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Author: Subject: Hamza Usta oud Restoration
Dr. Oud
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[*] posted on 10-17-2005 at 11:32 AM
Hamza Usta oud Restoration


I just finished the restoration of a 1900 era oud by Hamza Usta for John Belezikijian. I thought I'd post a few pictures each day here for you guys. This one is how the oud arrived, except I have removed the fiber shelf liner that had been covering the face. The eyun had been replaced, and the face had holes scratched through in 2 places, at the edge of the pickguard and between the big and small right soundholes.



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[*] posted on 10-17-2005 at 11:33 AM


Here's the inside of the back with the face removed,



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[*] posted on 10-17-2005 at 11:35 AM


and the inside of the face, complete with 100 years of dust.



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[*] posted on 10-17-2005 at 12:17 PM


your Right Jonathan.
This is for shure a one of a kind oud and it diserves documentation. Its known that no body was allowed to watch as he worked on the bracing right? so now that you have seen it first hand? Would you say there is a lot to learn from the way he had his bracing done? or does it compare to a Nahat or any other well built oud?
Thanks a lot.
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[*] posted on 10-17-2005 at 01:29 PM


Quote:
Originally posted by SamirCanada
your Right Jonathan.
This is for shure a one of a kind oud and it diserves documentation. Its known that no body was allowed to watch as he worked on the bracing right? so now that you have seen it first hand? Would you say there is a lot to learn from the way he had his bracing done? or does it compare to a Nahat or any other well built oud?
Thanks a lot.

The neck block is original, but the carved relief is not. As later pictures will show, this oud was abusedly "repaired" almost to the point of destruction and was my greatest challenge and my most gratifying restoration to date.
As for Manol's secrecy, I don't believe so. Manol trained many oud makers, the most famous was Onnik Uner, known as Karibyan. Karibyan in turn trained other makers, including our Dincer, and Moustafa among others I'm sure. We can thank the Turkish apprentice tradition for continuing and improving oud design.
The braces are very different than any Arabic oud. Nahat used a thin, tall and tapering brace, which varied in height relative to their length, and tapered to a knife edge at the top. The base of the Nahat braces are 4mm at the center and tapered to 3mm at the ends. The soundboard thickness is about the same, 1.7-1.8 mm in the center section, and tapering to 1mm at the bass edge and 1.25 at the treble edge. Nahat also relieved the face, although not as deep as the Manol - (the top rib is shaped to form a concave plane from the bridge to the large sound hole).
Gamil George used a different but still effective design, seen in ouds buiult by Maurice today. This soundboard is thicker, 2.4-2.5 in the center, and the braces are wider but much shorter with almost no taper. The George is also a flat face with no relief at all.
The Manol ( and Karibyan as well, and probably every Turkish oud made since) braces are thicker, shorter in height and with less taper and have a more rounded top edge. The defining difference is the brace below the small hole. This brace is scalloped or relieved down to about 6mm high at the center. You can see the shapes in this picture. Here I had to gluing splices at the ends of each brace to replace material lost in the last "repair". The braces didn't fit the across the body and had spacer blocks inserted at the end of the braces to glue to the top rib. I used spruce from the 100 year old piano brace.




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Jonathan
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[*] posted on 10-17-2005 at 03:27 PM


Off topic, but are we sure that Manol trained Onnik? I know that this is the widely held belief, but is it true? Is there anything that actually documents that? Onnik Uner Karibyan was probably born in 1900. Manol died, I believe, in 1916. Yes, it could be that he trained Onnik, but doesn't it seem like a bit of a stretch?
Dincer, you seem like the historian here as far as Turkish/Istanbul ouds--perhaps you can enlighten us.




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[*] posted on 10-17-2005 at 03:41 PM


John has another Manol oud and the identical appearance led him to assume it was made by Manol. Even the label has the same border and script style as his other one. Here's a pic of the braces laid out on the new AAA grade German Spruce face. ($100 @ LMI!) If you look closely you'll notice a different shape and location of the end return on each brace.



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Jameel
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[*] posted on 10-17-2005 at 03:55 PM


Slowly, Doc, Slowly! Give us some time to take it all in!

Great to see this restoration on the site. Fantastic.

I really like your comment comparing the different bracing styles of the different makers. The frustration of secret bracing techniques in the end probably adds to the richness and variety of the oud's voice.

What are the new roses made from?




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[*] posted on 10-17-2005 at 04:03 PM


Quote:
Originally posted by Jameel
Slowly, Doc, Slowly! Give us some time to take it all in!

Great to see this restoration on the site. Fantastic.

I really like your comment comparing the different bracing styles of the different makers. The frustration of secret bracing techniques in the end probably adds to the richness and variety of the oud's voice.

What are the new roses made from?

They're micarda, and it's supposed to fade and resemble ivory (from 10 feet away anyway, huh?) Viken made the roses.




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[*] posted on 10-18-2005 at 02:32 AM


Here's the label after cleaning. I used alcohol and a q-tip, rolling the q-tip across a small spot at a time and skipping around the label to avoid getting it too wet. This resulted in no loss of ink or pencil, the damage was there when I found it. The number penciled in is 1241, and if this is the date in the Islamic calendar, rather than a serial number, it was built in 1863, when he was 18. Shazam!



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[*] posted on 10-18-2005 at 05:29 AM


Wow. So this is the earliest known Manol. Can anybody translate the rest of the label? Dr. Oud, the original rosettes looked ok. The replacements look great, or course. But I am shocked how good the originals looked (the center one, at least, sure looked original).



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[*] posted on 10-18-2005 at 06:29 AM


in this label I read:
workship authorized
work of HAMZA OUSTAH
Nomber 1341........Not 1242




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[*] posted on 10-18-2005 at 07:47 AM


Quote:
Originally posted by Jonathan...Dr. Oud, the original rosettes looked ok. The replacements look great, or course. But I am shocked how good the originals looked (the center one, at least, sure looked original).

The small roses (eyun? in Arabic, Tukish =?) were white plastic and very crude. The center rose (shamis?) was also plastic. All of them as well as the braces were glued on with epoxy, because neither hot water, steam or any solvent or would soften the glue. The only way to remove them was with heat, and since John didn't care to keep them I used a heat gun to soften the glue. One small rose simply dissapeared in a puff of smoke, so I used a hot knife to get the others off. The center rose still melted before the glue softened in some places anyway. If they were horn or bone, the heat would not have affected them this way. John wanted the original face returned intact without these plastic replacements on it, so they're dicardable items. The braces were repaired and re-used.
Faladel - With all due respect, I believe there there is some confusion about the "2" and "3" in Arabic numerals. In my Arabic class I learned that the single loop denotes "2" and "3" is written with 2 loops. I'm not an expert in this area, but this is to the best of my knowledge. If this is a "3". what does a "2" look like?
Here's a picture of the original face cleared off. There's a hole at the edge of the pickguard and the edge of the right eyun, patches in the lower bout and missing sections around the edge.




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[*] posted on 10-18-2005 at 09:57 AM


Faladel, do you know what it says on the very bottom? Thanks a lot.



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[*] posted on 10-18-2005 at 10:11 AM
Label


Doc,

The number can be either 1341 or 1241 depending on how you interpret one digit, and it is definitely a serial number NOT a date.

Furthermore, it says it is the work of Hamza Usta NOT Manol as Faladel said.

I also have seen other Manol labels from the 1880's and this doesn't look like one of them.

Are you sure this is a Manol ?

Jonathan, the bottom line is a (not very clear) address in Istambul. With some effort and a larger picture we might be able to make it out and compare it with the known address of Manol's workshop.

Spyros C.
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[*] posted on 10-18-2005 at 10:23 AM


Quote:
Originally posted by spyrosc...Are you sure this is a Manol ?

Jonathan, the bottom line is a (not very clear) address in Istambul. With some effort and a larger picture we might be able to make it out and compare it with the known address of Manol's workshop.

Spyros C.

Oh man! I'm glad you guys are here to clear things up. John B. thought it was a Manol based on it's similarieties to his others. It'll be great to make a positive ID - Thanks, boys. Let's see if this enlargement is more legible:




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[*] posted on 10-18-2005 at 10:50 AM


Gentlemen,

First the label:

Mekteb-i sanayi mezunlarindan (A Graduate of School of Artizans)
HAMZA Usta mamulatidir ( Made by HAMZA Usta )
Numaru (Number 1341)

Line outside of the label reads:
Husnitabiat(Iam not sure) matbaasi - Istanbul (this is name of the printer of the label)

So this oud according to its label made by Hamza Usta who was the had apprentice of Manol. IT IS NOT A MANOL OUD. Nobody can put his label in an oud while he was working for his master. I have a picture of Hamza Usta with his apprentice Hadi usta taken in front of a Manol mold. Engin who is the son of Hadi Usta generously gave me a copy. I do not know how to put it in this forum. Hamza Usta ouds are almost as valuable as Manol's.

Secondly I found out lately Onnik Usta was not an apprentice of Manol. However earlier he copied Manol ouds. I have a Onnik dated 1928 exactly looks as a Manol oud. I do not remember but in some place I heard that He studied and learn oudmaking from his elder brother also was a oudmaker.

Thirdly, I have been told by both Hadi Usta and Murat Usta that Manol never show anybody how to glue the top on; not as mentioned above how to place the bracings. It is not a secret. You open any Manol and you can see them. There are many stories about the glue he used. Murat usta said that he was using glass dust in his hide glue. Murat Usta was an apprentice of Uskudarli Mustafa Usta who was an apprentice of Manol as well.Today we now three oudmaker worked in Manols shop Hamza Usta, Ankarali Galip Usta and Uskudarli Mustafa Usta.
Although I met Onnik Usta but I studied and learn oudmaking both from Murat Usta and Hadi Usta.

Dr. Oud
Your last bracing is misplaced. Original bracing is correct. Just copy them .The distance between last two bracings from the bottom should be almost twice the distance of second and third half high bracing. By the way that third half bracing called DUGAH bracing and it is very critical for sound of DUGAH string.

Dincer




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[*] posted on 10-18-2005 at 11:39 AM


Quote:
Originally posted by oudmaker....Dr. Oud
Your last bracing is misplaced. Original bracing is correct. Just copy them .The distance between last two bracings from the bottom should be almost twice the distance of second and third half high bracing. By the way that third half bracing called DUGAH bracing and it is very critical for sound of DUGAH string.

Dincer

My dear Dincer, you have not seen the face braced yet. What is pictured is merely the original braces rather casually dropped on the new soundboard before joining, cutting, fitting or anything. The actual assembly was copied very carefully from the original brace locations.




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[*] posted on 10-18-2005 at 12:33 PM


Dincer, Onnik is said to have had an older brother named Mgrditch, who was an oudmaker. I have a Mgrditch Karibyan from 1894, and it is very Manol-like. There was a Mgrditch who worked in Manol's shop, although I do not know the last name--I do not know if anybody does. Perhaps this is the link between Manol and Onnik Uner.



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[*] posted on 10-18-2005 at 07:31 PM


Jonathan

That could be the connection. Since the last name was Karibyan people thought Onnik was the one worked in Manol's shop. I like to see Mgrdic's oud. Can you put a picture of it to the forum?
Regards
Dincer




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[*] posted on 10-18-2005 at 08:30 PM


Quote:
Originally posted by Jonathan
This wood is some of the most beautiful I have ever seen. The picture doesn't do it justice. Walnut, I think, but just really very rich.

Johnathan,
Perhaps you could start a new thread for Karibyans, etc. This thread is about this restoration project, whoever made the oud. I have a lot more pictures to post and it seems there's plenty of interest, so in the spirit of keeping it more focused, if you would please not divert the subject off track?
Thank you.




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[*] posted on 10-18-2005 at 08:58 PM


Sorry, we will just stick with this Hamza restoration.



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[*] posted on 10-19-2005 at 07:37 AM


Dear spyrosc

Look well what I said (in this label I read:
workship authorized
work of HAMZA OUSTAH
Nomber 1341........Not 1242)
Mr. Dincer translate the label very good..

Thank you



Quote:
Originally posted by spyrosc
Doc,

The number can be either 1341 or 1241 depending on how you interpret one digit, and it is definitely a serial number NOT a date.

Furthermore, it says it is the work of Hamza Usta NOT Manol as Faladel said.

Spyros C.




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[*] posted on 10-19-2005 at 07:46 AM


Quote:
Originally posted by Jonathan
Sorry, we will just stick with this Hamza restoration.

Thank you, Johnathan. I very much appreciate everyone's expert comments and John B. is excited to learn more about this oud. He says he assumed it was a Manol because it had such a similar appearance tohisother Manol. As for the label, he had assumed that Manol built it in someone else's shop, but we now know this was not so. He will now take some photos of the labels in his other "alleged Manol" to positively identify it.

The back was cleaned with a rag dampened with alcohol. The neck joint was reshaped to correct the alignment and a rosewood spacer was fitted at the end of the neck block to replace material lost during the joint rework. A dovetail tongue was fitted in the neck and block. You will notice my oud police badge, authorizing me to arrest anyone abusing an oud!




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[*] posted on 10-19-2005 at 06:00 PM


Hehe then you should cuff me right away after what I have done to mine hehehe Great work Doc. Iam loving it.
Hopefully we'll get to the bottom of the story and find who made this thing.
cheers!.
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