Larry Stamm, Luthier

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Irish Bouzoukis

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Irish Bouzoukis and Citterns

I build zouks and 10 stringed citterns with either flat tops and carved archtops in a tear drop body shape. All models have a flat, braced back. The archtop models tend to have a mellower and sweet, but loud, tone, while the flat topped instruments are more strident and cut through other instruments in a band with ease.

Each of these models can be built with a scale length of either 530 mm, 595 mm, or 640 mm. As might be expected, the 640 mm has a really rich bass tone, but is the left hand fingering requires some long reaches. I recommend sticking with the shorter scale lengths for the 5 course citterns.

The bouzouki is usually tuned G D A D, while the cittern is tuned C G D A E, but it seems there are no real standards for tuning these instruments. It is no trouble for me to make up a string set for any tuning, including the option of having the bass courses be tuned an octave apart.

Archtop Zouk, 640 mm Flattop Zouk, 530 mm
Archtop Bouzouki, Red cedar top and 640 mm scale length Flattop Bouzouki, Red cedar top and 530 mm scale length

All my flattop zouks are built with a hybrid X/lattice style bracing for the soundboards, as I have found this bracing to give excellent structural strength to resist the downward pressure of strings on the floating bridge. This bracing method has allowed me to keep the bridge height at around 20 mm above the top without having to overbrace the top. The result is a stable soundboard that yields a rich tone. The carved top instruments just have a simple light X-brace, as most of their structural strenght comes from the arch carved into them.

Hybrid X/lattice bracing Side view of flattop zouk
Flattop hybrid X/lattice bracing Side view of Flattop zouk

Many options are available to customize my bouzoukis, both in choice of woods and in style and design.

Standard options available at no extra cost include:

  • Choice of Englemann spruce, Western red cedar, Douglas fir, Western white pine, Yellow cedar, or SubAlpine Fir for the soundboard.
  • Choice of Pau Ferro, Padauk, Bubinga, Paper birch, Walnut, Mahogany, or Cypress for back and sides. Other woods may be available.
  • Choice of Mahogany, Douglas fir, or Yellow Cedar for the neck wood.
  • Wood bindings and purflings
  • Carbon fibre stiffeners and adjustable truss rod embedded in the neck .
  • Schaller mandolin tuning machines or individual mini guitar tuners
  • Choice of scale length, nut width, and string spread, and general setup.
  • Choice of french polish, TruOil, or water based lacquer finishes.

Custom Headstock inlay Custom options available for an extra fee include:
  • Special order back and side woods.
  • Custom inlays or carvings on the headstock, neck or heel, or bridge.
  • Guitar body shape.
  • Installed electronics/pickups
  • Custom Calton case, or other heavy duty case.
  • Your choice of tuning machines.
Custom Inlay To get details on pricing options, please visit the Instrument Pricing page.



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Copyright Larry Stamm
Last modified: Jan 1, 2005