Pickup Options For Greek Bouzouki

Pickup Options For Greek Bouzouki

Greetings fellow bouzouki players,

As I prepare for a tour this fall I am considering pickup options for my Greek bowlback bouzouki. I’d prefer to avoid drilling any unnecessary holes…I’m afraid that might compromise the structural integrity of the bowl.

Any recommendations? I have my eye on the EMG-B and “Pickup The World” models.

Thanks 🙂

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Re: Pickup Options For Greek Bouzouki

Well, it all depends on your budget,and the sound you’re looking for, doesn’t it ?
For my “Irish bouzouki”, in my noisy ceilidh band, I tired of blue-tacked contact bugs, which always seemed to lose firm contact just as you needed more volume, and modified a Seymour Duncan “Woody” guitar pickup by shaving off the wooden shoulders that fit across the soundhole UNDER the soundboard, and it just fits in the smaller ’zouk soundhole, with a bit of duct tape.
Duct tape, or as Rich Hall calls it, “Alabama Chrome”.

Re: Pickup Options For Greek Bouzouki

a mandolin bridge pickup for flat topped mandolins would suite you right down to the ground

Re: Pickup Options For Greek Bouzouki

A bridge pickup could be modified to the purpose, or you might try a soundboard transducer - see the recent discussion for more details. As for the drilling question, if there’s a strap button already drilled you can usually get a button jack in there. I say usually, because the shaft will be a bit wider, and there might not be room - your luthier should make that call.
Another option would be to run a lead out from the instrument via the soundhole - how you secure the jack to the instrument would be an interesting question, but perhaps tying it off to a strap if you’re using one would do the job. You absolutely want to secure the jack well, because in the event of a sudden tug on the lead, if the jack isn’t secured, you could do major damage to the face of the bouzouki, which you probably want to avoid.

Re: Pickup Options For Greek Bouzouki

Man, I’d love to pickup a Greek Bouzouki, how ’bout that hotty over there…

Re: Pickup Options For Greek Bouzouki

There are humbucking style soundhole mounting pickups designed specifically for Greek bouzoukis.

Re: Pickup Options For Greek Bouzouki

Yes, Steve, and I believe that the preferred sound, certainly in the early days of such things, was the DiMarzio Super Distortion, amongst Greek musicians at any rate.
Not quite what one might imagine a lover of The Pure Drop going for, is it ?

Re: Pickup Options For Greek Bouzouki

EMG makes an active single coil that mounts in the soundhole too. Might be a little more “pure drop” than the DiMarzio ; ).

Re: Pickup Options For Greek Bouzouki

Yes, but like all great discussions, it comes up time and again.

Re: Pickup Options For Greek Bouzouki

I had my Foley fitted with a fishman contact pick-up but was not happy with the sound it was giving. It sounded washed out and did not do the instrument justice. I considered switching to K&K but a test installation did not yield any better results. I ended up with a Fishman Nashville Flattop mandolin bridge pickup. It has a ceramic piezo element.. A small wire runs flat to the surface and into the soundhole to the input jack in the back. It’s passive so I run it through a preamp but I have to say I’m very happy with the sound. Very balanced. It works well in noisy settings or if you have to compete with other loud instruments. It allows to increase the gain without feedback or that washed out sound. If you mainly playing in a more sedate environment then a well placed mic might be your best bet but you still get a great sound from the piezo. The technology has come a long way and to me it doesn’t have that guitary electroacoustic sound that piezos are known for.

Regards,

Re: Pickup Options For Greek Bouzouki

Hi Folks, This is my first post. I play Irish style Johnson- 400 Bouzouki and I went a long time before I finally got a pick up. I checked them all out as best I could. There were really no reviews to be found on the EMG-B, I just bit the bullet and bought one.So here’s mine.
To begin with the sound hole on the Johnson is small to say the least. It took some filing to make it fit, it also took a couple of months to work up the courage make it fit.
First I ran it through my ancient epiphone bass amp,15" speaker. The sound was magic to my ears and well balance, then all of a sudden I heard what sounded a horse walking coming through the speaker,then I ran it through my PA, again it happened.
Finally I ran it through my Fender Hot Rod Delux,12".
No problem. I like the pick up a lot. My next investment will be a solid state amp. I’ll post more when I know more.
Rickey