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A typical Iranian setaar
String instrument
Classification Plucked
Hornbostel–Sachs classification321.321
Related instruments
Tambouras, Tar, Tanbur

The Setar (Persian: سه‌تار‎, pronounced [seˈt̪ʰɒːɾ]), also spelled and romanized as Setaar or Setâr, is an Iranian musical instrument. It is a member of the lute family, which is played with the index finger of the right hand. Two and a half centuries ago, the fourth string was added to the setar which most of the time has the same tone as the bass string, it has 25–28 moveable frets which are usually made of animal intestines. They were made of silk in the past; the setar covers more than two and a half scales.

It originated in Persia before the spread of Islam,[1] and has a close look and root to the Tanbur, but in the last centuries, the setar has changed more closely to the Taar, both in the tuning and playing style.


The Persian word سه‌تار setâr is a combination of سه se—meaning "three"—and تار târ—meaning "string", therefore the word gives the meaning of "three-stringed" or "tri-stringed".

Uyghur variant[edit]

The Satar (Uyghur: ساتار‎; Chinese: 萨塔尔, Sàtǎ'ěr)[a] is an important instrument in 12 muqam. It is a bowed lute with 13 strings, one raised bowing string and 12 sympathetic strings, tuned to the mode of the muqam or piece being played.

Notable setarists[edit]

Hossein Alizadeh playing Setar

See also[edit]


  1. ^ The Chinese translation—萨塔尔, sàtǎ'ěr—is a transliteration of the original Persian loanword (via Uyghur).


External links[edit]