Mike's Oud Forums

New oud by Najib Shaheen

Brian Prunka - 1-6-2014 at 01:59 PM

I just came back from Najib's place where he was showing me his newest creation. It's an amazing oud (and already sold, sadly . . . not that I have the funds anyway). It struck me as very similar to Simon Shaheen's oud. And it's only 48 hours old . . . I can only imagine what it will sound like in a year or two. Thought I'd share some photos.


Brian Prunka - 1-6-2014 at 04:51 PM

Here is an unedited audio clip (no eq, effects etc.) recorded with a handheld Zoom H4 recorder.

oud sound

majnuunNavid - 1-6-2014 at 08:01 PM

Very interesting bowl... less ribs... Sounds great! Did you ask what the Arabic means? It looks like a quote from an author whose name is also present. Very curious..

Ahmed - 1-7-2014 at 09:44 AM

The Arabic writing cites the names of the maqams

SamirCanada - 1-7-2014 at 09:59 AM

As Ahmed pointed out its the names of the maqamat, Starting at 4 o clock: Rast, Bayat, nahawand, Sika... and on

I wonder who is the person who did this qualigraphy? looks to be the same as on John's the majestic oud.

Also the oud really sounds lovely and so is the playing, Brian why dont you hook him up some some pegs ;) the ones you have are nicer.

I also wish it had nicer rosettes but thats just me...

Brian Prunka - 1-7-2014 at 10:58 AM

Ha, Samir, I did give him some pegs! He likes olive wood actually—it is a very traditional oud peg and works very well. It has similar self-lubricating properties to rosweood, though not as hard.

The rosettes look nicer in person, they are of a light-colored wood—hard to tell in the photo.

I love the calligraphy (as mentioned, it is the names of the maqamat). I think Najib said his cousin did it for him. He did several, and Najib gave one to John.

Regarding the fewer ribs, I am not sure if it related but this is supposed to be a "woman's" oud (shallower bowl) . . . though honestly any man would be proud to play it! I think there are 13 ribs, or maybe 11? I will see if I can tell from another photo.

bulerias1981 - 1-7-2014 at 12:31 PM

This oud has 15 ribs, 3 ribs per each maple spacer.

This is the same maqamaat circle on the majestic oud. Najib has a few of these, we are working on getting a nice quality scan of it, and having them raster engraved so it will be easy to fill the etched areas with colored fill and sand to level surface. These rings are actually hand written calligraphy, which means care must be take when installing because they cannot be planed or sanded down on the front!

majnuunNavid - 1-7-2014 at 08:47 PM

The calligraphy is very beautiful. I have a hard time reading that script, but now that you guys have pointed it out, I can make out saba, husayni, etc.

Interesting choice of words though... Persians usually engrave or write poetry on instruments, from Hafiz, Rumi, etc. I thought perhaps I would get a hint of something more close to Najib's heart, but oh well, I will have to be contented with a list of maqamat, lol.

bulerias1981 - 1-8-2014 at 07:36 AM

I'm going to begin applying some poetry, arabic and persian on ouds, in the rosette, and/or inlays on the bowl and other places

hamed - 1-9-2014 at 03:52 PM

that is a very nice oud. I'm starting to like the classic style more and more the older i get, especially the short fingerboard. It's funny how our taste changes over time, a few years ago I would have insisted always on a long fingerboard, but going short could be a good way to get more projection.

Brian or John, is that bridge made of walnut? do you think there would be a difference in sound if the bridge was made of pear or some other slightly softer wood?

bulerias1981 - 1-9-2014 at 08:32 PM


Not sure how you made the connection between shorter fingerboard and getting more projection, because if anything I'd say having an extended fingerboard helps projection, especially on the higher positions. And if you're coming from the angle that the fingerboard on top of the face diminishes resonance, that would be wrong. I used to think that, until I did some tests, and it seems to help make the sound more concise and punchy.. or not having an effect at all. Look at the guitar, or even a classical guitar. Huge thick ebony fingerboard (sounds like I was gonna say something else! ha!), yet the classical guitar is incredibly resonant. Achieving projection is a serious matter for a maker. It's what makes an oud capable of being stage worthy for a professional player. Or let me rephrase that, it's what makes someone like Simon Shaheen take an oud on stage or not!

Playing on spruce or on top of the soundboard doesn't yeild the best sound usually. That doesn't take away the glory from this oud of course. I know Najib made it for a player that's more concerned with singing and accompaniment rather than playing virtuostic passages up and down the fingerboard.. and wanted a more classic look. Don't forget, the old ouds (which I like myself) weren't made with extended fingerboards so much because most of the players didn't play up that high.

To answer your question about the wood for the bridge, I believe he told me he used bubinga, which is not something he normally uses. Like me, most of the time he uses walnut. I find walnut to be well balanced.

And about bridge tuning, everything is relative. You have to find balance, if you are slightly heavy on the braces or thicker on the soundboard, it's not such a bad idea to use spruce.. which is really soft and light. Now, if the braces are a bit skimpy and the soundboard on the thin side, not a bad idea to use something heavier, like walnut, mahogany. I've seen rosewood used with good effect as well. Most classical guitar bridges are from rosewood as well. Many types of rosewood are incredibly hard!

Well this began to sound like something that goes under "Oud projects" :)

hamed - 1-10-2014 at 09:06 AM

Hey John, thanks for the reply.

So my fingerboard claim pertains to playing on the neck up to the neck joint, I should have been more clear. I agree with you that a long fingerboard is better for playing high positions. I was thinking that without a piece of ebony (or other wood) glued to the face, the top would be able to vibrate more than it would otherwise, just as adding a thicker pickgaurd supposedly dampens the sound.
Disclaimer: I am not a woodworker nor am I an acoustician, but I love the oud and I love these kinds of discussions.

As far as the bridge wood, I've read and heard that pear has been the traditional choice in the turkish school and in European lute making, I'd imagine the old arab builders used it as well.

bulerias1981 - 1-10-2014 at 09:23 AM


Pear is a great wood, and yeah mostly used on European lutes. Old Arab ouds are usually walnut or sometimes spruce. Pear would be a bit unusual for Arabic oud makers because its a wood that is hard to obtain for them.

SamirCanada - 1-10-2014 at 10:43 AM

Hamed, do the test yourself.
Play some open strings and rest your hand near the neck block where an extended fingerboard would go. You will hardly find a difference in sound if you can notice one at all.

Now rest your hand where a suposedly larger pickgard would go and there will find a large difference dampening the sound.

Point is the "magic show" happens in between the brace behind the large sound hole and the bridge behind the bridge.

I agree with brother John on the bridge. In the end in my experience the harder the bridge material the more direct the energy will be transfered but sometimes you want to round that oud and take out the harshness which is why walnut is ideal, so is pear etc... something light and hard... but not too light and not too hard ;)

Brian Prunka - 1-10-2014 at 03:42 PM

Having played this oud, it has one of the most resonant and clear upper registers of any oud I have ever played. Strikingly so.

ameer - 1-11-2014 at 10:48 AM

Najib shaheen asked me to post the following message from him in this thread:

Thank you Ameer for hooking me up with some of the fascinating commentaries by my fellow oudists & oud critics. I do see that there is lots of unnecessary talk going on in these discussions. I am more surprised by some of my close acquaintances who are willing to share in such nonsense. You people could be
practicing oud instead you are wasting your time & energy on meaningless discussions. In the age of ignorance mediocrity prevails. What do I know!!!

Microber - 1-11-2014 at 12:15 PM

Mr Shaheen,

I really don't understand why you are so angry about this discussion ?
Does anyone here understand why ?
I reread the threat entirely. And I see nothing but compliments on your work.
I also see oud makers who kindly share their experience.
Personally, I really enjoy to read the interventions of everybody.
I learn new things.
Sometimes a lot, sometimes a little, sometimes not at all.
This is probably the latter case for you Mr Shaheen: you have learned nothing in this discussion.
The discussion is 'unnecessary' and 'meaningless' for you. I understand it. You are an expert.
It is not meaningless for me. And I think I'm not alone. 495 views for the threat until now.
So I go back to my initial question : why that anger ?


Brian Prunka - 1-11-2014 at 01:02 PM


he's not angry, if anything he is amused. He is of a different generation—my great-grandmother didn't understand why anyone would ever want to watch television. You must admit that a great deal of discussion on the board is fairly casual conversation . . . I don't think he was necessarily referring to this thread only. I tend to agree that much internet discussion is a waste of time most of the time. But I also understand that for people who are geographically/culturally isolated, it may be the only way to find like-minded people and learn. After all, it's (indirectly) how I personally came in contact with Simon and Najib Shaheen in the first place.


Brian Prunka - 1-11-2014 at 01:02 PM

Quote: Originally posted by oudistcamp  
Is this oud for Jenni Grout?

No . . . not really at liberty to say who it's for; not anyone well-known.

majnuunNavid - 1-11-2014 at 01:19 PM

The "A" in "Arab" stands for audacious.

I love Mr. Shaheen's candor. I get the same pleasure from Mr. Alfaraby's comments as well. :airguitar:

Brian Prunka - 1-11-2014 at 03:49 PM

Quote: Originally posted by majnuunNavid  
The "A" in "Arab" stands for audacious.

waiting to hear what the rest stands for . . . :D

majnuunNavid - 1-11-2014 at 09:36 PM

maybe on another thread at another time...


Mike - 1-18-2014 at 09:07 AM

Quote: Originally posted by majnuunNavid  
The "A" in "Arab" stands for audacious.

Ha. I was actually thinking "A" stands for something else. ;-)

Alfaraby - 1-18-2014 at 02:50 PM

Quote: Originally posted by majnuunNavid  
I get the same pleasure from Mr. Alfaraby's comments as well

Thanks friend, but please keep me out of this.
In different circumstances, I could have written something very amusing regarding some people, who think they know everything.
And yes, you may read between the lines :)

I wish I've never seen this thread in the first place.

Yours indeed

Etman - 1-14-2018 at 01:31 PM

This is how that oud sounds now :