Meeting the luthier

Part I : At the workshop!

More than 300 emails later, I finally had the great pleasure, to meet the luthier Giannis Tsoulogiannis in his birth town, Magoula of Sparta!
His warm and friendly character, in combination with his generous hospitality, made my trip a happy event and marked my mind with great memories.

Compatriot of the famous luthier A. Stathopoulo, in a land of great history, under the shadow of the majestic Taygetos Mountains, at the root of Mystra's rocks and its famous castle, Giannis Tsoulogiannis opened his workshop doors, and welcomed me to the magical art of instruments making.

In an euphoria of wood smells, unfinished instruments hanging from the roof's wooden beams, piles of old wood stocked under the bench, and molds of traditional instruments placed on shelves, the luthier explained all stages of bouzouki making, and the techniques he is using in bracing the soundboard and tuning the woods of the bouzouki instrument.

The workshop

Holding in my hands a laouto, and a mandolin, made by the great luthier Stathopoulo, which Giannis has at his possession, and examinating their exceptional construction, their detailed decorative work, and amazing finish, was really an overwhelmed event.

But playing the 1919 A.Stathopoulos bouzouki, was simply a dream come true!
A very light instrument, with a solid construction, beautiful old woods and a sweet full of chap (σκασιμο) sound, which could transfer the player back to the pre-war rebetiko era, just in seconds!
To my question, why the fret marks were on different locations, from the ones of the modern bouzouki, Giannis informed me that the Stathopoulos bouzoukia, were created originally with 8 strings (four course -tetraxordo bouzouki) and a tuning which is not yet clearly indentified.

Playing with the 1919 A Stathopoulos bouzouki

Finally, I was able to see my pre-war style bouzouki which is under development, the quality of old woods which been used, discuss with luthier the next steps of its construction, and hear the sound of the old woods, by tapping on them with a special technique.

Luthier G. Tsoulogiannis next to my pre-war style trixordo


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