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Thread: Buying a bouzouki in Ireland - advice

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    Default Buying a bouzouki in Ireland - advice

    My son is giving me and my wife an expenses paid vacation in UK, Scotland or Ireland, time and place to be decided by us. We're thinking autumn, and very possibly Ireland. Now I play mandolin and am thinking of maybe buying an Irish bouzouki or octave mandolin while there, but I don't know very much about them. I think my budget for it could be 500-800 Euros. Is that an adequate amount for a decent playing instrument of this type? What brands (preferably Irish-made) should I look for? I don't know our itinerary yet, but what shops might you recommend? I think my plan might be to have it shipped home rather than carry it or check it on a plane. What do you think?

    Jack
    Last edited by JCook; Mar-23-2018 at 12:08pm.

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    Default Re: Buying a bouzouki in Ireland - advice

    I can't answer your specific questions, but my experiences in Ireland is that it's a remarkably hospitable country. You make friends, sip Guinness all day (without anyone ever getting drunk) and suddenly it's 4 am. Somewhere in that you lose all ability to make rational judgment.

    So my advice is to buy in the morning, once you can see the instrument in focus.

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    Mangler of Tunes OneChordTrick's Avatar
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    Default Re: Buying a bouzouki in Ireland - advice

    I think that your budget will only run to a mass produced instrument and as we, in England at least, appear to pay a 30% premium over the US. Can’t speak for Ireland. To give an indication here’s a selection at Hobgoblin https://www.hobgoblin.com/local/sales/c/330/bouzoukis/. If I were in the market I’d go for the second hand Paul Hathway one, I’ve got one of his mandolins and I can’t praise it too highly.

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    Default Re: Buying a bouzouki in Ireland - advice

    If you are thinking of shipping it back to the US then check carefully what woods are in it and what any inlays might be made from so that you do not run foul of the CITES regulations. It is becoming a real test trying to get instruments across borders now that so many of the traditional timbers are on the CITES lists.
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    Default Re: Buying a bouzouki in Ireland - advice

    I have a Paul Hathway short scale bouzouki and am very happy with it. I recall it being £795. Which is close to your budget depending on how the exchange rates are at the moment.

    I had a long chat with Paul just after new year about cites and the woods he is or isn't allowed to use. He seems pretty clued up on it.

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    Default Re: Buying a bouzouki in Ireland - advice

    You might get in contact with Moloney music in Galway the owner posts on here sometimes. http://www.moloneymusic.com/
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    Default Re: Buying a bouzouki in Ireland - advice

    Quote Originally Posted by JCook View Post
    Now I play mandolin and am thinking of maybe buying an Irish bouzouki or octave mandolin while there, but I don't know very much about them. I think my budget for it could be 500-800 Euros. Is that an adequate amount for a decent playing instrument of this type? What brands (preferably Irish-made) should I look for

    Jack
    Hi Jack,

    I applaud your idea of buying an Irish bouzouki while in Ireland, but I would like to make a couple of points.

    In general the better bouzouki players use instruments which are made by individual makers and are nearly always well above your budget. These are not necessarily Irish-based makers like Joe Foley (possibly the best known) and would certainly include such non- Irish makers as Andy Manson, NK Forster, and indeed the aforementioned Paul Hathway who is based in London. Plenty more as well.
    But the bouzoukis which you might find in a typical music shop are perhaps more likely to be made in the Far East. I'm not saying they're bad at all,but you can buy them just as easily in the USA. For example:
    https://www.elderly.com/trinity-coll...zouki-case.htm

    You will see that this Trinity College instrument has a very long neck, and there is is a lot of grey area between whether an instrument is a bouzouki, an octave mandolin, a mandola or a cittern.
    Personally I don't like too long a neck, and I would tend towards an instrument more often described as an octave mandolin.

    Another thing: Irish bouzouki tuning is often GDad (from the bottom) which is a variation on mandolin tuning, and players frequently use a capo for key changes (which is partly why a long neck is popular, I would say).
    But it doesn't have to be. There are several tunings people use. Personally I like ADae, which I find very useful, but I am Scottish rather than Irish and we have a lot of tunes in the key of A.

    By the way, I think you will enjoy an ongoing thread here on the cafe about a bouzouki English-based Andy Tobin is making for a customer in County Clare.
    https://www.mandolincafe.com/forum/s...-Body-Bouzouki
    Last edited by Dagger Gordon; Mar-24-2018 at 6:08am.
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    Default Re: Buying a bouzouki in Ireland - advice

    Thank you, Dagger, for the great advice. I find I am leaning towards a shorter neck instrument like an octave mandolin as I think about this. By the time we go I may be able to revise my budget upwards a bit, so I'll keep an open mind and not jump into something too quickly.

    Jack

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    Default Re: Buying a bouzouki in Ireland - advice

    Having just gone through a similar process, I completely agree with dagger.

    You're into a kind of no man's land between higher end mass produced instruments and entry level hand built ones.

    I tried several of the Ashbury OMs and zouks before going to see Paul. The Ashbury instruments were fine. The difference in sound was enough for me but you will need to make that decision for yourself.

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    Default Re: Buying a bouzouki in Ireland - advice

    Quote Originally Posted by JCook View Post
    Thank you, Dagger, for the great advice. I find I am leaning towards a shorter neck instrument like an octave mandolin as I think about this. By the time we go I may be able to revise my budget upwards a bit, so I'll keep an open mind and not jump into something too quickly.

    Jack
    I guess what I'm thinking is that you might as well start looking around right now in the US for an octave mandolin rather than hope for something when you get there. For one thing you might know your way around the instrument better by the time you go and be more confident about trying to join in a session perhaps.
    Also the time taken up by possibly unsuccessful instrument hunting would be better spent enjoying the sights and sounds of Ireland, in my view.
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    Registered User Jill McAuley's Avatar
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    Default Re: Buying a bouzouki in Ireland - advice

    I second Dagger's advice, that way you avoid the hassle of shipping an instrument back to the states (or checking it in as luggage and keeping your fingers crossed that the baggage handlers are having a good day!). You'll get far more bang for your buck buying in the States. If your goal is truly to come home with an Irish made instrument you're going to need to considerably up your budget and for me, that would make the thought of shipping it back/checking it in even more nerve wracking!
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    Default Re: Buying a bouzouki in Ireland - advice

    Quote Originally Posted by Jill McAuley View Post
    I second Dagger's advice, that way you avoid the hassle of shipping an instrument back to the states (or checking it in as luggage and keeping your fingers crossed that the baggage handlers are having a good day!). You'll get far more bang for your buck buying in the States. If your goal is truly to come home with an Irish made instrument you're going to need to considerably up your budget and for me, that would make the thought of shipping it back/checking it in even more nerve wracking!
    Yeah, I'm thinking that your and Dagger's approach is best. I've started looking online to see what instrument brands are out there and trying to judge the quality. Also used instruments are often very good and less expensive. The trip is months in the future so I've got time to settle my mind about this. I definitely want good sound and playability, so don't want to rush into the wrong instrument. Problem is, where I live there are no places to try an instrument nearby, so it's not an easy thing to decide.

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    Default Re: Buying a bouzouki in Ireland - advice

    Make sure it donít have any rosewood or you cannot bring it back. I donít know why that is but thatís what several makers told me.
    Also, I have been researching making a Bouzouki purchase for some time and you wonít find a good luthier hand made one for less than several thousand dollars, usually starting around 2800 or so. I would recommend the APC models after all my research.
    I finally bought one made by David Webber of Canada. Good luck

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    Default Re: Buying a bouzouki in Ireland - advice

    Firstly I must declare 'FI' - but feel the need to balance some of the comments,which are all good and informative.
    Jack,see what might be on offer around Ireland or the UK during your trip.You're welcome to call in if you visit Galway to check what's available here.We usually have bouzoukis and OM's on hand by a couple of different Irish makers,which offer relatively good value.
    For example here's a video of Jake Workman (guitarist Ricky Scaggs band,Kentucky Thunder)with an OM he got from here last summer.
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nbGocgHUFXM


    CITES: Most makers have now moved to alternatives,making this not an issue.
    However if needed,it is only a question of submiting a document or two to the relavent cites authorities to ship instruments around the world that contain appedix II species such as Indian rosewood.By now with most new builds,wood that needs documentation will have it well catalogued from legitimate wood suppliers to luthiers,with pieces of wood having their own cites ID.It's time the hysteria about this died down a bit.

    Shipping - Plenty of instruments have shipped to the US from here without incident,it has been the most hassle free shipping destination.

    Hope you have a great trip whatever you do about the instrument!
    Last edited by Kieran; Mar-25-2018 at 8:40pm. Reason: capital letters in wrong place
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    Default Re: Buying a bouzouki in Ireland - advice

    Hi Kieran,

    I've looked at your website and clearly I owe you an apology. Your shop does indeed have exactly what Jack is looking for and well within his budget.

    I'm not familiar with either Lofthouse or APC makes, but I can see that you sell some decent instruments so I'm sure he would be very pleased with these.

    Anyway, Galway itself is well worth a visit.

    I admire the way that your shop does stock instruments by good Irish makers. Incidentally, I remember seeing Eugene Lambe piping in a Galway pub in the seventies.
    http://www.moloneymusic.com/Products...s#nav2Products
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    Default Re: Buying a bouzouki in Ireland - advice

    Quote Originally Posted by Dagger Gordon View Post
    You will see that this Trinity College instrument has a very long neck, and there is is a lot of grey area between whether an instrument is a bouzouki, an octave mandolin, a mandola or a cittern.
    Personally I don't like too long a neck, and I would tend towards an instrument more often described as an octave mandolin.
    Aren't they all the same? A bouzouki is THE standard instrument, and some people will call anything a variation of the same. All others then become short scale bouzouki, shorter scale bouzouki, pocket or backpack bouzouki, ten string bouzouki, guitar-bodied six string bouzouki, and my current instrument which is a mouth-blown stringless bouzouki, called by the uninitiated a clarinet.

    Ok forgive my tongue-in-cheek ramblings there; personally what I'd do is, while over in Ireland, play as many as you can and get a feel for the instrument you want. Talk to the local musicians, listen to the sounds, and decide on your favourite.
    THEN on your return home, see what's for sale on eBay or other music websites, and pay for the international postage. At present on eBay uk there are some lovely instruments well worth a bid: a Fylde Octavious, which I love for the deep warm sound; a Paul Hathway tenor mandola and even a hand-made mandola / bouzouki for £350 GBP. I have recently posted instruments to Russia and Sweden so international posting is no problem
    "Danger! Do Not Touch!" must be one of the scariest things to read in Braille....

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