Site Logo  Dombra
The dombra is a national instrument not only of Kazakhstan, but also of many Central Asian countries with a similar cultural resonance. Although it demonstrates slight variation in name and design, the traditional model remains very much in evidence today, with a pear shaped body adjoining a slender long neck with nineteen frets.
It is played mainly by strumming, although plucking strings individually is not altogether uncommon, despite not being a central part of the musical style. The dombraist may also tap the body of their instrument as a percussive accompaniment, a trait again not so common in mainstream Kazakh melodies.


The dombra originated not as a pure musical instrument but more as a means of accompanying the telling of epic poems and folk stories by the elders of centuries gone by, evolving, through periods of abandonment into the central part of Kazakh culture it is today. It is fundamental to the very celebration of local traditions and has become an icon of Kazakhstan, revered by its people and appreciated by different ethnic groups resident here, despite still for the most part being a Kazakh inclination.

A lot of the music has evolved independently of its western counterpart and therefore many of the rhythms and melodies have a different quality than that of mainstream sounds. It might in addition be proper to say that more so than most other instruments, the true sound can only be experienced by hearing it played live. Lay readers should also not be fooled by the ostensible simplicity of the two strings, with virtuosic solos demonstrating breathtaking dexterity, and mastery of the nineteen frets taking a matter of decades.

In whatever case, Central Asia is very proud of its dombra, right to the extent that it is highly valued by cultures be they contemporary, classical, majority, minority or traditional.