books ATLAS of Plucked Instruments

guitars early
guitars modern
Europe West
Europe East
Europe South
Middle East
Central Asia
Far East
S.E. Asia
America N
America C
America S


YES, one day all the information of this website (and much more) I hope to make available in book form, but that will be years from now...
So until then : browse in the books that ARE already published

Here I have put together a short list of books that will give you much information about musical instruments - it is only a small fraction of the books that are available, and of the 500 books that I have in my collection. Most of the ones that are mentioned I have chosen for their encyclopedia style.
Remember that names and images of ethnic instruments have always been quite confusing, so mix-ups occur in many of the books.


Most books are still available via (or and other booksellers. To search for out-of-print books, try

To find lots of information on the Web : search via Google images, with the name of the instrument (also try with different spellings). Try also the Wikipedia websites (but beware that many of them are using information originating from my website ATLAS).

general books about instruments   top
A Survey of Musical Instruments, Marcuse, Harper&Row 1975    
Musical Instruments, a comprehensive dictionary, Marcuse, Norton 1975    

Musical Instruments, Diagram Books, Paddington 1976

Colour Encyclopedia of Musical Instruments, Alexander Buchner, Hamlyn 1980    
Manual of Guitar Technology, Franz Jahnel, Frankfurt 1981    
Man and Music, Jean Jenkins, Royal Scottish Museum 1983    
New Grove Dictionary of Musical Instruments, ed. by Stanley Sadie, London 1984    
Oxford Companion to Musical Instruments, Baines, OUP 1992    
Musical Instruments, Max Wade-Matthews, London 2000    
The Illustrated Encyclopedia of Musical Instruments, Könemann, 2000    
The Grove Dictionary of Musical Instruments, Second Edition, ed. by Laurence Libin, London 2014    
The Other Classical Music, ed. Michael Church, Boydell Press UK 2015    
lutes   top
Brief History of the Lute, Lute Society Booklets nr 1, UK 1975    
Wire-strung Plucked Instruments contemporary with the Lute, Lute Society Booklets nr 3, UK 1977    
Chitarrone, Theorbe and Archlute, Robert Spencer; Early Music, volume 4, p 407 etc., OUP 1976    
World of Medieval and Renaissance Musical Instruments, Jeremy Montagu, D&C, 1976    
The Bandora, Its Music and Sources, Lyle Nordstrom, HPP 1992    
The History of the Lute from Antiquity to the Renaissance, D.A. Smith, Lute Society America, 2002    
Wire strings at Helmingham Hall, Lute Society Booklets nr 10, UK 2005    
Development of Western European Stringed Instruments, Ephraim Segerman, NRI Manchester 2006    
The Lute in Europe, Andreas Schlegel, 2006    
The Lute in Europe 2, Andreas Schlegel / Joachim Lüdtke, 2011    
guitars   top
The Classic Image - the lyre guitar, Stephen Bonnet, Harlow UK 1972    
Gut-strung Plucked Instruments contemporary with the Lute, Lute Society Booklets nr 2, UK 1976    
Guitars, From the Renaissance to Rock, Evans, Paddington Press 1977    
Acoustic Guitars and other fretted instruments, Gruhn & Carter, GPI 1993    
Great Guitars, Shaw, Lauter Levin Ass. 1997    
Guitars, The Tsumura Collection, Akira Tsumura, Tokyo    
The story of Selmer-Maccaferri guitars, Francois Charle, Paris 1999    
The Acoustic Guitar, Freeth and Alexander, Bramley 1999    
The Electric Guitar, Freeth and Alexander, Salamander 2000    
Dangerous Curves, The art of the Guitar, Kuronen, MFA 2000    
Acoustic Guitar, Gerken/Simmons/Ford/Johnston, Hal Leonard 2003    
Stauffer & Co, Hofmann / Hougin / Hackl, Les Editions des Robins, France 2011    
The Guitar in Tudor England, Christopher Page, Cambridge 2015    
Electric Guitars in the USSR, Sokolov / Selivanov / Shlepakov, Moskou 2019    
mandolins   top
Geschiedenis van de mandoline, Robert Janssens, Antwerp 1982    
The Early Mandolin, James Tyler and Paul Sparks, Clarendon Press 1989    
Mandolins of the 18th century, Stephen Morey, Cremona 1993    
De mandoline en de gitaar door de eeuwen heen, Alex Timmerman, Zwolle 1994    
The Classical Mandolin, Paul Sparks, OUP 1995    
The Embergher Mandolin, Ralf Leenen & Barry Pratt, Antwerp 2004    
The Mandolin Project, Graham McDonald, Australia 2008    
The Mandolin - a history, Graham McDonald, Australia 2015    
Complete Guide to the Gibson Mandolins, Paul Fox, Centerstream 2016    
The Mandolin in America, Walter Carter, Backbeat Books 2017    
The Art of Mandolin Making, Alfred Woll, Edition Mando 2021    
cittern   top
Wire-strung Plucked Instruments contemporary with the Lute, Lute Society Booklets nr 3, UK 1977    
Music and Civilisation, British Museum Yearbook 4, London 1980    
Die Volkinstrumente der Schweiz, VEB Serie I Band 4, Brigitte Geiser, Leipzig 1981    
Zistern, Andreas Michel, Universität Leipzig Museum, 1999    
Die Harzzither (2 volumes), Lutz Wille and Norbert Duve, Clausthal-Zellerfeld 2000    
Gitarre und Zister, Michaelsteiner Konferenzberichte 66, Blankenburg 2001    
Compleat Instructions for the Cittern or Guittar, Doc Rossi, Cetra Publishing 2005    
Das Waldzither Puzzle (2 volumes), Martina Rosenberger, 2005/2007    
Die Geschichte der Halszither in der Schweiz, Lorenz Mühlemann, Schweiz 2007    
Die Krienser Halszither, Marcel Renggli, Schweiz 2007    
banjos   top
Ring the Banjar !, MIT Museum, 1984    
Banjos, The Tsumura Collection, Akira Tsumura, Tokyo 1984    
That Half-Barbaric Twang, Karin Linn, Univ.of Illinois Press, 1991    
America's instrument, the banjo in the 19th Century, Gura&Bollman, Univ. of N.Carolina, 1999    
The Birth of the Banjo, Katonah Museum of Art, 2004    
Picturing the Banjo, Leo Mazow, Pennsylvania State University Press 2005    
Banjo Roots and Branches, Robert Winans, University of Illinois Press 2018    
steelguitars   top
De hommel in de Lage Landen, Hubert Boone, Brussel 1976    
A Catalogue of Pre-Revival Appalachian Dulcimers, Allen Smith, University of Missouri Press 1983    
The History and Artistry of NATIONAL Resonator instruments, Bob Brozman, Centerstream 1992    
The Hawaiian Steelguitar, Lorene Ruymar, Centerstream 1996    
Lapsteel guitar, Andy Volk, Centerstream 2003    
Gibson, electric steel guitars, A.R.Duchossoir, Hal Leonard Books 2009    
The Story of the Hummel, Wilfried Ulrich, Museumsdorf Cloppenburg 2011    
Palm Trees, Señoritas and Rocket Ships, Mark Makin, MBM 2012    
Dobro Roots, Steve Toth, Centerstream 2014    
Kika Kila, John Troutman, University of North Carolina Press 2016    
miscellaneous   top
How to Play Air Guitar, West & Gladdis, UK 2000    
Europe   top
Atlas Muzykal'nykh Instrumentov Narodov SSSR, K.Vertkov, Moskou 1963    
Greek Popular Instruments, Anoyanakis, Athens 1991    
Los instrumentos de púa en España, Rey/Navarro, Madrid 1993    
Tambura Samica, Zlatko Cosic, Croatia 1996    
Tambura, Dusan Brankov, Cleveland USA 1998    
Cordophones Portugueses, José Lucio, Areal 2000    
Garland Encyclopedia 8 : Europe, ed. Rice/ Porter/ Goertzen, New York 2000    
Viola Campaniça, José Sardinha, Vila Verde 2001    
Musical Instruments of the Ukrainian People, Kiev 2007    
A Viola de Arame nos Açores, José Almeida, Publiçor, Açores 2010    
Die Gitarre in Österreich, Stefan Hackl, Innsbruck 2011    
Folk Musical Instruments in Bosnia and Herzegovina, Talam, Cambridge Scholars Publishing 2013    
Africa   top
African Music, Francis Bebey, Westport 1975    
Afrikanische Saiteninstrumenten, Ulrich Wegner, Museum Völkerkunde Berlin, 1984    
Musiques du Maroc, Ahmed Aydoun, Casablanca 1992    
Mande Music, Eric Charry, Univ. of Chicago Press, 2000    
The Garland Handbook of African Music, editor Stone, New York 2000    
Middle East   top
Music and Musical Instruments in the World of Islam, Jean Jenkins/ Poul Olsen, London 1976    
Azerbaijanian TAR, Vagif Abdulgassimov, Baku 1990    
The Music of the Arabs, Habib Touma, Amadeus Press, Portland 1995    
Sazhaw Iraan, Mohammad Masoudieh, Tehran 1383    
Garland Encyclopedia 6 : Middle East, editors Danielson/ Marcus/ Reynolds, New York 2002    
Atlas muzykalnykh instrumentov naradov Dagestana, IAkubov, Makhachkala 2003    
Encyclopaedia of the Musical Instruments of Iran, Vol. I, Darvishi, Mahoor Institute, Tehran 2004    
Armenian Folk Musical Instruments, Komitas, Yerevan 2008    
De Turkse langhalsluit of baglama, Hans de Zeeuw, Amsterdam 2009    
Qanbus, Tarab - le luth monoxyle, ed. Jean Lambert / Samir Mokrani, Geuthner 2013    
Tanbur Long-Necked Lutes along the Silk Road and beyond, Hans de Zeeuw, Archaeopress UK 2019    
The Turkish Long-Necked Lute Saz or Baglama, Hans de Zeeuw, Archaeopress, UK 2020    
Central Asia   top
Music in the Culture of Northern Afghanistan, Mark Slobin, Viking Fund Publications 1976    
Music and Musical Instruments in the World of Islam, Jean Jenkins/ Poul Olsen, London 1976    
The Hundred Thousand Fools of God, Theodor Levin, IUP 1996    
The Classical Music of Kashmir, Jozef Pacholszyk, VWB, Berlin 1996    
Uighur Musical Instruments, Litip / Tursun, Kashgar Uighur Press 2006    
Kazakh Traditional Musical Instruments, Almaty 2009    
The Music of Central Asia, ed. Levin, Daukeyeva, Köchümkulova, Indiana Univ. Press 2016    
India   top
Musical Instruments, B.C.Deva, New Delhi 1977    
Sitar and Sarod in the 18th and 19th Centuries, Allyn Miner, New Delhi 1997    
Garland Encyclopedia 5 : South Asia, The Indian Subcontinent, ed. Alison Arnold, New York 2000    
Classical Musical Instruments, Kasliwal, New Delhi 2001    
Music and Musical Instruments of Southern India and the Deccan, C.R. Day, reprint LPB India 2003    
Music and Musical Instruments of North Eastern India, D.R.Barthakur, New Delhi 2003    
Musical Instruments of Nepal, Ram Prasad Kadel, Kathmandu 2007    
Far East   top
Japanese Music and Musical Instruments, William Malm, Japan 1959    
Einführung in die Musik Vietnams, Tran van Khé, Wilhelmshaven 1982    
Nhac Khi Dan Toc Viet Nam, Le Huy - Huy Tran, Ha Noi 1984    
Korean Musical Instruments, Keith Howard, Korea 1988    
Way of the Pipa, John Myers, KSUP 1992    
Musical Instruments of Vietnam's Ethnic Minorities, To Ngoc Thanh, Hanoi 1997    
Chinese Musical Instruments, Lee and Shen, Chinese Music Society of N-America, 1999    
Echoes of History, Naxi music in modern China, Helen Rees, OUP 2000    
Chinese Musical Instruments, Alan Thrasher, Images of Asia, OUP 2000    
Japanese Musical Instruments, Hugh de Ferranti, Images of Asia, OUP 2000    
Music of China's Ethnic Minorities, Li Yongxiang, CIP 2006    
The Shamisen: Tradition and Diversity, Henry Johnson, Leiden 2010    
Songs for "Great Leaders", Keith Howard, OUP 2020    
South East Asia   top
Thai Musical Instruments, Dhanit Yupho / David Morton, Bangkok 1960    
Musical Instruments of Indonesia, Kartomi, Indonesian Arts Society, Melbourne 1985    
Musical Instruments of South East Asia, Eric Taylor, Images of Asia, OUP 1989    
Traditional Musical instruments of Sabah, Sabah Museum, Kota Kinabalu 1992    
Indonesian music and dance, Jaap Kunst, KIT 1994    
Music of Indonesia, (series of 20 CD's) liner notes by Philip Yampolsky, Smithsonian Folkways 1997    
Gongs and Bamboo, Panorama of Philippine Music Instruments, José Maceda, Univ.Philipp.Press 1998    
Traditional Musical Instruments of Sarawak, D.J. Chong, Kuching 2000    
Musical Instruments of Cambodia, Sam-Ang Sam, National Museum of Ethnology, Osaka 2002    
Khon Muang Music and Dance, Andrew Shahriari, White Lotus Press 2006    
Garland Handbook of Southeast Asian Music, ed. Millers/Williams, NewYork 2008    
Sounds of the Soul (traditional music of West Timor), Ros Dunlop, Tekee Media, Australia 2012    
America   top
Instrumentos Musicales de Venezuela, Aretz, Venezuela 1967    
Mapa de los Instrumentos Musicales de Uso Popular en el Peru, Inst. Nacional de Cultura, Lima 1978    
Instrumentos Musicales Populares Registrados en el Ecuador, Carlos Coba, Ecuador 1981    
Musica Latina, Claus Schreiner, Fischer Taschenbuch Verlag, 1982    
Guitares hispano-américaines, Bruno Montanaro, Edisud 1983    
Los Instrumentos Musicales en Colombia, Egberto Bermudez, Bogota 1985    
Volksmuziekinstrumenten van Aruba, Bonaire en Curacao, Jos Gansemans, Belgium 1989    
Instrumentos Musicales de Bolivia, Ernesto Cavour, La Paz 1994    
The Ukulele, A visual History, Jim Beloff, San Francisco 1997    
The Garland Handbook of Latin American Music, ed. Olsen/Sheehy, New York 2000    
El Tiple Puertorriqueño, José Reyes-Zamora, Puerto Rico 2002    
Catalogo de Instr. Musicales y Obj. Son. del Mexico Indigena, Cabrera/Hernandez, Grupo Luvina 2002    
Que suenen pero que duren ! Victor Vaca, El Colegio de Michoacan, 2008    
Cuerdas de mi Tierra, Juan Sotomayor Pérez, Puerto Rico 2013    
La Mata de los Instrumentos Musicales Huastecos, Victor Vaca, El Colegio de Michoacan 2017    
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