Origin of the Bouzouki
The Bouzouki is a long-necked lute. The family of Lutes includes the Oud, Bouzouki, Saz, and even the American Banjo. It is believed that the Greek Bouzouki evolved from the Turkish Saz. The Saz most likely originated in Central Asia and was introduced to the western neighbors of the Turks as they migrated across Europe. Today the bouzouki is commonly linked with Greece. However, the bouzouki can be found in a number of countries. There is even an Irish bouzouki. Today the Greek bouzouki has 8 strings in four courses, though it once had fewer. The addition of two more strings came some time after World War II. It is said that the addition of two strings made the harmonic and melodic fingering more comfortable. Check out the FAQ’s for bouzouki for web links.
Description of the Bouzouki
Bouzoukis are light weight with long thin necks. They are usually about 3 ft in length. The neck on the bouzouki is longer and thinner than on the lute of oud. The light colored, pair-shaped, soundboard is backed by a bowl-shaped resonator. There are a number of fixed metal frets along the neck. Typically there are three or four metal strings paired in courses. The instrument is tuned with geared tuning pegs and is played with a plectrum.
The bouzouki that DulcimerShofar offers has 8 metal strings in four courses of two each. The stave construction of the bowl-shaped body is highlighted with alternating shades of rosewood. Each bouzouki is shipped in a case. Replacement strings by D'Addario are available separately.
Tuning the Bouzouki
Have you ever noticed the bridge of a steel guitar? It has a slight slant, away from the tuning pegs of the lower noted strings. This slant adds length to the lower noted strings, which compensates for the increased stiffness of these strings. The floating bridge on a bouzouki can be placed at a similar slant. It is a simple task to find the best location for the bridge on the soundboard. Measure the distance from the first fret to the twelfth fret. Repeat this distance from the twelfth fret to the bridge location. In this manner the first fret and the bridge should be equal distances from the twelfth fret. Our bouzouki is tuned in octaves. The pairs are high/low. The most common tuning on the 4-course bouzouki is the Greek style, which is to say, CFAD. The instrument can also be tuned in the Irish style, GDAD or ADAD (low to high).