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Author: Subject: Oud Tuning for Greek Rebetika/Smyrnaika
Bouzoukari
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[*] posted on 5-26-2020 at 05:11 AM
Oud Tuning for Greek Rebetika/Smyrnaika


Hello All:

I get so much great information from the forums. I have a question: I play a trichordo bouzouki (tuned DAD) and play mostly Greek rebetika and smyrnaika. The last 2 years I have been learning and playing the oud since I love the instrument so much. I purchased a turkish oud tuned C#F#Bead. I have mostly played in EABead tuning which may or may not be healthy for the oud itself. I have also tuned the oud down to Arabic tuning of DGAdgc. I was wondering if anyone out there has a preference or recommendation for tuning that is optimal for rebetika style music? I am interested in purchasing another oud and was not sure if I should get a turkish one or perhaps an Arabic one that is already tuned DGAdgc. Thanks for your help and advice.
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Jody Stecher
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[*] posted on 5-26-2020 at 06:39 AM


If you listen to the oud on old rebetika and Smyrnaika recordings the tunings can be discovered by identifying what strings are open. It soon becomes apparent that the tuning can vary.

Presumably your Turkish oud has 58.5 scale. Tuning the low string to E could be dangerous to the oud if the 6th string is of a heavier gauge designed to be to tuned to B or C#. But if that string is lighter you are probably safe.

I don't know what you mean when you identify an oud as being "already tuned" to a particular set of pitches. Ouds are tuned according to the wishes or needs of the player. The same Arabic oud for instance may be tuned to DGAdgc or CGAdgc or CFAdgc or FAdgcf etc.
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Bouzoukari
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[*] posted on 5-26-2020 at 08:51 AM


Thank you for your reply. The oud is 58.5 scale. When it was purchased, or even with ones available to purchase, they are listed with a tuning different from what i prefer. Is it just a matter of changing the strings to the the set aligned with the tuning I prefer? In other words, can I purchase any turkish oud and then purchase a string set gauged to EABead or DGAdgc?

Thanks
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teslim
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[*] posted on 5-26-2020 at 06:39 PM


basically yes,,usually i just change the lowest string to a lighter tension- better to get an arabic set for the D tuning and a turkish set for the E tuning, brian at oud strings.com could make you a set that would work for each tuning with the proper tension for foe string length,
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Jody Stecher
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[*] posted on 5-26-2020 at 07:51 PM


Quote: Originally posted by Bouzoukari  
Thank you for your reply. The oud is 58.5 scale. When it was purchased, or even with ones available to purchase, they are listed with a tuning different from what i prefer. Is it just a matter of changing the strings to the the set aligned with the tuning I prefer? In other words, can I purchase any turkish oud and then purchase a string set gauged to EABead or DGAdgc?

Thanks


Yes, an oud does not "come with a tuning". Strings sets are designed to be tuned to specific tunings within a narrow range of scale. All the sets for Turkish ouds will have the four highest courses tuned the same: Bead. BUT: a Turkish oud has been voiced via the bracing under the soundboard (top) to sound like a Turkish oud. It may be absolutely fine tuned in Arabic tuning but it may have a voice that somehow sounds more Turkish than Arabic. And it may be just fine. And it may be better in Arabic tuning. "It all depends".
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Ralf Krueger
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[*] posted on 5-27-2020 at 05:36 AM


Jia sas Bouzoukari, Hello everybody. I followed this interesting forum for some while. Finally, I joined today because I feel I have to reply to your post.

It seems obvious that most Rebetes used turkish oud and tunings (maybe different variants), since one major root of this music is from Asia Minor. I think one can hear this also on old recordings. Moreover, this fits well to the d-a-d tuning of the original, old-style bouzouki (trichordo), as you mentioned. Maybe the lower strings are adapted to the needs, I am not sure.

However, turkish tuning is certainly not a must. When I started Oud, I learned the basics from a colleague who used to play Balkan music on a turkish oud, but with a modified arabic tuning: CEAdgc. At that time (long before internet), we were even not aware that there are specific tunings depending on tradition, country and style. I adapted his tuning, and it works also quite well for Rembetiko. Most open strings fit well to common Rembetiko keys starting from D, A or G (determined by bouzouki tuning). The sound may be somewhat different, but it depends what you prefer. I think it is more important to use a short scale oud to achieve the desired sound, which in my ears is usually a bit harder / more percussiv compared to arabic with longer scale and deeper tone.

The only important point is that strings should match the desired tuning and scale. Thus, tension has to be approriate for the respective combination. We even used normal guitar strings and tried to match them to the right tension, since Oud strings were not easily available before worldwide shippping became so easy...
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Bouzoukari
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[*] posted on 5-28-2020 at 06:40 AM


Hello Everyone. Thank you so much for all of your input and advice. This forum is great because of the enthusiasm its members have. I really appreciate all the information provided, and shall use it for my oud playing going forward.
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yavaran
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[*] posted on 6-6-2020 at 05:52 AM


In the old school records you hear many different tunings, particularly in smyrneika where the oud is more prominent.
However nowadays that the smyrneika and rebetika genres are blurred, the DAD of the trichordo dominates. for that, an Arabic oud is best as you can get a few nice open D notes for harmony and drone!
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dario
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[*] posted on 6-7-2020 at 07:40 AM


I would say it depends on a lot of things:

What scale are you playing in? Not every rebetiko song is in D! That said, in Arabic tuning ussak/bayati and hijaz sound nice in D, but in Turkish tuning you get rast, hijazkar and nikriz in D, and you can always drop your bass E to D.

What instruments are you playing with? If your band has a bouzouki player it's nice to support them with a nice big open D. If your band has a Bb clarinet chances are it will want to play mainly keys with lots of flats, for which Arabic oud is more suitable than Turkish.

What's comfortable for your singer? It's better to sing in E if it matches your range than to force yourself to sing in G just because the original recording is in G.

I play turkish tuning and my main repertoire is rebetiko, and as untraditional as it may be I make heavy use of a capo so I can play in D and G in open positions (capo is placed a minor third up from the open string). I also find the oud has a very sweet sound with a capo on, which I like.
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