The Gadulka (Гъдулка) is a folk Bulgarian string musical instrument played with a bow.
There are two types of gadulkas; the most common has three or sometimes four main strings, with many lesser strings, and a smaller variant in the Dobruja region has only the three main strings. In most variants, the lesser strings are placed underneath the main strings as sympathetic strings. The main strings touched with the tips of the fingers or the fingernails and not pressed all the way down to the neck of the instrument. The gadulka is played vertically, and the bow held horizontally with the hair facing the player.
The gadulka is an important instrument in the traditional Bulgarian Horo round dances.
It is also sometimes called the gusla, although normally that is a different instrument.
Nearest relatives: The gadulka is a direct descendant of the Turkish/Persian "rebab" or "kemenche"
The body and neck of the instrument are carved out of one piece of wood, the body forming a bowl or gourd like a lute. The top (soundboard), of straight-grained softwood is also carved, with a shallower arch. The overall construction is quite heavy compared to, say, a violin, though some gadulkas are exquisitely built. (The instrument generally lacks any real decoration or ornamentation, apart from the design of the peghead.) The bridge, placed between the two roughly "D"-shaped soundholes, has one foot placed on the top, while the other foot rests on top of the soundpost which contacts the inside of the back. The vibration of the strings is thus directly transferred to both the top and back of the instrument.
Unlike many other stringed instruments, there is no nut at the top of the strings: the strings are simply stretched between a tuning peg at the top and the tailpiece at the bottom, passing over the bridge (the playing strings) or through holes in the bridge (the sympathetics). The tailpiece is typically made out of bone, and secured to the carved projecting "endpin" by stout steel wire. The endpin also serves to hold the bottom of the instrument to a strap or belt worn by the player.
Gadulka strings are steel, either plain in the smaller gauges or wound with steel or bronze in the larger ones; they are basically guitar strings. The strings are secured to the tailpiece by their ball ends!
While various tunings are (and have been) used, the standard tuning for the gadulka is A-E-A for the three playing strings; the sympathetics (resonating strings) are tuned chromatically to cover all notes besides A and E (depending on the number of sympathetics).
The "a" in gadulka is the Bulgarian
pronounced as in the English word "rub."
Alternate spellings are "gudulka" and "g'dulka".