Irish bouzouki

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Irish bouzouki

The Irish bouzouki ("Irish bouzouki") is an Irish box-neck lute that was derived from the Greek bouzouki in the late 1960s . It is mainly used in Irish folk .

Design, style of play and sound

From the bouzouki , a bowl-neck lute with a round bottom, which is mainly played in Greece, the Irish box- neck lute, which belongs to the cistern family, differs mainly in its flat bottom.

The Irish bouzouki usually has four double strings , which are often tuned GG dd aa d´d´ or AA dd aa d´d´, less often in Gg dd´ aa e´e´. Double choirs with the same string throughout and with the tuning GG dd aa d´d´ have, however, established themselves in recent years. For the violin or mandolin player, the fingering is simplified by the Gdae 'mood. Because of the width of the scale length in the 1st position, a different fingering technique is recommended for those playing melodies, for example the f sharp on the D string and the c sharp on the A string with the third finger. Depending on the sequence of notes, you can also play faster in the 2nd position.

The sound of the Irish bouzouki is metallic-clear. The double stringing means that even simple melodies develop a full sound. The mood of the Irish bouzouki leads to an open sound, as the third of the chords is usually left out (for example, the sound AA dd aa d´d´ is achieved with a simple grip), which means that the chord is not fixed to major or minor.


The instrument came into Irish music around 1965/66 through Johnny Moynihan , who received a Greek instrument from John Pearse . After initial reservations, he took turns using the instrument with Andy Irvine in the Sweeney's Men group . The Irish bouzouki only became known to a wide audience when Andy Irvine introduced his musician friend Dónal Lunny to the instrument and they both made the instrument the style-defining sound of the Irish group Planxty , which is very popular . They played bouzouki / bouzouki or bouzouki / mandolin duos. Dónal Lunny also played the bouzouki with the Bothy Band and later as a rock instrument with the Moving Hearts . Moynihan as well as Irvine and Lunny played double-choir instruments in the GDAD or GDAE tuning. Alec Finn (who tuned his three-horned instrument DAD) developed an interesting variant of the “Irish bouzouki style” in the mid-1970s and, with his individual picking style, put his stamp on the rhythm and sound of the De Danann group .

It can no longer be proven beyond doubt when a cister was first called Irish bouzouki . The first who demonstrably built a "modern" instrument was probably the Englishman Peter Abnett, who around 1970 in collaboration with Dónal Lunny developed an instrument with a flattened top construction, three-part at the bottom with clearly pronounced ribs and a slim "Greek" neck . The English instrument maker Stefan Sobell from Northumberland in England designed a bouzouki with a flat bottom, high, based on his Portuguese guitar and his old Martin Arch top guitar (model C1) as well as based on the example of English Renaissance cistern Frame , vaulted top - similar to a violin - and a deeper sound. Both instrument makers have since been copied many times and their style has been interpreted.


  • Tobe Richards: The Irish Bouzouki Chord Bible: GDAD Irish Tuning 2,447 Chords. Cabot Books, Bristol 2005, ISBN 978-0-9553944-0-9
  • Tobe Richards: The Irish Bouzouki Chord Bible: GDAE Mandolin Style Tuning 1,728 Chords. Cabot Books, Bristol 2007, ISBN 978-1-906207-02-1

Web links

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