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Author: Subject: How to Tune a 12-string Egyptian Oud?
maie
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[*] posted on 7-15-2020 at 08:14 PM
How to Tune a 12-string Egyptian Oud?


Hey everyone, I'm new to the forum so apologies if this has been asked before, but I just purchased my first oud, and am learning and practicing using izif.com, but I can't find a good resource on how to properly tune my oud.

This is the oud I purchased: https://www.arabinstruments.com/egyptian-oud-3040

I previously had it tuned to CFADGC, which worked fine, even though the sound was very deep and not bright at all.

I also saw some advice to tune it to GADGC, and not use the bottom set of strings, and although the sound is a lot brighter and sounds more like the oud played in the videos I learn from, this doesn't seem right...can anyone offer any advice here? thanks in advance!!
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Jody Stecher
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[*] posted on 7-15-2020 at 09:09 PM


The oud in the video is tuned in F tuning. That's why it sounds bright. It's tuned high. You need to find out if the strings on your oud are for C tuning or F tuning.

F tuning: FF AA dd gg cc ff

tuning one course up one step (from FF to GG) should not significantly brighten the oud. Tuning a string set designed for F tuning all the way down to C tuning will certainly give a dull sound.
Tuning a set of strings designed for C tuning up to F tuning will break the oud if the strings don't break first.
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[*] posted on 7-16-2020 at 11:00 AM


The strings I have are definitely not for F tuning. I'll stick to the C tuning I've been using, now that I know it was working as intended and I hadn't picked a wrong tuning. Thank you so much!!

Quote: Originally posted by Jody Stecher  
The oud in the video is tuned in F tuning. That's why it sounds bright. It's tuned high. You need to find out if the strings on your oud are for C tuning or F tuning.

F tuning: FF AA dd gg cc ff

tuning one course up one step (from FF to GG) should not significantly brighten the oud. Tuning a string set designed for F tuning all the way down to C tuning will certainly give a dull sound.
Tuning a set of strings designed for C tuning up to F tuning will break the oud if the strings don't break first.
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Jody Stecher
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[*] posted on 7-16-2020 at 11:28 AM


Generally the low C course is single. Not a pair.
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[*] posted on 7-20-2020 at 06:54 PM


I see; my oud has pairs all the way through...how can I find out if these strings were maybe intended for F tuning without damaging the oud? Or is it sometimes intended to have a low C with a pair as well?
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[*] posted on 7-20-2020 at 09:00 PM


With F tuning you'll have three courses of clear nylon whereas you'd have two sets in C-c tuning.
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[*] posted on 7-20-2020 at 10:29 PM


Ohhh, okay this is helpful. I do indeed have 3 courses of clear nylon, I've attached a photo of the strings I have.

I'm still very very new to learning oud, so I'm extra cautious as this is all new to me! Would these strings likely be meant for F tuning?

IMG_20200720_231007.jpg - 164kB
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[*] posted on 7-21-2020 at 05:41 AM


Yep those strings are for F tuning... FF AA dd gg cc ff
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Jody Stecher
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[*] posted on 7-21-2020 at 07:52 AM


The photo makes it clear: these are F tuning strings. If you prefer C tuning, and if these strings now on the oud are new and good quality, you can just move each course over one position, put aside the ff strings, and just buy one C string. But before you do that and I say this as someone who prefers C tuning tune your present strings up to where they are intended to be tuned. See if you like F tuning or at least find out, without changing strings, what your oud really sounds like. You will be surprised, probably pleasantly surprised.
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[*] posted on 7-21-2020 at 08:35 PM


Thank you both so much for your answers -- I tuned it up properly today before I practiced with it, and I like how it sounds so much more. I can't play enough yet to say I have a preference for C or F tuning but I feel way more confident practicing knowing it's tuned properly at least! Maybe with a little more experience down the road I can try that C tuning setup, but that will probably take some time. I had been trying to figure the tuning out since the oud arrived a few weeks ago; this was super helpful!
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[*] posted on 7-21-2020 at 09:12 PM


Just in case the following isn't obvious: you can finger the strings exactly the same as if you were in C and everything will come out 4 notes higher than in C tuning. But whatever you learned so far is still valid. OR you can finger everything one pair of strings lower and it will come out in C. If this doesn't make sense, it will later.
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Brian Prunka
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[*] posted on 7-22-2020 at 09:26 AM


To add to Jody's comment it's not hard to switch later if you decide to go to C tuning. Like Jody, I prefer it but in the end it is not that important. Many traditional players like Abdel Wahab, Qassabgi, Daoud Hosni, etc would use one or the other depending on the situation or even tune somewhere in between like Eb.





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[*] posted on 7-22-2020 at 10:50 AM


Quote: Originally posted by Brian Prunka  
To add to Jody's comment it's not hard to switch later if you decide to go to C tuning. Like Jody, I prefer it but in the end it is not that important. Many traditional players like Abdel Wahab, Qassabgi, Daoud Hosni, etc would use one or the other depending on the situation or even tune somewhere in between like Eb.



I've always assumed that when i heard that open high ff course on recordings by those you named, and George Michel too, that they were playing a 7 course oud. Wrong assumption?
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[*] posted on 7-24-2020 at 07:38 AM


There may be some exceptions, but I think 7-course ouds were extremely uncommon until fairly recently.
I've seen a lot of old ouds that just had 5 courses, so even 6 courses was a relatively recent standard.

Whenever I've heard old recordings with the high f', the lowest string has been tuned to F or G.
Sometimes the whole tuning is transposed (so e.g., F C d g c' f' or F Bb d g c' f') sometimes it's like the f' is just added (so e.g., F A d g c' f' or G A d g c' f').





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[*] posted on 7-25-2020 at 02:11 AM


GAdgc'f' works well on a cmbş.



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[*] posted on 9-30-2020 at 04:33 AM


How much does the oud itself figure into it? I recently got a 12 string, tuned E, A, d, g, c, with a single course on the E. I got set of 12 strings (Angel AOE-12), the high 3 courses are nylon. I naively tuned it to C F A d g c. The low C was just dead. Tuning it up, it seems to brighten up between D and D#. It sounds really good at E.

After reading this thread, I checked the package and they are indeed intended to be tuned to F. How can I tell if it can be tuned that high? It's pretty nice, made in Ciaro, ~ 63cm string length, fixed bridge, 12 pegs. The neck was broken and well repaired. What should I be on the lookout for if the tension is too much? What about a double low course?

Thanks!
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[*] posted on 10-7-2020 at 01:44 PM


I did a bit more research and decided tuning those strings to a suitable pitch is probably not a good thing to do. I ordered an 11 string set of Aquila, 70o strings. They are designed to be tuned to C-c and have the lowest tension I could find. Once I get them installed, I'll report back.

Cheers!
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