Short-necked ancestor of the European lute, native to the Middle East and North Africa. Constructed of a pear-shaped body with a short neck and fingerboard. One large soundhole is ornamented with a wooden rosette. A raqma ("membrane") serves as a plectrum-guard, protecting the belly from scratches. The unfretted neck is inlaid with marquetry to aid in finger placement. Four double courses of strings plus one bass string. "'Ud" is Arabic: "twig" or "flexible rod", referring to the plectrum. "Al-ud" ("the lute") evolved into the familiar Western name.