Esraj is a combination between saringda and sitar. The base of the instrument is like saringda while the neck and strings are like sitar. It gives a sound very much like sarangi without being as difficult to play. This instrument is often confused with dilruba. Both have a similar construction and technique. The approach to tuning is somewhat similar to the sitar. The esraj is popular in the Bengal area of India.
The technique is also a cross between the saringda and the sitar. It is bowed with a bow (known as gaz) in a manner very much like the sarangi. It is bowed with the right hand while the left hand fingers the strings.
There seem to be two schools concerning the fingering of the esraj. One approach shows a strong influence of the sitar. For this approach, there is a strong preference given to using the index finger. Like the sitar, one occasionally invokes the middle finger to gain speed. This approach seems to be slightly more common in North Eastern India. The other school of seems to show more of an influence from the sarangi. For this approach there is a distinct preference given to the use of the middle finger coupled with the index finger. This approach seems to have the advantage that if one requires speed, one can occasionally use either the index or the ring finger to go in either direction. It is interesting to note though that the proponents of the “sarangi” school of technique seem to be less disposed to invoke such shortcuts to their technique.