The pipa is the alto range member of the plucked string section. One of the more well-known Chinese instruments, this instrument has been associated with imperial concubines and songstresses at teahouses, often conveying the stereotypical image of a demure damsel.
Despite the absence of soundholes, it is able to produce music as well as other plucked string instruments. The modern-day player has to wear a set of customised acrylic nails on the right hand. From simple plucking with the thumb and index finger and saoxian (sweeping one’s fingers across all strings with gusto) to yaozhi (tilting the instrument and using the middle finger to continuously cut across the strings) and lunzou (by plucking with all five fingers, one after another in a wavelike motion), the playing techniques of the pipa are visibly dimensionless. Its tuning is A2-D3-E3-A3.