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Thread: heavy vs light bouzouki

  1. #1

    Default heavy vs light bouzouki

    What's the general view on the construction of such instruments. Is it better to be lightly built of heavy. Ive tried a few high end and they all seem light compared to my Vintage /Trinity College zouk. Any thoughts on how this affects volume and tone

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    Registered User Reinhardt's Avatar
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    Default Re: heavy vs light bouzouki

    Good question Garry. I've always had the view that the lighter the instrument the better, however, I'm very lucky to be the proud owner of 2 Nigel Forster bouzoukis. One is a standard shaped arch top while the other is a guitar shaped cylinder top. Both have great tone. The standard has more volume and is punchier while the guitar shaped model has tremendous warmth and in my opinion better tone. The thing is, the standard is very light while the guitar zouk is a ton weight. weighs about the same as an electric guitar. Its because of the sides and back which are much thicker than normal. Despite the weight, its a great instrument.

    I think the main factor determining how good an instrument is , is the skill of the luthier. each luthier has their own construction methods developed over time to get the sound they want.

    theres no real "right" answer to this is there !!!

    John

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    Default Re: heavy vs light bouzouki

    In my experience, production instruments in the lower end of the price spectrum (donít mean that as a knock, Iíve owned several that qualify) tend to be be heavier built than higher quality instruments. Simply, it minimizes warranty work for the companies producing them. Being overbuilt tends to negatively impact tone. My Weber Hyalite OM and my Weber mandocello are both well built, but much lighter and better sounding than the TC, Eastman, or Fender imports iíve seen. Iím sure there are exceptions to this rule (honestly, my current Eastman 315 is one of those exceptions), but thatís been my experience across a broad spectrum of stringed instruments.
    Chuck

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    Default Re: heavy vs light bouzouki

    The question is - heavy what? Most production work are made the wrong way around - with a light laminated body and a heavy soundboard. This is (as already stated) to avoid warranty work. But if you build with a heavy body and a light top (as I do) you end up with a very responsive instrument. I'm surprised John says his gzouk is quieter than his bouzouki, as normally it's the other way around with my work.

    Anyway, the way I build doesn't really apply to other makers - I know of only a handful of people who take this approach. Most bouzouki makers follow fairly simialr ways of working structurally. And those ways have little in common with my approach.

    In gerneral, the mass of an instrument tells you little. Playing it tells you plenty. Comparing instruments tells you even more.

    The more people adopt theories like - "Lighter is better/heavier is better", the more they paint themselves into a corner when they come across work which contradicts the theory. I've seen people deny something is good/bad for no other reason than it contradicts a position they took years earlier. It's really rather pointless.

    So, my advice is - forget about theories - and certainly don't spend time "researching" on the web. Spend your time playing and listening to as many instruments as you can and reach your own conclusions. Don't just absorb and repeat the views and opinions of others.

    Nigel
    www.nkforsterguitars.com

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    Default Re: heavy vs light bouzouki

    Quote Originally Posted by nkforster View Post
    The question is - heavy what? Most production work are made the wrong way around - with a light laminated body and a heavy soundboard. This is (as already stated) to avoid warranty work. But if you build with a heavy body and a light top (as I do) you end up with a very responsive instrument. I'm surprised John says his gzouk is quieter than his bouzouki, as normally it's the other way around with my work.

    Anyway, the way I build doesn't really apply to other makers - I know of only a handful of people who take this approach. Most bouzouki makers follow fairly simialr ways of working structurally. And those ways have little in common with my approach.

    In gerneral, the mass of an instrument tells you little. Playing it tells you plenty. Comparing instruments tells you even more.

    The more people adopt theories like - "Lighter is better/heavier is better", the more they paint themselves into a corner when they come across work which contradicts the theory. I've seen people deny something is good/bad for no other reason than it contradicts a position they took years earlier. It's really rather pointless.

    So, my advice is - forget about theories - and certainly don't spend time "researching" on the web. Spend your time playing and listening to as many instruments as you can and reach your own conclusions. Don't just absorb and repeat the views and opinions of others.

    Nigel
    www.nkforsterguitars.com
    Hi Nigel
    Thank you for that information. I suppose I should have phrased the question why do some build them like that. Anyway I'm ware the top thickness should kept to a minimum. I am basis it 9n the zouks I've played. For instance a Sobell mandola I felt was quite light and had a huge sound. But then his guizouki weighed a fair bit and gave more resonance which I would assume is down to the body shape.
    Duly noted about playing as many as you can.

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    Registered User fox's Avatar
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    Default Re: heavy vs light bouzouki

    Hi Gary, I cant speak for Nigel but I might have an answer?
    For the last few years (within my circle anyway) there has been a lot of interest in the speaker box design!
    Basically - guitars are built with the same concept that speakers work on.... a solid, dense wooden box with a highly flexible front.
    Some builders take this idea further than others by making the centre of the soundboard very ridged & the soundboard edges very flexible & using double thickness sides and back.
    I have adapted the idea by epoxy coating the inside of the body & adding extra bracing.

    From my experiments the speaker box design does indeed increase volume & add sustain but the effect seems to add harshness & decrease mellowness.
    However I like the sound of the ones I have built, I recently fished a carbon fibre lined tenor guitar with a thin top, it is really loud & the sound is fantastic but a bit unusual.

  10. #7

    Default Re: heavy vs light bouzouki

    Quote Originally Posted by fox View Post
    Hi Gary, I cant speak for Nigel but I might have an answer?
    For the last few years (within my circle anyway) there has been a lot of interest in the speaker box design!
    Basically - guitars are built with the same concept that speakers work on.... a solid, dense wooden box with a highly flexible front.
    Some builders take this idea further than others by making the centre of the soundboard very ridged & the soundboard edges very flexible & using double thickness sides and back.
    I have adapted the idea by epoxy coating the inside of the body & adding extra bracing.

    From my experiments the speaker box design does indeed increase volume & add sustain but the effect seems to add harshness & decrease mellowness.
    However I like the sound of the ones I have built, I recently fished a carbon fibre lined tenor guitar with a thin top, it is really loud & the sound is fantastic but a bit unusual.
    Sounds interesting Fox. So I guess the Asian instruments are over built with thick tops. This deadens the sound? I'm wondering because I had a couple light bouzouki and felt a lack of volume. So the key is a very thin top and heavy back and sides

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    Registered User fox's Avatar
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    Default Re: heavy vs light bouzouki

    I am not sure if that is the key to everything but that format does produce a loud instrument, the top has to withstand the bridge force though, so there are some clever bracing designs out there.

    I use an unusual bridge design that does not put so much direct pressure on the soundboard & that allows me to use quite thin tops.

    I would think that Nigel's tube design allows quite a thin top as it will be very strong in that shape.

    However don't forget there are lots of superb instruments out there that use more conventional build methods, a lot depends on the builders discretion & a bit of guess work too.

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