The saung is unique in that it is a very ancient harp tradition and the only surviving harp in Asia today.
The main parts of the harp are the body, the long curved neck, carved out of the root of a tree, and a string bar running down the center of the top of the body. The top of the resonator body is covered with a tightly stretched deer hide, heavily lacquered with four small circular sound holes. The whole of the harp body is decorated with pieces of mica (Mandalay pearls), glass, gilt, and red and black lacquer. The stand is similarly decorated. The ends of the strings on the harp is decorated with red cotton tassels.
The sixteen strings can be adjusted with the tuning pegs to make tuning easier. The traditional silk strings have also been supplanted by nylon strings.
The harp has a body of about 80 cm long, 16 cm wide and 70 cm high.
The harp is played by sitting on the floor with the body in the lap, and the arch on the left. The strings are plucked with the right hand fingers from the outside. The left hand is used to dampen the strings to promote clarity and produce staccato notes. Stopped tones are produced by using left thumbnail to press against the string from the inside to increase its tension.