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djs259
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[*] posted on 11-3-2015 at 11:50 PM
New to OUDS need advice


Hello Gentlemen,

After many years of playing guitar (and a few months plodding away at the Greek bouzouki), I've recently taken interest in Turkish/Middle Eastern folk instruments, which has naturally led me to the exotic world of the OUD. I've been searching for a suitable instrument with which to begin for a few weeks now and haven't had much luck. I don't want to spend a ton but at the same time I don't want a low quality "starter" instrument either. As such, I've been looking at various mid grade ouds online from various makers in Turkey and some on eBay.

One big concern I have is the wooden pegs. This kind of tuning apparatus is something which is kind of unfamilar/uncomfortable to me, having come from the typical mechanical tuning gears of the standard 6 string guitar (and bouzouki).

I noticed that while almost all the high quality OUDs being sold are equipped with the usual wooden pegs made of ebony, there are nevertheless some that are made with what look like regular guitar tuners.
I feel as if I'd be more comfortable with this more familiar tuning system. Is there anything, then, that I should be aware of in terms of disadvantages arising from its use in terms of sound and playability?

Also, I was thinking of something along these lines:

http://www.ebay.com/itm/YISSI-TURKISH-PROFESSIONAL-MAHOGANY-AND-WAL...


Any opinions on this particular OUD? The spruce top looks to be very nice quality but I'm a little hesitant until I hear more about the tuner issue.

Would appreciate some honest opinions from the experience folks here.
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[*] posted on 11-3-2015 at 11:52 PM


Welcome to the forums.

Here is a good starting point (our FAQs Thread): http://www.mikeouds.com/messageboard/viewthread.php?tid=6809
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Jody Stecher
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[*] posted on 11-4-2015 at 09:03 AM


For centuries string players, including those in top chamber groups and symphony orchestras, have found that well fitted wooden friction pegs work well on violins, violas, and cellos. It's the same with ouds. Mechanical tuners are a great help with metal strings. The soft strings on a oud tune and hold easily with properly fitted wooden pegs. Of course you need to learn how to use the pegs. It takes a few seconds to learn. I think you will find that most experienced makers of good quality ouds will not use mechanical tuners because an oud set up like that looks like a bride in a wedding dress wearing a baseball cap. So if you are buying an oud with mechanical tuners it is likely you are not getting a good instrument.
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[*] posted on 11-4-2015 at 09:24 AM


Quote: Originally posted by Jody Stecher  
I think you will find that most experienced makers of good quality ouds will not use mechanical tuners because an oud set up like that looks like a bride in a wedding dress wearing a baseball cap.

:D

Funny that you put it that way! I was at Maurice Shahata's shop in Cairo in 2000, and tried an oud with mechanical tuners. It actually seemed like a good, practical idea. Other than my sense that it radically changed the weight and balance of the instrument (not a "fatal" flaw), I couldn't get over how ugly I found the mechanical pegs and ended up with a "traditional" friction peg instrument.
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[*] posted on 11-4-2015 at 10:40 AM


The presence or absence of mechanical tuners aren't really indicative of the quality of the instrument. Plenty of high end luthiers have offered them as an option over the years. Of more concern would be the added weight they add to the pegbox. I also agree that they ruin the aesthetic of an oud.

That said, peg tuners on a cheap oud can be a real nightmare but just because an oud is cheap doesn't mean it will have poorly fitted pegs. I have had cheap ouds with well fitted pegs. It really just depends on the maker, and even then there can be some variance. At the end of the day working with pegs isn't all that complicated and it isn't a huge deal to correct issues with them.

Other than that, most of the Turkish instruments I've played in that price range have been fine. I definitely think you get more for your money with a Turkish oud versus an Arabic oud in that price range.
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[*] posted on 11-4-2015 at 12:42 PM


Mechanical guitar like tuners aren't catching on amongst oudists around the world, there is probably a good reason for it. I would never use them either.

Great analogy Jody, I find them ugly too. Also to me its like the automatic transmission, I know its out there and people use it but I would never buy a car without manual transmission. Once you know how to use the pegs, you will be set.

Maybe the oud world is also a little bit against change generally speaking, much less then in the violin world though.




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[*] posted on 11-4-2015 at 08:14 PM


This reminds me of my old Persian Barbat which is no longer in my possession. It was made by Malikshahi (I forget the first name). It was a mid-range price instrument about $600-1000 worth and it had the BEST fitted Oud pegs, no exaggeration. The peg box was just perfection... it was such a shame the action was so horrible due to losing shape over the years.



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djs259
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[*] posted on 11-4-2015 at 11:44 PM


Gentlemen, forgive me, but am I to understand that the main objection to my purchase of the instrument posted at the link as a "first oud" is that it is "ugly"?

While it's clear to me at this point that most players by far prefer standard peg box configuration, won't open gear tuners allow for easier tuning and greater accuracy and stability?

Also, does the extra weight associated with non-friction tuners really affect the handling and balance of the instrument so much as to render it significantly less playable?

Maybe someone who actually owns an oud with guitar style tuners could chime in with their personal experience.

And lastly, isn't beauty in the eye of the beerholder? :D

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[*] posted on 11-5-2015 at 09:57 AM


The weight entirely depends on the type of tuners they used but yes it is possible the weight is enough to adversely affect playability and produce neck dive. It is hard to know without playing it. There isn't much difference in accuracy, stability, and ease of tuning between geared tuners and properly fitted pegs.

I mean, it isn't the end of the world if you really want geared tuners. If that is what you're set on having then by all means go for it. But they aren't generally favored on ouds for all of the reasons we've noted above.
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[*] posted on 11-5-2015 at 10:20 AM


My replies are in italics, below some of the questions.

Quote: Originally posted by djs259  
Gentlemen, forgive me, but am I to understand that the main objection to my purchase of the instrument posted at the link as a "first oud" is that it is "ugly"?

I think all the comments were about ouds in general, not the oud at the link. I haven't played ouds from this maker (not even sure who the maker is) so have no opinion about the quality. The consensus, as said before, is that *most* good oud makers will not use mechanical tuners. From that fact, and statistically I believe it *is* a fact, one can infer that the likelihood is small that an oud with such tuners is a good one.

While it's clear to me at this point that most players by far prefer standard peg box configuration, won't open gear tuners allow for easier tuning and greater accuracy and stability?

It might .. maybe…. if the oud had steel strings. Have you ever seen a concert violinist stop in the middle of a recital and fuss with his pegs? It doesn't happen because soft and well fitted fitted wooden friction pegs are a stable combination. The answer to your question is "no". By the way, there are now several manufactures of geared wooden tuning pegs that have the mechanical parts hidden inside. they look just like regular violin (or cello or sitar etc) pegs and most of them work very well. But they are expensive. You would need eleven of them on a typical oud. sometimes 10 or 12. Since you want to start with an inexpensive oud you would be spending more on tuners than on the oud itself. These kind of pegs are very useful for musicians who play in many tunings. But as it is usually only the single 6th bass course whose tuning is changed on oud, there is really no need for this. There is also no need for guitar style tuners on an oud. The tuning is not unstable with well fitted pegs. I have good quality mechanical tuners on my mandolins and guitars. I need to adjust the tuning more often on these instruments than I do on oud. So again the answer to your question is "no".



Also, does the extra weight associated with non-friction tuners really affect the handling and balance of the instrument so much as to render it significantly less playable?

Maybe someone who actually owns an oud with guitar style tuners could chime in with their personal experience.

And lastly, isn't beauty in the eye of the beerholder? :D

an oud can hold more beer than a saz or a buzuk. also more chocolate pudding.

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[*] posted on 11-5-2015 at 02:12 PM


I bought the OUD. Honestly, how bad can it be? I have a little experience with friction tuners on some other instruments like saz and sitar, and I just don't like them. They always eventually need re-fitment and adjustment after some use. And tuning IS harder than something with an 18:1 gear ratio.

Anyway, I wanted to learn to play it in the Greek/ Turkish style and so, to me, the guitar pegs give it more of the look of a modern Greek instrument, rather than something medieval or Near Eastern.

Ok, you guys think it's ugly, I get it. I'm sure I'd probably find some of your wives and girlfriends ugly. Should you reject them then? :-)

Honestly, that turned back peg box makes the neck of a standard OUD look almost like a snake about to strike, very demonic looking in my opinion.

But, as with everything, opinions vary.

Does anyone here actually LIKE this oud? There must be someone to encourage me.
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[*] posted on 11-5-2015 at 02:39 PM


I am new to this thread and I haven't read any of the responses since I didn't want to be influenced.

I would not describe the oud you bought as ugly, certainly not. I would describe it as untraditional. Ouds are an ancient instrument and geared tuning is comparatively modern. To me it looks like an oud wanting to be a guitar. Traditional ouds have wooden pegs without gears and the very large majority still are like this. I have found fretted ouds online and they sound nothing like an oud at all. In my mind you don't mess with long-established tradition.

I hear what you're saying about it looking more like a Greek instrument, but remember that the oud is not a Greek instrument as such, but a Middle Eastern instrument which is now used in Greece. There is a difference. I absolutely love the Greek style of oud playing - in fact it is my favourite - but the oud is a Middle Eastern instrument and will always be - and I do not want mine to look or perform like a bazouki! They are two very different instruments - I get the feeling that you really want a bazouki/oud/guitar hybrid rather than an oud and you have been lazy with choosing this one and not going outside of your comfort zone.

So do I think your oud is ugly? No, not at all. Would I have previously recommended that you buy it? No, because it's best to start with a traditional oud.

As for your comment about wives.... well, mine is a very traditional Turkish girl and I love it that way!

Still, the best of luck with it. You can learn a lot about the oud from this instrument - at least it is not a fretted one!
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[*] posted on 11-5-2015 at 06:45 PM


I'm kind of sad that everyone hates my OUD. :(

I think I'm going to become a master OUDist just to spite you all.

:airguitar:
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[*] posted on 11-5-2015 at 07:14 PM


Quote: Originally posted by djs259  
I'm kind of sad that everyone hates my OUD. :(

Well she does have a pretty face and back.

It's just her head... I guess instead of "butter face" this is a case of "butter head", lol.

Quote: Originally posted by djs259  
I think I'm going to become a master OUDist just to spite you all.

:airguitar:

That's the spirit!

I have many times found myself driven to greater accomplishment by spite than by love xD

David
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[*] posted on 11-6-2015 at 05:59 AM


Just focus on playing, man. That is what matters. What tunes do you plan on learning first?
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[*] posted on 11-6-2015 at 08:27 AM


Yes. Focus on practicing and playing well.
If you can make your oud sound beautiful (without spite in your heart), noone will think your oud is ugly. On the contrary.
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[*] posted on 11-6-2015 at 01:20 PM


I have bought a quality Oud with geared tuners in the past.

I don't play this anymore as the thin body does not give me a tone I like. It sounds good just not how I want to sound.

http://www.ebay.com/itm/ELECTRO-ACOUSTIC-OUD-With-Guitar-Pegs-SANDI...

Anyway like others have said, concentrate on playing and have a good time with the new axe.
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[*] posted on 11-6-2015 at 11:31 PM


Yeah seriously, beginners spend so much time messing around just trying to get their ouds in tune before they begin. If this makes it easier for you to get into the Oud, then go for it. It will take you a few years to even figure out what kind of Oud you ideally want and what sound you like.

Welcome aboard!





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[*] posted on 1-12-2016 at 12:44 AM
Or another idea


The Violin has the same "peg in hole" tuning system, but there are new gear driven pegs that make tuning a dream. Replacing your wooden tuning pegs with the more modern violin tuning pegs would give you the best of both worlds. You would have the modern technology with the old peg-style look.
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[*] posted on 1-12-2016 at 03:23 AM


At the end of the day does it really matter what it looks like? The oud looks nice. The head does stick out like a sore thumb but I don't think its as bad as some people make it out to be. It all comes down to personal preference. I have a Palestinian background and I've seen a quite a few luthiers who overly decorate the ouds especially the higher priced ones and some people go googoo gaga over it which IMHO makes me want to puke and bothers me more than the oud you bought with that tuning mechanism!!! I prefer minimal decoration. Once again personal preference.

At some point getting used to tuning a traditional oud head will just make you more knowledgeable and it will giver a wider choice of ouds to choose from in the future. A well made oud with good pegs isn't that difficult to keep in tune.
My oud rarely goes out of tune and if it does its only by a tiny amount usually after being through certain weather conditions.

Anyway, goodluck.
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[*] posted on 1-12-2016 at 08:05 AM


Like Jody says... I also believe there is nothing better than perfectly fitted pegs which tune like a dream. Many people in this forum may not have even tried an oud with "perfectly" fitted pegs. Tuning them is a dream. Tuning an oud with poorly fitted pegs is a nightmare. Quality machine tuners (that look like real pegs) are usually expensive and installation is expensive. That would help the tuning process for sure. I do these kind of pegs for clients who are sick of wooden friction pegs. I do try to persuade them into a regular set of well fitted pegs first, or let them try some of my ouds which tune easily so they can see the difference.



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[*] posted on 1-12-2016 at 08:33 AM


I totally agree with Anica's opinion.
On one of my traditional ouds I replaced the original wooden pegs by Wittner Viola tuning pegs, as did my teacher Nehad El Sayed on his oud too, and also our experienced senior forum member Alfaraby is using them with great satisfaction on the oud of his son, as he mentioned several times in his posts. They look exactly like wooden pegs and are of course very comfortable to use, you really get the best of the two worlds...

But also I agree with the opinions of most of the above forum members that good fitting traditional wooden pegs are very well suitable to ones everyday needs since they get out of tune only very rarely. My Nazih Ghadban oud for example doesn't get out of tune for several weeks while playing on it on a regular, daily basis.

The look of your oud's guitar-like head/pegbox of course is a bit strange, it's not the look we oudists are used to, so also to me eyes it doesn't fit so well to the rest of the instrument, to be honest... :( But nevertheless, have joy with it as long it sounds alright!

Alexander
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[*] posted on 2-3-2016 at 06:05 PM


Come on, the oud is not so ugly :) But I also think that good pegs are much better than tuners! My Turunz oud and my Nisadir oud never get out of tune and they are very easy to tune, while my classical guitar is always out of tune :)
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