Updated info on Bouzouki Makers and Models?
I’m new to the Session and looking for advice on purchasing my first Irish Bouzouki. After reviewing past threads on this topic (all of them years old it seems) and searching for the recommended off-the-shelf models and custom luthiers, I’m guessing the landscape has changed a bit. Several of the recommended luthiers don’t appear to be active any longer and some of the recommended mass produced entry level instruments are hard to find as well.
For an off-the-shelf model, the Trinity College TM-375 seems to be about the best I can find readily available. But since that would definitely require a professional setup, possibly some upgrades (tailpiece?), and since my ultimate goal is to be able to eventually perform with it (I currently play guitar in a folk band), I started considering whether I could swing a custom made instrument. So far, Davy Stuart in NZ seems to be the most likely candidate for quality and price range (if I go custom, looking for something between $1000 and $2000).
So question #1: Any other active luthiers you would recommend, especially in the USA since that’s where I am? Bill Petersen in Omaha is one I searched for, but found no trace of him. I did find the list of builders on Mandolin Cafe, but would appreciate some first hand recommendations.
And question #2: If I go with an entry level instrument, either to get me started while I’m waiting for a custom, or to just be my first bouzouki for a while, is there anything better than the Trinity College models currently being produced? I’ve seen very mixed reviews on Hora, but even though they’re available and inexpensive, I’d much rather invest in something I’d enjoy playing rather than risk getting a dud.
Any help to get me pointed in the right direction would be greatly appreciated. I’m anxious to try all the things I’ve been reading in the other discussion threads. Thanks!