What is balalaika (балала́йка)?

What is it again? The Russian folk instrument known for its triangular shape. It generally has three strings and comes in prima (most common), secunda, alto, bass, contrabass, and piccolo (rare). It ranges in size from small (about 23 inches) to really big (over 6 feet).

Large Balalaika
A large balalaika

The balalaika consists of three major parts:

  1. The case or body. Segments of wood (6 or 7) are glued front to back.
  2. The neck. Contains frets.
  3. The head. Top of instrument where you can tune.

Interesting Tidbits on the Balalaika:

  • The Beatles‘ mentions this instrument in "Back in the U.S.S.R" – "Let me hear your balalaikas ringing out/Come and keep your comrade warm"
  • Alexey Arkhipovsky = Russian balalaika player.
  • In 1989 an electric balalaika was introduced to the world. (It was really just an electric guitar with a triangular shape)
  • When and who invented this Russian folk instrument is unknown. (Sometime around 1688)
  • The modern balalaika originated from the work of Vasily Andreyev (1861–1918)
  • Popular among peasants, this instrument always uplifted the Russian people.
  • The balalaika derived from the dombra or domra, which was oval shaped.

About the author

Lindsey Mae is freelance artist who enjoys writing fun blog posts for and The Russian Store.

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