View Full Version : New bouzouki

Graham McDonald
Dec-14-2009, 1:54am
Here are a couple of pics of a new Irish bouzouki aka zouk. 26" scale, spruce soundboard, Indian rosewood back and sides, Tasmanian blackwood bindings and neck, ebony fingerboard 34mm wide at the nut, Madagascan (?) rosewood bridge. Fitted with one of Rick Turner's Dotar pickups with his suggested raked back saddle and the Jeff Elliot/Mike Doolin pinless bridge. A bit deeper body than usual, 95mm at the tail and 85 at the neck join which gives a little more woomph in the bass.


Skip Kelley
Dec-14-2009, 7:35am
Graham, that is sweet!! Cool looking pinless bridge setup too!!

Dec-14-2009, 2:34pm
Very pretty Graham, where is it off to?

Dec-14-2009, 2:43pm
Gorgeous. That neck looks very slim and comfy. Are you worried that the string wraps on the strings get close to the edge of the saddle?


GD Armstrong
Dec-14-2009, 8:51pm
Very classy! you've been busy since you got home!

Rob Gerety
Dec-14-2009, 9:24pm
Man that thing has to be a beast. That is one serious zouk. Gorgeous. Clips?

Graham McDonald
Dec-15-2009, 5:39am
The length of the windings is a bit of a worry, but it doesn't seem too much of a problem. The next bridge may have to be a bit wider to cope with it.

This one has been a long time in gestation (like 10 months), and it is off to Brisbane on Thursday. It has a wonderful 'live' feel to it with little sense that anything is being trapped inside the box (other builders will know what I mean). The pinless bridge was a little nerve-wracking when first strung up, but it isn't moving and the strings don't pop off ;) It is a little more work, but is very elegant. Mike Doolin's website has instructions.


Dec-15-2009, 6:35am
Beautiful instrument, Graham.

ISU Trout Bum
Jan-29-2010, 9:32pm
Beautiful zouk. The coloration of the wood is gorgeous!


P.S. I just got your Mandolin book in the post a few days ago. A really well written work. I found your zouk book to be a fantstic aid, and this one looks to be just as good. I really liked the opening chapter on the history.

Bill Snyder
Jan-29-2010, 10:39pm
Do you have a close up of the neck joint and maybe a bit of information on what type of joint it is?

Graham McDonald
Jan-30-2010, 3:29am
Thank you, Trout, for your kind words. Feel free to tell your friends 8-) I hope you find the book useful. The chapter on mandolin history is being expanded into an book of its own, covering mandolin family instruments from just about everywhere. I will be in the US later this year tracking down some interesting mandolins as part of telling the American end of the story.

Bill, the neck is built like a Strat, with no heel, and bolted on. This makes building them rather easier as well as adjusting the neck angle and removing them for any eventual work such as machining or replacing the frets. The neck has two threaded inserts inserted in the bottom in the area where it sits in the body and attached using machine bolts which are inserted from inside through the soundhole, and tightened with a long allen key through the holes in the back (these days two rather the four in the picture). It is essentially the same idea as the Fender acoustics from the 60s, but with a hollow neck block which saves weight and this means using 1" machine bolts rather than 3". I have an idea for using the 'twist and lock' knock down furniture fitting that get used in IKEA stuff to make getting the neck on and off even simpler. There is a pic attached of the sort of thing I am thinking of. I will have to buy a few and do some testing.


Bill Snyder
Jan-30-2010, 12:41pm
Thanks Graham. I suspected it was something like that. Do you experience any resistance from prospective customers with this neck joint? I know that some (all?) of you arched top mandolins use a bolt-on neck and I have wondered about its acceptance. Seems like a good way to do things to me.
I am building a tenor guitar now and I have not settled on the neck joint and was thinking of doing something along these lines so it would be adjustable.

Jan-30-2010, 1:14pm
That's a beauty, Graham! I wish I could play it.

Graham McDonald
Jan-30-2010, 5:05pm
Bill, there has never been too much concern from bouzouki customers about the neck joint. Their concern is sound and playability, not whether the neck joint is as was done by Big Guitar Company X before 1940 :)

I have bolted on some mandolin necks, but I have moved away from that to a glued and dowel approach. It is not for any structural reasons, but to save weight. My current thinking is to build as light as possible and it is hard to do that with a machine bolt in the middle of it. Mandolins are small and rigid enough that they will remain stable and a removable neck shouldn't be necessary, though it does offer advantages for a very simple, basic instrument.

I am half way through the second version of a neck which pivots on a tongue of aluminium and has the neck angle adjusted by a grub screw in the end of the fingerboard. That was part of a very experimental instrument that didn't work all that well, but will be revisited sometime soon!