New lute day!

All instruments that aren't guitars (or bass guitars).
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Re: New lute day!

Post by burpgun » Fri Sep 25, 2020 5:46 am

This thread brings to mind inexpensive bouzoukis and ouds I've seen on NYC Craigslist from time to time. Can these instruments be any good? Have wondered in particular about bouzoukis.

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Re: New lute day!

Post by Larry Mal » Fri Sep 25, 2020 6:28 am

I used to own an inexpensive bouzouki, it was a lot of fun.

They can be a little hard to shop for, the Greek style bouzouki is still made by small builders that I'm aware of, and there's no clear branding to evaluate them by quickly.

On the Irish bouzouki side- which is what I used to have- things can be a little more clear. Trinity College makes a good Irish bouzouki in China.

This is a Romanian manufacturer that makes decent quality bouzoukis for cheap (according to reviews I've read).

Regarding the oud, it seems to be a pretty expensive instrument all around, and of course you don't want to buy some tourist thing that isn't really an instrument.

The Sandis, who Mike has been working with, seem to make great, real ouds out there in Turkey, and if I was going to buy one it would be one of theirs.
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Re: New lute day!

Post by mbene085 » Fri Sep 25, 2020 7:17 am

I can't comment on bouzoukis, but what I've learned about lutes is that there has been little commercial effort to invest in making decent ones.

There's a company in Pakistan that makes a bunch of early instruments under several brand names, including Renaissance lutes. They seem to be more or less playable but uninspiring.

There's one company that invested in getting a Chinese factory tooled up and producing historically accurate and great-sounding lutes, but they charged around $3k USD for a lute and case and have been shut down for a year and a half as they fight a copyright infringement lawsuit against a major music store who went behind their back and contracted the Chinese factory to make the same lutes to be sold under their brand.

So really, there isn't much out there at all other than the few dedicated luthiers in Europe and North America who have resurrected lute construction over the past 50 years or so. They rightly have to charge a living wage for their skilled work in countries with high costs of living, but that means that the larger lutes like Baroque ones tend to start at $7k unless you catch a young luthier at the start of their career, in which case you can get one for maybe around $4k. Huge barrier to entry for a beginner.

The Sandis seem to have hit a sweet spot - they still make almost everything by hand (other than the laser cut roses), and as established oud makers, they had the right skill set to branch into lutes. They use historical lutes as templates, and don't just adapt their oud designs, and their soundboards are built much more lightly than those stiff Pakistani factory-made instruments. But, being in a country with 1/4 of the cost of living of the UK, they seem to be able to build these at a more beginner-friendly price point than other European builders.

They're very nice people, too, who clearly care about what they're doing. They've been great to work with, and have been open to custom requests, so this won't be my last instrument from them.

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Re: New lute day!

Post by mackerelmint » Sun Sep 27, 2020 12:11 am

I have no idea how to find a decent charango. They're all dirt cheap, and I can only assume crappy. They sure look crappy.

Next time I see a group of Andino buskers, I should probably ask the charango player, cuz the internet only gives a short list of what look like crappy sources.
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