If guitars have acquired a predominant place among plucked-string instruments, they are not the only ones: among the countless "folk" instruments, some have an undeniable success.
The banjo for starters: with its characteristic sound, it is associated with American country music, but it is also found in Irish music.
The 5-string banjo is a very special instrument, although it is the most common model. It can be considered a 4-string banjo with the addition of a "half-string" since it starts in the middle of the neck. The 6-string banjo, on the other hand, is a guitar in the shape of a banjo, which means that the player does not have to learn a different fingering, while still offering the sound of the banjo.
The banjo can be "open back", without bottom, or "resonator" with bottom, also called bluegrass banjo.
The mandolin is a very old instrument. Its ancestor, the mandola, (or "octave mandolin") dates back to the Middle Ages and still exists! If the mandolin has known its hour of glory in Italy, even in classical music (Vivaldi wrote two concertos for it!), it has also integrated folk music, with a modification of the shape of the body at the same time.
The original curved body, in the shape of a half pear, became flat like that of guitars. Similarly, the rosette, originally oval, is often replaced on the bluegrass mandolin by two "F" holes similar to those of a violin.
Note that the mandolin is tuned exactly like the violin (G - D - A - E), but with all strings doubled. It has also been modernized: there are now electro-acoustic mandolins with a piezo microphone in the bridge, as well as electric mandolins, with magnetic pickups like electric guitars.
The success of the ukulele, on the other hand, is much more recent since it dates back to the twentieth century. Particularity: there is a whole family! The smallest and most common is the soprano ukulele, with a size of 12 to 14 inches, followed by the concert ukulele, from 14 to 16 inches, the tenor ukulele, from 16 to 18 inches, and finally the baritone ukulele, above 18 inches.
Like the mandolin, the ukulele also comes in the form of an electro-acoustic ukulele or an electric ukulele, with in this case a solid wood body, the shape of which is inspired by "L" or "S" type guitars.