A Brief History of the Baglama Saz
is a chordophone and is a member of the long necked Lute family. Such
long necked Lutes have an ancestry that can be traced as far back as the
ancient cultures of Babylon and Sumeria. The Saz of Anatolia, likely descended
from the Kopuz. The term Kopuz is used to refer to any number of long
necked stringed instruments used by Turkish tribes at the turn of the
last millennium. Like other ancestral long necked Lutes, the Kopuz had
strings of hair and leather bodies. Through the years several new forms
of long necked Lutes evolved from these earlier Kopuz. In the 15th century
the use of metal strings marked the emergence of the Cogur. The Cogur
is believed to be transitional between the Kopuz and the Saz. The addition
of metal strings added greater stress to the body. This required that
the weaker leather body be replaced by a body constructed of wood. Today
the Saz is generally larger than the Cugur. The Saz shares the metal strings
and wooden body, but has a longer neck with frets.
In ancient times the Kopuz was believed to have had mystical powers
strong enough to protect a warrior if carried into battle. In the 17th
century the Alevi and Bektasi dervishes, religious practitioners, traveled
the century country side of Anatolia. They commonly carried the smallest
the Saz, the Cura to accompany them in their religious hymns. Today the
Saz is used in a number of religious ceremonies.
Today the Saz is the most important instrument of the Turkish folk. The
Saz may even define the poetic heart of the Turkish people. It would be
impossible to find a region, in Anatolia which did not know this string
Its general shape is similar to the Bouzouki and Oud. The differences
are in the dimensions of the peg box and resonator. The Saz resonator-body
is deeper than is it wide. Traditionally the body is carved of mulberry
wood, juniper, beech, spruce or walnut; these bodies are called oyma (one
block of wood). Today the body is also made of other woods in stave construction,
yaprakli (leaves) in Turkish. The 6 to 8 metal strings are tied to a block
(the tekne) mounted at the base of the soundboard. From there they run
over a bridge on the soundboard (göðüs). They continue over
neck (sap) with its 10-19 or more, low tied nylon frets to the tuning
pegs (burgu). The long narrow neck is usually made of fir. It terminates
in a narrow peg box that is at a slight angle to the neck. The 6 to 8
strings are tuned by pegs, which are set at 90 degrees to one another.
Half the pegs are on the side of the peg box and the other half project
up from the top of the peg box. The metal strings may be steel or brass.
They usually have 3 courses of 2 strings each, though this can vary. Traditionally
the strings were plucked by long oblong cherry bark plectrums (Mýzrap
or Tezene in Turkish). Today the plectrums are plastic. Sound holes are
varied in number, position and style. They may be absent, or appear on
the soundboard, or caved in the sides of the body. Some sound holes have
decorative rosettes, others are plain openings.
Within the Saz family there are several classes. These classes are usually
distinguished based on the size of the instrument. The Smallest, highest
pitched, of the Saz family is called the Cura. Since it is easy to travel
with a smaller instrument, the Cura is favored by street musicians. It
has a small body and short fingerboard and has 6 strings in 3 courses.
The Baglama, or Tambura is the middle sized Saz. The Baglama comes in
two style: the short fingerboard, regarded as sacred by the Alevi and
Bektasi sects, and the long fingerboard with more frets known as the bozuk.
Both types have seven strings in three courses.
The largest Saz with the deepest sound are known as Divan or Meydan Saz.
Today the plain, unornamented, Divan is the commonly used in Turkey. It
is the largest in both body size and fingerboard length.
Turkish players sometimes make distinctions based on the number of strings
per course or the total number of strings. The rare Oniktelli Saz has
4 courses of double strings. The more common string arrangement is 3 courses
of 2 strings. This is seen in the Altitelli. In the Bozuk and Yeditelli
the lowest first course has 3 strings and the second and third courses
each have 2 strings.
Saz Offered by DulcimerShofar
All the Saz offered by DulcimerShofar are manufactured and imported directly
The Cura Saz (SAZR) is approximately 36“, has 6 strings and comes
with a soft case, extra stings and a plectrum. It is un-decorated with
an open sound hole.
The Baglama Saz (SAZB) is approximately 39“, has 6 strings and
comes with a soft case, extra stings and a plectrum. It is un-decorated
with a rosette sound hole.
The Baglama Saz, Deluxe ( SAZD ) is approximately 39", has 7 strings
and comes with a soft case, extra stings and a plectrum. More decorated
than the standard model (SAZB) with inlays on the neck and a rosette sound
The Baglama Saz, Professional (SAZP) is approximately 40", has 7
strings and comes with a soft case, extra stings and a plectrum. Highly
decorated inlay on neck and around rosette sound hole.
Accessories sold separately include:
Baglama Saz Book ( SAZK ) Turkish Instrument Method by Temel Hakki Karahasan.
Baglama Saz String Set ( SAZS ) Made in Turkey
Baglama Saz Case ( SAZC ), Solid fiberglass case for Saz approximately
39" by 9".
Saz, Care and Tuning
For the 6-stringed instruments the most frequently used tunings, low
to high are:
GG-DD-AA: The most common Baglama tuning, called bozuk duzen
For the 7-stringed instrument, the most frequently used tuning, from
low to high, is:
GG, DD, AAA
As you can see, there are a number of tunings that can be used. Tunings
for Baglamas vary by region. You will likely find Baglamas tuned differently
in every part of Turkey. Many players tune their Saz to match their voice
or for the specific folk song, or maqam, being played.
The traditional method of playing the Saz is to pluck with the fingers
of the right hand and note the strings with the fingers, and occasionally
the thumb, of the left hand. Today however, most players use a plastic
plectrum to strum the strings. Professional players also use electronic
pickups to amplify the sound. When playing without the plectrum the fingers
of the right hand strike the strings. This method is called selpe. When
playing with the fingers or a plectrum, players can add rhythm, by hitting
the soundboard with the right hand.