The futuristic bouzouki of Theodoros Karampas ?

And his master builder PanagiotisTsimis ! 

As I had mentioned in my latest post, at the beginning of the 20th century, bouzouki instruments  made by Theodoros Karampas had a very unique appearance and scale. 

Karampas creations where influenced by laouto and tampoura shapes, similar to laouto-bouzouka and modern days bouzouki-manes, with a free length of strings  (scale)  at 71.5 cm - 72 cm, counter to Stathopoulos and  Evagellidis with lenghts at 63 cm- 65 cm.

From his early advertisements in the newspaper , to his bouzouki labels and the survived musical instruments of today , Karampas bouzoukia were characterized by the impressive, long, with Doric style appearance and simplicity in design , forms.

1911 Karambas bouzouki, from the personal archive of Stavros Kourousis
1918 Karabas from
Uknown date, Karampas bouzouki property of  John Pappas

But something started to change after the establishment of "NEOLAIA " in his workshop , located  at 82 St. Mark's Place NY.

From a Karampas advertisement in Atlantis newspaper dating 13/01/1913 we collect the information that the luthier was selling in his workshop " NEOLAIA" laouta, bouzoukia, mandolins, guitars and other musical instruments made by the famous luthiers of Peloponnesos- Greece , as Takis TsimisGeorge TsanalaN. Parapoda andEmanuel Limperaki. 

Also from an early advertisement of the " NEOLAIA " workshop, (appeared in Rebetiko forum by the author and researcher , Stavros Kourousis) , apart from his "trademark" famous long scale , laouto-bouzouka , we are identifying a very unique , new shape of bouzouki,  with shorter scale and richer decoration.
The new design bouzouki, is at the far right of the advertisement and appears to be played without a raptor feather. 

Was this fresh, new design a great inspiration by the luthier and the " answer"  to the competitor A. Stathopoulo's , shorter, decorative, bouzouki instruments ?

The bouzouki appears to carry a very modern design even for the 21st century, and an amazing work in binding fillets and soundboard decoration. Theodoros Karampas must have over excelled himself! 

The smaller fully decorative Karampas bouzouki
But my latest research stumbled upon an advertisement of another luthier of NY,  Panagiotis Tsimis, located at 142 W and 38th St New York

The same luthier mentioned in " Neolaias" 1913s Karampas advertisement.
Karampas mentioned  Panagiotis Tsimis as the famous luthier from Peloponnesos- Greece "Takis Tsimis"
For the native Greeks is well known that the first name of "Panagiotis" usually is shorten to the nick name "Takis"

But who is this P. Tsimis luthier and why he copies" the modern design of his great teacher, Karampas in his later ads ?

Panagiotis Tsimis and Co had been established on 1908 ( 6 years after Theodoros Karampas workshop establishment ) accordingly to an advertisement of the luthier in 1926, in another location 574-8th Ave NY

His first advertisement in Atlantis newspaper is dating back in November 1915 , placed at the same page between other famous NY luthier of that era. (The advertisement doesn't illustrate the modern style bouzouki yet) 

The years 1925-1926 we find his advertisements in multitude, opposing F. Vracas ads and established with workshops in two locations -432 W 38th Street NY  and  574-8th Ave NY


But lets go back to that unique, modern design bouzouki in debate

In the photograph of Karampas " NEOLAIA " workshop dating somewhere after 1911, we find no traces of this unique bouzouki design. The only bouzouki instruments we can identify, are carrying the simple decoration, long neck Karampas trademark.

Going back to Stavros Kourousis archives, and with the use of my digital tools, I started to extract the first visual remarks.
The scale of this bouzouki in comparison to the Karampas trademark bouzouki is shorter by at least 4.2cm , making the bouzouki's scale at approx 67.0 cm - 67.5 cm (calculating Karampas other bouzoukia in the photo with scale  of 71.5 cm)
From my personal observation and the analogy between the size of the bowl and the length of the neck I have the suspicious  that the design of the bouzouki in debate of the "NEOLAIA " ad may be a little zoomed in , in relationship to the other bouzouki, bringing the scale much lower than first estimates (closer if not shorter to the  A.Stathopoulos scale)

1. Level of tailpiece
2.Level of bridge
3. Level of sound-hole center
4. Level of end bone (smaller bouzouki)
5. Level of end bone (Karampas trademark bouzouki) 
The bouzouki has a beautiful flower-design rosette, and very unique (pioneer design  even for now days) uneven binding fillets.

It also carries at the lower side of the soundboard close to the tail piece what looks as pyrography. The head-stock has a very unique design with 4 tuning machine  on one side and two on the other side.

I had to find a collage of photos from this bouzouki in debate, and  with my digital tools  I re-created a bouzouki from back to the future , which reveals the skills of a great luthier , maybe greater than the pioneer master luthier Karampa.

From P.Tsimis ad 1926
From Karabas "NEOLAIA" ad
Cleaning up the pixelation from inforamtion of other images found on Karampas ads

I had stumbled on a designing wall for sometime ,  since I could not identify any further  details,... until the researcher, friend, and luthier  Giannis Tsoulogiannis  (  gave me the valuable information and details I needed for my final strokes

(c) SDIMIS 2015
P Tsimis Master piece. (c) SDIMIS 2015
Giannis Tsoulogiannis  informed me that at the near future he will prepare  a very interesting article at his website, regarding Karampas bouzouki creations, including this latest image in high resolution , with further information. So stay tuned for  luthier's announcements .

My theory and a personal  hypothesis with the research I have contacted up to now,  is that P. Tsimis is the responsible master mind behind this unique, smaller scale bouzouki , which appears in Theodoros Karabas "NEOLAIA " ad, and carried on later in P.Tsimis ads.

If friends of the blog can find ads of Karampa's workshop ,dating before the formation of "NEOLAIA" illustrating the modern style bouzouki, then my hypothesis may be completely wrong, and the credit for this modern design bouzouki will go rightfully to Theodoros Karampas. 


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