Mike's Oud Forums

Cracking soundboards on moroccoís ouds!

danieletarab - 10-2-2019 at 06:10 AM

Hello dear oudists!
It seems that many ouds built by different luthiers in Morocco (as far as I know at least three of them) have issues with cracks appering on the soundboard after few years. How can be that possible?
I do not want to mention neither the luthiers, nor the buyers who told me that, but they are very trustworthy members of the forum and in few cases I had the chance to verify myself!
Whatís your experience?
Thank you!

suz_i_dil - 10-4-2019 at 02:28 AM

I'm not sure it will possible to make a general case without knowing more about the wood used, hygrometry and how it has been built.
But i can bring an experience i hade with a renowed luthier, i brought the oud from Beirut to Damascus in a hot summer day. The brutal change of hygro made the soundboard cracked all its long the first night or maybe the day after. Those were extreme change of hygro and very hot days.
Just a feedback to say it can happen, how to manage to control and avoid it, i dont know. For this story, i think it shouldn't have happened if I had loosen the strings and let the instrument rest a few days. maybe. Cannot be sure

JassimbinMater - 10-4-2019 at 07:06 AM

I purchased ten ouds from a Moroccan Luthier and had the same issue with some of them. I believe itís a combination of several issues. First, the luthier didnít let the wood dry properly before making the face. Second, most luthiers in Morocco donít apply the same amount of varnish as Egyptian or Syrian makers do, for example. Also the ouds with Moroccan cedar faces experienced much larger cracks than the those with canadian cedar faces. It simply doesnít hold up as well in other climates. Iíd appreciate more input that anyone has though, Iíve commissioned an oud with a Moroccan cedar face, and Iím sure the luthier Iím getting it from will take the proper care, but I am worried if it will hold up in a different climate.

alim - 10-4-2019 at 08:10 AM

As a data point, I have 2 Moroccan Ouds in California and 3 in Morocco, and do not have this issue. Note however that California weather is similar to Morocco's.


MattOud - 10-4-2019 at 08:44 AM

I wanted to mention that I am not sure that it is so much the climate change but rather a 'rapid' climate change.
I think if the OUD could be moved to a new location, with proper(slower) climate change control, it would reduce the chance of the splitting.

Being careful of when you buy the OUD is equally important in this regard. For example, living in Southern Ontario, I would not want to purchase(if shipped) between November - March when the weather is very cold, nor between july - august for summer warm months(doesn't leave as much windows open to purchase but safer!).

In following jdownings wonderful lute build(ouds project forum section), you can really see how 'fickle' our weather can be here and how hard it can be as a luthier to know when to glue etc... due to weather changes....If luthier's have this issue in the build, we can see why climate can cause issues as one possibility.