Irish Bouzouki

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Irish Bouzouki

Postby Peter Wilcox » Thu Jan 31, 2013 12:12 am

This week I finally finished my first acoustic instrument I started a year ago - got sidetracked by building my second acoustic (a bass for the local woods challenge which I also finally finished last week.) This was a great learning experience - I'd like to thank those members of this forum who answered my dumb questions, Mssrs. Cumpiano and Natelson for their wonderful book (and Mr. Cumpiano's website), Frank Ford's website, Jack Spira's website - I used a photo of one of his instruments as the plan for mine - and the library here on MIMF which finally got up and is chock full of valuable information.

Specs:
Top, back and braces - Douglas fir
Sides and neck - red alder
Dark stuff - Peruvian walnut
Scale length 620mm
Width 13 1/2"
Body length 15"
Depth 3" at heel, 3 3/4" at tail
Mortise and tenon bolt-on neck
Finish KTM-9
Strings .011, .016, .028, .040, tuned GDAD for now

I've never seen or heard a live one of these, and don't know how to play it (but I'm learning). The piece of fir I had was too short for a guitar, so this was the result. It plays in tune and sounds fine to me, but then, I don't know what it's supposed to sound like. It has numerous flaws, both construction and cosmetic (and probably design), and I went through many trials, troubles and tribulations in making it, but the enjoyment and education were well worth it.
Attachments
bouzouki-1.jpg
bouzouki-2.jpg
bouzouki-3.jpg
Last edited by Peter Wilcox on Thu Jan 31, 2013 12:22 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Irish Bouzouki

Postby Mark Swanson » Thu Jan 31, 2013 12:16 am

Very good Peter! Jack Spira is a friend of mine, that I never get to see so tell him hello for me if you talk to him.
I am always building one of these....they are a blast! I like to play mine on recordings along with acoustic guitar. The blend between those two instruments is great.
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Re: Irish Bouzouki

Postby Peter Wilcox » Thu Jan 31, 2013 12:17 am

More pics
Attachments
bouzouki-5.jpg
bouzouki-6.jpg
bouzouki-4.jpg
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Re: Irish Bouzouki

Postby Steve Senseney » Thu Jan 31, 2013 6:44 am

Nice work!
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Re: Irish Bouzouki

Postby Peter Wilcox » Thu Jan 31, 2013 12:04 pm

Thanks.

Mark - I've had no communication with Mr. Spira. I found a nice full frontal view of an instrument on his website http://www.jackspiraguitars.com/90front2.jpg , printed it and used it as a scale model (knowing the scale length was 620 mm) to get the rest of the measurements for my instrument. He does have some beautiful instruments there.
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Re: Irish Bouzouki

Postby Jon Whitney » Thu Jan 31, 2013 12:43 pm

That's a great instrument. Nice little carving there on the headstock.

There are some great Irish players out there if you care to get into Celtic music. My favorites are the groups Planxty and De Danaan although there are a lot of younger groups now that I haven't followed much.
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Re: Irish Bouzouki

Postby Mark Swanson » Thu Jan 31, 2013 1:45 pm

Well,m if you drop Jack a note and let him know about your bouzouki he'd probably like that! He's a really nice fellow.
As long as we are talking about some celtic music groups, there's one good one from up here called Andro. They play a bunch of my instruments too! http://www.andromusic.com/
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Re: Irish Bouzouki

Postby Bryan Bear » Thu Jan 31, 2013 9:10 pm

I like this one a lot. I really like the color scheme, understated and classy. I planned to make one of these early on in my pursuit of this hobby and never got around to it. You have me thinking. . .
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Re: Irish Bouzouki

Postby Mark Swanson » Thu Jan 31, 2013 11:01 pm

If you use it for mostly strumming, you can get a nice sound by replacing one of each of the low two strings with a string tuned an octave higher, like the low strings on a 12 string guitar. It gives a great strumming sound but it's not so good if you're playing melodies.
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Re: Irish Bouzouki

Postby Peter Wilcox » Thu Feb 07, 2013 10:22 pm

Mark, at your suggestion I emailed Jack Spira, and gave him the link to this thread. He was very encouraging, and says "say hi to Mark from me, its been too long!"

Regarding the octave strings, it seems I would have to intonate them differently than the low strings they're replacing, necessitating a different saddle - or would the intonation not be that critical, as in "close enough for jazz." :lol:
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Re: Irish Bouzouki

Postby Mark Swanson » Thu Feb 07, 2013 11:03 pm

Ok Jack! It's pretty much like a 12 string guitar, some folks have intonated each string individually, but most of the time you can make do just fine without doing that. The larger problem lies at the nut. You really should make a different nut for stringing the instrument that way, the much smaller octave strings don't work too well in the huge slots of the low strings.
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Re: Irish Bouzouki

Postby Barry Guest » Fri Feb 08, 2013 5:20 am

Great job Peter. Below is a link to an article that you might be interested in. I found it very informative. Enjoy!


http://www.mcdonaldstrings.com/zook_article.html
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Re: Irish Bouzouki

Postby Peter Wilcox » Fri Feb 08, 2013 12:49 pm

Barry - I do have that article bookmarked, and had skimmed it when I was planning my instrument. However, it doesn't have any pictures so I found it difficult going. :lol:
I will go back and read it now that you have brought it to my attention again, and now that I have built one it will probably be easier going. Thanks.

It looks like you Aussies are the experts on these instruments.
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Re: Irish Bouzouki

Postby Barry Guest » Fri Feb 08, 2013 10:56 pm

Aussie see Aussie do! But seriously Peter, the only one that I have built was a solid body so I have no claim to Bouzouki fame. My main thing is violins, but I do love Andy Irvine's Bouzouki interpretation.
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