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Some friends asked me why I did not choose to order my bouzouki from one of the "famous" bouzouki makers in Athens or Piraeus since what I was looking for (a great sound), would demand the hands of a luthier with years of experience and great skills.
I have to admit that the name of Giannis Tsoulogiannis was unknown to me couple months ago.I also have to admit that I contacted approx. 10 luthiers for quotes before I took the decision to order my latest instrument from Gianni.From these 10 luthiers only 2 makers were located in Athens, but not the very "famous" ones .All the remaining were luthiers from the rest of Greece or aboard.
Days of research in bouzouki forums, talking to friends with experience in bouzouki construction and owners of more than one bouzoukis from different luthiers, made me step out of this bouzouki quest for a moment, and forget all the names of "famous" makers everyone was proposing.
What I wanted to find was the traditional bouzouki sound of another era.What I was looking for, was a luthier who is still making instruments from the beginning till the end from scratch with the old traditional way, with a great knowledge on woods, passion and love in traditional lutherie.A maker with also moralities and values in life.
If I had the power to go back in time I am sure what I was looking to find , was exactly what every good luthier was doing 60-70 years ago.
Back in that days makers were performing artistic lutherie (kallitexniki organopoiia), now days most of them have become bouzouki suppliers and merchants.
from a topic in Rebetico Forum we read the experience of one of the few remaining traditional luthiers:
"But I, (except for a master luthier having his assistants) ... could see four speeds in todays bouzouki making. As follows:
1. Instrument made from the design until the last detail by the hands of the same luthier.
2. Instrument made by a luthier, but some parts of the work have been done from outsources(design, bowl, figure, varnish).
3. Instrument made totally as sub-contract by another (not famous) luthier (not listed inside the label), under the standards, guidelines, and some characteristics from the workshop of the famous maker who will sign the label.
4. Instrument made from the beginning until the end from a mass production factory, which the famous luthier sells in his workshop, making a profits of sales (usually thirty percent).
The bad news is that I have seen some instruments of the fourth speed ... signed by the famous luthier who is selling them as his own creation.
Also, I have seen instruments of the second speed (expensive instruments) or the third one (average price instruments) - for obvious reasons - to be promoted as instruments of the first speed!"