Bowed instruments consist of a bow made of horse hair that is strung between two strings of the instrument. When played, the bow is used to vibrate both strings, producing a gentle and elegant tone. To produce different tones, the strings are pressed at various harmonic points. Bowed instruments include Erhu, Gaohu, Zhonghu, Dihu, Gehu. The Erhu and Gaohu, two of the most common bowed instruments, are further elaborated below.
The Gaohu has the same basic construction as the Erhu, but with a smaller sound box. Its range reaches 2 octaves. Gaohu is commonly used to play lively and fast music, and frequently serves as the leading instrument in folk melodies.