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Author: Subject: Woods, string's lenght and number of holes for a new oud!
danieletarab
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[*] posted on 10-16-2019 at 07:07 AM
Woods, string's lenght and number of holes for a new oud!


Dear oudists, I am going to order my first custom arabic oud and I need your help!
Here my questions:

1) I like big and long ouds for many reasons. I would go for a 61,50 cm oud but I have never tried one. Is there a drammatic difference in terms of tension, intonation and sound between 60cm and 61.50 cm? Would you suggest such a big size?

2) I like SINGLE HOLE ouds. How the choice of having only a single hole could affect the overall sound?

3) The luthier I have contacted has 2 ready bowls, one it's old walnut, and the other one is walnut and rosewood. Which one could be better for arabic deep sound?

4) Can you explain the difference between SPRUCE or CEDAR for the top?

Thank you very much and long life to MIKE!


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Mike
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[*] posted on 10-16-2019 at 08:05 AM


Ha! Thanks DT! :bowdown:



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Brian Prunka
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[*] posted on 10-16-2019 at 09:01 AM


Quote: Originally posted by danieletarab  
Dear oudists, I am going to order my first custom arabic oud and I need your help!
Here my questions:

1) I like big and long ouds for many reasons. I would go for a 61,50 cm oud but I have never tried one. Is there a drammatic difference in terms of tension, intonation and sound between 60cm and 61.50 cm? Would you suggest such a big size?

2) I like SINGLE HOLE ouds. How the choice of having only a single hole could affect the overall sound?

3) The luthier I have contacted has 2 ready bowls, one it's old walnut, and the other one is walnut and rosewood. Which one could be better for arabic deep sound?

4) Can you explain the difference between SPRUCE or CEDAR for the top?

Thank you very much and long life to MIKE!




First thing to know is that the taste and skill of the luthier matter more than any of the technical considerations you mention. That said:

1) A 61.5cm oud will tend to have more tension (though you can use lighter strings to offset this) and the notes will be farther apart (not great if you have small hands, but can be nice if you have large hands). 60cm to me is the most versatile size, but longer ouds are better if you prefer the dd course to be plain rather than wound, or if you like to keep the oud tuned down (some people like the oud at B or Bb instead of C).
Be advised that only Pyramid lute strings can achieve the lowest tensions on the wound strings, so a long oud might end up requiring expensive strings if you like particularly low tension. 61.5 cm is not particularly big though—big Arabic ouds can be up to 63cm! But it is on the bigger side.

2) In my experience, a single hole oud can sound great, but it may have more of a tendency to over emphasize certain low frequencies or wolf tones, and be a bit more challenging to mic (the single hole seems more subject to proximity effects). This is my anecdotal experience, so not necessarily the rule. But when I had my oud built, I chose three sound holes.

3) Walnut is the classic bowl wood for Arabic ouds.

4) Spruce generally has a more complex character and more even response than western Cedar, in my opinion. True Lebanese cedar is different, and unlikely to be what he's talking about, but is a good wood if available.
Western Cedar is 'warm' and tends to open up quickly, so may have a nice quality to it, but personally I would stick with spruce.
Generally student-level Spanish guitars tend to be cedar and professional ones tend to be spruce—make of that what you will.




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JassimbinMater
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[*] posted on 10-16-2019 at 10:28 AM


As always, Brian is spot on, I’d just add a couple of comments:

2. In general, a single sound hole should give you more of a “sharqi” sound than three sound holes, if you know what that means.

3. In my experience the dimensions and making of the bowl have a lot more impact than the wood.

4. Cedar seems to be preferred by most luthiers now for high quality, I would think probably because of what Brian said about it opening up quickly which means in the short term at least it has a louder sound and more sustain to it. I think cedar wasn’t used in ouds until around the 90s (with the exception of Morocco where Moroccan cedar was used considerably earlier ). I’ve heard that spruce performs better in the long term, but haven’t really had an opportunity to test it myself .

Again, this is just based on my personal experiences and what I’ve generally heard, so I’d also be keen to hear what more experienced members of the forum have to say.
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NafQan
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[*] posted on 11-21-2019 at 06:33 PM


The earlier replies were on the spot, but I would add that with regard to dimensions, bigger ouds tend to have longer fingerboards/neck 20 cm. Such long finger boards can become a bit of a hassle for a soloist. So unless you have a big hand, I would recommend a neck that is 19cm long with 4cm width at the pegbox and 6 cm width at the oud body. From my experience the fingerboards of such dimensions are very comfortable to handle for average hand sizes.
On another issue, if by spruce you are talking about local Levantine shooh, I would advice against it. It has a very light color and most soundboards made of such spruce which I saw were having very irregular veins and rarely can be connected in a uniform manner by oriental oud makers, so if this is the spruce that is going to be used, I would recommend to use cedar instead.
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ilnokaly
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[*] posted on 2-26-2020 at 01:48 AM


Let me add something if you may allow me to do so. From my experience, 61.5 cm and single hole would require pine wood soundboard, in Egypt we call it Moski.

It is a relative to spruce, but softer in density, and higher in resonance (since the wood is softer, you give more room for the wood to oscillate) and therefore, you obtain a sharki (tarab sound) not too high in volume, but very precise and punchy sound, resonant and mellow in the same time.

And also weirdly from my experience, the wider and unstable the grain is, the greater the sound is. I ve never been fond of super clean cut 2 pieces spruce/cedar with unmistakable straight and tight grain, naaaah. Im talking about my luthier.

Here is a sample of what a 61.5 cm single oud would sound like

https://youtu.be/WNkUtnigQmE

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