Musical Instrument Glossary G

Gadulka – Fiddle played upright. It has three or four strings. Bulgaria.

Gadje – Croatian bagpipe made of tanned sheep or goat leather. The gajdunica (chanter), dulac (blow pipe) and trubanj (drone) are made out of wood.

Inside the bagpipe there are three single-blade reeds (one in the drone and two in the chanter). Wooden pieces are usually ornamented with tin.

The Croatian bagpipe is a three-voiced instrument (many other bagpipes in the world have just two or one voices). Usually, it is in E tonality, although it can be made in D or F tonality.

The most common tones that can be played on bagpipes in E tonality are: deeply lying E tone (bordun), E tone and kvarta B (right side of gajdunica), and tones E, F#, G#, A, B, C# (left side of gajdunica).

The Croatian bagpipe is a very old instrument, and is played throughout Baranja, Slavonija, Posavina to the Bjelovar and Krizevci.

Variations: Slavonske gadje. Source: Stjepan Veckovic


Gadzo – Tall cylindrical peg-tuned drum. The head is made of antelope skin. The drum is played with the hands or with one hand and a stick. Ghana.

Gaida – A bagpipe from the Balkans region and Southeast Europe, including Macedonian and Bulgarian gayda; Bulgarian kaba gaida; Bulgarian djura gaida; the Greek γκάϊντα; Albanian, Croatian and Serbian gajde; and Slovak gajdy.


1. Spanish traditional bagpipe, usually with a single drone, and a plain leather bag. Several variations of the instrument can be found in Galicia, Asturias, Aragon and other parts of the country. Spanish piper, composer and instrument maker José Ángel Hevia Velasco, better known as Hevia, invented the multitimbric MIDI electronic bagpipe along with Alberto Arias and Miguel Dopico.

2. A double-reed instrument that is widespread throughout the Basque Country, and in the neighboring region of Navarre (Spain).

3. Colombian vertical long flute made out of wood. It is used in cumbia music.

4. The name given to the dulzaina in Aragon (Spain).

5. A three hole flute found in various parts of Spain.

Gaita gallega (Galician bagpipe)
Gaita gallega (Galician bagpipe)

Gaita charra – Three-holed flute. Spain.

Gaita de boto – Aragonese bagpipe. Also known as gaita aragonesa and gaita de fuelle. Spain.

Gaita de foles – Iberian bagpipe from the Zamora province of Spain and the Tras Os Montes region of Portugal.

Gajda – Goat-skin bagpipe. Macedonia.

Gadje – Croatian bagpipe.

Gajdy – Slovakian bagpipe.

Gajdy-moldánky – Moldanky bagpipe. Czech Republic.

Gamelan – Percussion orchestra of Indonesia.


Gandingan – Four-gong set. The Philippines.

Gamelatron – Fully robotic gamelan orchestra. A network of robotic mallets controlled by midi sequences; strike gongs, bells and percussive foundations. Composer, musician, and mixed media artist Aaron Taylor Kuffner developed the gamelatron using advanced robot technology developed by the League of Electronic Musical Urban Robots (LEMUR).

Ganga – 1. A cylindrical double headed drum. Ghana. 2. A drum played under the arm. Nigeria.

Gangkogui – Double iron bell from Ghana.

Gansadan – Burmese whirling gongs.

Ganza – A large tube shaker filled with small pellets. Most are made out of metal and some are multiple tubes attached together. Brazil.

Gaohu – Bowed lute. It is a smaller version of the erhu, developed for Cantonese music in the 1920s. A Chinese

Garamut – Massive slit log drums. Papua New Guinea.

Garantung – Xylophone from Sumatra.


Garrahand – Handcrafted instrument made in Argentina using recycled materials. A built-in microphone system (with gain level) allows it to be connected to any live sound equipment, and to be used with effects pedals for experimentation. Musicians playing garrahand in Argentina include Mariano Cantero, Santiago Vázquez, Alejandro Oliva, Marcelo Garcia.

Gasbah – A reed instrument from Algeria and Morocco.

Gaval – A tambourine with the jingles fastened inside the frame. The head is made from fish skin. Azerbaijani

G’bendi – Earth bow from the Baka forest people of southeast Cameroon. It’s a single stringed instrument that uses the earth itself as a sound box. A hole is dug and a thin piece of wood placed over it and pegged down firmly. A springy sapling is driven into the ground, bent over and attached to the center of the wooden board with a strong cord.

Geedal – A Bayaka bow-harp with five to seven strings. Central African Republic

Gehu – Bowed string instrument. It has four strings. The Gehu comes in two versions, depending on the size, the da-gehu (large) and the diyin-gehu (bass). China.

Gendang – A two-headed drum used in Indonesia and Malaysia. It’s known as kendang in Java (Indonesia).

Gendang indungna – Lead drum in Karo (Sumatran) ceremonial ensembles.

Gendang anakna – Ostinato drum in Karo (Sumatran) ceremonial ensembles.

Gender – Metal xylophone used in the Gamelan orchestras of Bali.

Ghaita – Double reed instrument. Morocco.

Ghatam – South Indian clay pot drum.

Ghaval – An Azerbaijani frame drum with jingles.

Gheychak – A fiddle from Baluchistan, an area in Iran near to the border with Pakistan

Ghichak – Afghan bowed string instrument.

Ghironda – Italian hurdy gurdy.

Gijak – Chinese fiddle made from walnut wood.

Gilo stones – An instrument created by striking certain stones with bamboo sticks of varying lengths, producing sounds like running water. Solomon Islands.

Giong – Giong are Vietnamese stamping tubes that are usually played in pairs. They are made of large bamboo pipes open on one end, which are struck on the ground or on a stone to produce a low percussive sound. The pitch is determined by the length and size of the pipe. They are native to the highland regions of Vietnam where, it is said, they were derived from sticks used for digging. Stamping tubes are found throughout South East Asia, Oceania, and in parts of Africa. Source: Khac Chi.

Giri – Ghanaian xylophone.

Goblet drum – A single headed drum in the shape of a goblet. It has a narrow waisted body and can be made out of wood, metal or pottery. It is also known as hourglass-shaped drum.

Gogo – Gnawan lute, better known as sintir. It is derived from the West African word for fiddle.

Goje – 1. Nigerian spike fiddle. 2. one string fiddle from northern Ghana. A snakeskin covers a gourd bowl, horsehair is suspended on the bridge. It is played with a bow string.

Gome – Rectangular frame drum played by the hands and feet (Ghana). While the drummer is sitting on the gome and playing the drum with his hands, he is changing the pitch by varying the position of his heels.

Gong – A circular metal plate of various dimensions used as a percussion instrument. It is struck with a padded hammer.

Gongguluur – Tuvan term for ‘gonging’ or clashing hand bells together for percussive effect.

Gongo – Bells. Ghana.

Gongon – Ghanaian cowbell.

Gonje – Bowed lute (Ghana).

Gonkogu – Bells. Ghana.

Gordon – Romanian term for acoustic bass.

Gorodo – Accordion. Madagascar.

Gorong talmbat – Small tenor accompanying Wolof drum in a sabar drum set. Senegal.

Gorong yeguel – Small tight drum used in a sabar drum set, Wolof (Senegal).

Gourd – The dried hollowed-out shell of the fruit of a vine from the cucurbita family, which includes the squash, melon, pumpkin, cucumber.

Gralla – Traditional reed instrument made from wood, about 70 cm long. The cone shaped gralla is usually found in the Catalan region of Spain. In many other parts of Spain it is known as dulzaina.

Griezyne – Fiddle. Lithuania.

Grumla – Czech jew’s harp.

Gu – The common Chinese name for drum.

Guacharaca – Colombian cane scraper of indigenous origin. The instrument was originally rubbed with an animal bone.

Guaché – Colombian wooden shaker.

Gua-gua – A hollow bamboo stick with a slit, mounted on a stand. It is struck with a stick called palito. Cuba.

Guan – A wood or bamboo cylinder fitted with a reed mouthpiece. China.

Guanzi – A short pipe of bamboo or hardwood with a large double reed mounted on the blowing end. China.

Guarará – Metal tube shaker. Brazil.

Guases – Tubular shaker. Colombia.

Guayo – A serrated gourd that is scraped with a stick used as percussion instrument in the Dominican Republic. It can also be made out of metal, which is scraped with a metal fork. The Cuban guayo was originally a home made coconut grater.

Guda – Name given to the double chanter polyphonic bagpipe by the Laz people. Turkey.

Gudastviri – Droneless, double-chantered Georgian bagpipe.

Gudok – Fiddle. Russia.

Gudu – Small support drum, mostly played with sticks. Ghana.

Güira – Scraper made with perforated tin that is rubbed rhythmically with a fork. Dominican Republic.

Güiro – Scraper of the Spanish-speaking Caribbean (Cuba, Puerto Rico). It is a long, fretted gourd rubbed with a stick. Also known as güícharo

Gudugudu – A small wood kettle drum played with two long thin rawhide sticks. Nigeria.

Güícharo – A Puerto Rican variety distinguished by thinner grooves than those of a Cuban güiro.

Guimbarda – Spanish jew’s harp. Also known as trompa, arpa de boca, birimbao.

Guimbri – A Gnawa three-stringed bass instrument. It is plucked and of West African origin. Also known as sentir and sintir.

Guitar – A stringed instrument originally from Spain. It has a large, flat-backed sound box, a violin-like curved shape, a fretted neck, and six strings.

1. Flamenca negra – a hybrid of the Flamenco and classical guitar. Its name derives from the dark rosewood used for the back and sides. Spain.

2. Flamenco guitar – a lighter weight version of the classical Spanish guitar. The neck is made of cedar and it features wooden tuning pegs. The strings have a low action to aid percussion and speed. Flamenco guitar style includes rhythmic tapping and requires an attacking sound with little sustain. Spain.

3. Hawaiian guitar – a guitar with steel strings that are plucked while being pressed with a movable steel bar. USA.

4. Portuguese guitar – a guitar with 12 strings in 6 courses, a curved fingerboard and fan-type peg tuners. Portugal.

5. Electric guitar – A musical instrument derived from the guitar in which the vibration of the strings is received and amplified through electronic equipment such as bridge pickups and controls, including volume and tone. Some of the most reputable electric guitars include the Gibson Les Paul and the Fender Stratocaster.

Guitarra de Golpe – A Mexican variation of the Spanish guitar. It is about 3/4 the size of a standard guitar and is used as a rhythmic instrument in mariachi music. The tuning can vary from region to region. Also known as guitarra mariachera.

Guitarra de son – A guitar used in son jarocho. Also known as requinto jarocho. Mexico.

Guitarra portuguesa – Double six-stringed, teardrop-shaped guitar that gives Portuguese fado music its distinctive bright, metallic timbre. Traditionally played by men, both as an accompaniment to fado singers and as a solo instrument with its own repertoire, the Portuguese guitar is at the heart of that nation’s rich musical heritage.

Guitarrico – Very small Spanish guitar. It is related to the timple (Canary Islands) and cavaquinho (Portugal).

Guitarrillo – A small guitar with 12 metal strings used in Spain and other Spanish-speaking countries. Also known as timple and guitarrico.

Guitarro – Small Spanish five string guitar. Guitarro manchego, aragonés and levantino are different regional variations of the same instrument.

Guitarrón – Large bass guitar of Chile and Mexico. The guitarrón is a very large guitar-like instrument with a short neck, six strings, no frets on the fingerboard and a belly in the back.

Gulintang – Bidayuh wooden xylophone that consists of 10-11 slats of wood. These are hit with wooden beaters and can be used as single or double-line melodic instruments. The gulintang is used to celebrate a marriage, warn of an emergency or during the Temarok or harvest festival. Sarawak, Malaysia. Sarawak, Malaysia. (source: Bisayah Gong Orchestra )

Gulu – Cylindrical drums. Ghana.

Gulusago – Laced drum. Ghana.

Guluzoro – Laced drum. Ghana.

Gungon – A large bass drum with a single snare made from a leather string along the upper part of the face of the drum. Ghana.

Gungonga – Hourglass drum. Ghana.

Gunguru – Globular bells that are normally tied to a dancer’s feet. India.

Guqin – A seven-stringed plucked zither. Its body is a long wooden sound box. As one of the oldest Chinese musical instruments, the guqin is the most revered of the Chinese “long zithers.” With a history of over 3,000 years, the guqin has a repertory which is the most refined in Chinese music. It demands of the solo performer the highest knowledge, skill, and musicality. also spelled gu qin and guoqin. China.

Gung-gong – A Dagomba bass drum. Ghana.

Gurkel – A one-string lute. Mali.

Gusle – Serbian and Montenegrin one-stringed fiddle made of thirty horsehairs. The string is only touched, not depressed, so that harmonics only are sounded. It is held between the legs with the long neck supported on one thigh.

Gusli – Traditional zither with 16 metal strings. Russia.

Guzheng – A traditional plucked zither, also called zheng. It was invented before 231 B.C. during the Chin Dynasty. The guzheng has twenty-one strings tuned pentatonically with a movable bridge. It is the parent of the Japanese koto and is the main Chinese “long zither”apart from the rare and venerable qin.

Guzheng. Courtesy of Wind Records.
Guzheng. Courtesy of Wind Records.

Gwata gourds – An instrument used in popular dances. It is slapped with a handheld fan of metal spokes. Uganda.

Gyaling – Tibetan oboes played as a pair by Tibetan monks in Buddhist rites. The players use cyclic breathing to provide a continuous sound.

Gyil – A long xylophone, about 1.5 meters long (5 feet), with seventeen keys, each with a corresponding gourd resonator. Also known as Dagaa gyil. Ghana.

Gyterne – A short-necked lute.