What am I doing here?

Talk about musical instrument construction, setup and repair.

Moderators: kiwigeo, Jeremy D

Gassy
Wandoo
Posts: 14
Joined: Thu Feb 28, 2019 1:13 pm

What am I doing here?

Post by Gassy » Thu Feb 28, 2019 6:26 pm

The subject is half what I'm asking myself, and half an introduction.

I am an about to be retired electronics engineer, which means I am about to be a close to full time musical instrument maker. However, it's not guitars or stringed instruments I make, nope it's bagpipes, Scottish smallpipes to be more exact, though I'll make other variants. Unfortunately there is no cool name like luthier for a bagpipe maker.

Hence, what am I doing here?

Many people have no idea what a Scottish smallpipe is, they know the 'bloody loud and does not play well with other instruments Great Highland Bagpipe', so here is an example. So, the observant will have noticed next to the pipers was a dude playing the product of a luthier. I happened to discover a year or two back, doing research in Irish pubs, that said stringed instrument is an Irish Bouzouki. I loved the sound of it, and I liked it even more when I realised how well it plays with smallpipes, and of course many other folk instruments.

So like any normal person I decided not only do I need to learn to play it, I need to learn to make it. I mean how hard can it be? I already make things with wood, I can use sharp tools moderately safely, and I had guitar lessons 20 years ago.

So, anyone in Adelaide need an apprentice?

Petecane
Blackwood
Posts: 168
Joined: Mon Feb 25, 2019 10:09 am

Re: What am I doing here?

Post by Petecane » Thu Feb 28, 2019 7:32 pm

Crikey mate!
I think by definition Luthiers make stringed instruments but nontheless I may be able to help you.
My brother who resides in the Uk is heavily into bagpipe making.
I helped him sew up the bags and made the bellows for him.
From my experiences at reed making, it is extremely difficult.
It really is a labour of love if you are prepared to step the journey.
Bagpipe makers who are still around closely guard their art.
It could be difficult for you to gain info but not impossible.
You will need a good lathe, will have to make or expensively have some one make your pipe bore reamers.
You will have to make your own reeds which is an art in itself.
Depending on the type of pipes your intend making, you will have to make your own keys.
I made some keys for my brother.
You have elected to make an extremely difficult and closed market instrument.
I am not trying to put you off but I must advise you that in order to succeed you must be very determined, live and breathe pipes and be insanely stubborn that all will work okay in the end.
If this is your absolute want then you are welcome to pm me and I will give you my brother's details.
Be prepared for a very frustrating journey!
The safest bet is to go for the large keyless border pipes.
I can put you in contact with some one in Somerset UK who makes them.
All the best to you.
Pete.

Petecane
Blackwood
Posts: 168
Joined: Mon Feb 25, 2019 10:09 am

Re: What am I doing here?

Post by Petecane » Thu Feb 28, 2019 7:37 pm

Sorry I read you wrong.
You want to make a Bouzouki right?
Cancel my last message.
Pete

User avatar
56nortondomy
Blackwood
Posts: 512
Joined: Sat Jan 14, 2012 11:56 pm
Location: Melbourne western suburbs

Re: What am I doing here?

Post by 56nortondomy » Thu Feb 28, 2019 10:47 pm

Welcome to the forum Gassy, don't be scared to let us know your name ( unless it is Gassy and so we already know :lol: ).
Wayne

Dave M
Blackwood
Posts: 296
Joined: Tue Jul 15, 2014 6:44 am
Location: Somerset UK

Re: What am I doing here?

Post by Dave M » Fri Mar 01, 2019 4:57 am

This is a form of mandolin of course. There is an interesting chapter on it's development in Graham McDonald's book 'The Mandolin a History'

And those pipes are certainly more tuneful than the ones we normally see!
------------------
Dave

Gassy
Wandoo
Posts: 14
Joined: Thu Feb 28, 2019 1:13 pm

Re: What am I doing here?

Post by Gassy » Fri Mar 01, 2019 8:51 am

The name is Gavin, but my wife would more agree with the forum nick.

Yes, I have Graham's book on the way, the one on actual Bouzouki making, but I'll get the mandolin one too now that I know it exists.
Petecane wrote:
Thu Feb 28, 2019 7:32 pm
I am not trying to put you off but I must advise you that in order to succeed you must be very determined, live and breathe pipes and be insanely stubborn that all will work okay in the end.
Thanks Pete, that is brilliant, and accurate, where were you when I was deciding whether to do it? :D Actually, I was extremely lucky and had an Australian mentor to help me develop.

I am guessing I should start with cheapish timber so that the mistakes won't hurt too much, and really I probably already have or can easily get everything except the soundboard timbers - I use Gidgee and Western Myall for the pipes by preference but anything hard, stable and fine pored is usable so I have a bit of a collection. I'm guessing I don't want something too heavy for the neck though?

blackalex1952
Blackwood
Posts: 632
Joined: Tue Aug 27, 2013 6:36 pm
Location: North East Victoria

Re: What am I doing here?

Post by blackalex1952 » Fri Mar 01, 2019 2:13 pm

If you are ever in North East Victoria try pm'ing me and I will introduce you to a friend in the area who makes very good "banjo killers" as the Bluegrass scene call the old style Martin build. He is also a Scot and a fine piper!
Cheers! Ross
"Everything I say on the topic is based solely upon inexperience and assumption!"

User avatar
lamanoditrento
Blackwood
Posts: 299
Joined: Thu May 05, 2016 9:50 am

Re: What am I doing here?

Post by lamanoditrento » Fri Mar 01, 2019 2:57 pm

We recently had a student finish a "Queensland" bouzouki at the BGMS. It was guitar-shaped, falcate braced made of silver quandong and mango wood
MickO Bouzuoki.PNG
MickO Bouzuoki.PNG (899.66 KiB) Viewed 2149 times
More photos on insta https://www.instagram.com/p/BroArGyH5Yf/
Trent

Petecane
Blackwood
Posts: 168
Joined: Mon Feb 25, 2019 10:09 am

Re: What am I doing here?

Post by Petecane » Fri Mar 01, 2019 5:40 pm

I am going to stick my neck out here and probs get a lot of hassle but.....
Sorry.....IMHO ....I cannot see that instrument as being called a Bouzouki.
It looks like an eight string guitar albeit Bouzouki tuned.
It does not look any thing like a Bouzouki.
A Bouzouki is a totally different shape.
It is a guitar!
Pete

User avatar
kiwigeo
Admin
Posts: 9680
Joined: Sat Sep 29, 2007 5:57 pm
Location: Adelaide, Sth Australia

Re: What am I doing here?

Post by kiwigeo » Fri Mar 01, 2019 6:31 pm

The body is that of a guitar but the strings and tuning are that of a Bouzouki. My bet is it will sound more like a Bouzouki than a guitar.
Petecane wrote:
Fri Mar 01, 2019 5:40 pm
I am going to stick my neck out here and probs get a lot of hassle but.....
Sorry.....IMHO ....I cannot see that instrument as being called a Bouzouki.
It looks like an eight string guitar albeit Bouzouki tuned.
It does not look any thing like a Bouzouki.
A Bouzouki is a totally different shape.
It is a guitar!
Pete
Martin

User avatar
kiwigeo
Admin
Posts: 9680
Joined: Sat Sep 29, 2007 5:57 pm
Location: Adelaide, Sth Australia

Re: What am I doing here?

Post by kiwigeo » Fri Mar 01, 2019 6:35 pm

Pete, you won't get any hassles on this forum unless you engage in unwarranted abuse, use the forum to advertise your products without first checking with the mods...or you just carry on like a total w**er. :)
Petecane wrote:
Fri Mar 01, 2019 5:40 pm
I am going to stick my neck out here and probs get a lot of hassle but.....
Martin

Gassy
Wandoo
Posts: 14
Joined: Thu Feb 28, 2019 1:13 pm

Re: What am I doing here?

Post by Gassy » Fri Mar 01, 2019 6:46 pm

Petecane wrote:
Fri Mar 01, 2019 5:40 pm
Sorry.....IMHO ....I cannot see that instrument as being called a Bouzouki.
It's a fair question Pete, it's to do with it's historical basis, shortened version is; an Irishman in the 60s brought a Greek Bouzouki to Ireland, it worked well with Irish music, other people wanted one, there was no Internet, Irish luthiers said "do you really need the bowl back?", the Irish said "not if it's cheaper", so the luthier said, "in that case I'll make it kinda like a long necked mandolin". It would be more correct to call it that probably, but since the Irish modified a Bouzouki the name stuck. Also the Bouzouki is traditionally a trichordo, and not until the 50's was it a tetrachordo, so an 8 string modern Bouzouki is also not technically a Bouzouki. The Irish Bouzouki is commonly tuned G2D3A3D4 so not exactly mandolin tuning either.

Gassy
Wandoo
Posts: 14
Joined: Thu Feb 28, 2019 1:13 pm

Re: What am I doing here?

Post by Gassy » Fri Mar 01, 2019 6:51 pm

kiwigeo wrote:
Fri Mar 01, 2019 6:31 pm
The body is that of a guitar but the strings and tuning are that of a Bouzouki. My bet is it will sound more like a Bouzouki than a guitar.
Even more so if it's tuned with octave pairs on the 2 lower pitched courses, which is not standard but also not uncommon.

Petecane
Blackwood
Posts: 168
Joined: Mon Feb 25, 2019 10:09 am

Re: What am I doing here?

Post by Petecane » Fri Mar 01, 2019 7:54 pm

I cannot bring myself to agree that the instrument shown will sound like a Bouzouki.
A Bouzouki has a totally different shape.
It is pear shaped like the old Neopolitan mandolins but with a larger body.
This larger body still produces a very piercing treble sound.
It is designed to to this to play the melody.
It also has a very thin neck with a long string length.
The bowl was replaced with the " flat back " because it is more comfortable to play in the modern idiom...ie coolness and being able to stand up and play it.
Irish music is generally very quick?
They preferred mandolin type instruments with shorter string lengths to enable the player to encompass the neck and get around the jigs and reels.
I , as an experiment and request from my son, and much against my acoustically minded ethos, made an electric Dulcimer with EMG pups, gotoh tuners the whole nine yards.
I spent one week fashioning the body from solid Mally.
Boy this thing sings.
It is powerful
It is essentially a Dulcimer because it has Three strings and Dulcimer tuned?....now there is the question........
So I have now reached the same question and dilemma.
Is it a Dulcimer?
Answer ...No
Because it simply does not resemble a dulcimer in any way.
It is only tuned as such.
I still have it and can post a pic if you like?
Then you will probably agree it is not a dulcimer.
Anyway that was just an example of what I am getting at.
The instrument in your picture is beautiful and clearly beautifully made but it does look like a superb eight stringed jazz guitar rather than a Bouzouki.
It is the guitar body that does not give me the Bouzouki vibes.
I would like to hear a you tube of it playing so that I can be fair to myself.
If it sounds like a Bouzouki then hell...I don't know what to think!.
I think I will say ...." hats off... that sounds like a Bouzouki but I am not keen on the shape".
Who am I to judge?
Who am I to say?
Only my doddery old fart opinion .
Beautiful build but the description does not fit.
Pete

User avatar
Mark McLean
Blackwood
Posts: 741
Joined: Thu Apr 10, 2008 2:03 pm
Location: Sydney

Re: What am I doing here?

Post by Mark McLean » Sat Mar 02, 2019 9:06 am

Welcome Gavin. You have made a good start if you are in possession of Graham McDonald’s bouzouki book. I used his plans and instructions to build one a year or so back and found it to be excellent. I also had the prior experience of building a few guitars to fall back on, but I think you could manage it for your first go. You are obviously a determined and resourceful chap! If you found a local luthier to help you a bit you could work it out between you.

On the question of whether a guitar shaped instrument can be called a bouzouki - I agree that the name bouzouki has been applied to a great variety of different shapes and sizes, as a result of the traditional Greek and Balkan style of instruments being adapted by the celts. Even the original styles from central and Southern Europe were very diverse. The guitar shaped ones have a significant advantage that they rest on the knee of a seated player (round bodies are a real nuisance to play unless you stand up and have a strap). But they definitely sound different from a guitar because of the scale length and unison strings. Just go to the website of our mate Nigel Forster and look at some videos of his bouzoukis compared with his guitars that have very similar shaped bodies. They are very different in sound. Nigel also has a good blog piece on the history here :
http://www.nkforsterguitars.com/blog/wh ... -bouzouki/
Nigel frequents this forum so he might drop in with a well informed opinion.

Petecane
Blackwood
Posts: 168
Joined: Mon Feb 25, 2019 10:09 am

Re: What am I doing here?

Post by Petecane » Sat Mar 02, 2019 4:06 pm

Gavin.
I am on bended knee and apologise for my ruthless opinions.
When you first mentioned Bouzouki I pictured in my mind a traditional Bouzouki.
I accept now that time has gone on and things ( shapes) change.
And hell....why not indeed?
I think I am in a pickle here as I have all but criticised the Brisbane School of Guitar making!
Woops...
Did'nt meanto do that so please accept my heartfelt apologies.
I wish you all the luck in your ventures and I have now learnt it is not the shape that deppicts how an instrument is called.
But I must stand firm in my assertions that it is the size and shape of an instrument together with the wood used to make it, has a hold on how it will sound.
It all depends on what sound you are after which is relative to the acoustic body mass of the instrument.
But Hey...I think I hit on reasonable assumptions but when all said and done, I may be talking bullshit.
( I thinkI am allowed to say Bullshit in Oz without getting banned from the forum?)
Very best of luck mate!
Go for it.
Pete

Petecane
Blackwood
Posts: 168
Joined: Mon Feb 25, 2019 10:09 am

Re: What am I doing here?

Post by Petecane » Sat Mar 02, 2019 5:20 pm

Gavin.
I am on bended knee and apologise for my ruthless opinions.
When you first mentioned Bouzouki I pictured in my mind a traditional Bouzouki.
I accept now that time has gone on and things ( shapes) change.
And hell....why not indeed?
I think I am in a pickle here as I have all but criticised the Brisbane School of Guitar making!
Woops...
Did'nt meanto do that so please accept my heartfelt apologies.
I wish you all the luck in your ventures and I have now learnt it is not the shape that deppicts how an instrument is called.
But I must stand firm in my assertions that it is the size and shape of an instrument together with the wood used to make it, has a hold on how it will sound.
It all depends on what sound you are after which is relative to the acoustic body mass of the instrument.
But Hey...I think I hit on reasonable assumptions but when all said and done, I may be talking bullshit.
( I thinkI am allowed to say Bullshit in Oz without getting banned from the forum?)
Very best of luck mate!
Go for it.
Pete

Gassy
Wandoo
Posts: 14
Joined: Thu Feb 28, 2019 1:13 pm

Re: What am I doing here?

Post by Gassy » Sun Mar 03, 2019 9:51 am

Mark McLean wrote:
Sat Mar 02, 2019 9:06 am
http://www.nkforsterguitars.com/blog/wh ... -bouzouki/
Nigel frequents this forum so he might drop in with a well informed opinion.
Thanks for that. The depth and sustain on that arch top guitar bouzouki is very impressive.

User avatar
lamanoditrento
Blackwood
Posts: 299
Joined: Thu May 05, 2016 9:50 am

Re: What am I doing here?

Post by lamanoditrento » Mon Mar 04, 2019 9:09 am

Call it what you will, no offence taken. G'zouki maybe :D We're not dogmatic or tradition-bound at the BGMS.

The nut, neck, strings etc measurements were taken from an Irish bouzouki the student owned and liked the feel of, rather than a Greek bouzouki. The student was heavily influenced by Nigel's guitar bouzouki design for exactly the reason that Mark suggest; playing while sitting down. It also made found finding a case quite easy. It does not sound like a guitar to me at all, but the falcate bracing makes it a very loud instrument (with maybe a little too much sustain).

Anyway, good luck Gavin. This forum is a great place for questions/discussion in place of an apprenticeship which might be hard to find.
Trent

lauburu
Blackwood
Posts: 230
Joined: Sun Oct 17, 2010 7:25 am
Location: Auckland NZ

Re: What am I doing here?

Post by lauburu » Tue Mar 05, 2019 6:14 am

I am an about to be retired electronics engineer, which means I am about to be a close to full time musical instrument maker.
I am a little late to this topic but, having retired recently, felt I needed to offer a warning.

The above excerpt of your original post is a wonderful aspiration. However, I also read that you are married. You may want to check with your wife that your plan for the future aligns with hers. Since I retired, I have spent 90% of my time sorting out the long list of activities she had planned for me. Now, after 2 years, I am starting to find time for my priorities.
Good luck.
Miguel

Gassy
Wandoo
Posts: 14
Joined: Thu Feb 28, 2019 1:13 pm

Re: What am I doing here?

Post by Gassy » Tue Mar 05, 2019 12:07 pm

Hehe Miguel, I'm sorry to hear that. My wife is still working so she won't be around to keep me on task for most of the day. I'm sure I will still be time poor though.

seeaxe
Blackwood
Posts: 497
Joined: Thu Dec 18, 2008 7:20 pm
Location: Auckland NZ

Re: What am I doing here?

Post by seeaxe » Thu Mar 07, 2019 7:54 pm

Hi and belated welcome

"I am guessing I should start with cheapish timber so that the mistakes won't hurt too much"

While this seems entirely logical, its been my experience (and that of a lot of other people as well I think) that you are likely to be surprised how well the first one turns out. You will put a lot of careful thought and attention into it because its the first one you have built and that usually means a great outcome. If you have access to good timber then I would suggest you use it and don't be tempted to use something you wouldn't be totally happy with at the end.

From what you are saying you already know what you are doing with wood and woodwork toolsso use the best wood you can lay your hands on. You don't want to get to the end and find you've built a regretozouki or an IwishIhadazouki :lol: :lol:

Good luck and post pics
Richard

User avatar
56nortondomy
Blackwood
Posts: 512
Joined: Sat Jan 14, 2012 11:56 pm
Location: Melbourne western suburbs

Re: What am I doing here?

Post by 56nortondomy » Thu Mar 07, 2019 10:40 pm

Hi Gavin. I tend to agree with Richard, he makes a good point, I wish I had that advice on my first guitar, it turned out really well but I'd used 2nd grade timbers, it's still a nice guitar but could have been a lot better.
Wayne

Gassy
Wandoo
Posts: 14
Joined: Thu Feb 28, 2019 1:13 pm

Re: What am I doing here?

Post by Gassy » Fri Mar 08, 2019 8:31 am

Thanks guys, that's a fair point. I often use cheap timber to try out a new technique or visual design element, but in the grand scheme of things time is by far the biggest input cost.

User avatar
Mark McLean
Blackwood
Posts: 741
Joined: Thu Apr 10, 2008 2:03 pm
Location: Sydney

Re: What am I doing here?

Post by Mark McLean » Fri Mar 08, 2019 9:47 am

I completely agree with Richard and Wayne. Time is your biggest investlment in instrument making. The material costs are actually fairly modest. Good quality timber is also likely to be easier to work with (bending, carving, finishing). OK, maybe not Brazilian RW for your first one - but some nice East Indian Rosewood or blackwood, or whatever you fancy will definitely enhance your satisfaction with the outcome.

Post Reply

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: Crafty Fox, Google and 14 guests