The ruan is also known to Westerners as the “moon guitar” or “Chinese guitar”. It comes in a consort of different sizes, all fitted with four strings. The ruan is played by plucking with a plectrum or pick just like a guitar.

The ruan dates back to about the Qin Dynasty. The instrument used to be called the pipa but over time, the pipa developed into the present pipa and the instrument was renamed ruan after Ruan Xian post Tang Dynasty.

The round has a circular body. The neck is fretted and has four strings.

The ruan comes in multiple sizes but the most popular of which is the zhongruan (medium/middle ruan) and daruan (large ruan). The zhongruan is typically tuned to G-D-G-D and the daruan to D-A-D-A. The zhongruan and daruan are typically used in the orchestra to fill in the lower sound sections of the orchestra.