The sound of 50's
"Luthier's old shop" Created with 3D software by SDimis
I still remember the traditional Greek songs of 50's playing on our old radio in the house, as my mother was cooking at her stove, every morning, mixing in harmony the beautiful smell of basil, oregano, and other spices, with her sweet voice as she was whispering the lyrics...
I was not even 4-5 years old, when the magical sound of the bouzouki instrument transferred through the soft breeze of the kitchen's open window, to my ears, for first time, and sealed forever in my memory.
That sound of the 50s songs, meant to be the holy grail, the sound I was looking to find, years later at my musical instruments.
My first bouzouki, has been bought from a local music store of my town as a gift from my father , at the age of 12.Was a very cheap instrument mostly made by acrylic and plastic, but the most beautiful gift I ever received!I still remember the hot nights of that summer , playing with it until I fall asleep.
My first bouzouki
Growing up I became more experienced and passionated with the bouzouki and the music of 40s-50s, through the guideness of my music instructor Giorgos Mantelis (a rebetis bouzouki player, good friend of Lafka, Tsitsani and Xioti) who took me under his wings and introduced me to the magical era of rebetiko.
Was then at the age of 15-16 when I purchased the second bouzouki from the same local music store of my town made by Matsikas...
My Matsikas bouzouki.
Wasnt long time before I started to figure out the sound I was looking for could only be found at instruments created by famous luthiers with family history and experience in bouzouki making.At least, thats what I thought...
My next bouzouki was a custom made instrument ,by the hands of Karolos Tsakirian, the grandson of the famous luthier Agkop Tsakirian and son of the famous luthier Onik Tsakirian.
A beautiful instrument, made by Karolos with the finest old woods, "meraki", love and taste.A great, full sound similar to the bouzouki recording sound of 70s with grezia.
...A great sound for everyone else... , a two decades later sound, for me.
This great instrument, made its next owner (a professional bouzouki player) very happy!
. My Karolos Tsakirian Bouzouki
My latest purchase, was a custom made bouzouki by the hands of Xristos Tsolis (a famous luthier, with the reputation of knowing the secrets of the great luthier Zozef Terzivasian -the well known as the "Stradivari of bouzouki makers")
This reputation was mostly what attracted me to order the bouzouki by Xristos, since the sound I was looking for ,was the one of bouzouki recordings from 50s. A sound been produced in majority by bouzouki players of that era, playing bouzoukia made by the hands of Zozef.I was so exited finally I had found the maker I was looking for!
I personally picked up the instrument from Xristos shop in Psiri, a cold afternoon of November 2005.I still remember my anxiety returning back home from his shop to open the case and play! A great instrument with amazing attention to details ,made by the most expensive inlay materials and old woods of Rosewood and Mulberry.A beautiful, middle, sweet sound characterizing all of Xristos Tsolis bouzoukia.
My Xristos Tsolis Bouzouki
But not the sound I was looking for, ..not the sound embossed in my memory for 3 decades now.
Back to the roots!
Devastated , I started to research the Internet for more information regarding luthiers, old instruments, materials, wood, history of bouzouki making.
That is when I ended up on the name of the great luthier Anastasio Stathopoulo, creator of "The House of Stathopoulo" in NY and one of the few worldwide recognized traditional luthiers of 19th century.
After a lot of research I decided to order a new custom made bouzouki by the hands of a Sathopoulo's compatriot ,Giannis Tsoulagiannis, a local luthier living and working in Magoula Lakonias, a person with love and knowledge in history of greek traditional music, one of few makers these days creating instruments from the beginning till the end from scratch, with the old traditional way ,and one of the few having the privilege to repair some of the great Stathopoulos' instruments.
At one of our first emails, Giannis wrote me:
"Everyone says the sound of my instruments is very close to the sound of 50s"
What a great relief to my thirsty ears!I thought
And this is the main reason of the blog's existence.
To post the process of the bouzouki making , step by step, picture by picture, heart beat by heart beat together with the luthier's inspiration,in this mystical rite between man and old woods, hopping at the end, that the memories from the sound I grow up with, will come alive, the first time I will touch the pick and I will hit the strings in a Re minor chords.
The journey begins:
1.Old Rosewood and Mulberry woods for staves
2.Old woods for neck (linden, rosewood, maple)
3.The main stave of Mulberry, placed at the bowl mold.