A treble version of the Chinese lute (smaller than the pipa). Originally the Liu Qin had 2 or 3 strings and 7 frets, but today they can have 4 steel strings, and up to 24 frets. It is similar in sound to a mandolin. It is typically played with a small bamboo tube over the forefinger used as a plectrum. Liu Qin received its name from the willow-leaf-shaped soundbox.