Sambe' is a type of lute with at least three strings, but it may up to four or five strings depending on its origins. Kayan called it Sape'. Before plastic and metal strings appeared, fibres from the iman tree (Arenga pinnata, sugar palm) were used as strings for the sambe'. Today, steel wire or guitar string is preferred. It has a soft but piercing sound. The first string or wire is used to play the melody. To set the notes, small pieces of rattan called nden are placed under the strings, and glued to the body of the sambe'. Those days they used Pulut Odep (a kind of resin).
The sambe' is played by plucking like a guitar with the lefthand presses the strings in accordance with the notes of the song, the right hand plucks the strings.
Two or more people may play the sambe', at the same time. The first one plays the melody, the second the accompaniment. The third and other players play variations of the melody and of the accompaniment to embellish the presentation of the song. The sambe' can be tuned in different ways depending on whether it is to be played alone or to accompany dancing or singing. It can also be tuned to either the pentotanic or diatonic scale.