Conversion of a vintage Mandolin to Miso-Bouzouko

If A. Stathopoulos had constructed a tzoura!

It is well known to the old Rebetiko Era enthusiasts, the influence and the characteristics which the prewar bouzouki took from the mandolin family at the beginning of the 20 th century.

Luthiers, mostly during the years of Metaxas dictatorship, and due to the bouzouki prohibition by the Greek government, converted mandolins and mandoles to miso-bouzouka ( smaller bouzoukia with a shorter scale similar to tzoura).

Inspired by these historical events, I decided to reverse the time back to the pre-war years,  and embark on an exciting future project that involves converting an unplayable, used, vintage, Neapolitan style mandolin into an A. Stathopoulos  miso-bouzouko.

During my absence from this blog, I have found and kept, a great representative for this unique attempt-  
A 1910 Vega mandolin with serial number 25xxx

 The instrument carries : Spruce top, mahogany neck, rosewood bowl w/ contrasting wood inlay and Ivory trim, w/ rosewood head-stock veneer. Ivory and contrasting binding with highly detailed inlaid purfling, rosette & tortoise shell pick-guard w/ abalone inlay. Ebony fret-board with MOP intricate fret markers & tooled, plated tuner cover.

The mandolin's  soundboard is suffering by a long , thin crack, (some other smaller at the bridge's  footstep), and a serious warped condition.

Finally, close to the pick guard and due to the extensive use of pick or feather by the player,  the soundboard has 1 mm in depth, scratches 

Despite its unplayable condition, what has motivated me to use this specific mandolin for my new project is the fact that Vega mandolins of this model, carry a lot of similarities in comparison to the early bouzouki instruments made by the famous luthier, A. Stathopoulos 

 The pick guard decoration is almost identical to the decoration of a 1910 A. Stathopoulos bouzouki

Photograph from

The capping strip follows the same profile as many A. Stathopoulos bouzoukia

Photograph from

The bowl has been made by Rosewood as many expensive A. Stathopoulos models.

Photograph from Stavros Kourousis archive 

The tail piece is engraved with a beautiful flower theme, similar to A. Stathopoulos bouzoukia 

Photograph from

The binding strips motive follows the A.Stathopoulos motive.

Photograph from Nikos Politis archive 

The head stock shape and opening design is very similar to A. Stathopoulos bouzoukia.

Photograph from Stavros Kourousis archive 

For these reasons  may not be arbitrariness,if we were assuming that A.Starhopoulos if ever had contracted a tzoura, that would be very similar to this unique project

Before the conversion 

Digital visualization of the future conversion (with and without wooden rosette) 

The unique attempt to transform the Vega 1910 mandolin to miso-bouzouki will be assigned to the talented hands of Giannis Tsoulogoannis , who has the knowledge and experience in restoration of historical bowl-back instruments.
He will try to revive and restore the warped soundboard to its original condition, and keep all of the original mandolins elements (expect of the neck), intact.


  1. Spiro this will be really interesting! And what a beautiful mandolin!
    I would prefer it without the rosette (but this is really personal).
    What would be the open string lenght? 64 for exemple?
    How many string will it have? 3+2+2.


    P.S. Congrats for the comparison between VEGA and Stathopoulos similarities

  2. Hello Babi
    Thank you for your kind words
    Yes , the set up will be 3-2-2
    As for the scale , I will follow the recommendations of the luthier
    Personally I would want a scale of 62-63


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