Janzi (musical instrument)

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String instrument
Classification String instrument
Hornbostel–Sachs classification
(Composite chordophone Plucked)
Related instruments

Janzi is a Ugandan string instrument invented by Ssewakiryanga James Junior also known as Ssewa Ssewa. It was vetted and accorded the Utility Model Protection by African Regional Intellectual Property Organization (ARIPO) Zimbabwe and Uganda Registration Services Bureau in 2017.

The instrument has been a major instrument on all Janzi Band and Ssewa's performances since its inception.

Structure and tuning[edit]

The Janzi has two long wooden necks on the left and right, with a narrow space in between. It is made up of 22 strings, 11 strings on either side attached to the sound box with plastic strings. The Janzi is amplified and can be connected on any sound systems. The inventor used guitar pegs instead of the usual Adungu’s local wood pegs or nails.[1].

Janzi is a different instrument in terms of how it is tuned, and played.

"I had to think of how better and modern I wanted it to look like, so I decided to use wood entirely which would give me a distinctive sound that is quite different from the usual Adungu,"[2]

It is tuned in two scales, diatonic and pentatonic scales. The 11 strings on the left are tuned in the diatonic scale and the 11 strings on the right in the pentatonic scale.


Ssewa Ssewa bore the idea of the Janzi when his Adungu was broken and needed repair. Instead of repairing it, he decided to create a new and more modern instrument. He also had an idea of removing and replacing the nails on the adungu with a more acceptable material back in 2014 after their band's, (Janzi band) member was not allowed to transport the adungu through Copenhagen Airport because it had nails as pegs[3].

The first Janzi was created in 2015 and it was recognized as an instrument in 2017 by the government of Uganda.

The instrument has been used by folk and world musicians such as Ssewa Ssewa and Janzi Band. It has also been featured in live performance by Feridah Rose from Denmark and Giovanni Kiyingi.

Related instruments[edit]


  1. ^ Alex de Lacey. "Ugandan musician invents new instrument". Songlines UK. Archived from the original on 12 May 2018. Retrieved 2 May 2018.
  2. ^ "Meet man who made the Janzi". Daily Monitor. Archived from the original on 14 December 2016. Retrieved 13 December 2016.
  3. ^ "The janzi: Uganda's new sound". The East African. Archived from the original on 10 March 2018. Retrieved 2 May 2018.