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Thread: Irish Bouzouki or OM for singing?

  1. #1

    Default Irish Bouzouki or OM for singing?

    Hi, this is my first post here! Hopefully not too repetitive (though I imagine it kind of is).

    Basically... I'm in the market for a new instrument and I've narrowed it down to Irish Bouzouki or OM. Currently I play a long neck banjo, mandolin and fiddle. I wanted something that might give me the best of all of those worlds... basically... the length of the banjo and ability to capo combined with the tuning and sound of the mandolin. I really get a lot out of the longneck because I capo all over the place for singing different tunes. I like to pick melodies and play old-time and irish melodies but I also would like to be able to strum with chords when I sing. I just want a versatile instrument! I feel limited in the banjo and mando, currently, but I really enjoy playing the double-course strings with a pick on the mando. So I naturally thought, yeah, Irish Bouzouki!

    I was reading somewhere that GDAE is possibly too much strain for a bouzouki, however I've also been reading that it's totally fine. So that was one concern. I do want to be able to play in GDAE if I want, and also experiment with the other tunings until I find what works best.

    I have really long fingers and I already play scales on my longneck banjo so I think I will not be too bothered by the scale length of the bouzouki compared to the OM. I guess I was just wondering about the tunings and versatility, and curious if anyone else sings with their instrument and what they prefer, etc. I don't play with other people super often, I'm more of a solo performer.

    Thanks for reading! I've learned a lot form these forums, I appreciate it.

  2. #2
    Registered User
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    Jun 2016
    Columbia River Gorge

    Default Re: Irish Bouzouki or OM for singing?

    When you are serious about an instrument I suggest contacting the builders to get their take on tuning it GDAE.
    Finished my rookie year and still determined to learn!
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  4. #3
    Registered User DavidKOS's Avatar
    Join Date
    Oct 2014
    North CA

    Default Re: Irish Bouzouki or OM for singing?

    It depends on the scale length and string gauges.

    I've had very short scale and very long scale instruments that could be tuned to GDAE, including all metal and some nylon strings. It's a balance of string gauges, scale length, what string tension the instrument likes, personal preference etc.

  5. #4

    Default Re: Irish Bouzouki or OM for singing?

    Given some care invested in using the correct tension, you should be fine tuning to high E4 even at a 28.625" scale length.

    Often Irish bouzoukis are tuned to GDAD, which has just one course downtuned from GDAE.

    If you're planning on using a capo, then long scale won't matter so much. Just figure out if you'll want to play tunes in any given tuning, and then aim for that capoed fret to be in a place where you can easily fret the notes.

    My 25.5"-scale 6-course mandophone is tuned CGDAEBb from bottom to top, and having dedicated some time to woodshedding, I can play it uncapoed as an octave mandolin, mandocello, and fifths-tuned cittern. By capoing at the fifth fret, I have a mandolin and a mandola.wherever I capo, I have the choice of different open strings for drones. I imagine when you sing, that flexibility will be rewarding.

    Playing a funky oval-hole scroll-body mandolin, several mandolins retuned to CGDA, three CGDA-tuned Flatiron mandolas, two Flatiron mandolas tuned as octave mandolins,and a six-course 25.5" scale CGDAEB-tuned Ovation Mandophone.

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  6. #5
    Registered User DougC's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jan 2008
    Minneapolis, MN
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    Default Re: Irish Bouzouki or OM for singing?

    Most people I know who sing with their instrument, and have a knowledge of banjo playing, use a tenor guitar. Of course you can sing with any instrument. (and people do!) However from my experience at least, keeping all of thoes strings in tune after moving the capo a few times is difficult.
    Decipit exemplar vitiis imitabile

  7. #6
    Harley Marty
    Join Date
    Mar 2016
    Mullingar Co Westmeath Ireland

    Default Re: Irish Bouzouki or OM for singing?

    I sing & play a tenor banjo with a 12” pot & a woody tone ring. It also has a thicker drum head installed.

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