Mike's Oud Forums

Arabic or Turkish? looking for 12 string set.

pryor22 - 1-13-2019 at 04:47 AM

I am hoping you can clear up the confusion I am experiencing as I start my first Oud repair.

The instrument was brought to the US as carry on luggage from Israel.
It has 12 strings and most recently was probably tuned DGBEAD or DF#BEAD

I am going to replace the tuning pegs. the original pegs are poorly done and will not stay in tune.

I bought an Arabic set of 12 strings. I think this set is made to be tuned FADGCF.

I am not finding any Turkish sets with 12 strings.

What strings should I buy?

Edward6311 - 1-13-2019 at 11:31 AM

I would contact Brian Prunka at oudstrings.com. Give him the length from the bridge to the nut and the tuning used. He can then put together a custom set of 12 strings for you.

ChanningPDX - 1-13-2019 at 01:27 PM

Do you have any pictures that you could show us?

My initial thought is that I'm wondering if it could be a Zeryab oud. I haven't been to Israel in a few years (since before I started playing oud), but from looking around at Israeli music shops and classified ad listings online, Zeryab ouds are not uncommon there. (Even though they're made in Syria--perhaps there's a Jordanian middleman involved or something.) It could of course also be made by any number of different Egyptian makers, or it could be a cheap no-name tourist oud like one finds in the Jerusalem Old City souk... A photo would be helpful.

I bought a used Zeryab Shami 1 oud off eBay a few months back. When I received it, it had 12 strings meant for FADGCF tuning. (It hadn't been played in a while, so the strings were a good deal flatter when I got it. The condition of the pegs made it hard to get the strings up to pitch.)

The fingerboard was made from walnut and had small depressions under the 4th & 5th courses where the C (rast) and F (jaharkah) notes would be. Whoever played it before me must've seriously dug in with his fingernails or something... The 12 pegs were made from a cheap light-colored wood dyed black and did not fit or hold their tuning well at all.

The fingerboard was easy enough to fix with epoxy, a very sharp knife, fine sandpaper, and several coats of tung oil. At first, I thought I would need to replace the pegs, but after a slight reaming of some of the pegholes, doing a bit of sanding and refinishing around the pegbox, and applying liberal amounts of peg compound to the pegs, they work MUCH better and actually hold their tuning surprisingly well now. I contacted Brian Prunka at oudstrings.com who was extremely helpful with recommending the gauges I would need for a set of Pyramid Lute strings in DGAdgc tuning.

I now have the oud strung with 11 strings, and it sounds great. My teacher was pleasantly surprised when I showed it to him. Not bad for less than $300 anyway...

In my case, the repairs were simple enough that I could do them myself, but depending on the condition of the oud and where you're located, it probably wouldn't hurt to have a luthier take a peek at it. If you can post some photos here, I'm sure some of the more experienced members here can give you better advice.

Brian Prunka - 1-14-2019 at 06:04 AM

As Channing suggests, a photo or two would be very helpful in figuring out what you have. A photo of the oud, label if possible, and a peg would be ideal.

The scale length, measured from nut to bridge, is relevant in determining what strings will work. Ouds range from 57cm to 64cm, so there is a substantial difference in what strings will be usable from one oud to another (and one of the reasons I tell people that stock "oud sets" rarely work as well as possible—they don't know what size your oud is or what tuning you're using).

Neither of the tunings you mention are common or typical for Arabic ouds, unless it was a singer who had tuned it that way for singing in particular keys.

Tuning with a high D will usually be 11 strings (not 12).
Turkish tuning would typically be:

Arabic classic tuning would be 11 strings also:

High Arabic (12 string) tuning would be:

It's not uncommon for an Arabic oud to be tuned down a half step or a whole step.

pryor22 - 1-15-2019 at 09:02 AM

I measured the existing six string diameters. The wound strings are: .042", .042", .034",.034",.029",.029"
The plain nylon strings diameters are: .039", .039", .026", .026", .020", .020"

I ordered a 11 string LaBella Turkish set that is very close to those diameters and a single .042" string.


pryor22 - 1-15-2019 at 09:09 AM

Thank you to everyone for your help.

I don't know the proper way to attach a Flickr image to a post.

Here is a link to my picks. https://www.flickr.com/photos/169274238@N08/albums/72157705772652574

Brian Prunka - 1-16-2019 at 10:06 AM

Okay, those pegs look like the taper is 20:1 or maybe even 15:1. Standard for professional instruments is 30:1 which makes them more stable and easier to tune. The holes will need to be reamed and the pegs shaved to fit, something any professional luthier should be able to do.

The oud looks Egyptian probably and should be tuned Arabic.