Mike's Oud Forums

And it begins... a sad day in history of the oud

SamirCanada - 7-20-2011 at 07:30 AM


Never though I would see this with my own eyes... a chinese factory oud.

BaniYazid - 7-20-2011 at 08:31 AM

is it the price of success ?

MatthewW - 7-20-2011 at 10:16 AM

Hi Samir! Well buddy, I don't see these Chinese things as a sad day for the oud really, perhaps more of an interesting detour...the instrument is clearly not a 'proper' oud, only has 4 sets of double strings, and as it is an electric instrument it may find it's way into the hands of those who like to use this style of instrument for whatever. :airguitar:
What's more sad IMHO are some of the sellers of so called 'proper' ouds, some we have seen in this forum, ouds which look like decent ouds but are actually cheap and poorly made and cause problems and frustrations for the buyer. This is sad.

Microber - 7-20-2011 at 10:26 AM

They also make some 'real' ouds.
and here

Take a look in the description at the 'Production capacity'!

Also found that 'electric violon'
and that 'bouzouki'

:shrug: :D

SamirCanada - 7-20-2011 at 10:51 AM

Minimum order is 60 of them so... its probable that they end up in large scale music stores

Alfaraby - 7-20-2011 at 11:05 AM

Quote: Originally posted by SamirCanada  
And it begins... a sad day in history of the oud

Why sad ? I think this is a very happy day for the oud. From now on makers should work themselves out to make better instruments, that people would not dare to compare with Chinese made. See what happened to violins. Did the 100 $ violins, made in China, cause damage to the violin luthiery ? On the contrary. Violin family has witnessed a prosperity that it could never have experienced without the competitor from the East .

Yours indeed

SamirCanada - 7-20-2011 at 11:17 AM

Yah you are probably right to see it in that point of view... Its less depressing to think of it as a positive thing.

Competition does breed excellence and it could mean great new things for the oud. But a few years ago, nobody could have predicted that ouds of all things would be manufactured in China.

Thing is, most people who have a certain nationalistic/ethnic pride of this instrument will probably never be caught dead with a chinese made oud. Others who have a passion for the instrument but that are not stuck in that mentality will probably buy one.

In the end you are right, this is not necessarly such a bad thing.

BaniYazid - 7-20-2011 at 11:45 AM

It could be sad if those instruments will be sold in the middle east or other area where the oud is traditionally manufactured. Not a nationalistic point of view, but I'll have a strange feeling when I'll see plenty of this oud in Mohamed Ali street in Cairo, not you ?
Is there stores in America, Europe, Australia who have 60 ouds in stock ?

nouphar - 7-20-2011 at 02:09 PM

I absolutely agree with Matthew.

I don't think those chinese-made ouds have to be worse than so many oudoids made in traditionally oud making countries.

Chinese competition should stimulate many arab and turkish makers to produce minimum quality ouds.

By the way the second oud looks like a fretless bandurria...

Brian Prunka - 7-20-2011 at 02:55 PM

Personally, I think it could be a very good thing, as alFaraby says. It was only a matter of time. The Chinese have shown a remarkable ability to create instruments of very consistent quality at a modest price. I doubt that these ouds will be any competition for the skilled luthier making instruments by hand (although based on their guitar-making, I wouldn't rule it out), but the folks who are making garbage tourist ouds might have reason to worry. If people can get a decent mid-level or beginner's oud at an affordable price, I think that is a good thing.

I wouldn't be surprised to see GEF ultimately outsource some oud-building to China.

That said, I don't think any of these models are going to be what does it . . . if a good luthier supplied a design and did some kind of quality control, then you might have something.

myeyes2020 - 7-20-2011 at 03:46 PM

This oud appears to be fretted so they still have some work to do.

MatthewW - 7-20-2011 at 11:36 PM

yes people, there is hope that these Chinese ouds and related instruments will cause oud makers in other countries to take note and produce better quality entry level/beginner or even better ouds at afffordable prices AND with decent construction.
That Chinese 'electric violin' is an amazing copy of the Cretan Lyra-

I would love to hear sound samples of all these instruments. We could all be pleasantly surprised, after all China gave the world the inventions of papermaking, the compass, silk and the noodle! They have produced other good quality instruments, as Alfaraby and Brian point out, so why not ouds.

it would interesting if any forum members were living in or visiting China and could try one of these instruments...maybe 60 of us could get together and place an order! :) x 60
regards, MW

Alfaraby - 7-21-2011 at 12:32 AM

Quote: Originally posted by MatthewW  
maybe 60 of us could get together and place an order

Pls. count me in :)

Yours indeed

arsene - 7-21-2011 at 02:09 AM

haha, great... I don't know though if it's a good thing either....

But then again, they can't be much worse than some of the eBay tourist ouds being marketed and sold as professional ones... I never believed in Chinese instrument making until I got my hands on an Eastman acoustic guitar (dreadnought) one day. I bought it without hesitation, the same day. i tested it against the Martins and Taylors.... it held its ground. I used to own a Martin that I had to sell unfortunately, but my Eastman now more than makes up for it - every day it sounds a little better. Completely hand-made, all solid woods. Not *cheap*, but affordable enough: from 500 and up you can get guitars that have the same quality as Martins from 1000 and up. (However the Eastmans are not mass-produced like many other Chinese stuff).

Anyway, my point is: quality is possible. Maybe not from this manufacturer (production capacity 50.000!?) but perhaps there will be others. I for one would be very interested to try them out (especially the electric ones, so count me in with the group buy!)

On the other hand... do we really want the instrument market flooded with Chinese "copies"? I don't know. I'm still on the fence.

By the way, check out these Taiwanese bouzoukis:



Dr. Oud - 7-21-2011 at 04:33 PM

Quote: Originally posted by SamirCanada  
http://www.minjisheng.com/products_detail/&productId=afd846ba-2d56-4cce-9da5-682ddc7bcf5c&comp_stats=comp-FrontProducts_list01-1264241924933.h tml

Never though I would see this with my own eyes... a chinese factory oud.

I think a sadder day was when the first electric oud was made.

Hatem_Afandi - 7-21-2011 at 05:53 PM

I believe it is a great marketing push for one reason:
It makes the oud more popular and will help introducing it around the globe.

Let me ask a few simple question:

Why EACH one of us wait on Richard or Samir or Jamil for several months to build an instrument?
What is so special about their work that makes US more than happy to pay for a Ghadban or a Shehata instrument?
What is the main characteristic of a production line oud any one of us acquired at a certain point?

Yes, it will compete VICIOUSLY, but in tourist areas only :)

I don't even believe that any instructor would recommend it as an educational oud.

Bottom line is: I am glad the Chinese decided to compete in that arena as they tried in the Papyrus and Pharaonic antiques for years!!!!
Does any one own a Chinese papyrus?
I have to admit that I bought a well-made Pharaonic knife from a gun show. I discovered that it was made in China after arriving home:D

Jason - 7-22-2011 at 07:08 AM

There are quite a few reputable Chinese violin and guitar makers nowadays. China is as varied as any other country. While these ouds appear to be cheap student models meant for export I have no doubt very good ouds could be made in China.

fernandraynaud - 7-22-2011 at 03:21 PM

First of all, these are all in my humble opinion "spec" instruments, made as models to solicit business, but never (yet) sold. Note the spacing on the strings on the "real" ouds, neither is a playable instrument, and even if one were to redrill the bridge and redo the nut, I bet they sound far more dead than the proverbial dresser drawer oud. The fretted monster is a typical confabulation of instruments they figure someone might want. We've seen this before. I doubt there is a single one of these "out there". There is nothing preventing them from learning and making good ouds in the long run, but we're not there yet. Of course they could solve one of the nagging problems, the horrendous quality of the low end ouds, once they figure out that "solid as a chair" is not a desirable oud trait. There are excellent luthiers in China, and in time if there are orders, and feedback, or coaching, there will be good Chinese ouds. It's going to take some wealthy entrepreneur to take the first steps.

Hatem_Afandi - 7-22-2011 at 04:54 PM

Neither talent nor art has a home. They don't belong to a specific race.
Good luthieres from anywhere, including China, do enrich human culture and creativity.
My comments were based on Samir's comments. We both have a concern about flooding the globe with bad instruments that belong to tourist markets and claim them as genuine art.

SamirCanada - 7-22-2011 at 06:00 PM

When they do make them right though, there could be some interested in buying them but make a motorcycle analogy, there are Asian bikes out there but then again you still find people who would only ride American made ones. Harley davidson ex.
Arabic, turkish and Iraqi ouds made by traditional lutheirs who respect their art will always have a demand no Mather what. The makers who target the low end market though should be forewarned...

Hatem_Afandi - 7-23-2011 at 09:14 AM

Quote: Originally posted by Dr. Oud  
I think a sadder day was when the first electric oud was made.

I don't believe that toilet seats would make a genuine instrument no matter what.:D

Dr. Oud - 7-24-2011 at 08:19 AM

Quote: Originally posted by Alfaraby  
... See what happened to violins. Did the 100 $ violins, made in China, cause damage to the violin luthiery ? On the contrary. Violin family has witnessed a prosperity that it could never have experienced without the competitor from the East .

Yours indeed

I don't believe that Chinese factories has anything to do with the market value of fine violins. Comparing violins with ouds is even a farther stretch. Ouds don't compare with guitars for value, even antique master instruments, musch less violins. I think it is a cultural difference. The violin is the most versatile instrument so the number of violins out there is huge, same for guitars. Then there's the classical music influence. Classical musicians are familiar with the cost of fine violins. A new master made violin costs $40,000. The last Stradivarius sold for $14 million. I've seen 40 year old Martin guitars sell for $50,000. The highest price I ever heard of for an oud was $10,000 from a German museum for a Nahat once owned by Muniur Bashir. Nahats have been sold for as little (and I mean little!) as $3,000.

My point is that the culture and demand set the price, not some competition factor from Chinese factories. The Middle Eastern cultures did not value their ouds like Europeans valued their violins. So when an old oud needed repair, it was often just discarded for a new one. So there are fewer old ouds, and they are not valued much more than a new one. The number of players who value high quality is much smaller than violinists or guitarists. So the market for fine ouds is tiny and not worth the time investment unless you have a very low cost life style. So oud players must be the cheapest musicians on the planet.

I would welcome the Chinese entry into the low end market, I think their workmanship is much better than the $99 Pakistani ouds on eBay. I don't see it boosting the price of fine ouds, though.

billkilpatrick - 8-1-2011 at 05:56 PM

Quote: Originally posted by Dr. Oud  
I think a sadder day was when the first electric oud was made.

agreed - amplified music just makes people talk louder

urus - 8-5-2011 at 07:44 AM

I think it sounds better than the tourist <b>shoot</b> sold by some Arabs in Cairo or Dubai, so I totally welcome the Chinese.
At least you know what to expect, rather than listening again and again to some dull babble about "great instrument, two hundred dollars, special price, just for you", while some ragamuffin makes another chock of wood in the backyard.
So a sadder day was when they started selling cheap inferior stuff in the Near East.