View Full Version : My new baglama

Mar-14-2004, 10:39am
Hi all,

yesterday I bought a baglama. I'm really happy with it. It has an identical scalelength to mandolins, and is tuned Ddaadd (3rd strings in octaves). I'm going to use it for mediteran stuff and irish stuff. It sound very piercing, especially in the irish songs, it sounds a little banjo-like (which I like ;))

The brand on the label says Sakis.

Mar-15-2004, 3:08pm

BTW, Sakis is the trade name for the company of Dionysios (a.k.a. Dionysakis ) Mátsikas, currently run by his son Nick, of Kalithea, a neighborhood south of downtown Athens and north of port Pireus. I visited with them last summer.

If you don't mind my asking, how (i.e. through which dealer) did you get this instrument?



Mar-15-2004, 3:38pm

I bought it at palm guitars (http://www.palmguitars.com). He is a dealer in ethnic musical instruments in Amsterdam.

Nice to hear you know these guys. I'm very happy with the workmanship they have delivered, especially for tha price!

Do they have a website?


Mar-15-2004, 4:02pm
Very COOL instrument Sellars! Matsikas has very good prices, also the quality isn't bad(I have an 8str.bouzouki from him). The only argument, I have against Sakis is, that their instruments aren't very well made in details(I hate especially their 'fildisopasta' and mess under the lacquer), but that problems are frequent by every mass-producer. Anyway good luck; as would Greeks say - kales pennies #http://www.mandolincafe.net/iB_html/non-cgi/emoticons/smile.gif

PS: Here is some other cool baglama - Lou Skoby's 1979 Remoundos baglama, as seen on Skeezo website

Mar-15-2004, 4:18pm
hey sellars did palm guitars had any occasions bowlback mando's, im planning to go to palm guitars next week.
but your baglama is nice, have you played greek dance music yet, thats fun to play.

Mar-16-2004, 8:13am
Matsikas has very good prices, also the quality isn't bad(I have an 8str.bouzouki from him). The only argument, I have against Sakis is, that their instruments aren't very well made in details(I hate especially their 'fildisopasta' and mess under the lacquer), but that problems are frequent by every mass-producer.
Indeed also the finishing touches on my baglama are a bit sloppy. But considered the price, I do not take notice. It sounds terrific, and that is what counts in the first place. It probably is superior both in sound and in finish to a lot of baglamas that were used by the rembetes in the early days http://www.mandolincafe.net/iB_html/non-cgi/emoticons/smile.gif

Mar-17-2004, 9:34am
There were more problems, when I got the bouzouki(I've ordered it directly from Sakis) - for example the case was damaged, there wasn't any warranty list (that I demanded) and Mr Nick Matsikas succesfully ignored all my questions.. I would not buy ANYTHING from Sakis in future.. My advice for you all is - if you will be interested in any greek instrument, better to contact Tsakirian, Dekavalas or Zozef. They all have very good reputation, much better than Sakis... don't throw your money out of the window.

Mar-17-2004, 10:02am
Sorry to hear alekos http://www.mandolincafe.net/iB_html/non-cgi/emoticons/sad.gif

Do the other builders have websites, and if so, yould you post 'em?

Mar-17-2004, 2:05pm
Yes, here they are: http://www.mandolincafe.net/iB_html/non-cgi/emoticons/mandosmiley.gif

Dekavalas (http://www.dekavalas.gr/index_uk.htm)
Zozef (http://www.zozef.gr)
Karellas (http://www.karellas.gr/profileuk.html)
Tsakirian (http://www.bouzouki.com.gr/index2.html)
Vaienas (http://www.greekbouzouki.gr/)

Dio Dino's (http://www.diodinos.com/)
Pavlos Kakouris - Import from Greece (http://www.bouzouki.org)

Mar-18-2004, 8:48am
Not to mention those who still don't have a site, e.g. Pavlos Kevorkian, Samuelian (& Son), Sotirios Bras (who built me my first, wonderful baglama), Euthymios Sikalis, et al...

Sakis is a mass-producer; his entire business-model is the "build-to-a-price-point" approach, and consequently the company can turn out instruments for as little as $200-odd. Would one want to have one such for his/her main instrument? I don't know; many parameters, many personal judgment-calls, many issues involved.

To make only one, gross oversimplification, Karolos Tsakirian will begin talking to you about the prospect of commissioning an instrument at around 1,000-1,500 euro. The point is too obvious to belabor.

My advice to any and all is to avoid the "Tourist-Trap Luthiers, Inc.", of whom there are very, very many. Second, know thyself http://www.mandolincafe.net/iB_html/non-cgi/emoticons/smile.gif It seems, that is, that Sellars will be perfectly happy with his baglama from Sakis. Later on in life, he may outgrow it... or maybe not. One's relationship with any particular instrument is always a personal journey.

Enjoy your zouks, one and all!

P.S. As I am not in the business of selling bouzoukis or ANY instruments, I suppose I can speak candidly; the caveat lies in the fact that I am no expert, either...

Mar-18-2004, 9:51am
To make only one, gross oversimplification, Karolos Tsakirian will begin talking to you about the prospect of commissioning an instrument at around 1,000-1,500 euro. The point is too obvious to belabor.
Ah, well...

I just don't have that kind of money, and besides, most rebetes from the 20s and 30s probably wouldn't had that kind of money too, so I'm in good company ;)

If I was a blues guitarist, I'd probably play an old Kay or something similar.

I don't care too much about the finish etc. of an instrument, and as I said above, I really like the sound of this baglama. In the end, that's all that matters http://www.mandolincafe.net/iB_html/non-cgi/emoticons/smile.gif

Mar-18-2004, 9:53am
By the way:

I'm not saying I don't respect the wonderful work these luthiers make, on the contrary I really like it!

If only I could win the Lotto http://www.mandolincafe.net/iB_html/non-cgi/emoticons/smile.gif

Mar-18-2004, 10:37am
Absolutely. In fact, I think that the very concept of a "luxurious baglama" is an oxymoron. If you look at baglamades from the '20's and '30's, gosh... bowls made of gourds (the real thing, i.e. vegetable matter), tin cans, cigar-boxes, (whole) tortoise-shells, hunks of wood crudely hollowed out...

So, yes, Sellars, I don't see the point of the $1,000+ baglama, gilded with mother-of-pearl and fancy inlays of exotic woods, etc., etc... Yours is just fine; besides, the baglama with the carved, hollowed-out bowl (i.e. the one not built with staves) is THE rebetiko instrument of choice.


Jim Garber
Mar-18-2004, 10:56am
It there any polace on the 'Net where there are pictures of these simple, earthy baglmades?


Mar-18-2004, 11:29am
I will look and report, Jim. I have wonderful printed matter at home (*hint, hint*), of course. One would have to look at sites of museums, such as the Folk Arts Museum in Athens (hmmm... let me start my search there...)

Mar-18-2004, 12:54pm
Victor is right as usual - the rate of price/output is by Sakis really very good(comparing to the rivals). But good businessman must look also to the "minor things" that makes customer happy and makes him to return back and shop again - for example good customer-care and servis. Mr Matsikas regrettably don't know that word..

Some more informations about baglamas can be found there (http://www.helleniccomserve.com/stringintruments.html). Would you be so willing Victor and post here some picture of your baglama? I'm very curios..

Mar-18-2004, 1:28pm
I will, Aleko, as soon as I can. *argh* Work, work, and more work http://www.mandolincafe.net/iB_html/non-cgi/emoticons/sad.gif

In fact, I plan to post pictures of a couple of my baglamades, just for comparison and reference. In time...

The flaw of Sakis that you describe i.e. quality-control is, sadly but truly, a general problem with many mass-producers. You may get some absolutely wonderful wine from a vintner one year; next time around, the very same vintner sells you something clearly, grossly, shamefully sub-standard...

Also, as I promised you, I am going to get the diagrams for the Cretan lyra from that book that I keep in our country-home this Easter, copy them and mail them to you. Your friend should have little difficulty in building himself one— or more! http://www.mandolincafe.net/iB_html/non-cgi/emoticons/wink.gif

So, count on getting them by mid-April.

Mar-18-2004, 1:43pm
That's great Victor, thanks! Your opinion about quality-control is very actual, and not only by Sakis. That's why many people spend extra more money and buy instrument from renowned builder. I'm looking forward to see your baglamades.

Extra question for you Victor - have you heard about brand "Ecorda"? It should be some musical instrument making company in Thessaloniki (tourist quality instruments)..

Mar-18-2004, 2:17pm
Ecorda? I'm afraid not, Aleko. I lived in Thessaloniki from 1964 to 1967 (you know, the time of the coup and the birth of the ensuing dictatorship— hard, sad times...) and have visited very rarely since. I understand that the best luthiers up there are Dekavalas, Paraskevas, et al. Ecorda does not ring a bell, not with me at least.

Mar-19-2004, 6:50am
Thanks Victor, that firm should exist since 1980; I've seen only one instrument from them - it was 8stringer bouzouki; it wasn't bat but the materials was terrible.. propably they don't exist more.

Mar-19-2004, 9:04am
Terrible, eh? Well, in that case I sure HOPE they no longer exist! http://www.mandolincafe.net/iB_html/non-cgi/emoticons/laugh.gif

Just a guess: They may very well have been one of those nebulous, nefarious "brands" that stick their label onto nondescript, generic, factory-made instrument-look-alikes in order to make some money at the expense of good-intentioned tourists.

Not that there is anything inherently unethical in selling wallhangers, souvenirs, toy-instruments meant to be hung over someone's (overheated) fireplace— it beats killing animals and displaying them in grotesque exhibition of the art of taxidermy.

As long, of course, as the presentation is candid and makes amply clear that these "instruments" are not meant to be actually played. The only sad outcome is when a foreign visitor, in the thrill of the vacation and all the good time had, forgets the indispensable caveat emptor.

Mar-19-2004, 9:17am
Just only small note to the baglama - look at the sites of greek/german band #Anonimi (http://www.anonimi.de/english/instruments/instruments.html) .. here is very nice MP3 of baglama ready to download

Mar-19-2004, 1:23pm
Very nice site! Thanks, Alekos!

Mar-22-2004, 3:22pm
And what beautiful playing! I must admit, I am put to shame when I hear folks playing so well... Then again, despite the "ethnic affinity", the rebetiko is not my direct cultural lineage. Jolly, sash-wearing, seafaring, mando-picking islanders, we.

Mar-22-2004, 5:27pm
Don't be so strict on yourself Victor! http://www.mandolincafe.net/iB_html/non-cgi/emoticons/wink.gif I love rembetika too, although my reproduction can be sometimes a bit strange http://www.mandolincafe.net/iB_html/non-cgi/emoticons/rock.gif ! But I'm still trying to improve myself. Any other "rembetis" at this area ?