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Thread: Irish/Portuguese Bouzouki

  1. #1

    Default Irish/Portuguese Bouzouki

    Just a quick question on Irish bouzoukis. I've my eye on two different models from APC.

    http://www.folkreps.com/index.php/bo...od-ib-305.html

    http://www.folkreps.com/index.php/bo...mod-b-308.html

    The first says it's an Irish Bouzouki, the second a Portuguese. The only difference I can see is the Portuguese has a larger body. Is that it? Will there be a big difference in sound or playability? Thanks for any replies.

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    Default Re: Irish/Portuguese Bouzouki

    The original Bouzouki is a popular instrument used in Greek traditional music According to historic documents, it's said that one Irish musician went to Portugal and came across the now extint Porto-style portuguese guitar. After returning to Ireland, he designed a guitar that mixed the porto-style body with the original greek Bouzouki's neck. Thus making the Irish Bouzouki, an instrument that would be used in Irish folk music, and to this day it can still be seen being played by folk trios in pubs. Tuning used on this video - gG DD AA DD
    I've never heard of a Portugese role in Ireland's discovery of the bouzouki. Most accounts credit Johnny Moynihan with bringing the bouzouki to Irish music, and as the name suggests, it came from Greece, not Portugal.

    The most famous innovation of Sweeney's Men is probably Moynihan's introduction of the bouzouki, originally a Greek instrument, into Irish music, albeit with a different tuning: GDAD'[2]:15 (one octave lower than the open-tuned mandolin), instead of the modern Greek tuning of CFAD'.[2]:5 However, the original three-course bouzouki used in early Rebetika was also tuned DAD.

    In his book, The Humours of Planxty, Leagues O'Toole documented that Moynihan bought his first bouzouki from a friend called Tony Ffrench, who had brought it back to Ireland from Greece but decided he couldn't play it, or didn't want to. At first, the other Sweeney's weren't too keen on Moynihan's new instrument, until the evening when he and Irvine worked out an intricate harmony for bouzouki and mandolin while rehearsing Rattlin' Roarin' Willy:[3] Later, Moynihan swapped this Greek, round back bouzouki for a pre-war Gibson mandolin. During a subsequent trip to London, he bought a flat back bouzouki from instrument maker John Bailey, who had made it as an experiment after measuring an authentic bouzouki in one of London's Greek restaurants.

  3. #3

    Default Re: Irish/Portuguese Bouzouki

    Kieran Moloney in Galway stocks these. Apc are a Portuguese company.

    Why not contact Kieran he'll be able to fill you in on these instruments -http://www.moloneymusic.com

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    Default Re: Irish/Portuguese Bouzouki

    To my eye there is a visual difference. The body shape of the Irish is more of a teardrop, while the Portugese body is broader, with the sound hole closer to the fingerboard, reminiscent of the bandolim style of mandolin.
    Don

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    Registered User Colin Lindsay's Avatar
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    Default Re: Irish/Portuguese Bouzouki

    Quote Originally Posted by s1m0n View Post
    I've never heard of a Portugese role in Ireland's discovery of the bouzouki. Most accounts credit Johnny Moynihan with bringing the bouzouki to Irish music, and as the name suggests, it came from Greece, not Portugal.
    Possibly the most famous exponent of the bouzouki due to his recording fame, but they were about the country long before that - Italian Prisoners of War held in camps in Northern Ireland made instruments for their own playing and performances, and sometimes to sell, and they were based on the mandolin-family, with some fairly large models I could almost call octave mandolas.
    "Danger! Do Not Touch!" must be one of the scariest things to read in Braille....

  6. #6

    Default Re: Irish/Portuguese Bouzouki

    Quote Originally Posted by s1m0n View Post
    it's said that one Irish musician went to Portugal and came across the now extint Porto-style portuguese guitar. After returning to Ireland, he designed a guitar that mixed the porto-style body with the original greek Bouzouki's neck.
    The only explanation I come give for this quote is that it may perhaps be a very botched retelling of how Stefan Sobell redeveloped citterns... He took inspiration from those fado-style Portuguese guitarras... But I think, in this case, it's probably just a nice marketing myth.

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    Default Re: Irish/Portuguese Bouzouki

    Quote Originally Posted by Colin Lindsay View Post
    Possibly the most famous exponent of the bouzouki due to his recording fame, but they were about the country long before that - Italian Prisoners of War held in camps in Northern Ireland made instruments for their own playing and performances, and sometimes to sell, and they were based on the mandolin-family, with some fairly large models I could almost call octave mandolas.
    Well fair enough. When you get right down to it, there had also been surplus mandolin orchestra instruments, Gibson, Martin & otherwise, being sent or brought back from America as early as the 20s, but this likewise tells you nothing about the arrival of a greek-named, long necked, initially bowl-backed instruments in bands and pub sessions of the the late 50s and early 60s

    ~~

    I think the next poster's thought about Portugese inflence on Stefan Sobell is well taken, however. Sobell blew the carved pumpkin-top Gibson mando a little larger and ended up with a silhouette not unlike a portugese fado guitarra (usually a flat top, IIRC), and gave it a guitar-scale neck. I dunno how great a role you could honestly give Portugal in this accomplishment, however. It seems to me that the mama was a Gibson carved top A style and their daddy was an arched-top guitar. Guitara mighta just scared some it on the way to the hospital.

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    Default Re: Irish/Portuguese Bouzouki

    Quote Originally Posted by s1m0n View Post
    I think the next poster's thought about Portugese inflence on Stefan Sobell is well taken, however. Sobell blew the carved pumpkin-top Gibson mando a little larger and ended up with a silhouette not unlike a portugese fado guitarra (usually a flat top, IIRC), and gave it a guitar-scale neck. I dunno how great a role you could honestly give Portugal in this accomplishment, however. It seems to me that the mama was a Gibson carved top A style and their daddy was an arched-top guitar. Guitara mighta just scared some it on the way to the hospital.
    Sobell's first cittern was intended as a sort of hybrid of a Martin archtop guitar and a Portuguese guitarra, not a Gibson mandolin, so the Portuguese connection to Sobell's instruments is fairly direct. There's a photo of the two instruments on his website. Sobell mandolins came later and were based more on the citterns he was already building than Gibson mandolins.

    Patrick
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    Default Re: Irish/Portuguese Bouzouki

    Hello there!
    I own an APC made portuguese bouzouki APC 305, which is the lowest in their range. And you know what? I'm really happy with its sound and playability! The neck is a killer, it's the best neck I've ever played.
    I chose the portuguese one because of the larger body. Previously I played Romanian made bouzoukis produced by Hora, their bodies are probably the same as the bodies of their mandolins. They are way to small to house the sound of a bouzouki. So I chose the bigger one of APC in order to prevent the same problem.
    Well, the sound is really nice, It's a world difference between a Hora and an APC, but mine does not react that well if I drive it at a full blast. I mean, I'm kind of a strummer sometimes, especially when I play not ITM but more energetic and simple music. And the sound gets a bit muddy, which is probably not noticed by anyone except me. I suppose that an Irish bouzouki may be a bit better in this sphere as a smaller body probably reflects better, but anyway I'm happy with the Portuguese one and I give you full recommendations.

  10. #10

    Default Re: Irish/Portuguese Bouzouki

    Ive played two apc instruments and I agree their necks are very comfortable and I found both really well made.

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    Default Re: Irish/Portuguese Bouzouki

    The names get confusing. All these instruments came from the lute or perhaps al oud, depending on which came first.

  12. #12

    Default Re: Irish/Portuguese Bouzouki

    the early planxty people, had a few portuguese guitars. andy irvine can be seen on you tube playing one. and there are several pictures. this was around the same time as the greek bouzouki arrived in that scene. but people probably had them earlier but weren't as famous. and there were citterns played on scotland. the last scottish traditional player was still playing into the early sixties, just in time for the beginning of the revival.

    but some portuguese instruments are the best quality. some are for tourists.

    antonio caravahlo makes among the best stuff. the plain ones are just as well made and sound just as good.he makes some for apc, and acoustamelo, which may be the same.

    the manual caravhalo can be cheaply made--but very cheap priced

    when i was in portugual a few years ago i almost bought a mandola by antonio. it was great sounding and about $600, with exchange. nice instrument. so i'd buy one if you're looking for a reasonably priced bouzouki, and i like the deeper tone of the big portuguese bodies guitarras so i'd go for the portuguese model.

  13. #13

    Default Re: Irish/Portuguese Bouzouki

    ps, folk reps is often pricier and poorer quality than acoustiomelo, or antonio caravhalo directly

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    Default Re: Irish/Portuguese Bouzouki

    Quote Originally Posted by ollaimh View Post
    but people probably had them earlier but weren't as famous. and there were citterns played on scotland. the last scottish traditional player was still playing into the early sixties, just in time for the beginning of the revival.
    Would you care to expand on that, particularly the bit about 'the last scottish traditional player' playing into the early sixties?
    David A. Gordon

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    Default Re: Irish/Portuguese Bouzouki

    Quote Originally Posted by Dagger Gordon View Post
    particularly the bit about 'the last scottish traditional player' playing into the early sixties?
    I'm not sure, and can't speak for ollaimh, but I imagine that he's talking about the older, smaller, Renaissance-style citterns, like this, perhaps:

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PYPUgR2PjwE

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    Default Re: Irish/Portuguese Bouzouki

    Quote Originally Posted by multidon View Post
    To my eye there is a visual difference. The body shape of the Irish is more of a teardrop, while the Portugese body is broader, with the sound hole closer to the fingerboard, reminiscent of the bandolim style of mandolin.
    Manufacturing style and preference of the manufacturer differs, but there's no cultural standard to the imported bouzouki made or played in the UK / Ireland these days. I've seen so many different shapes made and sold. Fylde differs from Sobell, McIlroy differs from Mayers. There's no standard body shape. I'll attempt to post a photo of three of mine differing from thin teardrop through broad teardrop to almost circular.

    We had this massive explosion of a renaissance in the late 1960s / early 1970s, and so many seem to believe that these instruments were just suddenly invented and nobody had played anything like them before. There wasn't the quantity of luthiers making them in those days but they were still there in reduced almost rare quantities; those of us who aspired to the music without the money relied on junk shops or hand-me-downs for an amazing collection of odd instruments - I remember a massive orchestral mandolin being hauled around pub sessions in Co Antrim.
    I think what Ollaimh is saying in his post is that we had an undercurrent of older-generation trad players all beavering away for decades and then suddenly faded away, almost went underground, in the torrent of new faces who emerged around the time - they weren't as high-profile and accessible to many. I don't live far from the Makem family and while I never heard Sarah Makem in the flesh I was able to buy recordings of the other family members; the more popular artists who had their records and cassettes in the local shops tended to eclipse things both musically and historically, hence this notion that only the few names we hear bandied about ever played strange instruments. Things have almost gone full circle in some areas: many of the "pop / rock" folkbands who emerged in the early 1980s have come and gone and we're back to the pure lightly-accompanied vocals, or simple instrumentals, that we grew up with.
    Now: I'm still waiting to hear who brought the electric guitar to Ireland...
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  17. #17

    Default Re: Irish/Portuguese Bouzouki

    yes, i was referring to older baroque style citterns. dave richardson of the boys of the lough was my sorce about the last trad cittern player--can't remember where i read the interview. he talked about how he had seen the english guitar played and had a portuguese guitar, so he went to steafan sobel to make him a hybrid, and that was richardson's first celtic cittern. maybe the first ever.

    the rennaisance style citterns are quite a bit different from the baroque ones. the modern different again. i think richardson's idea was to get the heavier strung sound on a cittern. the baroque cittern;s were heavier than the rennaisance, but still strung with light strings. preston's are the most famous ones. i bought a preston from ebay a few years ago, got it all fixed up, but i bought strings but haven't strung it up yet. sorry i took so long to answer

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    Default Re: Irish/Portuguese Bouzouki

    So when you say the last trad cittern player, are you referring to someone playing early baroque or medieval music or something like that on an actual old cittern, or are we talking about Celtic music as we might think of it in a post Planxty/ Boys of the Lough world?

    I know a guitarist in Inverness called Roger Niven (a great, very versatile player - electric blues, classical, pretty much anything) who sometimes plays with an early music group called Coronach, and he plays cittern. I've only seen him play it once some years ago, but I believe it is a very old instrument and he does indeed play very old Scots music on it.

    http://www.coronach.co.uk/intro.htm
    David A. Gordon

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    Default Re: Irish/Portuguese Bouzouki

    According to Graham MacDonald in this thread, Dave Richardson's first octave mandolin-type instrument was made in 1970 by Gerald Short:
    According to an article in the October 1980 Frets on The Boys of the Loch, Dave Richardson's first double strung instrument was based on a the size of a Levin mandolin body with a 19" scale (tenor banjo) neck and built by Gerald Short from Chesterfield. That was around 1970. The Short instrument was replaced by a Sobell in 1975.
    I also found the following info here:
    The following information from Dave Richardson in "Music and Song from
    The Boys of the Lough" (1977):

    A few years ago on a trip to Chesterfield, I met an instrument-maker called Gerald Short and was very taken with the sound of a mandola he had made. However the tuning of it was not suitable for playing traditional music in standard keys, so I asked him if he could make an instrument of this type with the scale length of a tenor banjo, which I was currently playing tuned an octave below the fiddle...
    To exploit and increase the sustain and also to get a fuller sound, I began experimenting with tunings. Stefan Sobell had shown me a tuning in which you drop the top string a tone to get GDAD instead of GDAE. This enables you to use the top string as a drone in the keys of G and D and gives you the chance to get full chords with the bulk of the strings unfretted--all of which enriches the sound of the instrument...
    Eventually I decided to do away with the low G or bass string. It was fine when playing in G but a bit of menace when in D. ...
    Also, even in the key of G it could make the instrument sound bass heavy if you kept striking it as a drone ... so I replaced it with a D of the same weight as the first string, giving me a D drone to use in the same way as the 1st string had been used. This had the advantage that it could be sounded even when the 1st string was fretted and in use and also it was a suitable drone string for the keys of both D and G. In addition I lightened the quality of the paired D or 3rd strings by making one of them an octave higher, i.e. the same D as the 1st strings. Thus the final tuning arrived at was:
    4th D'D'
    3rd D D'
    2nd A A
    1st D'D'
    This was the tuning I used in nearly all the work with the group.
    There's a video on YouTube of The Corries playing a bouzouki in 1968, so presumably there were people playing those and possibly similar instruments in Scotland earlier than that.


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    Default Re: Irish/Portuguese Bouzouki

    Wow, fascinating video of the Corries.

    I'm intrigued by the date - 1968. While we often hear that Moynihan introduced the bouzouki to Irish music, I wonder if that had an influence on Roy Williamson of the Corries or was there a quite separate and possibly overlooked use of the instrument in Scotland at the time? Sweeney's Men made their album with Moynihan in 1968 - the same year as that Corries video.

    It is hard to overstate the importance of the Corries. They could do sell out concerts all over Scotland and everyone was familiar with their music. And of course Roy wrote Flower Of Scotland!

    But they were quite different from many folk performers at the time in that they did not only play guitars. They had a huge interest in using lots of instruments. According to Wikipedia they played guitar, banjo, mandolin, bodhrán, combolin, harmonica, tin whistle, bouzouki, concertina, Northumbrian smallpipes, banduria, psaltery, and flute. That's a fair bit for just a duo!

    Not only that, Roy Williamson invented and made these combolin instruments. Again from Wikipedia:
    'The Combolin was invented by Roy Williamson of The Corries in the summer of 1969. The combolin combined several instruments into a single instrument. One combined a mandolin and a guitar (along with four bass strings operated with slides), the other combined guitar and the Spanish bandurria, the latter being an instrument Williamson had played since the early days of the Corrie Folk Trio.'

    The Corries would certainly have been the first people I saw playing the mandolin - never mind half the other things they played. It would also have been the first time I really heard any Scottish ballads. I think we would do well to remember how good and how influential they were.
    David A. Gordon

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    Default Re: Irish/Portuguese Bouzouki

    Quote Originally Posted by PseudoCelt View Post
    There's a video on YouTube of The Corries playing a bouzouki in 1968, so presumably there were people playing those and possibly similar instruments in Scotland earlier than that.
    Interesting. And it's a trichordo (the 4-on-a-side tuners notwithstanding)!
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  24. #22

    Default Re: Irish/Portuguese Bouzouki

    as i remember the interview richardson said the player was playing scottish songs and jigs and reels on a preston like english guitar. he seemed to think this had been common a century ago, bot almost died out.

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  26. #23

    Default Re: Irish/Portuguese Bouzouki

    great corries video. very big body for a sixties trichordia. but a very nice arrangement. they were great at arrangements.

  27. #24

    Default Re: Irish/Portuguese Bouzouki

    that one is really early i mean an english guitar like the preston ones. can't figure out how to upload a video but there is one on the sidebar just down a few videos.

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    Default Re: Irish/Portuguese Bouzouki

    i'm waiting for st patrick to drive the electric guitar our of island.

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