Ordering a custom made bouzouki
Original bouzouki order I sent to luthiers, before creating my latest bouzouki .
Most makers can deliver a custom made bouzouki in 3-6 months, but it can take up to 1 year, (and in some cases up to 2 years) to get a special order with custom designs or if the maker is backed up with many orders.
From my experience in custom ordering, most of the luthiers will create two identical instruments accordingly to your specifications, giving you the option to choose one of them, after hearing their sound.
If you are aboard (example USA) and you are ordering from a Greek luthier, usually the maker will warranty the sound of his instrument, giving you the option to reject the instrument after is been made, if you are not satisfied with its sound, and his obligation to make a new one with the same exact specifications at no extra cost.
Most of the bouzouki players and owners agree that is better to pick up an already pre-made instrument from a luthier's shop, after playing it, handling it and examining it for couple of hours, rather than ordering a custom made one. Since the most important parameters to choose a good instrument is, its sound and its construction, the necessity to physically do the inspection becomes even more imperative.
From my experience in ordering 3 custom bouzoukia from overseas, I have only good memories regarding my transaction and integration with the luthiers. If you choose wisely, and order a custom bouzouki from a respectful luthier with knowledge and passion in traditional lutherie, then the possibility to get in your hands a bad instrument is minimum.
Of course I met few luthiers, that they wanted to over charge for my custom order, even tho, the materials would be used, were much cheaper than the ones been used on their custom made bouzoukia at their store, and the price they were selling them for.
One of them, wanted to charge me 500.00 dollars more, when another one wanted to charge me the surprising amount of 1,500.00 dollars more.
Few of them disagreed with the shape of headstock or soundboard design, trying to bring the order to their taste, or material's stock.
For a long distance transaction I believe that, communication is the key to make the right choice. Most of the luthiers took the time to analyse their cost, giving me details regarding their construction and sound, asking me specific questions of how I wanted materials, dimensions of neck and bowl, and decoration for my custom order.
Some others were very laconic , giving the cost price in one sentence.And few of them never replied to my original email.
During the 3 months of my latest bouzouki construction from the hands of Giannis Tsoulogiannis, I counted more than 200 emails in total, between me and the luthier.
Be firm to your instrument's order, explain analytically in your emails what you wish to create, include a draft sketch if it is possible of your order's details, or sent reference pictures, and take your decision after communicating with most of your favorite luthier's list.
If you are located outside Greece, ask the luthier to waive the 23% sale taxes in the final price, and clarify if the total cost includes hard case (most of luthiers include hard case for custom made instrument orders) and shipping costs to your destination.