Greek bouzoukis for irish music!

Greek bouzoukis for irish music!

Hi,
I’ve been playing the banjo and the mandolin for a few years and I’m looking into getting myself a bouzouki purely for accompaniment. My impression is that greek bouzoukis are generally less expensive than irish ones and I’m a big fan of the Alec Finn and Mick Connelly style of backing. Was just wondering if anyone had any thoughts about the whole idea. Some recommendations about manufacturers would also be fantastic.
Thanks!

Re: Greek bouzoukis for irish music!

Cost isn’t the only criteria. If it doesn’t sound good and play well, a lower priced instrument might not be worth your effort and cost. If you can spring for a higher priced/quality instrument of either Greek or Irish design, you should probably do so. I tried cheap for about 6 months and then ordered a PW Crump bouzouki. Personally, I would probably have a bit of trouble with a bowl-back instrument. Something to do with advanced youth and advancing waistline…

Re: Greek bouzoukis for irish music!

If you’re on Facebook, join the “Irish Bouzouki Forum” group. The best place by far to get answers to questions like this.

Re: Greek bouzoukis for irish music!

Greek bouzoukis are great for Irish trad, but be careful with your string gauges. Irish bouzoukis are built to withstand higher overall tension and thus string sets made for Irish bouzoukis will damage Greek ones in the long run. For example, D’Addario’s EJ81 set is 11-40. 10-34 would be more appropriate for a Greek bouzouki, or you could tune down a step which works pretty well due to the slightly longer scale.

Matsikas bouzoukis are the most readily available instruments and their mid-to-high priced zouks are decent, but avoid their cheaper models. Alec Finn played Dekavalas bouzoukis and his long-time partner Kevin MacLeod speaks highly of them in a thread over at Mandolin Café.

Re: Greek bouzoukis for irish music!

The round-back bouzouki does indeed have a slight stomach problem for some of us. From my “Memories” document, made for a high school reunion: Back in August 1971, when I attended the Philadelphia Folk Festival to perform my song “Footprints on My Stomach”, I asked old-timey and bluegrass superstar Norman Blake why he played a flat-back rather than round-back mandolin. Replied the only slightly chubby man: “Well, Dave, a round-back mandolin is shaped like a boat, and my belly isn’t shaped like a harbor.” Lesson learned. Decades later, as my stomach no longer could be squashed by footprints, I sold my granddad’s mando and bought a flat-back. I also sold my round-back Greek oud (outi) and bouzouki, now that I’d stopped playing in a Greek band, and bought a flat-back cittern.

Re: Greek bouzoukis for irish music!

For a long time I played a lovely 8 string greek bouzouki (unison strings) bought in Crete many years ago, but then, about four years ago, purchased a six string one made by Christos Spourdalakis in Piraeus, see www.music-instruments.gr.
I bought it on spec, bearing in mind the distance, and also mentioned the playing of Alec Finn as the sound I was looking for.
He recommended a particular model and I have never looked back. It is a magnificent instrument with a carbon fibre neck which won’t warp.
His bouzoukis are not cheap but worth every penny.
Personally I much prefer the softer sound of Greek bouzoukis and their very easy action, but that is just a matter of taste. I use a capo for most key changes, tune to tune.
Hope this helps.