Theodoros P. Karabas

And the craftsman's identity!

Filtering of the original image posted in Rebetiko forum by ΣΤΑΥΡΟΣ Κ

The question from a friend in NY, for more information, regarding Karaba's(Καραμπάς) workshop photograph in my last post, made me loose my sleep for a week!

Due to very few available data, regarding this luthier, my obsession to discover more hints hidden in that photograph, grew as a virus in my mind.

From an intense research in the Internet, posts in Rebetiko Forum, and the help from the luthier Giannis Tsoulogiannis, I collected the following information:

Theodoros P. Karabas (Θεόδωρος Π. Καραμπάς) born in Vrontama Lakonias (Βρονταμά Λακωνίας) , immigrated to USA in 1894. Became an American citizen in 1904. In one of his trip to Greece in 1911, he married his wife Eugenia. He returned with her and his nephew Panagiotis (son of his brother Georgos) to USA.

He established his musical instrument workshop "Η Νεολαια", before 1910 in
82 St.Mark's Place , at the corner of 8th street and 1st Avenue in NY.

What is very interesting regarding Karabas bouzouki creations, is the bowl shape, the neck of his instruments, and the free length of the strings.
Karabas creations where influenced by laouto and tampoura shapes, counter to A.Stathopoulos bouzouki constructions, who have been influenced by the mandolin shape.
Also Karabas string length was 71.5cm - 72cm, counter to Stathopoulos & Evagellidis with lenghts at 63cm- 65 cm

Karabas bouzouki instruments can be characterized more closed to laoutobouzouko, or bouzoukomana.

Some of the instruments he was producing were :
1.Laouto with 17 staves, carved decoration at the price of 15 $
2.Bouzouki with 17 staves, 8$
3.Bouzouki with 42 staves, stained bowl, and ivory plate , 20$
4.Laouto with 41 staves, stained bowl, and ivory plate, 35$

Analysis of Karabas workshop photograph.

Filtering of the original image posted in Rebetiko forum by ΣΤΑΥΡΟΣ Κ

Without any attempt to mislead the readers of my blog, and always calculating that the data I am reporting here, are not crossed or verified, by any other resource, the following analysis is just a big guess!

After hours of analysing Karabas workshop photo, and passing it through digital filters, I was able to collect only few information.

At the photo, Karabas with a white suite and hat, is showing a sign.The sign is mounted on a 2 wheels cart, which may be used by the luthier, to transport and deliver instruments, or to place it at the corner side walk of his workshop, as an advertisement.

Behind his right hand, a craftsman is holding a laouto with rosette in the sound hole. Above him I can identify a Greek and an American flag.

Behind Karaba's left hand, a young boy (approx. at the age of 6-8 years old), sitting on the counter top, holding an unfinished bouzouki (since it has the bowl and the neck connected , but without the soundboard been placed).

Over Karabas head, I can identify two bouzouki bowls hanging from the ceiling beam. Above the young boy's head, they are hanging, 3 finished laouta, and at the left corner, 8 finished bouzoukia, and 5 finished mandolins.

The craftsman at the right corner of the photograph, is holding a bouzouki sound board.At his left leg, stands an unfinished bouzouki instrument with the bowl and the neck connected.

Taking a big guess and after close examination of the facial features of Theodoro Karaba and the craftsman, I suspect that, the second craftsman is no other than his brother Georgos Karabas.
Through filtering manipulation on the photograph, I was able to almost read another sign placed in front of craftsman's feet, with a hand writing, reading "Georgou-(or Theodorou) P. Karampas".

If this theory is correct, we can assume that the young boy in the picture is Panagiotis, the nephew of Theodoro Karabas, and son of his brother Georgos, dating this photograph after 1911.

It is also important to point out that Theodoros Karabas' left hand is showing more to his brother's side, rather to the cart wheel in front of him. A gesture which can be translated as respect and importance to a family member.
Finally , at the foreground of the photograph, an accordion, a tamboura, guitars, bouzoukia and mandolins laying on the floor.

I would greatly appreciate, from friends of this blog (especially the ones living in NY area, and Lakwnia Greece), any further information, or photographs they may collect, regarding this great luthier of the early 20th century .(Please send your emails at )


  1. Great stuff, thanks for posting!

    Have you heard of a luthier from New YOrk named Alexandros Politis?
    I have one Stathopoulo style bouzouki from him, and have recently seen a second one, but nobody seems to have heard of him.

    There's more info on my blog here:


  2. Dear dave,
    thank you very much for your kind words!

    Can you send me a photo from Alexandros Politis label, inside your instrument?

    Also, can you tell me, at which spaces on the neck of your bouzouki, the fret marks being placed?

  3. I can't get a picture of the label due to the rosette...all the info is at the link

  4. Very interesting post. Thanks a lot.

    It’s easy to take a photo of the label inside the instrument if you use a usual amateur camera (with small lens), place it on a hole of the rosette and put your camera in "macro" position. I have done this several times with great success.
    It is better to take the picture without the flash. For this purpose you may use a small torch to illuminate the inside of the instrument.

  5. There's nothing to photograph's just a handrwitten label on a plain piece of paper....there's no other information other than what I mentioned in my post.

    BUT, amazingly, a friend of mine here in Berkeley California brought over a bouzouki he was considering purchasing, and it turned out to be another "A. Politis". It was basically the same as mine except a bit more beat up and a few different details. I took some pictures and will post those soon.


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