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Thread: Looking for Zouk purchase advice

  1. #1

    Default Looking for Zouk purchase advice

    First time poster but long time reader here. So I have 3 mandolin instruments.

    My trinity college bouzouki has been a great workhorse for my Irish Americana folk band. However the reach is difficult for playing tunes as it has a 26Ē scale. It is tuned in octaves on the G and D courses. Is that common? I tend to see only unison on most instruments and string sets. I play lots of chords capoed up and down the neck and also lead lines.

    I have a small house and Iím looking to trade in some mandos and guitars to purchase an solid quality Octave or Bouzouki to make more space and to upgrade. Iím looking for something along the lines of an American fender or Martin guitar with electronics if possible.

    Thanks in advance for your guidance and help!

  2. #2

    Default Re: Looking for Zouk purchase advice

    Quote Originally Posted by Warrnan View Post
    First time poster but long time reader here. So I have 3 mandolin instruments.

    My trinity college bouzouki has been a great workhorse for my Irish Americana folk band. However the reach is difficult for playing tunes as it has a 26Ē scale. It is tuned in octaves on the G and D courses. Is that common? I tend to see only unison on most instruments and string sets. I play lots of chords capoed up and down the neck and also lead lines.

    I have a small house and Iím looking to trade in some mandos and guitars to purchase an solid quality Octave or Bouzouki to make more space and to upgrade. Iím looking for something along the lines of an American fender or Martin guitar with electronics if possible.

    Thanks in advance for your guidance and help!
    Have a look at nick Apollonio bouzouki and OMs

  3. #3
    Lord of All Badgers Lord of the Badgers's Avatar
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    Default Re: Looking for Zouk purchase advice

    Hi. I would never let electrics sway my judgement. Getting good electrics fitted after is a far better thing
    My name is Rob, and I am Lord of All Badgers

    Paul Shippey custom "Tone" Octave Mandolin, Paul Shippey "Axe" Bouzouki,
    Phil Davidson A5 "Badgerlin" mandolin, Phil Davidson F5 mandolin,
    Mcilroy Tenor Guitar, Phil Davidson Tenor Mandola
    My band's website

  4. #4

    Default Re: Looking for Zouk purchase advice

    Apollonioís instruments look great!

    Electronics would be nice, but I can install myself. Electronics aside who do you all recommend for a decent bouzouki thatís all solid wood ?

  5. #5
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    Default Re: Looking for Zouk purchase advice

    I think you could get a wider range of advice if we know what your budget is.
    Steve

  6. #6

    Default Re: Looking for Zouk purchase advice

    Ok. How about between 1500-2500 $. Thanks again.

  7. #7

    Default Re: Looking for Zouk purchase advice

    Lawrence Nyberg has a bouzouki for sale in the Classifieds for $2300. Check it out. He makes good ones - I've got one of his. Impeccable workmanship, great sound. Of course, choices abound.

  8. #8
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    Default Re: Looking for Zouk purchase advice

    If you're looking for good quality and a shorter scale length, the Richard Beard in the classifieds is worth a look.
    Steve

  9. #9

    Default Re: Looking for Zouk purchase advice

    That Old Wave is great value at that price in The Classifieds.

  10. #10

    Default Re: Looking for Zouk purchase advice

    Beware of the Octave Mandolin vs Irish Bouzouki descriptions. If you'r playing a 24" Scale or greater instrument, and it's tuned GGDDAADD or the same with octave strings on G and D, then that's an Irish Bouzouki. You'll be playing backing, some melody, counterpoint, harmony, double-stops - and capo-ing a lot.
    Shorter scale - 19" to 23", tuned GGDDAADD (no octaves), your playing a less aggressive backing, harmony, conterpoint, and a lot of melody, double-stops etc. capo is optional but rare unless you're singing, - That's an Octave Mandolin. YMMV.

    Then there's Carved tops - rare in ITM, F-holes - even rarer in ITM, and single course G and D - an affectation.

    I started on a Greek zouk, progressed to a Richard Beard Zouk (24" scale), then had Richard make me a 22" Octave Mandolin, and a 22" 5-course Cittern. I've had Sobell's, Foley's, SOS, Crump's, Gypsy's, MacDonalds and a few more I can't remember. All great instruments that I've thoroughly enjoyed playing in a catch-and-release environment (it's much easier to catch than release).

    I still fondly remember a Johnston Bouzouki that cost less than $600 retail. If I were to find and play it today I have no doubt I'd be disappointed, but back then it was a heavenly harp.

    Take you time progressing through the different levels, and stop whenever you're happy. A top diamond makes other diamonds look yellowish, but looked at individually they will all dazzle you.

  11. #11

    Default Re: Looking for Zouk purchase advice

    Quote Originally Posted by Dacraw54 View Post
    Beware of the Octave Mandolin vs Irish Bouzouki descriptions. If you'r playing a 24" Scale or greater instrument, and it's tuned GGDDAADD or the same with octave strings on G and D, then that's an Irish Bouzouki. You'll be playing backing, some melody, counterpoint, harmony, double-stops - and capo-ing a lot.
    Shorter scale - 19" to 23", tuned GGDDAADD (no octaves), your playing a less aggressive backing, harmony, conterpoint, and a lot of melody, double-stops etc. capo is optional but rare unless you're singing, - That's an Octave Mandolin. YMMV.

    Then there's Carved tops - rare in ITM, F-holes - even rarer in ITM, and single course G and D - an affectation.

    I started on a Greek zouk, progressed to a Richard Beard Zouk (24" scale), then had Richard make me a 22" Octave Mandolin, and a 22" 5-course Cittern. I've had Sobell's, Foley's, SOS, Crump's, Gypsy's, MacDonalds and a few more I can't remember. All great instruments that I've thoroughly enjoyed playing in a catch-and-release environment (it's much easier to catch than release).

    I still fondly remember a Johnston Bouzouki that cost less than $600 retail. If I were to find and play it today I have no doubt I'd be disappointed, but back then it was a heavenly harp.

    Take you time progressing through the different levels, and stop whenever you're happy. A top diamond makes other diamonds look yellowish, but looked at individually they will all dazzle you.

    The way you described playing a bouzouki is spot on what I do excepted tuned GDAE. The 26 1/4" Trinity College I play is fantastic for chords but murder for melodies/harmonies. I suppose what I am looking for is something shorter to make the lines easier. I'm pretty certain I'll never play acoustic guitar again after primarily playing Bouzouki the past 7 years. I'm probably 80/20 on chords vs melodies, though lately I've really been working up session style tunes. It's a shame Sobell stopped making Mando style instruments.
    Last edited by Warrnan; May-19-2018 at 10:29pm.

  12. #12

    Default Re: Looking for Zouk purchase advice

    Trinity College also make OM’s and Mandolas, though they can be hit and miss in quality, same with Johnston’s, and they’re sub $700 I’d say.

  13. #13

    Default Re: Looking for Zouk purchase advice

    A Richard Beard instrument will knock your socks off.

  14. #14

    Default Re: Looking for Zouk purchase advice

    Well said, DaCraw54, your words on the OM-bouzouki spectrum. I myself play -hmm- equal parts melody and backup on my instruments. After playing a 23" OM for some years now, and wondering if l should go to a shorter fret scale for greater ease of playing melodies, I've been pleasantly surprised by this new 24" bouzouki of mine...it seems the best of both worlds. Melodically speaking, the additional stretch is barely noticeable, and yet the instrument has a punch, zing and sustain -dare l say, a bouzoukiness- that the OM does not. I'm sold on the 24" fret scale.

  15. #15

    Default Re: Looking for Zouk purchase advice

    Quote Originally Posted by Dacraw54 View Post
    Trinity College also make OMís and Mandolas, though they can be hit and miss in quality, same with Johnstonís, and theyíre sub $700 Iíd say.
    I agree totally. My TC bouzouki was awesome but My TC OM was basically unplayable. I had to shave down the neck, tweak the bridge and the nut, and then no matter what string gauge I put on it would still not play chords well. I know OMs arenít specialized for chording but they should still work. I put light gauge strings on it and tuned it up to CGDA and now it sounds great. Lol. I most certainly donít want another GDAE instrument with a 20Ē scale length. I probably just play too hard for it to function well.

    23 to 24ish seems to be a sweet spot for doing both melody and chords.

    Iíll check out Richard Beard. Thanks!

  16. #16
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    Default Re: Looking for Zouk purchase advice

    I used to have a Weber Hyalite OM that had a 22.5 inch scale length. Bought it used for a round 1600 USD. It was a rhythm/chording machine, but the stretch and pinky workout for melody work eventually led me to trade it for a mandolin, that eventually turned into a mandocello (that may prove to be too much of a beast for me to get really good at, but, man, love that thump!). On that instrument the scale length was a good balance between chording and melody work, but agree it’s a bit different from a true Zouk.
    Chuck

  17. #17

    Default Re: Looking for Zouk purchase advice

    Just to further muddy the waters, you may also want to take a look at guitar shaped bouzouki/octave. A bit different but can provide powerful backing with a shorter scale. Might be your thing. Worth a look anyway.

  18. #18

    Default Re: Looking for Zouk purchase advice

    Quote Originally Posted by Chuck Leyda View Post
    Just to further muddy the waters, you may also want to take a look at guitar shaped bouzouki/octave. A bit different but can provide powerful backing with a shorter scale. Might be your thing. Worth a look anyway.
    While I agree that Guitar Zouks might have superior tone, or at least richer tone, I have a strange obsession with medieval things which makes me prefer the look of an A style mando with a round hole. And there's the whole "what is that strange instrument you play?" phenomenon, which i like. Truth be told I'd love to have both, finances and storage space not withstanding.

  19. #19

    Default Re: Looking for Zouk purchase advice

    Quote Originally Posted by Warrnan View Post
    While I agree that Guitar Zouks might have superior tone, or at least richer tone, I have a strange obsession with medieval things which makes me prefer the look of an A style mando with a round hole. And there's the whole "what is that strange instrument you play?" phenomenon, which i like. Truth be told I'd love to have both, finances and storage space not withstanding.
    I know exactly what you mean. I've fallen for the voice of the Guitar bodied octave but I love the look of the A style. My GBOM basically looks like a parlor guitar...a nice looking parlor guitar but no where near the mojo of the A style zouk.

    If I were looking now I would contact Davy Stuart. He flies a bit below the radar but you get a lot for the money. Matt Heaton plays one of his short scale zouks and he gets a very rich sound from it.

  20. #20

    Default Re: Looking for Zouk purchase advice

    Gorgeous Zouk and playing. I’ll look up Davy Stuart. His instrument certainly has a great sound.

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