It has a metal soundbox covered with snakeskin and a long fretless fingerboard. The two strings pass over a small bridge that is placed on the snakeskin, near the top edge.
The leiqin is played while the player is seated in a chair, with the instrument's body resting in his or her lap and held in a vertical or near-vertical position. Unlike the erhu and other instruments in the huqin family, the strings are touched against the fingerboard in the same technique as the sanxian.
The leiqin was adapted from an earlier traditional instrument called zhuihu in the 1920s.
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