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Thread: Just received my first bouzouki - Help :)

  1. #1

    Default Just received my first bouzouki - Help :)

    Hi everyone!

    I'm new here, well, I'm an old reader of the board but it's the first time that I post, thanks for activating my account

    I received my first bouzouki last week and as it's a new instrument for me (I own a mandolin but it's not the same, and I'm mainly a guitar player), I'm not sure about tuning and the choice of strings. I read some topics here about it and it seems to be a common question asked...

    My bouzouki is a Concert Irish Bouzouki by Hora:
    http://www.hora.ro/concert_bouzouki.html

    As soon as I received it, I tuned it in GDAD. It sounds great but I wonder if it's tuned in the right octave as the strings are not very tight. But again it sounds great to me so maybe it's just a question of gauge and strings?

    I was surprised to have octave bass pairs (G and D) because I thought octave bass pairs was for Greek bouzouki, that's why I'm a bit confused...

    Anyway, if I change the strings and change for unisson strings, I'm a bit concerned about the bridge because the slots on the bridge are made for octave strings. Can I change for unisson strings all the same?

    It's be great to know more about all this, your help would be very appreciated

    Thank you

  2. #2
    Lord of All Badgers Lord of the Badgers's Avatar
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    Default Re: Just received my first bouzouki - Help :)

    Hi there
    G2 D3 A3 D4 (unison) I believe

    If the bridge is compensated for octave pairs, I guess you could find a friendly luthier to make you a unison one. I have the opposite, i took the hit of using octaves on a unison bridge.

    My forster will be unison, so be interesting to compare!

    and... congrats
    My name is Rob, and I am Lord of All Badgers

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    Registered User DavidKOS's Avatar
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    Default Re: Just received my first bouzouki - Help :)

    Quote Originally Posted by Sound Chaser View Post
    Hi everyone!


    My bouzouki is a Concert Irish Bouzouki by Hora:


    As soon as I received it, I tuned it in GDAD. It sounds great but I wonder if it's tuned in the right octave as the strings are not very tight. But again it sounds great to me so maybe it's just a question of gauge and strings?

    I was surprised to have octave bass pairs (G and D) because I thought octave bass pairs was for Greek bouzouki, that's why I'm a bit confused...
    I used to sell those Romanian made flat back bouzoukis at LITM, and in spite of the "Irish" name they do come string for Greek Bouzouki tuning, CFAD; thus your bass string are in octaves and will be too loose tension at G and D pitches.

    Nice basic instruments, they are a good value. They didn't call them "Irish" in previous years, either.

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    Lord of All Badgers Lord of the Badgers's Avatar
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    Default Re: Just received my first bouzouki - Help :)

    also it depends - playing more tunes I guess you would have to have unisons. Many find the jump in tone from Octave pairs to the A / D higher strings in unison to be not nice.

    I've gotten by with octave pairs as I use it for backing or for songs I'm writing, i like the shimmery sound
    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

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    Registered User DavidKOS's Avatar
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    Default Re: Just received my first bouzouki - Help :)

    Quote Originally Posted by Lord of the Badgers View Post
    also it depends - playing more tunes I guess you would have to have unisons. Many find the jump in tone from Octave pairs to the A / D higher strings in unison to be not nice.

    I've gotten by with octave pairs as I use it for backing or for songs I'm writing, i like the shimmery sound
    Greek bouzouki players expect the octaves in the low D or C and F strings, depending on if it is a 3 or 4 course bouzouki.

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    Registered User DavidKOS's Avatar
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    Default Re: Just received my first bouzouki - Help :)

    Quote Originally Posted by Lord of the Badgers View Post
    If the bridge is compensated for octave pairs, I guess you could find a friendly luthier to make you a unison one. )
    If they have not changed the design, the bridge is uncompensated.

  7. #7

    Default Re: Just received my first bouzouki - Help :)

    Quote Originally Posted by DavidKOS View Post
    I used to sell those Romanian made flat back bouzoukis at LITM, and in spite of the "Irish" name they do come string for Greek Bouzouki tuning, CFAD; thus your bass string are in octaves and will be too loose tension at G and D pitches.

    Nice basic instruments, they are a good value. They didn't call them "Irish" in previous years, either.
    It's a bit weird... But then I'm wondering if I can replace the strings by strings of higher gauge?


    Quote Originally Posted by Lord of the Badgers View Post
    also it depends - playing more tunes I guess you would have to have unisons. Many find the jump in tone from Octave pairs to the A / D higher strings in unison to be not nice.

    I've gotten by with octave pairs as I use it for backing or for songs I'm writing, i like the shimmery sound
    I love the actual sound but the fact that the strings are a bit too loose in GDAD surprised me so I wanted to understand

    Quote Originally Posted by DavidKOS View Post
    If they have not changed the design, the bridge is uncompensated.
    I'm not sure but the slot of the higher string looks smaller than the one for the lowest string which seems quite logical to me...

    Thank you for your help 👍

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    Registered User DavidKOS's Avatar
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    Default Re: Just received my first bouzouki - Help :)

    Quote Originally Posted by Sound Chaser View Post
    It's a bit weird... But then I'm wondering if I can replace the strings by strings of higher gauge?




    I love the actual sound but the fact that the strings are a bit too loose in GDAD surprised me so I wanted to understand



    I'm not sure but the slot of the higher string looks smaller than the one for the lowest string which seems quite logical to me...

    Thank you for your help ��
    Yes you can replace the strings with thicker ones to tune them to a higher tension, but I wouldn't go too heavy as those are not heavily built instrument (that's OK, I like lighter weight ones).

    The strings are just a bit off - the low C is only tuned down a 4th, the C only a minor 3rd, so the strings would work, but not quite as well as if they were correctly gauged for GDAD.

    As for the bridge - and nut - if correctly slotted the maker will use thinner slots for the thinner strings and thicker slots for the bigger strings.

    You may need to slightly enlarge the two pairs of low string slots if you use thicker strings and/or go to unison stringing.

    Enjoy playing!

    and nice Les Paul in your avatar.

  9. #9

    Default Re: Just received my first bouzouki - Help :)

    Thanks for your help David!

    It's quite playable actually but I think it could be a bit tighter. I asked Hora to tell me what gauge is used on this model.

    I did a small video to show how it sounds but forget the awkward playing :



    What do you think?

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    Default Re: Just received my first bouzouki - Help :)

    If it's any use I found the hora tuning guide.

    I like the sound -very different from my Buchanan OM, much 'brighter' for want of a better term.

  11. #11

    Default Re: Just received my first bouzouki - Help :)

    Yes Derbex, very useful guide. I was searching for information to know if I was well tuned and found it and using the frequencies, I could tell that I was in the right octave.

    I really like the sound as well, it's very bright and very powerful with a lot of sustain. I admit I was surprised because I know this is definitely not a high end instrument but it's a very nice surprise. I'm not sure that I will change for the unisson strings as I like the sound, it's just that the strings are a bit loose but it's quite comfortable to play.

  12. #12

    Default Re: Just received my first bouzouki - Help :)

    Hora replied to me about the strings gauge but I'm not ssure to get it...

    The gauges of our octave strings are 0.30 0.30 0.40 0.40 0.60 0.30 0.85 0.35 mm
    If you wish to replace with unison strings, the gauges are 0.30 0.40 0.65 0.90 mm

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  14. #13
    Registered User DavidKOS's Avatar
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    Default Re: Just received my first bouzouki - Help :)

    Quote Originally Posted by derbex View Post
    If it's any use I found the hora tuning guide.

    I like the sound -very different from my Buchanan OM, much 'brighter' for want of a better term.
    They show the right tuning for an octave mandolin but .....

    Quote Originally Posted by Sound Chaser View Post
    Hora replied to me about the strings gauge but I'm not sure to get it...
    The strings that are on the instrument are for Greek tuning, hence the unison tuning at GDAD would require 2 .65mm and 2 .90mm strings.

    Notice that the original thicker low strings are a bit lighter, .60mm and .85mm.

    You should be set with those extra strings and a tiny bit of adjusting the slots.

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    Registered User Martin Jonas's Avatar
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    Default Re: Just received my first bouzouki - Help :)

    Quote Originally Posted by Sound Chaser View Post
    Thanks for your help David!

    It's quite playable actually but I think it could be a bit tighter. I asked Hora to tell me what gauge is used on this model.

    I did a small video to show how it sounds but forget the awkward playing :



    What do you think?
    That sounds nice. This appears to be a new Hora model, rather fancier than their standard bouzouki. It looks to me that it's based on the same underlying design, but with a nicer stain, a soundhole rose instead of the (ugly, in my opinion) scratchplate inlay, and a much nicer-looking chunky ebony bridge with a slanted saddle for compensation rather than their flimsy standard bridge. As the bridge was always the weak point of their setup, that's likely to be a big improvement.

    I have one of their standard zouks, but fortunately a custom model (through Troubadour) without any inlay or stain, and have replaced the bridge myself. Mine sounds fairly similar to yours.

    As for string gauges, the scale length is 660mm, almost exactly twice standard mandolin scale. So, using standard mandolin string gauges for GDAE tuning will give you the same string tensions as for a mandolin. I think my string gauges are medium-light mandolin gauges, 11-37 or something like that. Unfortunately, while most mandolin string sets (e.g. d'Addario) are far longer than needed for mandolins, they aren't quite long enough for the zouk, so you'll need to either buy a pre-made set for bouzouki in those gauges or buy single strings.

    Martin

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    Default Re: Just received my first bouzouki - Help :)

    Quote Originally Posted by DavidKOS View Post
    They show the right tuning for an octave mandolin but .....



    The strings that are on the instrument are for Greek tuning, hence the unison tuning at GDAD would require 2 .65mm and 2 .90mm strings.

    Notice that the original thicker low strings are a bit lighter, .60mm and .85mm.

    You should be set with those extra strings and a tiny bit of adjusting the slots.
    I understand but I don't find any model of strings with this gauge, but only this kind of strings : http://www.thomann.de/fr/daddario_j9..._greek_set.htm

    Quote Originally Posted by Martin Jonas View Post
    That sounds nice. This appears to be a new Hora model, rather fancier than their standard bouzouki. It looks to me that it's based on the same underlying design, but with a nicer stain, a soundhole rose instead of the (ugly, in my opinion) scratchplate inlay, and a much nicer-looking chunky ebony bridge with a slanted saddle for compensation rather than their flimsy standard bridge. As the bridge was always the weak point of their setup, that's likely to be a big improvement.

    I have one of their standard zouks, but fortunately a custom model (through Troubadour) without any inlay or stain, and have replaced the bridge myself. Mine sounds fairly similar to yours.

    As for string gauges, the scale length is 660mm, almost exactly twice standard mandolin scale. So, using standard mandolin string gauges for GDAE tuning will give you the same string tensions as for a mandolin. I think my string gauges are medium-light mandolin gauges, 11-37 or something like that. Unfortunately, while most mandolin string sets (e.g. d'Addario) are far longer than needed for mandolins, they aren't quite long enough for the zouk, so you'll need to either buy a pre-made set for bouzouki in those gauges or buy single strings.

    Martin
    Thank you Martin It's not the first model in their range, it's the Concert version which seems to be a bit more well made

    It's a bit weird not to find easily strings for this particular model, I probably don't look where I should...

    By the way, sorry for my awkward english

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    Default Re: Just received my first bouzouki - Help :)

    Quote Originally Posted by Sound Chaser View Post
    I understand but I don't find any model of strings with this gauge, but only this kind of strings : http://www.thomann.de/fr/daddario_j9..._greek_set.htm

    No, those are for Greek tuning CFAD.

    perhaps

    http://www.juststrings.com/dad-js81....FZFefgod1YYA_A

    D'Addario Irish Bouzouki Phosphor Bronze, J81

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    Registered User Martin Jonas's Avatar
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    Default Re: Just received my first bouzouki - Help :)

    Which makes my point: the gauges on these J81 zouk strings are almost identical to J74 mandolin gauges (.016 on the A instead of .015, but otherwise the same), so that the main difference is the length.

    From my experience with these Hora zouks, I would go slightly lighter. These are very lightweight instruments that don't respond well to being overstrung.

    Martin

  20. #18

    Default Re: Just received my first bouzouki - Help :)

    But I don't understand the gauge numbers that Hora gave me (sorry) : 0.30 0.40 0.65 0.90 mm

    Most of the time, it's something like 10-40 so what do they mean by 0.90mm?

    There's something I'm missing

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    Registered User DavidKOS's Avatar
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    Default Re: Just received my first bouzouki - Help :)

    Quote Originally Posted by Martin Jonas View Post
    Which makes my point: the gauges on these J81 zouk strings are almost identical to J74 mandolin gauges (.016 on the A instead of .015, but otherwise the same), so that the main difference is the length.

    From my experience with these Hora zouks, I would go slightly lighter. These are very lightweight instruments that don't respond well to being overstrung.

    Martin
    Martin's right, these are not heavily built instruments. Do not overstring!

    Quote Originally Posted by Sound Chaser View Post
    But I don't understand the gauge numbers that Hora gave me (sorry) : 0.30 0.40 0.65 0.90 mm

    Most of the time, it's something like 10-40 so what do they mean by 0.90mm?

    There's something I'm missing
    They are giving mm sizes instead of inches.

    http://www.metric-conversions.org/le...-to-inches.htm

    convert measurements

    .65mm is app. .026"

    .90mm is app. .034"

    I don't want to make an error, and there's a big difference between .034 and .40, so maybe this is not the best set for your instrument.

    Thanks, Martin.
    Attached Thumbnails Attached Thumbnails Click image for larger version. 

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    Default Re: Just received my first bouzouki - Help :)

    Do the new Horas have a trussrod? That could maybe allow a wider range of string gauges.
    Referring to your video they sound much better than the old ones :-)
    And it looks like the body is deeper. Very nice.

    Can you mount ballend strings or only loopend?

  23. #21

    Default Re: Just received my first bouzouki - Help :)

    Quote Originally Posted by DavidKOS View Post
    Martin's right, these are not heavily built instruments. Do not overstring!



    They are giving mm sizes instead of inches.

    http://www.metric-conversions.org/le...-to-inches.htm

    convert measurements

    .65mm is app. .026"

    .90mm is app. .034"

    I don't want to make an error, and there's a big difference between .034 and .40, so maybe this is not the best set for your instrument.

    Thanks, Martin.
    Oh yes, of course, stupid question!! It's clearer for me now Thanks

    Quote Originally Posted by scifi View Post
    Do the new Horas have a trussrod? That could maybe allow a wider range of string gauges.
    Referring to your video they sound much better than the old ones :-)
    And it looks like the body is deeper. Very nice.

    Can you mount ballend strings or only loopend?
    Thanks

    I don't know it it's a new model actually, it's just not the first model in their range.
    http://www.hora.ro/concert_bouzouki.html

    It seems like there is a trussrod, I'm quite surprised but I can see it through the hole of the body.

    About the loopend, I'd like to tell you but I don't succeed in removing the "plate" protecting the end of the strings

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    Default Re: Just received my first bouzouki - Help :)

    Quote Originally Posted by Sound Chaser View Post
    About the loopend, I'd like to tell you but I don't succeed in removing the "plate" protecting the end of the strings
    Those covers may be very tight - gently and firmly keep pulling up.

  25. #23

    Default Re: Just received my first bouzouki - Help :)

    Indeed, very tight, because it's I guess... I'm scare to break something

    So now I know (according to Hora specifications) that I need a set of strings of these gauges :

    D 11
    D 11
    A 15
    A 15
    D 23
    d 11
    G 33
    g 13

    But it's hard to find! The closest set I found is this one : http://www.stringsdirect.co.uk/strin...s-11-30w-p7644

  26. #24

    Default Re: Just received my first bouzouki - Help :)

    Quote Originally Posted by DavidKOS View Post
    Those covers may be very tight - gently and firmly keep pulling up.
    I had one of the cheaper models when i started playing and i really think gently softly is the way to go with these zouks. I used to use unison. 34, . 24,. 16,. 11 i think although i now use. 40,.30,.18,.12 but wouldn't use those on the Hora

  27. #25

    Default Re: Just received my first bouzouki - Help :)

    Do you remember which brand of strings it was Garry?

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