The Biwa is a Japanese teardrop lute, similar to the lute and the oud, with a short neck and frets. There are seven main types of Biwa, each distinguished by the number of strings, sound produced, and use. The Gaku biwa was used for court music, Mōsō biwa was used by Buddhist monks, the Heike biwa had four strings and five frets and was originally used by traveling minstrels known as biwa hōshi, reciting the epic poem the Heike, and Chikusen biwa is the modern, common version of the biwa. The Biwa is not a tempered instrument, so pitches are approximated to the nearest note.

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