The Saw is a bowed string instrument. The musical sound is produced by rubbing the horsetail hairs that are tied to the bow against the strings to make vibration and pressing fingers on different positions of the strings to produce different pitches.
The Saw Duang has seven main component parts.
1. The neck (Thuan Saw or Kan Saw) is made of various kinds of solid hard wood, (such as rosewood, blackwood, Burmese ebony, ebony) or even ivory. The upper part (Tuan Bon) is made in the quadrangle shape similar to the prow of a boat (Khon Reua in Thai). (Thus the upper part of the Tuan is called the Khon.) The lower part is tapered and inserted through the cylindrical sound box.
2. The tuning pegs (Luk-bid) are made of wood or ivory carved into a cylindrical shape with an ornamental knob (Hua-med) facing the same direction as the Khon Saw, inserted through the upper part of the neck (Tuan Bon). The strings are attached to the 2 tuning pegs. The upper peg is for the low pitch string and the lower is for the principal (high) pitch string. The pitches are tuned by twisting the pegs to adjust the tension of the strings as desired.
3. The body of the Saw is made of hard wood or ivory functioning as the sound box. It is hollowed out to a cylindrical shape similar to an animal snare made from a joint of bamboo called ‘Duang’. One side of the sound box is covered with snake skin to spread the vibration from the strings which are lined up over the bridge (Yong) fixed on the sound box.
4. Rad-ok is a cord fastened around the strings and the upper part of the neck to make the strings tighter. It is in the position that the player presses his fingers on the strings while playing the instrument.
5. Wooden bridge (Yong) is made of a small piece of wood fixed to the face of the snake skin that covers the sound box. Its functions are to support the 2 strings and to transfer the vibration to the face of the Saw and the sound box.
6. The bow (Kan Chak) is made of the same kind of solid hard wood used to make the neck (Tuan), or solid ivory, in a long slender curved shape. About 250 horsetail hairs or small nylon strings are inserted between the 2 strings of the instrument before being fastened with proper tension to each end of the bow.
7. The strings are made of silk of different sizes. The inner string which is the bigger one is the low pitch string. It is tuned to the ‘So’ pitch. The outer string which is smaller is the principle string or the high pitch string, is tuned to the ‘Re’ pitch. At present nylon strings or brass wires are used in place of silk strings for more durability and a clearer sound quality.