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).