History of Bouzouki

Bouzouki is an instrument that gives life to many tales with its melodies. The history of Bouzouki as we know it today is no more than 100 years old. It has deep historical connections both with Greek Music and Turkish music, and it found itself a place even in Irish folk music in this short period. 

What is Bouzouki? 


Bouzouki is a string instrument. It has resemblances with Turkish baglama and mandolin. In time, instrument masters redesigned it any bouzoukis vary by appearance, size, and string numbers. First bouzoukis in history were, just like baglama, six-stringed in 3 courses, but today the most popular kind of bouzouki is eight-stringed in four courses. Because of its metal strings, its sound resembles a little bit of a mandolin, but with a lower pitch. Bouzouki has a similar tuning pattern to guitar. It played with a plectrum. 

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Which Region Does the Bouzouki Belong to? 


Bouzouki was used in Greece and Turkey. Bouzouki was used in a musical genre called 'Rembetiko' (Rebetiko), which was a synthesis of European music and carried to Greek and Ottoman traditional music motifs. Bouzouki is an instrument that carries these cultural effects, an essential instrument in this music genre. Bouzouki is also used a lot in Greek pop and folk music. In Turkey, Bozouki was used in Rum (Greek-originated people) songs.  

Bouzouki was used in Irish folk songs. In the 1960s an Irish folk music group started to use four courses bouzoukis, and it became a very central instrument for Irish music. In time, Irish bouzouki evolved to an altogether different Instrument. They changed the pear-shaped body to a flat back and added straight sides. This kind of bouzouki is nowadays called Irish Bouzouki. If you are looking for a good quality bouzouki, you can find all these kinds on Sala Music website. 

What is the History of Bouzouki? 


Used hundreds of years ago, Bouzouki has connections with Greek ancestors. But actually, it was invented in the 20th century. It has told that bouzouki has first appeared after Anatolian Greeks (Rum) immigrated to Greece in 1922, and Bouzouki’s first design was created by people who brought their baglamas with them. There is a story about the invention of bouzouki and how it takes its name:

One of the immigrants wants to get fixed with his baglama and goes to an instrument store. The instrument maker says that he cannot mend it, but he can make a new one by examining it. He accepts it and leaves his baglama to the store. After a while, he comes to the store to pick up a new baglama. But he sees that the instrument he receives is a different one from baglama in design and sound. The immigrant man gets mad, yells ‘Bozuk!’ (broken/faulty) and leaves the store. But the instrument maker likes the instrument and keeps it. They call it bouzouki in Greek, and some musicians who take a liking to it, play it. After a short while bouzouki is a popular instrument!’

Although it is an urban legend, it is a known fact that bouzouki came from Anatolian baglama. Baglama and bouzouki are direct descendents of a lute family called thabouras. Even today, the instruments keep some resemblances to their ancestors yet continue evolving. To explore more about bouzouki, you can see a selection of them on Sala Music website. 

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What are the Features of bouzouki?

Bouzouki is a long-neck plucked lute from Greece. Resembling a mandolin, the bouzouki consists of a round wooden body with metal strings arranged in three or four pairs of rows on a fingerboard. While the musician presses the strings on the keyboard with the fingers of his left hand, he breaks the strings over the soundhole with a plectrum he holds in his right hand, thus forming a melody. It does not have a very balanced sound as it is a mix of guitar and bass. Visuals are significant in bouzouki, and the wood is decorated with different patterns.

The bouzouki, which looks like a mixture of mandolin, guitar, and saz and emanates from Greek music, has taken its place in world music today as a musical instrument widely used not only by rebetika but also by Indian, Arab, Latin, Balkan, and Turkish music.

The 3-double-string bouzoukis, which are the first examples, have a tuning system of D3 D4-A3 A4-D4 D4 (Re-La-Re). It is called trichordo by the Greeks, meaning three strings. It is still used by bouzouki masters, although not in the old intensity.

The last type of bouzouki is the four-twin string bouzouki with a flat back, known as the Irish bouzouki. It was produced by an Irishman who was influenced by bouzouki in the 1970s.

Types of bouzouki

The bouzouki is one of the main instruments of Contemporary Greek music. It is a combination of instruments; guitar and bass. Therefore, it is not a very balanced instrument. The guitar and the binding mix includes fretboard, binding strings, and guitar fretboard.

The history of bouzouki is not very old. Rebets, who migrated from Turkey with the population exchange, took instruments such as baglama, oud, and violin with them, and over time, the baglama changed its shape, and a new instrument similar to the mandolin and guitar emerged. The bouzouki, which was six strings before, became eight strings with the addition of two strings over time. While the bouzouki instrument popularized Greek music, it was also recognized and loved by the public.

The bouzouki types are as follows:

  • The Greek bouzouki is divided into 6-string rebetiko bouzouki and 8-string laiko bozuki.
  • The morphology of bouzouki, which is also frequently used in Irish music, is quite different from the others.

The most significant issue in bouzouki lessons is to get the unique sound of the bouzouki. The grip of the pick and the position of the wrist plays a primary role in producing the desired sound. The quality, brand, and frequent replacement of strings are significant factors affecting the bouzouki sound.

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