The late Sangita Kalanidhi Budalur Krishnamurthy Sastrigal was a pioneer in creating a distinctive style of playing on this instrument. He was a fine vocalist of great manodharma. He learned vocal music from a legendry musician Koneri Rajapuram Vaidyanatha Iyer and had listened to great musicians of the past. Inspired by late Dr. L. Muttayya Bhagavatar’s playing gottuvadyam, he took up this instrument. With his intense sadhakam and devotion towards the instrument, he created his style of playing and was an exponent of this instrument.      

In his style, the plucking technique is very distinctive. It is done with the right hand index and middle finger.  He always insisted on alternating the fingers one after another. His left hand gottu movement was unique and included balanced fast and slow movements to emulate the nuances of Karnatic music especially vocal music on one hand and his mitu was of vina playing.  He was a great admirer of late vina specialist Karaikudi brothers. Vidwan Karaikudi Subrama Iyer and Karaikudi Sambasiva Iyer.

Vadyam is a generic term for all musical instruments in South India.  “Gottu” may mean a piece of dried wood.  Professor Sambamurthy mentions that ”kodu” means  an animal horn.  In his opinion, in earlier time the horn might have been used as the gottu.   Later the word might have been transformed and now it is called “gottu” with which the instrument is played. Sambamurthy in another context mentions that the instrument was called mahanataka vina and provided music for the open theatre. 

It is interesting to note that there is an instrument similar to the gottuvadyam in North Indian music.  This type of instrument is called bada-bin and is played with a polished glass piece.  The construction of the gottuvadyam has affinity with the vina.  It consists of a kodam (the large main resonator), dandi (the long hollow neck that helps the main resonator). At the end for aesthetic reasons the head of the yalli mukham, an auspicious animal of the past is represented. The small kodam not only makes the instrument to sit on the floor but help to the resonator.  

There are steel and brass strings tied at one end to the nagapasha and the other end tied to the bidge that produces the tension when the strings are tied.  The instrument is beautifully decorated either with ivory or animal horn. All this resembles the saraswati vina. There is affinity with the vina not only in appearance but in tuning as well.

Sarani: Budalur sir used two sarani, that is in madhya sthai and pancham is in mandara sthai.  Mandana is and amummandara is pa sa pa sa.  Tala strings are tuned sa pa sa that is in Madhya sthai. That is tonic and fifth or shadja and panchana are emphazised in tuning. Very similar to Tambura. Some instruments have 12, or 9 or 7 sympathetic strings (which are not plucked but vibrate with the pitches of other strings). It is believed that sympathetic strings might have been added later. The mittu and gottu combination is slightly different between the gottuvadyam and the vina.  In vina each svara sthana has its own space (location) and there is no residual sound produced.  Because gottuvadyam has no frets the sound needs to be checked with the gottu.