F, A,C). Unfortunately, like I said, just an educated guess.
Further Notes:

Traditionally silk strings are used, but presently steel strings are used.

Alternative Names:
Phin Pya, Pia, Phia.
Northern Thailand, 12th century.


Mine has these materials:

Side Material:
Coconut shell
Neck Material:
Ching-chan (also known as Burmese Rosewood)
Tuning Machines:
Carved ching-chan wood
Is there ANYONE out there that can teach someone from the U.S. how to tune one of these properly? I cannot speak or read Thai, so this is difficult. From the Youtube video, I know it's played by harmonics or open, but I can't tell when he is playing it open, which string he's playing, or when he hits a harmonic during the scale.
Any information or lead is much appreciate. I am in Baltimore, so if there are anyone who can help in person from here to D.C., that's great as well.

Thank you for sharing Jason. Interesting. It might take considerable internet work, but eventually you might find an English speaking person from Thailand who can help you. Have you tried posting on facebook and reaching out to the community? It sounds like an interesting project. Please keep me in the loop. If you figure out how to play it traditionally, I would love to hear it. My intention about some of the exotic instuments that I found in the past was to just experiment and use my own approach. Enjoy the adventure, Keni Lee   

Girl rocks a Hendrix song on a Korean instrument called the gayageum.

Thanks for sharing Dan. This video is the bomb!!!


Maybe take the Thai tuning instructions to a Thai restaurant and have a nice dinner, then ask if anyone could please translate for you?

Sawadee krap,

The Thai instrument on ebay was indeed a Phin Pia,or a Kse Diev as they call it in Cambodia (instrument of the heart)


But the Thai / Lao Phin is a different instrument,(phin just means string instrument),mostly with 3 strings,occasionally with 2 or 4 strings,sometimes a double neck with different tunings

2 strings

How to make a Phin from  jackfruit wood

if this man says "Mai" he means wood, "Mai kanoon" = jackfruit wood


Tuning and nr of strings can differ from province to province ,also the placing of the frets,most common tuning is E-A-E thickest string is mostly used as a drone.Do not be surprised if they change fretting in between songs :D

See the fret change and retuning here:

A classic tune:


Would love to get my hands on a Phin,but import&taxes make it very expensive,have to build myself...or wait untill we visit my wife her family in Thailand.

These are considered as the rolls royce among Phin ,see the prices, add 33% tax and import :/

With my small knowledge of Thai language i found this about tuning :

My Thai is not good enough to translate, 26 vowels,44 consonants and 6 tones is too much for me :/ you have to be Thai to invent something like this....

Ive got to get me one of those !

Another strange one I saw once in Cambodia , the Chapei, very high frets for bending

could not resist the search, unfortunately for me in the US  :(


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