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Thread: Irish bouzouki or OM tuned to CFAD?

  1. #1

    Default Irish bouzouki or OM tuned to CFAD?

    Hi, first post here.

    I've been playing guitar for 34 years, and I fancy an Irish bouzouki or an octave mandola to mess about with. But I don't fancy learning a new tuning so I want one that I can tune to CFAD so that the relationship between the strings is the same as I'm used to on guitar.

    First, I've read that bouzoukis are more suitable for chords and octave mandolas are more suited for tunes (apparently because the bouzouki is more twangy). Is that correct, or an unhelpful generalisation? I'm more likely to be using whatever I get to pick out tunes.

    If I went with a bouzouki, I see that D'Addario do a EJ97 pack for CFAD. Is it as simple as getting an instrument I like and putting those strings on? Their product info says "Designed for use with 8-string Greek bouzoukis of various scales", so I assume I can use these on any Irish bouzouki that has a scale length around 26" / 670mm? Not sure if I want the bottom pairs to be octave or unison, I guess that's just about trying it to see how it goes.

    If I went with an octave mandola, my guess is that there are no CFAD sets available and I'd have to work out the tensions and get individual strings?

  2. #2

    Default Re: Irish bouzouki or OM tuned to CFAD?

    If your Irish bouzouki has a scale length in the ballpark of 26" you should be fine with any set of Greek bouzouki strings. If you want the Greek bouzouki/12 string guitar sound the octave strings are nice. Greek bouzoukis are used for playing melody in Greek music. You can strum chords on them just fine if you like, most guitar chords transfer over well. The main difficulty in switching between GDAD and CFAD is the nut/bridge slots may problematic with the new string gauges.

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    Registered User DavidKOS's Avatar
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    Default Re: Irish bouzouki or OM tuned to CFAD?

    Just get a 4 course Greek Bouzouki, CFAD is the standard tuning.

    Personally I prefer the tone of bowlback bouzoukis to those overbuilt Celtic things.

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    Registered User DavidKOS's Avatar
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    Default Re: Irish bouzouki or OM tuned to CFAD?

    Quote Originally Posted by colinm View Post
    First, I've read that bouzoukis are more suitable for chords and octave mandolas are more suited for tunes (apparently because the bouzouki is more twangy). Is that correct, or an unhelpful generalisation? I'm more likely to be using whatever I get to pick out tunes.
    It's an oversimplification and not really accurate. It all depends on the instrument and player.

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    Registered User foldedpath's Avatar
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    Default Re: Irish bouzouki or OM tuned to CFAD?

    Quote Originally Posted by colinm View Post
    First, I've read that bouzoukis are more suitable for chords and octave mandolas are more suited for tunes (apparently because the bouzouki is more twangy). Is that correct, or an unhelpful generalisation? I'm more likely to be using whatever I get to pick out tunes.
    It's not so much the difference in tone, although the "zing" of bouzouki may cut through a group of fiddlers, whistlers, and concertina players in an Irish session a little better than a darker-sounding octave mandolin (USA term, or octave mandola in Euro/UK terms).

    It's more about the scale length when playing in open position. A bouzouki has a longer scale, which means larger finger stretch in GDAE or GDAD tuning when playing melody lines, compared to octave mandolins with their (generally) shorter scales. I play a 22" scale octave mandolin tuned GDAE, and it's a workout on my hands when playing fast "fiddle tunes" in first position.

    If you're planning on tuning a bouzouki in 4ths like a guitar, then the longer scale will be fine for melody.

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