The bouzouki is the most distinctive Greek music instrument. It is a stringed instrument, which belongs to the family of the long-necked lutes. The instrument is played with a plectrum and has a sharp metallic sound. There are two main types of bouzouki: the trichordo and tetrachordo.

The trichordo has three pairs of strings, each pair tuned the same. The tetrachordo has four pairs of strings and it was introduced in the 1950s. The three strings limited the musician to playing only one type of music, so the four strings gave a new dimension to the capabilities of the instrument. The name ‘bouzouki’ comes from the Turkish word ‘bozuk’ which means ‘broken’ or ‘modified’. The instrument is played with a pick, but in the past it was played with a feather or a piece of wood carved from a cherry tree.

This music instrument has been combined with the history of Greece for many years and is part of its traditional music. Both, the music and the clubs that play it, are referred to as bouzoukia, after the primary instrument used.

A more recent development is the Irish bouzouki, which has four courses, a flatter back, and is tuned differently from the Greek instrument. This instrument originated from the introduction of the Greek bouzouki into Irish music by Johnny Moynihan around 1965.

Some of the most known early bouzouki players, were Markos Vamvakaris, Ioannis Papaioannou and Vasilis Tsitsanis. It was Tsitsanis the one who added a western sound and music sensibility to the known rhythms, writing lyrics that touched the hearts of his audience. He made the instrument more recognisable and more acceptable to the Greek society.

At Varsity music we provide a great range of new and used bouzoukis available to buy online. They are the best on the market and serviced by our trained musicians.

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