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The modern soundboard is designed to withstand the pressure of metal strings that would break earlier instruments.
The soundboard comes in many shapes—but generally round or teardrop-shaped, sometimes with scrolls or other projections.
; literally "small mandola") is a stringed musical instrument in the lute family and is usually plucked with a plectrum or "pick".
It commonly has four courses of doubled metal strings tuned in unison (8 strings), although five (10 strings) and six (12 strings) course versions also exist.
There has also been a twelve-string (three strings per course) type and an instrument with sixteen-strings (four strings per course).
Much of mandolin development revolved around the soundboard (the top).
The carved-top or arch-top mandolin has a much shallower, arched back, and an arched top—both carved out of wood.
By the 14th century, lutes had disseminated throughout Italy and, probably because of the cultural influence of the Hohenstaufen kings and emperor, based in Palermo, the lute had also made significant inroads into the German-speaking lands.
The earliest image showing a lute-like instrument came from Mesopotamia prior to 3000 BC.
The line of short lutes was further developed to the east of Mesopotamia, in Bactria, Gandhara, and Northwest India, and shown in sculpture from the 2nd century BC through the 4th or 5th centuries AD.
Mandolins evolved from the lute family in Italy during the 17th and 18th centuries, and the deep bowled mandolin, produced particularly in Naples, became common in the 19th century. 13,000 BC, a cave painting in the Trois Frères cave in France depicts what some believe is a musical bow, a hunting bow used as a single-stringed musical instrument.
In turn, this led to being able to play dyads and chords.