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Author: Subject: Arabic ouds are getting shorter!
danieletarab
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[*] posted on 9-19-2019 at 02:41 PM
Arabic ouds are getting shorter!


Hi there!
I am wondering why many arabic makers, nowadays are making arabic ouds with shorter scale than before. Many luthiers build their standard models with 58 cm, 58,50 cm or sometimes 60cm string's lenght.
I asked a 61cm oud to several luthiers but they are not very happy with that and they often suggest me shorter scale.
What's the reason for it?
I find that with short ouds you don't get enough tension for arabic style, and moreover, I am tall and I am more comfortable with bigger sizes.
Does anybody know why arabic ouds are getting smaller???
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elreyrico
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[*] posted on 9-20-2019 at 03:16 AM


Hi,
I remember talking about that with a luthier.

he said that 58/58.5 is the most versatile length allowing all tunings high cc, high dd, high ff or high gg , with playable string diameters, not too thin not too large

also i suppose only one length means only one mould for the bowl ... cost reduction by standardization

nevertheless, a luthier should be able to make the size you want
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Brian Prunka
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[*] posted on 9-20-2019 at 07:01 AM


Personally, I find 60cm to be the most versatile length.

Having developed custom string sets for many hundreds of ouds, it is often challenging to get a good Arabic sound out of a shorter oud. However it really depends a great deal on the maker, for example I have a 58.5cm Mustafa oud that sounds great no matter the strings, and I've played several Peter Sayegh ouds that are 58.5cm and they have a huge, warm sound.

Arabic style is actually usually to use less tension; most Turkish oud players use more tension, which helps the Turkish ornamentation "speak" and gives a brighter sound.

It should be noted that the oud is rather small considering the pitch range trying to be produced; it has the same range as a cello but the body is much smaller and string length much shorter. This makes sense since the original ouds had only four courses and we've kept adding lower courses over the years, but as a result even larger ouds are somewhat small.

String length also affects the sound in other ways. No string vibrates as an 'ideal' string, since the ends are immobile and not vibrating freely up to the endpoint. As a result, the harmonics of the string are vibrating at slightly different lengths in practice, and consequently the harmonics of the string are not perfectly in tune.

Mostly this effect is negligible, but is a bigger problem when the tension is very low or very high, or when the string length is too short for the desired pitch, as the effect is magnified (one reason why tuning the low C course via the 5th harmonic at the neck-body joint works better than using the fundamental). Pianos are often deliberately 'mistuned' to compensate for this effect, since they are under very high tension (ouds are never under high enough tension to cause this problem in my estimation).

The two strings most susceptible to these issues are the plain gg course and the low C course, due to the imperfect matching of material density, tension, pitch and length (also the plain dd course if using that).

I agree that a luthier making a custom oud should make it the size you want, but I also understand that a luthier who has refined his designs around a particular length may not be confident in the results of a larger or smaller instrument and not wish to have his reputation on the line in that case.

Peter Sayegh normally makes his ouds 58.5cm but I requested 60cm and he happily made it for me (and it is excellent).





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danieletarab
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[*] posted on 9-20-2019 at 03:56 PM


Wow! Thank you Brian! Your contribuition is always soooooo precious!
Actually, I wouldn't risk to ask a luthier to make an oud longer than what he would make if it was up to him. But since I am tall and I have long arms, I feel more comfortable with bigger ouds, but in that case I guess it's also a matter of how large is the bowl...
Following your suggestions I think I will go for a 60cm oud!
Thank you a lot!
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