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What is a Phin?
The phin (Thai: พิณ, pronounced [pʰīn]) is a type of lute originating in the Isan region of Thailand and played mostly by ethnic Laotians in Thailand and Laos. It has an odd selection of frets on the neck, over which three or four metal strings run. It is commonly strummed with a plectrum. These are usually 21"-22" scale length. Three strings are the most common, tuned E, A, E. The most common fret selection is 1, 2, 3, 5, 7, 8, 10, 12, 13, 15, 17, 19, 20, 22, 24. Or, in terms of the E string, there is only 1 sharp (F#) and only in the first octave. There are other fret selections that include C# in order to play more modern Thai songs. There are also versions that includes all frets. Occasionally, you will see a four string version or double-neck model. The three traditional body shapes that you will find are a spade, a leaf and a teardrop shape. The teardrop shape is often referred to as the "pear" shape.
These are incredibly fun to play. Its hard to sound bad.