Kong ring

The kong ring or gung treng (Khmer: គង់រេង) is a Cambodian tube zither, in which a tube of bamboo is used as a resonator for stings that run along the outside of the tube, lengthwise.[1][2] It has the same musical purpose as the "bossed gongs" (circular gongs that have a rounded bump in the center, like a shield boss) and may substitute for them and accompany singing.[3] Although it is a traditional instrument with a long history, it has been improved on in modern times. The kong ring is represented by similar instruments in other countries of South Asia and the Pacific.

Kong ring គង់រេង
Musician sings and plucks the strings of his kong ring គង់រេង (tube zither), in Mondulkiri Province, Cambodia.
String instrument

String instrument

Plucked string instrument
Hornbostel–Sachs classification
  • 312.11
  • 312.122
    (*Idiochord tube zithers
  • Heterochord tube zithers with extra resonator.)
Related instruments


There are two different syles; the traditional uses bamboo to make the sounding strings, and a more modern style uses new materials.[4]


Originally, the strings played were created by cutting the outer layer or crust of the bamboo, to separate 7 strings (leaving them attached to the tube at each end), and placing a bridge pressed underneath at each end.[4][2] Resonance holes were cut under the strings, long and narrow.[2]

New materials

Instead of creating strings from the bamboo, metal strings are also be used, attached with pegs.[2][5] A resonator gourd may also be added; this may be less a resonator than a way to stabilize the instrument as it is held against the chest.[3]

Asian and Pacific variants

Variants of the Kong ring can be found Vietnam, Thailand, Malaysia, Madagascar and the Philippines.

In Vietnam, a variant exists today, the dinh goong, that looks like the modern Cambodian instrument, with as many as 17 metal strings and pegs.[6][7] With instruments made with steel strings the Vietnamese instruments have one end secured inside the bamboo tube, the other wrapped around a peg on the opposite end, to add string tension and to lift the stings off the bamboo tube.[7]

In Thailand, it can be found among the Karenni Kayan people, where it may have as many as 8 bamboo strings cut from the resonator.[8] Among the Kareni, it is used for love songs, providing a "delicate rhythmic accompanyment."[8]

Variants in Malaysia, Madagascar and the Philippines resemble the older style of kong ring, with strings cut from the bamboo tube and bridges placed under the strips of bamboo turned into strings.[9] Placement of the bridges, and the ability to move them, allows for the Valiha to be tuned to different scales.[7]

In Madagascar the instrument is called valiha. In East Timor it is the "lakado."[10] In Malaysia it is called karaniing and krem. It is used widely in the Philippines and goes by multiple names including kolitong and kulibit.[9]


  1. ឆានុន [Chan. "អីយ៉ា!!! ប្លែកអារម្មណ៍ទៀតហើយ! តោះមកមើលឧបករណ៍ភ្លេងនិងបទចម្រៀងរបស់ជនជាតិព្នងវិញម្ដងមើល!!, [Wow !!! Feeling strange! Let's see the Bunnai Music Instruments and Songs!]". Archived from the original on 17 October 2018. Retrieved 21 October 2018. Article from a blog by ឆានុន.
    Image showing modern Kong ring.
  2. Khean, Yun; Dorivan, Keo; Lina, Y; Lenna, Mao. Traditional Musical Instruments of Cambodia (PDF). Kingdom of Cambodia: United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization. p. 59.
  3. [not stated], Earle. "MusiKoleksyon, Notes and instruments from a private collection". Retrieved 17 October 2018.
    Picture of Kong ring.
  4. "[History of kong ring]". Retrieved 19 October 2018. Text for this source and its images originate from Koh Santepheap Daily, June 21, 2010. The article describes two types of Kong Ring, one made completely of bamboo (including the strings) the other with artificial strings wrapped around chopsticks that were inserted into the tube as pegs.
    Image of Kong ring with strings cut from the bamboo resonator.
    Image of the Kong ring as a bowed instrument.
  5. "អីយ៉ា!!! ប្លែកអារម្មណ៍ទៀតហើយ! តោះមកមើលឧបករណ៍ភ្លេងនិងបទចម្រៀងរបស់ជនជាតិព្នងវិញម្ដងមើល!! [Wow !!! Feeling strange! Let's see the Bunnai Music Instruments and Songs!]". maorm.com. Retrieved 17 October 2018. [images 4-6 are pictures of the Gung treng.]
  6. "The instruments The tube zither Dinh Goong". Retrieved 19 October 2018. ...tube zither Dinh Goong is an instrument of the GioRai people from the western central mountains of Vietnam...
    Picture of Dinh Goong
  7. "Chorophone". phase.com. 13 August 2008. Retrieved 19 October 2018. The Dinh Goong is a tube zither from Vietnam belonging to the GioRai minority. The basic bamboo is bound to a resonating gourd and can fix up to 17 strings.
    Image: shows how the strings are held inside the Dinh Goong without pegs
  8. "Golden Triangle and Bronze drums, Musical instruments of the Golden Triangle, Kayaw tube zither, Karen Kayaw". Retrieved 21 October 2018.
    Image of a Kareni Kayaw tube zither.
  9. "Tube Zither From the Philippines". Museum of Arts And SciencesMuseum of Applied Arts and Sciences, Ultimo NSW 2007. Retrieved 20 October 2018. Made in Mindanao, Philippines...This tube zither is representative of music making and instrument making in the Philippines, in Southeast Asia...widespread throughout the Philippines and is known by many names..strings of the tube zither are made from bamboo and are cut from the tube of the instrument and remain attached to it at each end.
    Image of a tube zither from Mindanao, Philippines
  10. Bakkalapulo, Maria. "Vandaluna Media, THE WORLD THROUGH MUSIC AND CULTURE, ET5". mariabakkalapulo.com. Retrieved 21 October 2018. Image showing a Lakido tube zither, with sound hole in back

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