Nearly all instruments used by Bauls have alternative names; these given below are common ones. Some alternatives are listed at the end of each entry when appropriate.
Although the name literally means “two strings,” this is a four-stringed instrument without frets. There are many varieties and shapes all sharing a characteristic skin covered sound box from which the fingerboard extends to form a lute. There may or may not be a waist at the juncture of soundbox and fingerboard which are generally carved from a single piece of wood, unlike long necked lutes which join two separate units. The finger board is usually covered with metal or glass to facilitate sliding of fingernails along the unfretted metal strings. Some dotaras have sympathetic strings in addition to the four main playing strings, and if waisted, these look like miniature versions of the sarods used in Hindustani music. Held laterally, the lowest positioned string is the highest pitched and is tuned to the fourth; the two middle strings are both tuned to the tonic; and the string in highest position is the lowest in pitch and is tuned to the fourth. A small, thick plectrum, often of bone, is used to pluck the strings. The dotara is used all over Bengal, but it seems to be a preferred instrument in Bangladesh.