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Author: Subject: Review: Sala Muzik HSO-101 Oud (Mahogany)
Neuraxial
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[*] posted on 6-25-2020 at 09:50 PM
Review: Sala Muzik HSO-101 Oud (Mahogany)


There isn't much information on the forum on Sala's HSO-series, marketed as their professional (but still affordable) line.

I recently received one and am enjoying it a lot, so I wanted to share a few words on it.


It is the Turkish Professional Oud HSO-101 (Salamuzik)


Foto 24-06-20 17 25 41 by A.L. Papazoglu, on Flickr



Looks
First things first, it looks great. Nice grain on the spruce, rich patterns on the mahogany. The rosettes are plastic, not surprising at this price, though they don't quite look as plasticky as those on Sandi ouds.

The face is completed by a simple, oval pickguard and and equally sober bridge. These in fact are a recent design change from an asymmetrical guard and a moustache bridge. Esthetically I would have preffered the former, but admittedly the new design looks very sleek as well.

The new design also gained a nice decorative line on the neck, which is sort of a signature for the maker of these ouds, on which we will come back later.


Foto 24-06-20 17 25 56 by A.L. Papazoglu, on Flickr


Sound & Playability

This is probably the most subjective part of the review. For context, other makers I am familiar with are Sandi and Yildirim Palabiyik. I currently own a Sandi, having sold my Palabiyik some years ago due to financial reasons (and regretted it since). The Palabiyik was by far the nicest oud I've ever played, the sound was clear and defined and the neck played like a dream.

In terms of playability, the Sala oud stands out immediately. The neck feels great to hold and it plays so easily: you feel like you suddenly got better at playing. In that respect it reminds me of the Palabiyik. That, to me, is high praise.

The sound, for a new instrument, is pretty good! It's very different from both Sandi and Yildirim, but it can definitely stand on its own.

I always felt Sandi nails that "old" or "aged" oud sound, with mellow tones that never tire. By contrast, I felt the Yildirim represented the "modern" Turkish sound: clear, crisp tones, well-defined, quite loud, if a little twangy at times (but that could have been the Wenge bowl adding its bite).

The Sala HSO-101 seems to fall right in between. Now, admittedly there are factors here that make a direct comparison difficult. This is a brand new instrument so its sound is of course still in development. But the oud has ample volume, a nice, clear tone with a mellow core but with that characteristic Turkish twang. Of course, the mahogany may help to mellow the tone down, which is why I went with this bowl wood to begin with.


But have a listen for yourself:

Ağladıkça

Mahur Pesrev




Foto 24-06-20 17 26 29 by A.L. Papazoglu, on Flickr





Foto 23-06-20 11 21 34 by A.L. Papazoglu, on Flickr



Build Quality

This is a factory built oud and, frankly, it shows. Little bits of visible glue here and there (especially rosettes), traces of pencil markings for the bridge, a very visible connection between the two pieces of fingerboard and not always nicely finished connection between bowl and soundboard.
The instrument is very light (but this is not a criticism!), and as stated, feels good to hold. However, purely subjectively, and for reasons I can't quite put in words (more of a 'feeling') the Yildirim felt just a bit more 'robust' somehow. Perhaps this is just the initial feeling of the new instrument.

Tuning is easy and feels stable, even with new strings just on. Much better than the Sandi, though not as smooth as the Yildirim (but just to remind myself, that was a handbuilt, much more pricey instrument).

The spruce top is thin and looks to be of very high quality wood. The sound certainly suggests that as well.

So who makes these ouds? Attentive readers perhaps guessed by the stripe on the neck: they come from Kamil Gül's factory. I had heard many good things about this maker and this was an important decisive factor in my purchase. He produces the HSO line for Sala, and it has the Sala label on it of course. He makes some other, more expensive ouds for them as well (some of the "Premium" line with the mother of pearl decoration on the pickguard), which look rather interesting (cedar tops!), but my budget didn't allow for these at the moment.


Foto 23-06-20 11 20 43 by A.L. Papazoglu, on Flickr


Shop Experience

A few words here on service. I've had a very positive experience here. Mr. Veysel Sala is very friendly and always available for any question or issue -- via e-mail, this forum, even WhatsApp. Any issue or hiccup (I initially ordered the walnut-mahogany which wasn't available anymore) is dealt with swiftly, and, in my experience, satisfactory. So from me Salamuzik gets a heartfelt recommendation!

Conclusion

As my budget was really restricted, I think I could not have done much better in terms price/quality for a new instrument. The Kamil Gül / Sala oud is really extremely comfortable to play, the neck feels great, the sound is very nice and, indeed, promising! There are some finishing issues but nothing that affects sound or playability and for the price (I used the 10% off code, Mikeouds-Sala) it's certainly acceptable. The bottom line is that every time I play it I like it a little more, and it reminds me of my Yildirim in a good way. On top of that, it has put Kamil Gül on the radar for me and I am anxious to try out other instruments of his in the future.



Thanks for reading, have a wonderful day!



Foto 23-06-20 11 20 53 by A.L. Papazoglu, on Flickr



Foto 23-06-20 11 21 28 by A.L. Papazoglu, on Flickr



Foto 23-06-20 11 20 31 by A.L. Papazoglu, on Flickr
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Jason
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[*] posted on 6-26-2020 at 06:53 AM


Nice review! It seems well built for a shop instrument and sounds good in the clip.

I'm curious why they did a two-piece fingerboard but maybe necks and bodies are built separately in the shop?
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Neuraxial
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[*] posted on 6-26-2020 at 08:46 AM


Quote: Originally posted by Jason  
Nice review! It seems well built for a shop instrument and sounds good in the clip.

I'm curious why they did a two-piece fingerboard but maybe necks and bodies are built separately in the shop?


That was puzzling for me as well, and I assume your guess may be right. Probably to speed up production.

Thanks for the kind words, the oud is getting nicer each time I play it. That is definitely a good sign.
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majnuunNavid
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[*] posted on 6-26-2020 at 06:04 PM


I love this review. I wish there were more reviews like this available to improve the reliability of buying ouds online regardless of maker or origin.



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Neuraxial
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[*] posted on 6-27-2020 at 01:47 AM


Quote: Originally posted by majnuunNavid  
I love this review. I wish there were more reviews like this available to improve the reliability of buying ouds online regardless of maker or origin.


Thanks!

You're right, the funny thing is that there are now more than ever ouds of any kind available for any budget, but there is almost no information on most of them. Especially those sold by shops at the entry level range. I think these are getting much better and sometimes you've got some "bigger" names involved (like for example Kamil Gül, but also Bulent Kivrak / Yildirim Palabiyik's apprentices, Ahmet Topan, etc) in the making of affordable but quality factory ouds. And some higher end ones as well, like Mehmet Caymaz (also someone I discovered via Sala, and I'd be curious to try one some day).

And who knows, many other unknown ones that may sound and play better than expected. If I had the cash I'd be ordering them left and right to review them :))
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Neuraxial
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[*] posted on 6-27-2020 at 04:45 AM


Here's another sound sample, the first half of Mahur Pesrev

https://soundcloud.com/user-341904575/mahur-pesrev-hso-sala
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