A little intro to tanpouras

Miraj tanpouras

Miraj tanpouras

Every year when I come back from India, I bring tanpouras back home. I love bringing tanpouras because they are magical instruments, they create amazing overtones! And they are simple instruments to play.

If you

  • like exploring sound vibrations and sound healing

    or

  • have a sacred/devotional singing practice

    or

  • are interested in sound meditations

    or

  • like overtone instruments such as Tibetan bowls and didgeridoos

Tanpouras might be for you :)

Over the years I have learnt how to choose them and got to know the makers as well. Also, here at the Dhrupad institute in Bhopal, I became one of the people in charge of introducing new students to this instrument.

Unfortunately the art of tanpoura is slowly getting lost, with the advent of the "i-tanpoura" (believe it or not). So I hope to spread "real tanpoura" magic as much as possible.

Tanpouras are designed to be easy to play, it is just a drone instrument meant to support your vocal explorations, or your sound meditations (I'll offer a free lesson to all tanpoura 'purchasers').

I will make a small profit on the instrument sales, which goes to support my studies here in India. And even with the profit I take you get to have access to a tanpoura personally chosen and/or ordered by a tanpoura lover (me :) ) at a smaller price than if you bought it in the West.


Types of tanpouras

1) tanpouri (aka travelling tampouras), which are smaller, compact, and flat (in the picture where the little boy is holding the tanpoura)

2) regular tanpouras, which are taller, with a round gourd (in the two other pictures).

Tanpouras can also be male or female. This distinction has to do with the pitch of its strings.

In the case of regular tanpouras :

1) Female are slightly smaller, and can be tuned to a 'SA' which can range from E, F, G and A. Ideal for female singers,  who usually sing in that range.

2) The male tanpoura is slightly bigger and can be tuned to C, or some notes around it (B, A, or D). Ideal for male singers who usually sing in this range.

In the case of tanpouris:

The body of the instrument is the same, but the strings change depending on the pitch you want it to be.


Tanpouris

rikiram’s tanpouri with no decoration (decoration is available upon request)

rikiram’s tanpouri with no decoration (decoration is available upon request)

medium quality tanpouri with decoration

medium quality tanpouri with decoration

Great if you want to carry it around, and travel with it or if you want a smaller less expensive instrument to start with.

There are different models of tanpouris, depending on the maker. I usually buy either from Rikiram, who is considered by some as the best tanpouri available in India. His tanpouri is a bit more expensive, but I find it is worth it. My personal tanpouri is from him.

If you want a tanpouri from him, it is possible to order ahead of time, and choose decorations.

For those who don't want to invest on a top quality tanpouri, there are other tanpouris available, which can be very decent. We cannot order ahead of time. I usually check all models available once I am in Delhi (this year it will be April 4th). Once at the music instrument shops, I can take pictures, try out the sound, and send the info concerning pricing to you. You can choose (and I can advise), and purchase must be confirmed by April 5th in the morning. I leave on the 6th.

Tanpouri price range:

180US$ to 200US$ approx. (have to check prices onsite) : Cheap quality (not great but it will make some sound and might be an introduction to the instrument).
250US$ to 350US$ approx (have to check prices onsite): better quality, the resonance of the sound will definitely be better.

570US$ approx (I will try to negotiate the price) Rikiram’s tanpouri: this tanpouri sells for 1000US$ approx. when shipped to Canada (shipping included), so bringing it directly from India or having me shipping it to you directly will save you a lot of money.

Besides the instrument, you will need a case. A soft case comes for free with any purchase. A hard case has to be bought. Rikhi Ram hardcase costs 130US$ aprox, I can check if I can find cheaper cases onsite. If the instrument is sent via post  or as checked luggage in the airplane you will need a hard case. Else, you may need just a soft case.


Regular Tanpouras

Great if you want to have the experience of deeper resonance and subtle harmonics. Regular tanpouras are definitely more resonant than tanpouris. They are more delicate instruments too, and require big spaces to be transported. (I do travel with mine when needed, but I leave it at home as much as possible).

Made by a maker in Miraj, one of the top makers in India. My teacher actually says this maker is the best, and they only buy from them.

There are basically two models of regular tanpouras I like to bring. One is of medium quality and the other is of top quality. They look the same, but the medium tanpouras are made with slightly cheaper wood, and the bridge of the instrument is a bit less resonant. Still they have a decent sound.

The top quality tanpouras are made with a more expensive wood and the bridge resonates better. I really love them, and although more pricy, it is definitely not expensive when you think you are getting a great instrument by a great maker. In the west a great guitar by a great maker would probably cost 20x more than this :)

Depending on time restraints and availability, you can also choose how much decoration they put in the instrument (the more decoration you choose, the higher the price goes, but not much). It is possible to choose the color of the instrument as well. In the pictures besides you can see the 3 degrees of decoration + different options for colors.

Female tanpouras

  • Medium quality tanpoura, sparce decoration 510US$

  • Medium quality tanpoura, medium decoration 550US$

  • Medium quality tanpoura, lots of decoration 590US$

  • Top quality tanpoura, sparce decoration 690US$

  • Top quality tanpoura, medium decoration (this is the model I have) 740US$

  • Top quality tanpoura, lots of decoration 770US$ (that is the one I have, and l love it!)

Male tanpouras

So far nobody has asked for them. If you are interested in a male tanpoura, let me know, I will find out the exact prices.

When ordering a regular tanpoura a hard case is already included in the price (choice of red or black color).

Miraj can send cheaper tanpouras than ordered sometimes if the client doesn’t know how to specify what he is asking for. It is not that he has bad intentions. You just need to know what you want to buy. Since I know how to check for details, and he knows I know, all instruments he sends me are good instruments according to what we ask for.


Transportation Fees

Tanpouris: 

Airplane checked luggage: depends on the company I am flying with each year. This year with Qatar Airways it is around 200US$.

Postal fees: 100US$ to be confirmed. 

This year I have space for 1 tanpouri with me onboard = no hard case needed and no transportation fees. First come first serve :)

Regular Tanpouras:

  • Airplane checked luggage - just doubled checked with Qatar airways, even though they told me previously they had oversized luggage allowance, this time they affirmed they don’t. All oversized luggage must be sent via cargo, in which case I prefer to use post services.

  • Postal fees (to be confirmed depending on the destination) :
    200US$ approx. for medium quality tanpouras 
    220US$ approx. for best quality tanpouras (they are a bit heavier)

    Postal transportation is very safe, the hard case and the packing is done carefully, and tanpouras have always arrived well (unlike other instruments I have posted in the past). Still, if it happened that the tanpoura arrived broken, the maker and I take responsibility for it. The commission you pay me (which is already included in the price of the instruments) serves as a transportation insurance.


To know the total cost of your instrument you have to calculate:

tanpoura price + case price (in the case of tanpouris) + shipping price

You can pay for your tanpoura with:

1) paypal (to my email inaflow@gmail.com)

2) e-transfer (inaflow@gmail.com within Canada)

3) international bank transfer

Total Cost & payment information


If you have other questions feel free to ask.

May you find the perfect tanpoura for you :)