This Irish bouzouki was one of my favorite kind of builds. Made for George up in beautiful Scotland to match his cocobolo mandolin. Its always a privilege to work with quite such beautiful wood. Cocobolo is up there with some of the finest tonewoods, it has a tap tone which needs to be heard to be believed. Pared with a AAA set of Moon spruce from Switzerland this is a loud punchy instrument.
Moon wood itself is fascinating for anyone like me who enjoys nerdy topics. Its felled in the winter at very specific parts of the lunar cycle. There has been a great study by Prof. Dr. Ernst Zürcher on the topic for anyone who fancies a read.
I'm not usually a fan of high gloss finishes. For most applications I find them a little over the top. However for some timbers like the Cocobolo on this Irish bouzouki, it would be rude not to. It really does bring out the grain and the wonderful depth of colour.
Thought i'd leave this picture in to prove i'm handier with the hand tools then I dare say I ever will be with a camera!
This is one of my smaller bodied octave mandolins. I make them in a variety of scale lengths to suit the customer. But these largely fall into either 20.75" or 22.75". Depending on your style of play the shorter octave mandolins can be easier on the fingers for melody playing. For a lot of players moving over from a standard mandolin you wont even have to change your fingering.
But its horses for courses. If you were after something a little louder and more strident I would suggest the longer scale and larger body.
This instrument was built with some lovely Yew from the lads over at David Dykes. I was particularly happy being able to get the sapwood to run the full length of the sides. Not something that would be easily achievable on a larger instrument. I was lovely to be able to incorporate some of this into the rosette also. It really pops on the very white moon spruce top.
A little glimpse at my newest Irish Bouzouki! Built to a similar size of the classic bouzouki luthiers like Foley and Abnett. This lovely piece of Acer Campestre from Conway tonewoods just seemed to me that it wanted to be a bouzouki.
With a surprisingly sweet taptone and outrageous figuring for a native species hardwood. The fast attack you get from Acer family really lends itself to the hard rhythm Irish bouzouki style.
With a nod to the man himself, Stefan Sobell, I have enjoyed this slightly more challenging rosette. All handcut and so there are no off the peg jigs to let you makes rosettes like this easily. But for me that makes it all the more satisfying.
More CBOM family instruments coming this way soon!
Two guitar bouzoukis fresh off the bench. The Venetian cutaway is really handy for guitar bouzoukis, open tunings being what they are the use of a capo is inevitable and this lets you get right up the neck for those awkward keys!
These bouzoukis have some lovely examples of some great native species tonewoods. As environmental concerns come more into the spotlight, I think we have all started to look a little closer to home. And these are a lovely example that there are beautiful woods on our doorstep. Lacewood back and side on one paired with Swiss moon spruce on the first. And Yew paired with a nice warm cedar top on the second.
K&K pure mini pickups installed in both, these give a beautifully clear and articulate tone while being perfectly unobtrusive.
Continuing a run of larger mandolin family instruments with my largest yet! This Long-scale Cittern was built for a customer in Scotland wanting to tune down to D.
With another fine paring of European Walnut and Swiss moon spruce.
Had great fun playing with another mosaic rosette on the Cittern. Walnut has some of the best figuring of the native species. And it seemed a shame not to make the most of the gnarly grain patterns on the back and bring some to the face of the Cittern.
We came to a compromise on the 24.5″ scale, long enough to keep some tension on the bottom D but also short enough for some nimble tune playing.
An interesting build as always, and great to work with a customer who has played so many fine Citterns. Really helps getting to grips with the project when the customer has a clear idea of where they want to go with it.
Its been a long time since I have made a classic Irish Bouzouki, and this I really enjoyed.
Built for a fantastic player and all-round nice guy on the Irish music scene in Bristol. He allowed me a few indulgences, like this rosette. An opportunity to use some of the gnarly grain of this walnut should not be missed.
There are lengthy debates on the best choice of tonewoods for Irish Bouzoukis. From my perspective, in the grand scheme of things, these are still relatively young instruments. So tonal structure is something still to be explored.
I went through the options with the customer and we landed up with: Swiss moon spruce top, European walnut back and sides and Rocklite fingerboard and bridge combo.
Rocklite is a fascinating material to work with and well worth looking into for your next build.
Here is the Ebano type rocklite on this 25.5″ Irish Bouzouki scale. It can be used as a direct replacement for ebony, and from my perspective at least is the future of environmentally responsible choices for tonewood.
European walnut produces a lovely warm yet crisp tone for this Irish bouzouki. And has some of the best figuring of native hardwood species.
Design features are an important consideration, I like to add a volute. This helps add strength to a notorious weak spot of most steel string instruments.
Some Irish Bouzouki players like to use sliding capos for fast key changes, and in that instant you may prefer to opt for a rear cap on the headstock instead.
However as newer designs like Thalia capos come along they can save the neck a lot of pain from all that scraping/sliding.
This Irish Bouzouki produces a lovely sparkling tone with plenty of grunt at the bottom end. More CBOMS to come soon!
Not quite the bank holiday weekend off, but it has meant I’ve had time to catch up on the website. I had a lot of fun building this lacewood 10 string Cittern, set up in open G. It’s not a wood that I’ve used frequently for Citterns, but I’m really pleased with the results. In sound, it has something akin to mahogany, as well as a little maple there as well. Either way, it has a really eye catching figuring.
This build had a bit of a silver theme: with an ebony and sterling silver rosette, with a handmade nickel-plated tail piece (it’s a pet peeve of mine when tailpieces don’t match other hardware).
To help deal with the tension of 10 strings, the Cittern has carbon fibre neck reinforcements and double-walled sides to give it a little extra punch.