Decoding the past

And the famous Yovan Tsaous tampouro-bouzouko!

" Yovan Tsaous is particularly noted for the unique/innovating instruments he played. They were custom-built for him in Piraeus by the luthier Kyriakos Peismatoglou, and differed in two important respects from other plucked long-necked lutes used in Greece at this time:

First, they were not fretted according to the equal temperament division of the octave into twelve identical semitones. Instead they had sixteen frets to the octave, which permitted, among other things, the playing of micro-tonally different intervals such as the so-called three-quarter tone, and the neutral third, at certain positions on the fretboard.

Secondly, the neck of these instruments was hollow, not made by solid wood , but as a continuation of the bowl's staves, with the philosophy to work as an extra resonator. "

This last information, fed my curiosity for the past week, trying to figure out how the string forces could have been distributed to the instruments hollow neck, by the famous luthier.

A lot of speculation has been generated around the information if in fact Yovan Tsaous tampouro-bouzouko had real staves and a hollow neck body, or if just the staves were a decoration trick of plywood stripes, glued on top of the neck's solid body.

Trying to decode the neck construction from a photograph of the famous Tsaous instrument, I noticed that the central lower bottom stave had been created by a different material than all other mulberry wood staves. Its color was dark-black, suggesting that maybe this stave was made by an old ebony wood.

What if the ebony stave at the center of the neck's lower construction, wasn't really a stave of 2mm~2.5mm thickness, but a solid wood running across the necks length, creating a construction with an internal beam made by a very hard ebony wood, and separating the neck chamber into two hypothalamus ?

I will continue designing different construction prototypes, doing an analytical research, trying to decode the construction of this beautiful instrument. Many more questions have surfaced, regarding the type of connection between the bowl and the headstock (Karaolo)to the hollow neck.

Maybe at the end, I will take the decision to custom order such a tampouro-bouzouko.


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