The Western Electric Guitar entered the Carnatic scene even before the Mandolin, but the latter somehow overtook it. In recent times though, it's once again caught the fancy of performers and the public. The Hawaiian Guitar is however, still not very popular.

The Guitar used in Carnatic music is the same as the Western version although the pitch and tuning vary. Performers also use typical Vina techniques to produce all the unique ornamentations of the system.


Construction: The body of the instrument has a waist-like shape with a flat back and a flat sound board. It has a fretted neck, over which the strings pass. It is played like the normal guitar, but also uses the techniques of Vina-playing, so as to enable the performer to produce all the ornamentations typical to Indian music. The Hawaiian guitar uses the technique of Chitravina because of the slide.

Tuning: The modern guitar has six strings tuned to E, A, D, G, B, E and has a range of three octaves. The usual pitch for the Electric Guitar is 3 (E) or 2 1/2 (D#), whereas the Hawaiian Guitar is tuned to 1 (C).

Posture: As per the Carnatic tradition, the artiste squats on the floor. The position in which the instrument is held, is almost identical to that of the West. However, in the case of Hawaiian Guitar, the instrument is usually placed on the performer's lap.

Musical Expressions