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The Guzheng is a traditional Chinese instrument dating from the Qin dynasty (c. 200). It is the ancestor of the Japanese Koto as well as several other zither-like instruments found across east Asia. A modern Guzheng typically has 21 strings over movable bridges. These are mounted on a large resonant half-tube box made of wu-tong wood, and the instrument is typically about 1.63m long. The strings are tuned by both moving the bridges and by adjusting tuning pegs.

Generally the notes are plucked with the right hand, on which the player wears tortoise-shell finger-picks. Sometimes virtuoso performers will use finger picks on both hands. Other playing techniques include tremolo (very fast repeated notes), harmonics, and sweeping glissandos.